Monday, October 22, 2012

Low Water, High Winds, and Short Fish

Saturday morning Evan and I headed off to Smith Mountain Lake to do a little prefishing for the Virginia Tech Bass Fishing Team tournament we had on Sunday.  On Saturday we ran all around the lake getting tossed around by high winds, but were not able to find bait nor fish.  We threw everything but the kitchen sink at them; we threw swimbaits, A-rig, jig, Texas rigs, drop-shot, and just about everything else in our tackle boxes.  Despite our best efforts though we only landed two shorts, and a couple green sunfish.
 When Sunday morning rolled around, we were the first team to launch.  We immediately headed far up the Blackwater arm.  The day prior we talked with some guys at the ramp who told us that the bait was in a cove passed the 4-H area, and that was our end destination.  After a 20minute run we reached the cove, and immediately saw striper fisherman in there and got excited.  I started off with topwater, but only managed a couple short strikes, probably from sunfish.
We continued to work the cove, and found bait stacked up in spots.  However, the bait was not holding fish.  Instead, we started catching fish off docks on drop-shot in <10FOW.  My first fish was 13.9in-14in depending on how you measured it, but we were too worried it wouldn't be long enough if placed on the board at weigh in so I tossed it back.
The morning quickly gave way to the afternoon, and we only had short fish to show for it.  We caught around a dozen fish 12-13.9in (a Claytor Lake limit!).  The afternoon went faster than the morning did, and soon it was time to head back to the launch for weigh-in.
I was relieved to hear that we were not the only team to struggle on the lake, not one of our teams caught a limit.  The winning weight for our tournament was less than 7lbs with 4fish and the Weekend Series Championship was ~12lbs/day.  Both pros and joes alike struggled to find the fish out on a low Smith Mountain Lake.
There were many tournaments over the course of the weekend, and I would like to blame the lack of fish both days on that.  However, I think the root cause of no keepers was the lake being down close to five feet from normal pool.  All the spots we would usually fish were high and dry, boats were on lifts that hovered over dry land, and floating docks in inches of water!  It was a tough two days of fishing, but we enjoyed ourselves nonetheless.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Check Another One Off The List!

Friday morning I was granted a morning of fishing; I had no classes, and I wasn't scheduled to work until later on in the day.  With a couple hours of fishing guaranteed, I retrieved my kayak from my girlfriend's property and slipped over to Whitethorne to chase some bronzebacks and try for a musky from the yak.
After I launched I immediately started paddling upriver towards Toms Creek.  On my way up I saw a monster smallmouth sitting on a weedline 100ft downstream from where the creek entered the river.  I tried numerous times with a green pumpkin grub, but couldn't even get a look from him, so I kept moving up river.
My next encounter was one I have been hoping for, for many months, a musky.  I switched rods and grabbed my rod rigged up with a Jake in "Walleye," but I was unable to make this big girl turn.  I tossed about fifty times before I decided it wasn't my day and kept making my way upstream.
Once I approached the chain of islands approximately .75miles from the launch I encountered some difficulty.  The current rips around the tips of the island and makes paddling upstream a hard task.  I hugged the shoreline and used anything breaking the current to my advantage, and after what seemed like an eternity of paddling I reached my fishing grounds for the day.
One of my favorite holes to fish on the New River is about 2miles upstream from Whitethorne.  There is a pretty quick drop in depth from 3-5ft to 8-12ft.  It's a perfect spot for smallmouth who tuck themselves underneath the many ledges.  However, once I anchored up the wind started gusting upstream and made it very hard to work my grub across the bottom.  After my second snag I decided to "unanchor" and fight the current.  I would cast out, fight the wind, and retrieve my grub.  It was getting aggravating, and I was getting ready to head back to the Toms Creek area when it finally happened.
Any of my close friends could tell you that I have had a goal for close to a year now to catch a musky from the kayak.  I have come close many times with follows and close encounters, but never had hooked into one of the "powerhouses" of the New River.  Today, my goal would be achieved...
I tossed my grub towards the dropoff and fought to reposition myself to retrieve it; once in "good" position I started to reel in the slack from the wind, and felt weight on my line.  However, it wasn't weight like a normal bass would have; instead, it felt like a snag.  I reeled the line tight and felt thumps; it was then I knew I had a fish.  For the first minute or two it didn't make any runs just eased along down the river.  I thought I hooked into a hawg, but once I saw the unmistakable silhouette of a musky underwater my heart started thumping!
I was using a light action rod with 8lb Flurocarbon and NO steel leader!  For close to ten minutes I fought the fish towards the shoreline.  It made several runs, and even went aerial in the middle of the river and again in the shallows when I was trying to land it.  After several botched landing attempts, I finally got my first kayak musky ever!  I was ecstatic, and took a couple pictures before reviving the fish for another day.
After checking that off my list, I began paddling back against winds that were close to sustained 10mph; the current was less powerful than the wind was on the return paddle.  I reached the ramp worn out, thirsty, and hungry, but I wouldn't have had it play out any other way! 
~37in New River Musky

Ugly Stick Rod for Short River Trips

Powerteam Lures Watermelon Grub on a 1/4oz Head

Wind Before Heading Downstream (To the Right)
Do they make bigger hawg troughs?!?!?

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Starting off the Year

Last weekend I joined the Virginia Tech Bass Fishing Team for the first club tournament of the year on Claytor Lake.  I had prefished on Friday, and caught a decent fish on a double fluke rig, but that was all prefishing provided for me.

When Sunday morning rolled around, my partner, Evan, and myself got up and made some sausage and egg biscuits to give us some energy for the long day.  We arrived at the launch, and I was feeling anxious as we motored out to mouth of the cove with the rest of the team. At 7:00AM everyone blasted off and headed up-lake, but Evan and I made our way straight across the lake.

I started off looking for the topwater bite with a Lucky Craft Sammy, but only had one take a swipe at my lure with no hook up.  We kept fishing, but we struggled for the first hour and half with no keepers and plenty of shorts.  The shorts kept tearing up our roboworms (Martin's Madness & Oxblood), and it was getting annoying!  While Evan was rigging up another worm, I flipped my drop shot up against the bank.  I worked the drop shot off the bank and began to move it by a dock when I felt weight.  I instinctively set the hook, and was hooked up with what I knew would be our first keeper.  The fish went a little over 2lbs, and would prove to be our only fish for a while.

Hour after hour ticked by with nothing but missed fish and shorts.  We moved from cove to cove losing numerous drop shot rigs looking for the elusive bait, but never managed to find it.  On Friday we had been in the same coves and bait balls the size of our boat were everywhere you looked; however Friday they seemed to have moved up lake.

With only two hours left we decided to make the run to Peak Creek.  We fished for an hour with one fish that was 11 3/4in...  0.25in short of 12in (the minimum length requirement).  We threw the fish back, and Evan and I looked at each other.  We knew we had to start heading back towards the ramp, but we figured we would fish our way out of Peak Creek.

We "power-dropshotted" our way out of Peak Creek, and with thirty minutes to go I hook into our second keeper.  It was short, around 12in, but it was a keeper nevertheless.  We fished for the final thirty minutes, but could not manage to catch another keeper for the tournament.  Winning weight was under 10lbs, but most of the top finishers fished up-lake.

All in all though, I had a great time on the lake.  We were graced by a beautiful day on the lake: blue skies, warm weather, and an off and on breeze all day.  We caught many fish other than our two keepers, saw a small water spout, and saw what I believe was a beaver!  Can't wait till we head to Smith Mountain Lake in October!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Storm Warning

This evening I decided to hit up my local pond before the severe thunderstorms hit.  I rigged up with a donkey rig and football jig.  I opted to only take out a bag of flukes for replacements; this would cause me to dedicate my limited fishing time to fishing and not retying.

Once on the lake I immediately started fishing the shallower water with only one dink on the donkey rig.  A bit discouraged I switched over to my football jig.  I hopped it and dragged it across the bottom, but never got a hit.  I slowed my retrieve down, but still could not get any takers.  I looked up towards the sky and saw I had 30minutes, at most, before the storm would be upon me.

I then saw bass busting baitfish in about 10FOW.  I grabbed my donkey rig and danced it right through the school and paused it.  When I started reeling the slack out I felt weight and set the hook.  Immediately the fish took off running and I was getting towed around for a nice sleigh ride.  After about 30-40seconds I got it yakside and got excited.

Up till this time I had only caught bass in the 8-12in length in this lake, but this was a solid fish.  Instead of opting for my fish grips I reached down and heaved fish, weeds, and water into my kayak.  It was my first decent fish at 17.5in.

After a couple pictures I released the fish and looked for the school again.  My first cast back into the school yielded another fish.  This one fought harder; it had longer runs and went aerial more than once.  Once I got the bass yakside I did the same thing as the previous fish; I heaved everything into the kayak.

This one was much broader than the previous fish and would go a shade over 19in.  I was elated, and took some pictures and released the fish for another day.  Despite working the donkey rig hard in the school for my final 15minutes I could not find another fish before the storm snuck up on me.

Although I only landed three fish, I learned a lot about fishing the donkey rig and my local pond.  Catching those fish has renewed my faith in the lake, and I know I will be fishing their a lot more before heading back to school.

Monday, July 16, 2012

HOW I Spend My Weekends

This past weekend myself and another member of the Virginia Tech Bass Fishing Team volunteered with the Heroes on the Water - Tidewater.  The two of us found ourselves racing around in the morning Saturday before the event to get a kayak for me and some GULP!  We got to the ramp and everything was set to go and after a short pep talk we headed out in search of some flounder and trout.
All Lined Up
We prowled the inlet with a couple hits, but I could not manage to hook up.  As lunch time neared the whole group started to have trout splashing all around them.  I tied on a mirrolure and worked it quickly back to the kayak.  I hooked up on my third cast and landed a short 10-12in speckled trout, but with lunchtime and heavy rains forcing me off the water that would prove to be the only fish I landed.
 It was a great time out there with awesome people, and I learned a few things that would help me for future saltwater outings.
Sunday rolled around and it was off to Lynnhaven for some flounder.  Evan and I got out of the launch and immediately started fishing the grass.  We had numerous hits from blues, croakers, and a few flounders, but couldn't get anything into the yaks.  After moving around Evan landed his first flounder of the day; a 13-14in flounder.
We then paddled around the inlet waiting for the tide to turnover.  We found a spot and tossed our gulps around, but during slack-tide we had difficulty getting any bites.  Once the tide started rolling in I hooked up, but it was a shorter flounder than Evan's.  It was super small, but it was my first flounder I ever landed and I was proud!
My Super Small Flounder Held High and Proud!
A couple minutes later I had a solid hit and set the hook.  Fish on, but it was significantly bigger than my first one.  It splashed around yakside and I got my first look at it; it was a solid flounder.  Evan screams at me to land it without losing it, and after several failed landings I got it into the yak.  I paddled to the shore and threw him on the measuring board.  My first "doormat" (despite it being a small doormat) went a shade over 20 inches.  I was elated, but struggled to hook up with any other flounders for the rest of the outing.
20.5in "Doormat"
About an hour before we decided to head in me and Evan started hooking up with little tiny puppy drum.  They were 5-10inches, but fought like a freight train!  It was a blast fighting them, and was yet another species I was able to check  off my saltwater check sheet.
I cannot wait to head back down and get in to more saltwater species, they taste a lot better than the freshwater fish I am accustomed to catching.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Dink Fest 2012

Wednesday morning I set out with my girlfriend, Lilly, and her parents.  The four of us loaded up the truck with kayaks and a canoe and set out for the New River; we were off to float from Eggleston down to Pembroke.  The area is known for its precipices lining the length of the float, and made this float particularly picture worthy.  I struggled through the first half with no luck with cranks, topwater, or spinnerbaits.  Lilly was having luck on her Rebel Pop-R for smallies.

After She Switched to a White Grub
After we finished lunch Lilly's parents were off to the races.  They started floating and never turned back for the rest of the trip, but me and Lilly decided to take our time beating the banks and pushwater/eddies.  I finally got dialed in to a solid pattern that I would use for the rest of the trip.

First Decent One of The Day
I noticed that anything chartreuse they were going nuts over chasing.  I tied a 1/8oz jig head with a 3in Zoom curly tail white grub onto my 4'6"ft mini ultra-light; I dipped the tip of the tail in chartreuse spike-it.

I threw my grub everywhere from the banks to deepwater ledges and everything in between, and had lots of luck.  My first fish were dinks ranging from 8-12in, but I did manage to land two 15+in smallmouth bass before reaching the takeout.

Those Cliffs are Home to Lots of Hawks
Overall it was a great day on the water.  I saw a big ~45in musky, and a handful of "C" class smallmouth cruising the shallows with little interest in anything I threw at them.  I cannot wait to float this stretch again and hook into some true New River "footballs".
Another Average

Monday, May 21, 2012

Swinging for the Fences

On Thursday May 16, I loaded up my Ride 135 and headed off to a small neighborhood lake.  The day prior I was shore fishing and had lots of luck with a spro frog, and Thursday would be no different.  I launched the kayak and began fishing mats right next to the launch.  First cast I hook up, nothing big, but starting the day with a 14in bass would set the tone right!
I worked the entire bank fishing every mat I came across with my frog.  Almost every spot I pulled up to I pulled off a half dozen 12-15in bass, and although they were nothing huge, I had fun with the topwater bite.  There are very few places where I can fish for three hours and have over a hundred fish blow up on a frog!  I then had a fish "slurp" my frog.  I reeled down and swung for the fences.  It was on, I had a giant fish, for this lake, on the end of my line.  She jumped twice and my heart was racing.  A little less than a year ago I landed my PB which was over 8lbs; today I found myself with a new PB on the end of my line.  I managed to keep her down for the rest of the fight and got her yakside and was trying to be fancy and get fishgrips into her mouth (I should've just grabbed a fistful of fish) when she decided to make another run.  Deep into the weeds she went and got a split second of slack line; that was it.  I lost my new PB.  My best guesses put the fish between 23-25in and FAT!
After getting tired standing in the yak frogging, I decided to switch techniques.  I started throwing pieces of senko from 2-4in that I had used the week before smallmouth fishing on the new.  Although they were not full length, the fish did not care one bit.  I had four leftover senko pieces and managed to pull out 15-20 bass on a wacky rig.  It was a great way to use the torn senkos (They cost too much to not get every penny out of them!)
After running out of senkos I switched back to my frog and continued to have amazing luck.  Cast after cast was producing fish; I missed a lot of fish while attempting to set the hook, but that's how topwater goes.  Towards the end of the day I had something sneakily take my frog; there was no blowup or "slurp."  Instead, my frog just disappeared.  I reeled down and felt something entirely different than anything I had caught.  It seemed to squirm around more than fight.  I got it yakside and was surprised to see a 30in eel slithering around with a spro frog dangling from its toothed mouth!
I had a great time and managed to catch well over 100bass 10-15in, a slab crappie, and an ugly eel.  I can't wait to get back out there and chase my PB that got away.  All frogging was done with a St. Croix MH Mojo and Abu Garcia Revo S with 30lb braid.  The wack rigging was done on a St. Croix M Triumph and Shimano Sedona with 20lb braid and 8lb Flurocarbon leader.

Ready to Launch


Perfect Hookset!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

A Couple Firsts

Well on Friday afternoon, I had finished two out of my three exams, and turned in my final English paper.  My plans for the weekend prior had been cancelled due to high river levels and unsafe conditions, and the forecast for my trip Saturday was not looking any better.  Lilly and I decided early on in the week that we would fish the Whitethorne area of the New River on Saturday afternoon no matter what the weather was like.

Well all morning long showers and storms were keeping us off of the water, but we were determined to get out and hook into some fish.  We had heard rumors of fish on beds, but with the rain, it made sight casting nearly impossible.  After thirty minutes, without so much as a nibble, I decided to switch tactics and go big or go home.  I switched over to my Alabama Rig to try and get lucky with another musky, but I couldn't even manage to get a follow by one.

With Lilly getting bored without any fish sighted, we decided to call it a day.  I was fortunate enough that when we returned to the house she still had enough energy to make some delicious peanut butter cookies with chocolate chips.  They were absolutely delicious!  Before I left her house, I confirmed my Sunday trip with a buddy of mine, Evan, and decided to leave the kayak out and ready to go.

I discussed options of where to fish with Evan, and after debating between Whitethorne, Belspring, and Big Falls, we decided to head to the furthest place, Big Falls.  Big Falls is an area loaded with swimmers, sunbathers, and whitewater kayakers playing in the rapids, and today would be no different.  When we pulled up, around one, there were cars lining the banks and people all up and down the bank.  We got lucky with a parking spot close to one of the beaches; we quickly unloaded the kayaks and hit the water.

On one of the first casts Evan got a nice hit, but failed to get a hookset on it.  I wasn't having any luck in the tailwaters we were fishing so I told Evan I was going to try and paddle up as far as I could to the rapid and see if I can't find any fish hiding in the eddies; he decided he would do the same.  As we were paddling up I heard a snap, I looked over and saw Evan checking on his kayak paddle.  Not thinking anything of it I kept going.  I then saw him with only half of his paddle, using it like a canoe paddle, trying to get up the rapid; his other paddle hit a rock and the connecting piece between the blade and handle were busted.

We both realized that going upstream any further wasn't going to happen so we began to drift our way back downstream fishing the side opposite of all the swimmers/sunbathers.  We were floating a lily pad line when I had my first glimpse of a smallie.  I was throwing a white/silver spinnerbait about a foot into the pads and pulling it out.  When I was about halfway down the stretch of lily pads I had a feisty smallmouth chase down my spinnerbait, but  I got excited and set the hook too early.

We continued floating downstream and came upon a set of islands; we got down to the very last island, and I had to "relieve" myself.  While I was on the island taking a leak Evan saw two nice smallies cruising a ledge right next to us.

We both started throwing spinnerbaits in the general area, but couldn't entice anything to hit.  I then remembered reading a report by a fellow KBF member about his experience in Belspring the day prior.  He was having luck on a senko, so I turned to Evan told him my plans and he followed suit.  I had switched to a 5in senko and he had a 3in senko.  I personally have never thrown a true senko, but I had a few in my bag begging to be thrown.

The two of us were throwing in the same area and it didn't take long before I hooked up.  I was dead sticking the senko; I threw it out and let it sit, then I slowly raised the rod, then lowered it while reeling in the slack, and then repeated.  I was raising the rod and felt a bump.  I set the hook; FISH ON!

I seldom have smallmouth pull drag hard, but this one didn't want anything to do with me.  It was pumping hard and made several dashes for the current.  I managed to turn it away from the current and bring it into slackwater.  Nothing giant, but a decent smallmouth would be the start to our day.  I threw it up on my Hawg Trough and it measured 17-17.5in.  Evan and I both continued having hits, but couldn't seem to get into another one.  I got another good hit and set the hook.

This fish wasn't as big as the other one, but it had much more spunk.  Immediately after setting the hook it leaped from the water trying to shake the hook.  It went aerial a few more times before landing it.  I quickly placed on the board and snapped a quick picture, 14in.  We stayed a bit longer, but couldn't pull any more out despite having numerous hits.

We then switched tactics and started wading the falls.  I soon found a killer pattern for the red eye in there.  I was throwing a Tied Up Tackle spinnerbait across the current, reeling it into the current, letting the current take it down a little ways, then reeling it back slowly on the edge of the current.  Almost every cast I would have a hit, but most were 4-10in.  After catching our fair share we jumped into the river and floated/swam across the river to the truck before heading back to finish studying for finals.

It was the first fish I ever caught on a true Senko, and the first time I threw a Tied Up Tackle spinnerbait which will be added to the site very soon!  Overall it was a great and successful day with about 20-25fish landed between the two of us and a great sunburn to go along with it!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Ten Thousand and One...

Today me and Lilly Goldsmith decided we would hit the water after doing the 3.2 for 32 Run in Remembrance.  Our initial plan was to hit the New River on our kayaks upstream from the whitethorne area, but with the wind blowing good when we arrived at the house, we thought better.  Instead Doug decided he would take us out for the day and be our personal guide.

We hit the water in the afternoon and immediately headed upstream from the boat launch.  We went past the islands and then past the first set of "rapids" before we decided to start.  I haven't been up this far in a while, but it looked fishy.  I started off the day throwing a chartreuse spinnerbait with chartreuse blades, but had no luck; then I quickly switched over to the "School of fish," as Doug calls the Alabama Rig with berkeley ripple shad.  The water was gin clear, and I could see the rig swimming way off in the distance.  It seemed to good to be true, but I wasn't having any luck on the A-rig.

We anchored up just above the rapids, and Doug immediately hooked a rock bass on one of his first casts.  A couple casts later he had another one that came off boatside; they were nothing huge, but the first bass of the season for me on the river.  That would be all we would pull out of that stretch, and we moved down to just below the rapids.  Down below the rapids we had no luck, the shallow water was not holding any fish, despite the water being upper 50's.

Once we got out into the current and started floating downstream at a little quicker pace, I started heaving my A-rig across the river.  It wasn't long before I would have what I have been wanting all year!  Since last summer I have been saying I want a musky, and for the past couple months I have been focusing every trip on landing one.  The previous trip I had two follows, but no takers; today proved to be the lucky day though.

As I was ripping the A-rig across the current I felt a thump, but it wasn't a normal bump.  Instead, it felt like I bounced the rig off a rock.  I didn't think anything of it and jerked the rod to try and free it, but I felt the same thing, another bump.  I was a bit baffled, and then I felt a nice thrust of a fish.  It was without question a musky.  My first musky was on the line and 60ft from the boat.  I reeled the fish to the boat without much of a fight, but at the boat he started to give me a little trouble.  It made a couple runs and took line, and all I could do was hold on.  Doug grabbed the net and managed to get the entire fish into the net on the second try.

We threw it onto the middle seat to get a quick measure.  After measuring it I started to get the hook out, but he decided to do a death roll.  She rolled and got 3hooks into her (1 in the mouth, one on his gill, and one in his back); I guess that's the big downside to the A-rig.  Once we got all the hooks out, she started squirming and squirmed into the bottom of the boat by Lilly's feet!  She freaked, but we were able to quickly get the fish up and snap a few pictures of my first musky, 34in!  We resuscitated her, and after making sure she was good, we let her swim off back for someone else to catch.

I felt accomplished, my day was pretty awesome.  I continued to try and catch another musky, but only managed to get 100 more casts out of the 10,000 I need before hooking into another one.  The end of the day I had my musky, Lilly had a couple nice smallies on her Bitsy Minnow, and Doug had a couple nice bass on his Cotton Cordell; none were monsters, but we had a great day on the river.

St. Croix MH Mojo and Abu Garcia C3 spooled with 65lb Power Pro for the Alabama Rig
Falcon BuCoo M and Abu Garcia Revo S spooled with 30lb Power Pro with 20lb Seagur Flurocarbon for spinnerbaits and cranks.

34in of pure muscle and teeth

Observing the cool colors of the fish
Reviving the fish for another day

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Shad Run, or maybe White Perch Run...

Last weekend I found myself en route to Richmond for a busy Easter Weekend.  I left good ol' Blacksburg on Thursday evening and got in late at night; Friday morning I woke up ate a little brunch and headed off to the 14th St. Whitewater Takeout.  At the ramp I was going to be meeting up with Eric (BigEhokie) and James (Lonestar).  Upon pulling in I was slight surprised at the small volume of cars in the lot.  When the shad fishing is hot there is no where to park and you often have to go to the other side of the river and park at Ancarrows Landing.

Eric was already at the launch when I arrived, and I quickly found myself playing catch-up with him.  He has helped me a lot with places to trout fish along with patterns that work well out at Tech.  After the two of us had gotten his yak down the steps Mr. Solar Powered himself showed up.  James sneaks in casually late, but I was in no hurry, so I waited for him to rig up before hitting the water.  Since Eric had been landlocked for the past couple months or wading trout streams, he decided that he would get his sea legs before me and James joined him out on the water.

After helping James rig up, he realized he didn't have an anchor.  He sifted through his car, but found no anchor nor rope.  I went back to my truck and found an old anchor rope I had, but I too didn't have an extra anchor (my brick was already being used by me).  When he heard this he found himself a decent 15-20lb rock and wrapped the rope a couple times around it and called it good to go!  Must be the Texas blood, because the rock was way bigger than it needed to be :D.

The two of us launched and joined Eric out above the railroad bridge before we all paddled out to the fishing grounds.  We made the long three hundred yard paddle down around the island to the fishing grounds.  James and I both decided we would beach our yaks and try fly fishing from an exposed cluster of rocks, but Eric opted to anchor and throw his spoon and dart into deeper water.  When he went to set his anchor, he felt a pop then no weight on his line; his anchor pin had fallen out and he lost his anchor.  So he too was landlocked on one of the other rocks.

After having no luck on the rocks, I decided that I would make the paddle to the 14th Street Bridge and fall line area and try for some stripers.  Anchoring was out of the question in the swift water, and I struggled to stay in the area and fish effectively.  I decided to float down and anchor up, followed by James.  The two of us sat there tossing our fly rods with no luck.  We then saw one of the nearby boats hook up into something big.  A kid, who was about 12, found himself fighting a 30in striper.  He was very excited when he landed it and me and James yelled in excitement for him.

Being impatient, I decided I would float down some, and told Eric and James my game plan.  I anchored up and started fishing, but was still having no luck.  James made his way down to me and anchored about 15ft above me, followed by Eric 15ft above him.
The three of us watched as every boat around us was hooking up, but we couldn't figure out what we were doing wrong.  As a boat moved in next to us and anchored up I watched the guy fly fishing off the bow.  He kept having hook up after hook up, so I paid even closer attention to how he was presenting his fly.  I learned to throw upstream and let it sink for 10-15seconds and then strip it quickly back to the yak.  First cast doing this I hooked up, and then it was game on.  I caught fish after fish.  I had probably about 80 fish, but only 6 were shad (2americans and 4hickory); all the rest were white perch ranging in size from 8-14in.  Nothing huge, but they made for a fight on the 5wt.

Eric left after catching a couple, and James was starting to smell awful.  He had that skunky smell, and I could smell it all the way down in my yak!  I told him to try tying on one of the chartreuse flies I had tied up.  I won't say what he tied it on, but I will tell you it wasn't a fly rod :D.  He knocked the skunk off by catching close to a dozen back to back to back.  I started to get hungry and decided that we had a good day on the water.  We packed up and headed for the ramp; at the ramp we discussed about possible plans for coming out the following day to experience the circus show.  However spreading mulch and fishing with Dad was more important than heading back out to the craziness of the James River shad run.

3wt TFO with floating line (didn't use much at all though)
5wt Orvis Clearwater with class VI sinking line
Flies were cone headed calf tail flies in chartreuse

And we launch!

No anchor, no problem!

Eric perched on a slowly disappearing rock

Is that a spinning rod...?
All lined up

Is that a shad?

Found the shad

No more skunk!

Lady Luck was on my side!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

The rain and storms would not deter me from fishing!

On Friday, me and Evan Shearer decided to take out his jon boat to Claytor Lake to do a little "fun" fishing.  We left Blacksburg with high hopes; we had just heard from a fellow member of the Virginia Tech Bass Fishing Team, Jody White, that the bass were starting to move onto their beds.  We hit the water late, 2:00, and immediately started over to a cove that produced for our last tournament. 
Captain Shearer, we are very organized when fishing....

We motored in to the cove and immediately dropped the trolling motor and started fishing a dock that was falling apart where we pulled out three keepers out of the previous week.  Evan was throwing a Tied Up Tackle Jig, but I opted to throw the Alabama rig with 3.5 shadilicious swimbaits.  We didn't land anything, but had a couple hits as we made our way back to the end of the cove.  With no fish in the boat, we decided to make a 10-15min run to Peak Creek.

After entering Peak we were both amazed by the number of people trolling for stripers.  We must've missed the memo, because of the 50+ boats we saw, we were one of seven boats bass fishing.  Anyways, we made our way to the very back of Peak and started fishing the docks with our Tied up Tackle Jigs, but the muck on the bottom made it hard to tell a fish from debris.  So we moved off the docks and started fishing a bend in the arm of Peak where bait was busting left and right.  This got me excited and I tried a spinnerbait with no takers, A-rig with no takers, topwater, and got NOTHING!  I did see something very cool though; a school of bait was about 6in below the surface when a solid 3lb largemouth came up and exploded on the school. 

We saw a storm begin rolling in, and opted to make a last cast before running to temporary shelter.  Evan managed to toss his Tied Up Tackle spinnerbait into a tree 15ft above the water.  With no way of reaching it he tried to muscle it out, when the unthinkable happened.  He was working it out of the tree (not even working it too hard) when I heard a loud "POP!"  I turned around and saw an Abu Garcia Verdict in 4pieces with braid wrapped around it in a mess.  Strangest thing I ever saw, 4pieces!  We didn't have much time to sit around and think about what happened; we had to outrun the storm.  We ran around the point to Rockhouse Marina where we waited out the storm.

Once the storm passed we decided to head back to the launch, but on the way back we were going to work one more bank leading up to ramp.  On the main lake we were positioned about 50ft from the shore and I started heaving my Alabama rig.  First cast, I felt a decent thump.  I set the hook and felt a headshake and got pumped; then there was nothing.  I was bummed to have lost our first and only fish for the day, but when the rig reached the boat I saw a little flash.  I quickly lifted the fish into the boat, thanks to 65lb braid, and was elated to not have gotten skunked.  But with another storm rolling in, we both decided that getting off the water would be a priority.
Not a monster, but it got rid of the "skunk"
Time to tuck tail and run!

Tally for the Day
LMB: 1

St. Croix MH Mojo and Abu Garcia C3 spooled with 65lb Power Pro for the Alabama Rig
Falcon BuCoo M and Abu Garcia Revo S spooled with 30lb Power Pro with 20lb Seagur Flurocarbon for Jigs.