Sandy River Reservoir 6-18-2010

18 06 2010

My brother in-law Justin was in town for Sadie’s 2nd birthday, so I had a day of fishing planned for us the day before. Justin lives in Mt. Pleasant, SC and is an experienced salt angler; fishing mostly for speckled trout and redfish. He has a little pond experience with bass fishing, but that’s mostly it. A couple of times he’s been to Richmond I’ve taken him out and we’ve been nearly skunked so my goal for the day was for him to boat a lot of fish. I decided to take Justin to Sandy River Reservoir. A extremely generous KBF-er allowed me to borrow their Ocean Kayak Trident Angler 11 for Justin to paddle. Several others were meeting us out there: KBF-ers Hanover_Yakker and UTVolyaker and Zach from TKAA. We planned to meet up at 6am on Friday morning, which meant leaving at 4:30a from my house.

Driving was faster than expected as we showed up at 5:20am. I noticed Hanover_Yakker’s van is already in the parking lot, with no yak on top, and he’s no where to be found. He got there early and was already off fishing! We dragged a bit pulling everything together as I wanted to give the others as least until 6am to get to the parking lot before we shoved off. Zach showed up at 5:40ish and at 6am we hit the water. Justin and I pounded the banks on the way to the northern riprap while Zach made a beeline for the banks across the main channel. Water temps were already 81 degrees and air temps were about the same. It’s going to be a hot one.

I began the morning throwing a 5/8oz Rapala Skitter Pop in a frog pattern and a Mann’s original 1-Minus in brown crawfish. Making my way to the riprap, I had no action at all. I made my casts and retrievals of both lures parallel to the bank, with not even a nibble. I finally had a short strike on the popper from a smaller fish, but still nothing landed. By this time Justin was a good 50 yards up the riprap from me. I paddle to get around him and fish some structure he hasn’t hit yet when I ask him, “Any luck yet?”, fully expecting the answer to be “No.”. However, Justin replied with a “Yeah man, 2. And of them was a 16″-er, probably one of the biggest bass I’ve ever caught. My day is already made!” Awesome, mission accomplished. Maybe now I can catch some fish. Justin confirms that he caught his fish on a popper, retrieving parallel to the bank. I go ahead and start casting to this area and begin the retrieve…BLOOP…BLOOP…BLOOP…WHAM! Fish on! I battle the largemouth for a few seconds and land a 14.5″-er. Not a bad way to start the day.


I also wanted to work a drainage ditch in the area, so I headed around the bend and while casting parallel to some cattails, managed to land a 10″ dink on the popper as well. By this time, Justin had made his way around me and was fishing a shallow grass bed. He wasn’t having any luck so we decided to make a beeline for the eastern timber area while the morning bite was still on. Along the way we ran into Zach and he decided he was going to hit the timber as well.

As we’re entering the timber area, we are greeted by Hanover_Yakker who has been out there since o’dark thirty. He’s landed 4 fish so far with the biggest going 17″ I think he said. He was throwing a wacky rigged worm and a buzzbait. We immediately get to work. Justin paddles over to a small cove and gets to work while I start to slam the timber along the southern bank in 6′ to 8′ of water. Zach and Hanover_Yakker greet each other and begin working the center of the timber field. I’m throwing a wacky rigged 4″ Yum Dinger, the Skitter Pop, the Mann’s 1-Minus, a pig-n-jig (only once, got hung up and that’s all it took for me) and at one point a SPRO Bronzeye frog. Another KBF-er, UTVolyaker, shows up and starts to fish the timber as well. I sure do love the Commander 120 he’s fishing out of. After an hour or so and close to 9am, I land a nice 14″ largemouth on the Yum Dinger. I was working the worm between to parallel laydowns, working the worm along the length of them.


Another hour or so with no action, I look over Justin’s way and notice he’s still in the same cove he started in. He’s definitely a more methodical angler than I am, so I just chalk it up to him really wanting to work a specific area. Zach and UTVolyaker call it a day; we say our goodbyes and tight lines. Another 30 minutes or so and I’m still not having any luck so I paddle over Justin’s way to see how he’s doing. Again, I pose the question of “Any luck?”, fully expecting the answer of “No”. Justin says, “Yeah man, I’m killing them.” WHAT?!?!? I say, “How many?”. Justin answers, “I don’t know, I stopped counting at one point. But I’m guessing around 12 with the largest being 16 inches”. Wow, no one else has really had much action and Justin is pulling them in left and right. Justin states he thinks he’s on to a pattern in that the bass seem to be holding in the shade and are hitting on a texas-rigged worm. Now I know why he sat in the one area for a couple of hours.

At this point I’m looking for shade to start casting to, but the sun is almost overhead now as it’s about noon. The frogs are out in full force, chirping away so I decide to start throwing the frog but didn’t have any luck. I stay close to Justin as he continues to fish and he hooks up 2 more times. At this point, I bring out a texas-rigged Zoom Trick Worm in green. I immediately get a hit, but the hook knot fails. We fish for about 20 more minutes and decide it’s time to get out of the timber. Here are a few action shots of Justin in the standing timber.



We decide to continue with the pattern and start banging the southern banks while fishing our way back towards the put in. The action starts picking up and we’re now both landing fish on the found pattern. At this point, we’re both having a blast and landing decent fish. A lot of 12″ to 15″ fish being landed. We get to an area that I’ve seen a 15″ and 20″ pulled out of so I point it out to Justin. We both begin casting and I get a tap-tap on my worm so I set the hook. FISH ON! I immediately get a huge tug and the drag starts screaming….it’s a good fish. 90 seconds and 3 jumps later, I land the largemouth. What a great fight; probably one of the better LMB fights I’ve ever had. I’m thinking it’s around 20″ but put it on the board and it measures 17.5″. Not quite the 20″ I was hoping for but still a good fish.



Justin also gets into a nice sized fish in this area, but the fish tries to break him off in a rootball. Justin spends the next 3 or 4 minutes trying to fish the largemouth out of the roots. I probably should have helped him out but spent all my time documenting his efforts. I think he did fine by himself as he pulls out a nice 15″-er.

At this point, we’ve both been in our yaks for about 7 hours so we make a beeline to the bridge and dock our yaks at the point across from it. The astute salt angler that Justin is notices some smaller fish running about 10 yards off shore. “There’s some bait running”. I get my crank rod out that now has a 1/2oz Rat-L-Trap in bleeding shad tied on and make a cast beyond the bait and start cranking it back. The crank hits some submerged weeds and I go to pull it through…WHAM! Fish on!!! Nice call Justin. I land a nice 14″-ish largemouth.


We finish stretching our legs and drinking some water and head out under the bridge, still making our way back to the put in. We have about an hour left to fish before we need to head home. At this point, the sun is straight up in the sky and not offering a lot of shade. Surface water temps are now 85 and air temps around 92. The southern bank looks like it’s still providing the most shade (barely any) so we decide to crash it. Justin eyeballs a small cove while I see a series of laydowns I’d like to hit. We both paddle across the channel.

As I approach the first laydown, there is tons of surface activity along this 30 yard stretch of bank…lots of bait movement. I immediately throw my worm to the left side of the laydown and get a hit on the first cast. Reel in the fish, a small 10″ largemouth. I release him and start to look for my next target. There is still a lot of bait movement on the other side of the laydown so I throw over there. I get another hit and the rod immediately doubles over. FISH ON!!! The beast makes his way to the surface and this fish has size. After a couple of drag screaming runs, the fish is almost tired out but manages to dart under the laydown. I can feel the tension on the rod and at this point, I don’t know if I’m hung up on tree or if the fish is still on. I make a low sweep with the rod and manage to pull the largemouth out from under the laydown and bring it to the boat. This fish HAS to be 20″…nope. Another 17.5″ but I’ll take it.



As I release the fish into the water, I notice a sore on the back right side of the fish. At this point, I’m jacked up about my recent catch and notice more bait running 20 yards down the bank. I decide to throw the Rat-L-Trap again but too much adrenaline just lands my crank about 20′ up in a tree. Wow, that cast was no where near the target. I start to laugh at myself and manage to pull the $5 lure from the tree without loss. Thank goodness for braid.

Justin makes his way around the corner and I tell him about my 2 catches. He figures there might be another fish in there so he tosses his worm near the laydown. Justin gets a bite and remarks that it’s a large fish. A short fight and he lands the fish. Another biggun’ right next to that same laydown!!! Justin takes a quick measurement and it reads 17.5″. Interesting…two 17.5″ largemouth under the same narrow laydown? I ask Justin, “Hey man does that fish have a sore on the back right side?”. Justin takes a quick peak and starts grinning, “Yeah man it does. Same fish. He’s either really hungry or really stupid”. Heh, we catch the same largemouth no more than 5 minutes apart on t-rigged worms, one green and one brown.

Time’s running out on us so we keep on making our way back to the put in. We catch a few more fish in the 10″ to 14″ range (I also manage a whopper of a 6″) and decide to call it a day. Final fish count:

Justin — 25ish
Eric — 15ish

Mission accomplished, Justin catches a boatload of fish and we both have a blast. I love Sandy River Reservoir and can’t wait until my next trip out there.

To see all the photos from the trip, see my picasa album.




8 responses

22 06 2010

Nice fish to both of you. Patience definitely pays off man, I just didn’t have it that day. I need to get my bass face on before the year progresses any further. Let’s do it again real soon.

22 06 2010
Eric Miles

Being patient today definitely paid off. I had only 3 fish to my name with about 5 or 6 bites total by about noon-ish. Although Justin got hot in the timber, most of our action came as soon as we left, in only about 2 hours of fishing.

We’ll hit it again soon. I’m going fly fishing on Mossy Creek or Beaver Creek this weekend. Maybe the weekend after that we can catch up.

23 06 2010
Lake Erie Walleye Fishing – Best Spots/Tips | Anglers Fishery

[…] Sandy River Reservoir 6-18-2010 « Tight Lines and Tight Deadlines […]

28 06 2010
Chip Taliaferro

Hey Eric –

I need to get you down to my family’s farm ponds, or onto the Rappahannock at some point. Since you’re a Richmond guy, it’s not too far out of your way.

Hope all is well.


28 06 2010
Eric Miles

You’ve piqued my interest 🙂 Farm ponds are notorious for having ginormous largemouth. What county are those ponds in?

6 07 2010

Can you tell me about the cool measuring board in the pictures? I’d love to get one like that.

6 07 2010
Eric Miles

It’s Called a Hawg Trough and you can find them at Cabelas and Hook1. They are great!

15 09 2011
Judy Morrill

Hi again Eric,
Somehow I didn’t see these comments on my first go round. That answers the question I had on the measuring tray thingy.Thanks.

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