James River – Huguenot Flatwater – 5-13-2012

13 05 2012

Got out for about 2.5 hours today on Huguenot Flatwater. I’ve fished this stretch well over 20 or 30 times and haven’t had much luck. Since I only had a few hours today and needed to get on/off fairly quickly, I just hit it in hopes I’d land a couple of fish.

As I was putting in, a young guy was coming off the water. He said the current was ripping, the wind was pushing downstream as well, and fishing was tough. He said he didn’t catch anything so I wasn’t expecting much. I forgot my Hawg Trough so without hope of catching anything significant, I entered the water care free.

Got on the water and the water was high and fast. I remember a hand drawn picture I’ve seen that Jeff Little drew, a profile view of ledges and eddies and how to fish them in high and low water. That drawing showed fish holding tight upstream in the eddie, so that’s where I concentrated today. Normally there are tons of visible rocks to wedge yourself on and fish off of, today there were only a dozen or so…

First one I come to, I throw a Mann’s Baby Waker in a bass pattern to the rock and started reeling in. No more than a couple of cranks and I get a solid hit. After a nice fight I reel in a nice 17″ smallie, my new PB. Again, nothing to measure by I’m going my estimates of my body parts 🙂

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Release this fish and now I’m beaming. Hit 2 or 3 more of the visible structure, going with the same pattern but no more hits. On the 4th or so, I beach my kayak, throw out the Mann’s about 15 yards downstream, and start retrieving back to the rock. I get a hit…and it was a doozie. It’s the largest freshwater fish I’ve ever seen in person. I got to set the hook and the rod doesn’t bend…FRACK. The knot failed, friggin Rapala knot. I’ve had that knot fail on me the last 2 outings on larger fish. I know it’s the tier and not the knot…. I quickly grab my finesse rod, with a draggin’ head and a Tiki Craw loaded up with Craw Bioscent. Throw it back in the vicinity of the strike, no more than 10 seconds and my line starts moving…go to the hook and the rod doesn’t bend. SONOFA…this knot failed too. W-T-FRACK. Improved clinch, but it failed too (yes I wet before tightening). I quickly real in, grab a weighted tube hook, throw a green tube on, lather it up with Craw Bioscent and throw it back in the area. This time I let is set for what seemed like 3 to 4 mins and the line starts moving again. Set the hook…FISH ON. I can’t believe the size of this smallie. After a nice fight, I land him. HOLY CRAP, I wish I had my Hawg Trough.

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FYI, the inside of the 2012 Ride 135 is 20″. This fish reaches end to end and is also laying over the bump in the middle. I’m guessing this guy went 20.5″ to 21″. Most certainly would have been a Virginia citation. I release the fish and get on about my day.

I catch another dink over the next hour, but not much else. I’m about to wrap up for the day, there’s still 2 visible rocks I haven’t hit. I’m going to leave after these two. On the first one, no action on the Baby Waker. I throw the tube in and let is set for 3 or 4 mins and I think I see hit, but I’m not sure so I don’t set the hook. After 5 or so seconds the line is moving so I set the hook. A nice fight later and I’m estimating this fish at 19″.

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Unfortunately, that extra 5 second wait enabled this fish to inhale the tube. It was gut hooked. I’m always iffy on what to do in this situation, just take the fish home or cut the line and hope the hook frees itself. I do what I always do and cut the line and returned the fish as fast as possible (after a couple of snapshots). I hope that guy lives and reaches 20″+. I decide to call it a day on that one.

2.5 hours fished in an area that’s not rare to send me home with a skunk, 4 fish caught and 3 of them went 17″, 19″, and 20.5+”. Pretty good day for me.

All my pics:

https://plus.google.com/photos/102799211425946575386/albums/5742144187400956049





Redfishville Shootout 10-5-2011

9 10 2011

Redfishville 2011, 4 days of fishing in Mt. Pleasant, SC with Justin targeting the awesome fighting Redfish on the flats of Copahee Sound and around the oyster beds of the Wando River. I’ve had this date circled on my calendar for quite some time. I left from Richmond on Wednesday 10-5 around 6am and got to Mt. Pleasant at 12:45pm-ish. I quickly dropped a few things off and Justin and I headed to Copahee for a few hours of fishing. We got on the water, headed for the island at the creek mouth to catch bait. After we caught bait, paddled out to the sound to hit Reds as they entered the grass. High tide was at 4:07pm this day and we had baits in the water by 2pm. Fished the grass line without a lot of success using cut mullet on a carolina rig or a live mullet under a float. Justin boated at least one nice fish at 28″+ off the grass line.

Somewhere between 3pm and 3:30pm we entered a flat and immediately saw tails. Justin headed one way and I headed another. I see one Red pushing through some pretty skinny water. I toss a paddletail swimbait in electric chicken all around the Red and get no action. BTW, flats fishing will REALLY highlight how weak your casting is. You need to hit very small 6 to 12 inch windows, which I’m not all that great at. Anyways, after casting at this Red 6 or 7 times, I get a bit impatient. Throw the swimbait just beyond him and bring the bait back into it…it bumps it and the Red spooks and swims off. Drats. I look further up the flat and see ANOTHER tailing Red. I figure the last Red didn’t like my swimbait so I switched over to a 3″ Gulp Shrimp in New Penny (it wasn’t the bait, it was my placement I later came to the conclusion). I make 3 or 4 casts to this Red and finally get a decent cast. The fish hits and it’s on! A fun couple of minutes and I land my first flats Red, an upper slot sized (don’t remember the exact size, somewhere between 22″ and 24″).

I release the fish and then proceed to catch the next 2 tailers I see, all were between 22″ and 24″. So now I’m 3 of 4 I’ve casted to and feeling pretty good. I start to make my way over to Justin and see a few more tailers. I make casts to a few and either get a spook or just no interest. I get over to Justin and at this point I’m 3 of 6 for tailers. I watched Justin hook into a decent size red only to have his leader snap after a few seconds of fight. I tell Justin I’ve caught 3 of 6 and he’s in disbelief. We both spot a LARGE tail coming out of the water on the flat in some deeper water. Luckily for me, Justin had to retie so I start making casts. I cast 5 or 6 times before the tail disappears, but it wasn’t spooked. I hold still waiting for it to reappear. After 5 more minutes the tail reappears between Justin and I. He gives me the green light to cast. On my 2nd cast I get a strike and I set the hook. Line starts peeling off back out into the grass….Hold on there fella!!! After a nice 5 minute fight, I land a nice 26 3/4″ Red.

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The water starts exiting the flat and the bite slows, so we call it an evening at 5pm-ish. I have 4 Reds on maybe 10 casted at, I think Justin finished with 2 caught but he had the biggest of the day at 28″+. Between the 2 of us we saw probably 20 or so tailers…a GREAT day on the flats.

Thursday is our full “scout day” where we planned to fish both tides in Copahee so we’d have an idea of how we want to fish on the day of the tourney. We get out at 8:30am-ish and hit the water (and a bit hungover). Justin and I always have a good time when we hang out, the night before was no exception.

Dragging a bit, we catch bait and head to the Sound. Low tide is at 10:09am and high tide is at 5:02pm. My Ride is already dragging bottom on a few spots where the water is pretty skinny. We head out to some oyster mounds and start soaking baits. I’m using a live mullet under a float and cut mullet on a carolina rig. We see no action in the deeper water at low tide, so head in to the skinnier water and that’s when the action picked up (for Justin at least). I paddle up on and spook quite a few fish, but don’t hook into anything. Justin catches a few fish in the skinnier water before we head to the grass line once the water starts coming in. BTW, that live mullet lasted for 2 hours under that float until I accidentally raked it across some oyster beds and killed it.

I throw a cut mullet to the grass line and wait…I didn’t have to wait long. I get a bite, I tighten up the line and the fight is on. The Red makes several 10 to 20 yard runs and I finally wear it out after 5 minutes or so. This Red was 28 3/4″ pinched. WOW, nice Red. I release it and throw my cut bait back into the water in almost the same spot. After a short 5 minutes, I get another strike and reel down. The rod doubles over and line immediately starts peeling off at an incredible rate back out into the Sound. Line is pulled off for a good 20 or 30 seconds, I’m guessing well over 100 yards of braid. The wind has picked up quite a bit so I’m hesitant to pull my stake out pole, but I’m not getting this monster back in just sitting here. I pull the pole and the wind immediately starts taking me in the opposite direction of the fish. I manage a few one handed paddles in the direction of the line but my line is all over/through an oyster bar and the line snaps. Given that I just caught a 28 3/4″ Red and he was only able to get off short 10 and 20 yard runs where my drag was set, I’m fairly certain this was at least a 30″ Red…maybe a lot more. We’ll never know…dejected, I retie another Carolina rig and throw my line back out. I catch another 28 1/2″ Red before we hit the flats. We fish a different flat today and we don’t see a single Red. We get off the flat about an hour after high tide and head home. Justin wins the fish count today, finishing with 5 Reds but I win for the biggest at 28 3/4″.

Day 3 is Friday and we decide to fish the Wando due to the fairly strong 15 to 25mph north east winds…hoping for some relief from it. (we didn’t get it). Ran into Carter, a guide for Kayak Fish SC, at the Paradise Island launch he was chartering that day. Spoke for a few mins and watched him catch some bait before we launched. The wind was brutal and just made paddling and fishing pretty difficult. Justin and I were unable to land any bait at the launch so we were hoping to get some while out on the water.

3 hours later, no bait, no fish, and we had had enough of the fighting of the wind with no action. We pack up and head to the 41 bridge to go for bull Reds hoping to get some relief from the geography change and the change in tide. Catch some bait at the launch and head over to the hole. Cast our lines out and have them soaking for a bit when a yellow lab shows up on the bank. He seems excited to see us. He immediately jumps down in the water and starts getting in Justin’s way, swimming over/around/through Justin’s line. Justin reels up and attempts to paddle out into deeper water near me. The dog follows. The dog now swims over to me and is getting in my way. This goes on for close to an HOUR; him swimming switching off between Justin and my kayak, getting in the way. An hour of wasted fishing trying to get away from this dog who is ruining any chance we have at fishing. I can’t believe this dog was swimming in swift current, with a strong wind, for nearly an hour.

We think the dog will leave us alone if we head across the river and fish some docks; it does. Justin proceeds to catch 3 Reds underneath one dock and I go 0-fer. We call it a day and head in. I was skunked this day so I was pretty down but tomorrow will be a different day.

We knew we were going to miss the Captain’s meeting for the tourney the Friday night so we planned on doing the meetup at 6am at on Saturday morning. Overnight, one of Justin’s kids got sick and caused him to miss the alarm. I’m a heavy sleeper and didn’t wake up either so we don’t make it out of bed until 7:30am pretty certain we’re not going to catch anyone at the launch (we didn’t). We catch some bait at the island and head out, hoping to run into Ken or Tommy out on the water. The wind was insane, 25mph easily and constant. It made paddling very difficult. We saw a lot of other kayakers but didn’t attempt to weave in and out due to the wind. We just let it blow us down the grass line until we could find space to wedge up on the grass.

We fished the grass line and then hit the skinny water out around the oyster bars again through low tide. I caught 4 stingrays but didn’t manage a single Red. Justin’s having a pretty good day, landing several Reds. I finally get into a rather large one on the grass line only to have it come unbuttoned boat side after 3 or 4 minutes of fighting. I got another from he same spot about 5 minutes later but the leader snapped in half after a minute or two.

Since we were officially not in the tournament and I now had 1.5 days of fish skunk on my boat, we decided to skip the “weigh-in” and try to fish the same flat we had success on the other day. The wind picked up and became even worse (if that’s possible). There were now white caps in Copahee. Given how bad the wind was and how difficult fishing the flat would be with it, we make an executive decision to skip fishing and wait for enough water to enter the grass so we can drag our kayaks back and call it a day. Another skunk for me but Justin ends the day at 6 total. There are a couple of funny personal stories of us trying to get back to launch by dragging across the flat, diving through pluff mud, falling into a creek, etc, but I’ll spare those details.

I did have a good 4 days hanging with a friend I don’t see all that often and had 2 great days of fishing. The wind was killer the last 2 days (along with the weird dog), so ending on a skunk note sucked. I’ll be back at some point, Copahee was awesome as always.

All my pictures can be found here.





Lynnhaven Inlet 9-5-2011

5 09 2011

Sitting here and looking back on this day, it’s a wonder I caught any fish as there were so many errors and mishaps along the way. The weather was not looking promising for Virginia Beach, 15mph winds with gusts up to 25mph and scattered thunderstorms. I took vacation so I could fish today so I wasn’t going to sit around the house.

I set out around 7:15-ish am for Lynnhaven Inlet. I get about 30 mins in when I realize mistake number 1, I left my hat at home. Not a big deal, I’ll just have to apply extra sunscreen to my face. About 90 mins in and almost to my destination, the big oops is realized, #2: I left my PFD at home. Now anyone who know me, knows I don’t get in my kayak without it for safety reasons alone. However, I was on my vacation and 90 mins into my 105 minute trip I wasn’t about to turn around. The other problem with this is that my PFD also contains my line snipper, pliers (for removing hooks from toothy fish), whistle, and my knife/multi-tool. I had no backups in my saltwater crate, so I was going to be fishing without a lot of important tools.

I get to Lynnhaven and go to park, it’s my first time here. I realize the spots are numbered and there is box where you’re supposed to pay to park. Oops #3, I don’t have cash. I leave the parking lot and head to the local 7-11, take out cash, buy a power bar and get some change. Head back and start unloading. I brought my YakCatch bag as I had intended to take home some trout or flounder to eat when I realized oops #4: the Ride 135 doesn’t have deck line to attach the bag to. Well, I guess I won’t keep any fish today, lucky them.

I get all my stuff unloaded and loaded on the kayak, and get onto the water. I started to paddle out into the inlet when oops #5 hits: I left my salt water license in the car and my croakies for my sunglasses. I’ve recently moved to a 2 crate system: one for salt and one for fresh. This is my first time in the salt with the system and thus the license wasn’t already in the crate. I turn around and make the paddle back to retrieve said items. I finally get out into the inlet and beach at the sandbar right across from the mouth of Crab Creek. I brought along my cast net to try and catch bait, it would be my first time ever throwing a cast net. First toss is a success, I get 4 finger sized mullet in my net! Second toss I get 5! Wow, this is going to be easier than I thought. Third toss I get 2 and the rest of the tosses are pure ugliness. No more bait, but enough to get me to fish a while.

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At this point, I’ve got to re-rig one of my rods for a carolina rig so I get to work on 20lb Seagur Fluoro leader with my teeth. Ouch. I finally get my rig straight and paddle down the inlet a bit. I go to stake out at the creek mouth when oops #6 comes in: No anchor trolley for the Stick It In Pin. This was a known oops but still it was rather tough putting a 5.5′ stake out pole through a scupper and trying to manage that. I ended up having to reposition a few times to get everything squared away but once I was finally in position I stayed for quite some time.

I put a mullet onto the circle hook and tossed it out. At this point the tide was coming in so I let the current drift my rig. I feel a slight tug so I reel it in. I pull up a rather large blue crab that has cut my mullet nearly in half. The crab falls off, along with most of my bait. I rebait and cast back out. These slight tugs and losses of mullet to crab went on for 30 mins or so. Finally I get a good strike and set the hook. FISH ON! After a short fight, I land a 15″-ish flounder! He gave me lots of side boat splashes, I was soaked by the time he was landed.

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I release the flounder, rebait my hook with another mullet, and cast again letting the current drift my carolina rig. I get another strike on the very next cast and get a little bit of surface action. This is no flounder, it looks like a trout!!! A short fight later and I get him to the side of the yak. It’s a good size! 19″ of beautiful specks and teeth!

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If I had my YakCatch bag this trout would have been going home with me. Lucky for him, I did not so he was released.

I re-baited and re-casted and let the rig drift again. Recasting and re-drifting went on for a while. One time I went to reel in and the line was heavy so I swept my rod for a hookset…FISH ON! A short fight later and I have a blue up to the kayak…only problem is, it’s gut hooked. No pliers and no way I’m sticking my fingers in there…Lucky for him (and me) the blue’s teeth had put a hurting on the fluoro leader and it actually snapped when I put a little bit of pressure on the line. I let it go but I’m unsure how long it’ll last, he’s got a 3/0 Gammy Octopus hook in its gut. I had to retie my rig again, my poor teeth.

I eventually ran out of bait and fished some weed lines and small coves, landing one more small 8″ speckled trout on a 4″ New Penny Gulp Shrimp. Some weather was moving in, the current was swift and so was the wind, so I called it a day.

When I get back to the car, my cooler had somehow toppled over and water was all over the cargo area of my car: oops #7. This just was not my day! Glad I left when I did, some heavy rains started coming down on my way home.

All my pictures from the trip





Briery Creek 9-1-2011

1 09 2011

I’ll keep this short and sweet. Headed out to Briery Creek this morning for the first day of my delayed vacation. Hit the water at 7am (a little later than I had hoped) but fished until 2:15pm.

Started with a large chartreuse and white buzzbait and that got em going. Caught 5 LMB ranging from 10″ to 15.5″ in the first 75mins. Landed 2 more LMB on a wacky rigged 5″ senko in the next 15 mins. From about 8:30am until about 11:30am-ish, things got REALLY cold. I wasn’t spooking, hooking up with, or seeing any fish.

Somewhere around there, I started to find a few and realized the bass in the lilies were also holding to other cover (lay downs); lure of choice for a lily field was none other than a frog, Capt Ken’s Clone. I had a lot of short strikes today and had 4 bass take my frog, fight for 5 to 10 seconds and somehow manage to come unbuttoned.

Around 1:30pm, found some of the ideal “pattern” for the day and threw my clone over. While retrieving I got a huge blowup, so I let it sit. Another blowup but it was a good 2 feet from my clone. I reel it in and wait for about 60 seconds and then throw back over. This time I get a solid hit and I set the hook. Thank goodness this time the fish didn’t come unbuttoned and I land the largest fish of the day, a hair over 18″ and nice and fat.

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This is the most success I’ve ever had at Briery; I’ve been skunked several times here. I had my daughter Thursday nigh through Sunday, then Monday is the Salt, Tuesday I’m chasing Snakeheads, and Wednesday is a half day of guided fishing on Mossy Creek!

BTW, Briery in the middle of the week is FANTASTIC. There were only 3 trucks at the ramp when I got there, and I really only saw one other boat all day.

All my pictures:
https://picasaweb.google.com/102799211425946575386/20110911BrieryCreek#





HRBT Light Line 6-29-2011

29 06 2011

I emailed my buddy Chuck from KBF earlier in the week and said I was interested in some night fishing. I was thinking we’d fish Sandy River Reservoir or maybe Briery Creek. Chuck suggested the HRBT Light Line and while the Striper fishing isn’t thick this time of year, you can can still get into them. Considering an HRBT Light Line trip was on my list of things to do, I couldn’t turn it down. We had some logistical issues that were tough to work out, so I almost bailed on the trip. I’m glad I stayed the course and made my first trip.

I leave my client’s far west end offices and head to Hampton via I64 around 4:15-ish. Leaving this time and hitting Hampton around rush hour, I expected to get there close to 6:30 or 7pm. Even hitting a few thick showers, my pace wasn’t slowed and I got there around 5:45. I then spent the next 30 mins hmm-ing and haw-ing about where I wanted to park and launch; I finally pulled myself together and just did it. I threw aGulp! 4″ New Penny shrimp on a 1/4oz jighead and started fishing. There was a slight breeze but nothing awful to contend with at this point, probably blowing around 10mph.

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Off the shore about 40 yards, I start banging the HRBT pylons hoping to hook into anything that will take my offering. Within my first few casts, I’m getting all sorts of nibbling on my hook. I keep whiffing on the hookset, so I’m chalking it up to blues or some other small bait fish annoying the hell out of me. After 15 minutes or so, I get my first solid strike and I swing for the hookset…FISH ON!!! A short fight later and I land my first fish at the HRBT, a small croaker.

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I throw it back and get to fishing, changing up my retrieve from subsurface fast retrieve, to bouncing along the bottom, letting the current and wind pushing my yak, work my jig for me. I hook into another croaker, a small mud toad, and a small flounder.

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About this time, Chuck has showed up and is now launching. We both begin to work the Pylons some more, waiting for the sun to completely disappear so the HRBT lights will work their magic. There is a storm on the horizon and even though the wind, the surf, and the outgoing tide are starting to pick up, Chuck assures me the storm should miss us. He has his marine VHF with him so I’m going to defer to him. We both catch a few croaker when Rob Choi and a buddy of his shows up and join us. I eagerly look forward to speaking to Rob. I haven’t met Rob but I’ve read numerous blog entries and KBF reports of his, he’s a very accomplished angler and fishes the area frequently; I knew he had some tips for me. We all continue pounding the pylons waiting for night to fall, so we can begin our Striper chase.

I make one cast right into a pylon and start the retrieve, I get a solid bite and I swing for the hookset…FISH ON!!!! My rod doubles over and whatever is on, is certainly larger than anything else I’ve caught so far. After about 5 seconds of fight, the large fish goes air born, shaking its head vigorously trying to dislodge the hook I have in its mouth. It’s dusk so I can’t quite tell what it is, but I think it’s a speckled trout…and if so it’s a nice size one. I continue the fight and the fish makes several, hard runs, almost Redfish like. At this point, I think maybe I’ve got a Red on (never seen or heard of a Red going air born). I finally get it to the side of the yak and realize I’ve got a sweet speck on my line. Put it on the board and it measures a little over 19 inches!!!! SWEET! My camera takes horrible night shots (as you can see in the album linked at the end of the post), however Rob got a hero shot of me holding my speck.

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I release the speck and now I’m pumped. I’m ready to get into some Striper now and the daylight is almost all but gone.

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Unfortunately, so has most of the decent fishing conditions. The wind is now blowing at a 15mph to 25mph clip, with some stronger gusts. There’s lightning off in the distance and it’s getting dark, but Chuck still believes the storm is going to miss us. The surf has become rather choppy (that’s putting it lightly) and combined with the wind, has become rather difficult to fish in. All the anglers have spread out, looking for striper hunting for baitfish in the light cast down from the HRBT bridge lights, so I can’t tell if anyone is having any luck. With the poor paddling conditions, I’m struggling. After 45 mins or so of doing a lot more paddling than casting, I make my way over to Chuck and let him know I’m going to paddle in and take a break and see if the storm pulls away from the area, along with the horrible wind and surf. I start to paddle towards shore and I get about 30 yards or so before I feel a sharp pain in my shoulder. What the….POW. Hit again, now my knee. I look around me and see big splashes forming all on the surface of the water…HAIL!!!!! I make a bee line for the cover of the bridge and all hell breaks loose at that point. The hail only lasts about 20 seconds, but then the intense rain starts.

There’s not much to talk about here as I spend the next 45 minutes, in the same place, constantly paddling…battling the outgoing tide, wind, and surf (all working in the same direction) to try and stay under the bridge and out of the elements. The swells had to have been 4 feet or so, maybe more. I know I had water breaking over the bow of my kayak on nearly every swell. Usually when a heavy storm rolls in this fast, it rolls out just as fast. It never did.

When it looked like we could safely paddle to shore, Chuck and I follow the bridge in to take a short break. The rain is still pouring, but the wind has let up a little bit. We wait about 30 minutes to see if the storm passes but it doesn’t let up. I had planned on quitting at midnight if the fishing wasn’t hot….it was 11:30 and I had no desire to fight the rain, wind, and current anymore so we packed it up and headed home. Fun trip and I’ll definitely make it again, but I’ll keep a closer look at the weather before hand and make trip changes based on the weather.

When I got home, I looked up historical doppler images and found this. For those of you unfamiliar with the HRBT, I’m fishing above the P where the ride line cross over the body of water. Wait for what moves in that area around 10pm…

All my pictures





Most Important Goal 2011…Check! 4-30-2011

30 04 2011

One of my goals for 2011was to take Sadie fishing. I thought the perfect timing would be when she’s 3 years old; she’s about 6 weeks off from her 3rd birthday. We had some great weather this weekend and she was visiting so I figured we’d go give it a shot. I’ve been slaying Crappie at Wyndham Lake, so I see no reason why Sadie won’t pull some in.

I bought her a Shakespeare Tinkerbell rod and reel for Christmas, it lights up when you cast it. All I needed were some small hooks, some bait, and a bobber, and we’d be set. I bought some PowerBait Crappie Nibbles, size 10 Eagle Claw snelled hooks, and some much larger than necessary bobbers. We set out on Saturday morning around 9:30 and head over to the lake.

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We get there and it’s much windier than I had hoped, but Sadie was excited about fishing with Dada so I didn’t want to let her down.

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I prepared the tackle the night before, so I didn’t waste time at the Lake while my busy body daughter wondered when we were going to get to fishing. We go down to an area that I know holds Crappie. I let her be the bait girl, responsible for the jar of Nibbles. She gets me out bait when I need it. I tell her I need a nibble and she proceeds to open the jar and hand me 2 (while tossing a few more into the water). After putting the bait on the hook, I help her make a cast (ok, I casted for her) and we watch the bobber. The wind starts pushing the bobber back into the bank, no signs of fish. We reel it in and cast out again. This time we get some activity. The immediate shriek and giggle of Sadie watching the bobber splash and go underwater, I’ll never forget. It was a proud moment to experience my daughter enjoying one of my hobbies, something that I enjoyed when I was a kid with my step-father, mother, father, brothers and sister.

We still didn’t get any fish so we make a few more casts. It looks as though the bobber is going to get blown into the bank when I tell Sadie to reel in…at that point the line goes tight. FISH ON!!!!! I’m not quite sure Sadie knew or understood she had a fish, but Dada was screaming “Sadie you have a fish!!!! Start reeling! Good job! Keep the rod tip up! Keep pressure on! Keep reeling!” I’m glad I didn’t yell any expletives, I know I was so excited for her one of them could have slipped out. After a few cranks of Tinkerbell, she pulls in her very first fish…a tiny Bluegill.

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I take the bluegill off the hook and offer up for her to look at it. At this point she realizes that she’s actually got a fish and doesn’t really want to get near it, almost a little scared. She can be a little shy around new things sometimes, so it’s understandable. I offer up the fish one more time to touch it, she wants no part of it. I toss it back in and watch it swim away. Gotta teach her Catch and Release early, right? Much to my delight, Sadie yells out “Let’s catch another one!”. Daddy is beaming at this point, I’m so proud of my little girl.

I tell Sadie let’s move down a bit, knowing the rock structure up ahead usually holds a few Crappie. Sadie replies, “yeah there’s prolly fish up here”. She’s already reading structure! LOL We make another cast and get another FISH ON. A few more cranks of Tinkerbell, and Sadie has landed her first Black Crappie.

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This time, she wants to touch it.

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After a few touches, pets, and pokes, I offer for her to throw the fish back. She says no and tells me to throw it back, so I toss the Crappie back in the water and we get back to fishing. We go another 10 minutes or so without much action. Sadie at this point is losing her focus, which was expected. Fishing takes a lot of patience and focus, something most 3 year olds lack but I was completely expecting it. At this point, the trip was a success. We get one more bite and land another small bluegill. Sadie is enamored with eyeballs, so she pokes the fish’s eyeball a few times. I chuckle and tell her the fish probably doesn’t like that, but he probably didn’t like the hook in his mouth either. The fish gets a little wiggly and starts flapping. It jumps out of my hand, into the air, and smacks Sadie right in the head, before landing in the water. I almost fall to the ground laughing and Sadie starts chuckling.

I happen to look down and sometime during the fracas, my bait girl has dropped the bait jar while it was open. All of our bait is spread out across the ground. I didn’t explicitly tell her, but I fired her (I took the bait jar and kept it in my pocket). At this point, her interest was waning. She was off chasing ducks and she left me holding the Tinkerbell rod and a nearly empty jar of bait. I let her chase a duck for a few minutes then we pack it up and head to the playground for a bit. I’m not sure who had more fun, Sadie or Daddy but I know one thing, I absolutely loved sharing my love of fishing with Sadie. I can’t wait to take her again.

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All photos from our trip





Beaver Creek 2-12-2011

12 02 2011

I had a day to myself and after Mossy Creek earlier in the week, I had the trout itch that needed to be cured (not to mention my trout season beard is in full now). I decided I was going to try some new waters on this day so I headed west again from Richmond to the Shenandoah Valley…Beaver Creek. I’m constantly on Mossy Creek Fly Fishing’s website, checking conditions and looking at all the pictures of monster fish they catch in the local creeks. Beaver Creek is no exception in their trophy gallery so I was hoping I could finally catch that monster trout I’ve been looking for. Beaver Creek only has 4 rod passes per day and it’s first come first serve so I knew I’d have to get up early.

BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! My body’s internal clock wakes me up at 5:45am, a whole 15 mins before my REAL alarm was supposed to go off. While I’m excited about my opportunity to fish today, the desire to sleep almost won over. I’m glad I got out of bed…

I get to the Ottobine Country store at about 7:45-ish, get my pass (I was the 2nd of the day), and head up stream to Ottobine Elementary where I park and start to pull myself together. My leader is a bit short so I pull out an extra long piece of tippet and tie it on. As I’m clipping my tag ends on the connector knot, I cut the wrong piece and my tippet falls to the ground. Awesome way to start the day…

I get all my junk together and get over to the creek. It’s a beautiful, narrow creek running through pastures and a small wooded area. I start at a small foot bridge where the current is swift. It’s been a while since I fished anything other than a streamer, so I take out a bead head prince nymph, put on a strike indicator, and get to knocking the rust off a bit. I spend the next 30 mins or so working on my casting and drift technique with a nymph, it’s probably been 2 or 3 years since I fished this way. I keep moving upstream, with plenty of eddies, slackwater, and seams to fish but I’m not spooking any trout nor am I seeing any. I take out my thermometer and shove it in the water…I get a reading of 40F. I thought this was a spring fed creek so I was expecting it to be warmer; I chalk it up to a broken thermometer.

I carelessly keep moving up stream, not keeping a low profile when I notice the water has become deeper and more still and I see a fairly large trout swim away upstream. I should have been stalking a bit more and a little less careless, hopefully I didn’t spook the hole. I had placed several casts in front of this trout with the nymph and he didn’t take it before it swam off, so I decided I should switch over to the trout crack (kreelex). I make several more casts into this rather large, slow moving pool and get no hits. Well must not be anything in here other than the one fish I spooked, so I jump up to my feet to move on….SPOOOOOOOK!!!! About 10 spooked trout start darting all over the place, looking for cover. They must have all been stacked up on the bottom. Again, should have been a little more patient and worked the kreelex a little more diligently. Hopefully I didn’t kill the best hole I’d see for the day. 20 more minutes working the hole without a sniff and my worry was confirmed.

I head back to the footbridge and just below it, is a beautiful riffle with a very large pool below it. The following picture was taken from the back side of the pool, looking up to the top of the pool where the riffle enters.

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I still had the kreelex on, so I cast to the opposite bank and let the fly fall and swing into the center of the pool. As I’m stripping the line goes tight and the rod doubles over….FISH ON!!!! Holy crap, line starts pulling off and something hits the surface. That can’t be the fish on my line, it’s the size of an alligator! You would think one would be able to remember every moment of the best trout fight of their lives, but honestly the next 10 minutes are a blur. I spent so much effort concentrating on fighting the fish and giggling like a child with joy. The huge trout made several jumps shaking its head, a few long runs (pulled line off my reel..wow it’s nice to hear drag on a fly rod), tried to break me off in the riffle’s current, and just wouldn’t let me get it anywhere near the bank. I was fishing with my 3wt with 4x tippet and I just knew it was going to break, but it held on for me. I finally get the fish to the bank and attempt to net it with my very undersized trout net (note to self, get a new bigger net). When I get the fish a few feet away from the bank and lay it down, I can’t believe the size.

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I caught a large rainbow at Suzi Q back in December and this fish only had 3 or 4 inches of length on that other fish, but this fish outclassed the other by its girth big time. I’m unsure of the weight of this trout, but take a look at it compared to my hand.

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This was a monster trout that has to have been at least 5 pounds and I’m estimating it at 24 inches in length (using my rod for comparisons). Easily the biggest trout I’ve ever caught. I quickly snap a few pics (sure wish someone was there to take a picture of me WITH the fish) and get it back in the water. I revive it and ensure it swims away safely…hopefully he’ll be there for someone else to catch another day. I tell you what though, I bet it won’t be snapping at any gold/copper kreelex flies ever again 😀

Not sure how I’m going to top that one. I continue to fish and enter a wooded area that reminded me more of a Virginia brook trout stream….and I proceeded to fish it like one. I lost several kreelex flies and even a wooly bugger to over hanging limbs and branches and didn’t see any fish. I exited the wooded area and came to about a 1/4 miles stretch of stream improvements the Massanutten Trout Unlimited chapter has done. Let me tell you, the stream looks FANTASTIC. I didn’t see any fish holding in this section today, hopefully when the water warms up the fish will spread out. There are tons of log jams, mid stream boulders, k-dams, etc in this stretch…it definitely looks the part of trout water. I wish I would have taken more pictures here, TU really did an amazing job.

I finished the day at about noon and head back to the Ottobine Country Store for some lunch. I bought what is one of the best ham and cheese subs I’ve ever eaten for $4.50. If you fish Beaver Creek, do order lunch here. It’s awesome.

On a small side note, after I finished up I headed over to Mossy Creek to finish my day. There were 2 anglers parked at Route 42 and 4 anglers parked at the church. Coupled with the strong wind that blew in during the morning, there was nothing doing at Mossy. I did manage to catch another 12″ fallfish…damn creek chubs.

Picasa album of Beaver Creek.