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





Froggin on Sandy River Reservoir 8-1-2010

1 08 2010

While driving to Briery, I made a spur of the moment change of plans and landed at Sandy. Sunrise was at 6:17 and I was on the water at 6:21. There were only 4 trucks/trailers in the lot, so I was going to have some water to myself this morning. Air temps were 70-78 the entire day and water temps 82. It was overcast for most of the day. Sounds like perfect fishing weather. The reservoir is noticeably lower than what it was 6 weeks ago, somewhere between 1 and 2 feet lower. The odd mixture of cold air temps and warm water made for interesting conditions when I first started out…

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I began fishing the riprap throwing (mostly) a frog patterned Skitter Pop and a Mann’s 1-Minus. I got into a dink and an overly aggressive bluegill (lure was much bigger than it was) and missed a strike when I had turned my head to see what had caused some wake. All were caught on the Skitter Pop. I made it all the way to the end (literally my last cast of the riprap) when I got a blowup on my Skitter Pop. A short fight and I had landed my largest fish of the day, a 16.25″ LMB.

From there I fished the drainage ditch, the bridge riprap, and all my usual laydowns, coves, points, etc without a single nibble. I did manage to spook what would have been the fish of the day when I cast my stickbait into its head. I was throwing a white/chart buzzbait, watermelon red flake 5″ yum dinger rigged wacky, watermelon Zoom trick worm t-rigged, and a 1/2oz rat-l-trap in bleeding shad. I’m getting hung up left and right but no action from the fish. At this point, it’s approaching 9:30ish and I’m getting a little frustrated. I usually don’t have luck in the timber but figured I needed a change of pace so I make a bee line to the thick stuff.

I head straight for a spot my brother in-law found when he was in town that he pulled in 12 or so LMB. My first cast….hung up. I wasn’t interested in losing any tackle so I crashed the area…guess I won’t be catching anything here. I notice the vegetation is much thicker along the banks than it ever has been, so I decide to throw my frog. I’ve thrown frogs in here before without any luck but we’ll give it a shot.

I’m throwing a SPRO Bronzeye in a new color (can’t even find it on their website) but it’s a blaze orange/red/black combo. Within my first 2 or 3 casts, I get a blowup. I set the hook and land a 15″ LMB. Sweet, I love frog bass. I release it and make another cast…BAM…another blowup….another hookset and I land another LMB, this one about 14″. Hmmmm, think I’ve got the pattern here. I go on to fish the outer edge of the timber, strictly fishing vegetation with my frog. I catch about 15 LMB all between 13″ and 15″, they could be clones of each other. I’m getting pretty good with my frog, I only missed 1 hookset today and had 2 short strikes, but the rest were put in the boat. I had a fairly large blowup from a bigger fish, but when I threw back with my stickbait, I overshot the area and ended up catching a much smaller fish.

There’s very little vegetation on the southern shore of the timber area and thus, I only caught 1 LMB once I made the turn. And once I got out of the timber…the pattern was off. Time was running short so I made a bee line to the “trench” and threw my trap about 10 times. I managed to land one last dink before calling it a day. A sample of what I was catching and what I was using…

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Final totals, close to 20 fish, none with any real size but LOTS of frog action which is always a blast. I also managed to paddle up on a school of carp (I think) in about 1 foot of water right outside the trench. The water was so low, they were “tailing”. It was pretty cool. The funny thing was, one got spooked and they ALL got spooked, probably 10 or so fish.

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Some other interesting notes, I didn’t see a single angler on the eastern side of the bridge the entire day. I had the timber area to myself the entire morning, which I thought was really odd for Sandy. There were 20 or so trucks in the lot when I got back so I guess they all just decided to fish South of the ramp. After fishing in SC for a week, it was nice to be able to fish without looking over your shoulders for gators. I also did not attempt to stand up in my kayak today after turtling the last time. I’ve never gotten hung up so much from t-rigged or wacky rigged worms in my life. I battled that the entire day.

Link to external pictures.

GPX Track





Long Roddin’ for Bluegills 7-9-2010

9 07 2010

Ever since my Mossy Creek trip, I’ve been thinking about getting out all my fly fishing gear. For those of you that don’t know me, I started freshwater fishing (after growing up saltwater fishing on the Chesapeake for Spot, Croaker, Flounder, etc) when I was living in the New River Valley from 2006 – 2008. I was fly fishing for trout in small mountain streams in the fall and spring and fishing for smallmouth and bluegills in the New River in the summer. I had put up my fly fishing gear in leu of conventional tackle when I moved to Richmond and bought my kayak.

I got out my stuff last weekend and after Rachel and Sadie were in bed tonight, I set out to Robious Landing Park. There’s a dock here that crew boats use to load/unload so I picked out a spot there and got ready to cast with my TFO 3-weight. There are about 8 people on the dock and most of them start to watch me as I begin the 10 o’clock to 2 o’clock arm movement of the fly angler’s cast. I’m throwing a size 12-ish ant pattern with some crystal flash and I’m expecting big things. I immediately hook into what feels like a really small fish…so on a 3 weight I know it’s tiny. Pull him in and I immediately hear the teenager behind me say “awwwww” to the 2-inch bluegill that is now flopping on the dock. Yeah…real big fish. I continue to cast for 25 minutes or so and while the fish are slurping the surface around my fly, none of them manage to get it in its mouth. I determine I need to size down the fly and tie on a size 16 hopper.

I move over to the boat launch and start roll casting to the brush pile about 10 feet away. I immediately get a hit from a much larger bluegill this time. While its only 5 inches or so, it puts up a great battle on a 3wt. I continue roll casting to the brush pile and end up hooking into 4 more bluegill, all about 4 to 5 inches in length. These things are great fun on a 3wt!!!! It’s 8:55pm and the park closes at 9pm, however I haven’t gotten the fishing out of my system for the evening so I head to a local apartment complex pond.

I’ve fished this apartment complex pond before for bass and have caught them from 8″ to 12″. I assume there’s bluegill in here as well so I get to casting. Within the first 5 casts, I get a 4 or 5 inch bluegill on. Another fun fight on the 3wt and another fish released. I go on to catch 2 or 3 others, sometimes sight casting to surface disturbance to get my strikes. I spot some more surface disturbance and throw my hopper over into the area. As my hopper is sitting there, I notice the surface disturbance stops. Hmm…wonder what’s going on? SPLASH!!!! The line tightens up and my now instinctive reaction kicks in to raise the rod tip. This is no bluegill, this is a bass!!!!!! About the same time I get my rod to the apex of my fighting stance, the line goes slack. SHOOT! Hopper broke off. I’m using 6x tippet and while it’s rated for more than what these bass weigh, I’m sure my knot tying skills with line this light is quite rusty. I immediately get charged about catching a bass on a 3wt so I run back to my truck to get my fly box.

I then spend the next 20 mins trying to tie a size 12 black wooly bugger on a 6x tippet in the only light I could find, my interior truck light. Tying an improved clinch knot with 6x tippet on small flies is difficult as is, try doing it when there’s hardly any light!!!! I finally got it tied and ran back over to the water. I then start the typical streamer fly routine of casting out and stripping back in. Cast….strip…strip…strip…strip…pick up…and repeat. About the 6th cast into the original bass strike area, I get the familiar feel of my fly line going tight and I go to lift the rod tip up…..the fly breaks off again. Damnit I’ve really lost fishing with light fly tackle. It certainly had to be another bass. I wasn’t going to spend another 20 mins trying to tie on another fly so I head home. I know the bass in this pond probably haven’t seen flies much, if at all, so I’m going to tie on some stronger tippet and head back soon. I’ll be reporting back later.