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





James River Wetlands 9-3-2010

3 09 2010

I assumed with the slightly overcast, cooler morning that I’d have some luck fishing. I also fished this stretch of the James 2 weeks ago and had success.

Launched from the James River Wetlands and fished predominantly between that point and downstream to where there small set of rapids begin at Powhite. I started off throwing a craw patterned Mann’s 1-Minus, Culprit brown 3″ beetle, and a spinnerbait. Within the first 20 minutes, I get a large short strike on the 1-, as I’m lifting it out of the water for another cast. I threw a bunch of stuff back into the same hole, but couldn’t coax the guy to hit again.

Continued to fish for the next 3 hours, saw lots of cats and carp, no SMB. I didn’t get a single nibble…nada. I switched over to the bait that was on fire last time I fished this stretch, a bleeding shad 1/2oz Rat-L-Trap, thinking that would turn the bite on. Continued to fish and still got nothing.

Starting to get frustrated and time is running out on me, so I head back towards the put in. There’s a deep trench that I decide I would troll the Trap along one of the edges as I paddle back. As I turn the kayak along one of the edges, I notice the line go slack. Pick up the line and start reeling in. Fish ON! Well, not for long. One jump and my Trap is thrown. Damnit.

Continue to fish a bunch of more rock formations with no action, I hit my last hole for the day. First cast of the Trap and a SMB explodes on the surface as soon as the Trap hits. I start reeling and he hits…FISH ON! It’s not a big fish, but sizable enough it would salvage the day. After about 15 seconds of fight, he launches into the air and throws my Trap. Double DAMNIT.

Paddle back to the put in dejected and skunked.

GPX Link





James River Smallies 8-14-2010

14 08 2010

Wife woke me up at 6:30am giving the me the kitchen pass (starting at 8am) to go out and fish this morning. Spent a good bit of time getting my tackle ready as it was all loaded up for largemouth fishing, but was on the water by about 9. I parked in the Pony Pasture parking lot and used my wheels to portage .2 miles down to a decent place to launch. Water temps were 83F and there was an intermittent (but sometimes strong) breeze blowing from the SE. Water was slow and low today and made fishing easy. Air temps maxed out at 90F and was humid as hell.

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The water is really low right now, the lowest it’s been in quite some time. Take a look at this picture of a large boulder, you can see the stain of the water.

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I had 4 combos setup for the day: wacky rigged 4″ watermelon w/red flake Yum Dinger (eventually switched over to a Wave Tiki Craw 3″), Pearl White Super Fluke, Rebel Pop-R, and a 1/2oz White Bleeding Shad Rat-L-Trap. The morning started slow. After reading a lot of Jeff Little’s posts on KayakBassFishing.com (and I just finished up his book), I saw a collection of foam in an eddy after a set of rapids and remembered some of his suggestions on these.

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I fully expected to catch something here, but I didn’t even get a nibble here and I cast everything I had into it. I finally got a small nibble from a small fish and tried to chase him down for 10 minutes. He ended up stealing my yum dinger so I switched over to a tailhooked Tiki Craw.

Finally hooked into what would be the smallest fish of the day, about a 10″-er on the Trap banging across some rocks. It’s a dink but the skunk is off!

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Right next to where I catch the dink, I spot a nice deep hole in between 2 sets of rapids. The water is calm here so I’m hoping to get into something. I throw my Trap to the far side of the hole and start bringing it back to me. I get a nice hit and the fight is on. It’s a sizable fish! After a solid, long fight (felt like 5 minutes, was probably more like 90 seconds) I put a 16″ fish into the boat. The fish had a battle wound or a sore on the top of its head, I took a picture of it, you can find it linked at the bottom of the page.

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I fish all the structure I can at the furthest most downstream section of Pony Pasture, so I start to make my way to a set of rapids just on the upstream side of where Powhite Parkway crosses the James. My first 5 casts here and I hook into 2 more ~14″ smallies. I think I’ve found a hot spot but then spend the rest of the next hour not catching a thing. I decide to call it a day and paddle back to the launch.

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In all, I land 6 Smallies, with most being between 13″ and 15″. No real big ones, but decent sized. I sure do love Smallie fishing, they put up a great fight. All caught on the Trap, either banging rocks or pulling the crank over a deep hole from shallow water. Didn’t get any action on any of the other lures. Here’s a vid of one of the releases:

The entire album of the day

GPX Track





James River at Bosher’s Dam 6-6-2010

6 06 2010

Where: James River, upstream from Huguenot Flatwater to Bosher’s Dam
Time: 8:30am to 2pm
Air Temp: 81 – 91
Water Surface Temp: 83
Wind: NW 30mph
Pressure: Dropping
Fishing suckage: High

I put in at Huguenot Flatwater and made a bee line to Bosher’s Dam. Fished all below the dam, but didn’t get a single bite. Parked on a couple of the islands and fished the grass, eddies, dead water behind large boulders, even threw into the current for shirts and giggles. I was throwing a shallow diving crank, tubes, culprit water beetle, wacky senko, and a tiny torpedo.

Decided to make my way back to the put-in and on the way back started throwing to dead water behind boulders some more. After fishing the tube and senko, threw the shallow diving crank and started reeling in. It banged off the rocks a few times and then I felt a tug. Had a small fight but then went limber, but something was still there. Landed a 10″ smallie, but the treble hook was in his mouth and gill plate…would explain why the fight stopped. Released him back into the water and paddled over to another boulder.

Several other casts and no bites so I go to pull out and leave. My anchor is stuck and I can’t get it to budge. I work on it for about 5 minutes but it won’t budge. I’m in fairly fast moving current and the 30mph winds are not helping so I decide to cut it loose. No anchor in this wind is going to make fishing seriously tough, so I decide to go ahead and call it a day by floating back to the put-in. Here’s a short video to show just how strong the winds were, keep in mind…these were sustained winds.

Along the way I see a nice place to stop and crawl up on the rocks. It’s bout 20 yards off shore and a guy I’ve talked to out on the river was there watching from the bank(guy owns property on the James, must be nice). While talking and fishing I get a small fish playing with my senko, but no real bites. I throw my senko upstream to where there is some dead water between two submerged rocks…the dead water looks like an inverted V. I throw to the point of the V and let the current bring down the senko. I get a tap tap and I reel down…feel the pressure…and set the hook. FISH ON! I can already tell the fish has size. It splashes the surface once and I’m trying real hard not to horse it in…letting my drag do the work…it’s sizable. After about 15 seconds on line, the smallie makes a big jump and throws my Gammy finesse hook. DAMNIT This fish was easily 16-18″ and would have been on the challenge board had I landed him. Would have turned a real crappy day fishing into a day worth remembering. I did have a witness but I don’t think that accounts for anything icon_rolleyes-2010-06-6-08-34.jpg

Tough day of fishing, the wind didn’t help out at all. Spoke to a few other anglers and no others were really catching anything. That makes 8 or so trips on the James this year, 2 smallies caught, only a handful of bites…just not a lot of action. Getting frustrated, Jeff Little’s book can’t get here soon enough.

On a side note, saw an osprey flying with a bass in its talons (at least someone can catch fish). Also saw a non-swimming bird in the water. Looked like a baby bird of some sort maybe had fallen out of its nest. I’m surprised a bass didn’t eat it. I watched it struggle from the middle of the river over to the bank. After parking my kayak at one of the islands and fishing a bit, made my way back to the kayak only to find a 3′ snake sitting beside it. He scurried off. Needless to say I checked my kayak thoroughly before I sat down. I didn’t get a great look at it, but I think it was brown.

Here are all the pictures from the the trip.
The GPS track can be found here.





Huguenot Flatwater 5-2-2003

2 05 2010

I was able to grab a few hours on on Sunday so I ran out and put in for some fishing at Huguenot Flatwater. As I was heading to the launch, an old timer told me it was a bit “choppy” today. Great, I haven’t been out in my kayak in over 3 weeks and I have to deal with crappy conditions.

I finally launch and get to fishing…the wind is horrendous. It’s blowing at 20+ mph with gusts greater than that. I start cursing some more. Air temps are around 90 and water temps are 72. The river is at 5′ and would be perfect were it not for this damn wind. I’m throwing a nose hooked brown Culprit 3″ water beetle and a Bomber Model A crank in Fire Tiger. I’m also testing out a Rapala Skitter Popper as well. For the first 2.5 hours, the only thing I’m catching is a crap ton of wind. I speak to a few other anglers and no one is catching anything.

The wind finally dies down a tiny bit and I find a large rock jutting out of the water creating some calm water from the main current. About 15 yards behind the rock, the water drops off to about 10 feet and is calm. I anchor here and start throwing to the slack water behind the rock.

I see and hear some rather large smallmouth bass behind me hitting the surface; looks like they’re hitting some of the leaves that are in the water. So I try throwing my popper with no action. I start throwing back to the slack water. By now I’m tossing a 4″ white Culprit tube, t-rigged with a heavy bullet weight. I cast and I give a few turns of the crank and I get what I think is a tap. I go to set the hook and my leader/braid knot fails (Alberto, I need a lot of practice tying this knot). I’m thinking it was probably hooked on a rock and that’s why it came loose. I grab my Culprit beetle and start throwing back to the same place I lost my tube. I get a tap-tap so I set the hook. FISH ON!!!!

This smallie IMMEDIATELY hits the surface and makes a beautiful 2′ jump. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a smallie jump this high and it’s a sizable fish. I catch myself yelling “YEAH!!!!!”. The smallie is running back and forth…left to right. He takes a few runs at me and I have to maneuver him around the kayak. Another paddler sees the fight and paddles over….I’m still fighting the fish. After a solid 90 seconds of fight with numerous clicks of the drag and several long runs, I land it. It’s a beautiful 16.25″ in SMB. I don’t think it’s my personal best as I’m sure I’ve caught a few larger, but it’s my PB since I’ve started officially measuring them.

As I’m setting the fish on my Hawg Trough, I realize the fish has 2 leaders coming out of his mouth. The esophagus is closed, but I take my pliers in and grab the leader and pull. Out pops out a white tube!!!! This smallie had just engulfed my tube only minutes earlier and then decided it was going to eat my beetle as well! SWEET, got my hook and tube back! Anyways, this was the only bite (technically 2) I got in about 3.5 hours of fishing, but this fish made that time worth while. Here are a few pics. Notice the leader coming out of its mouth on the trough, that’s from the tube still in its stomach.

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Shad Fishing 4-17-2010

17 04 2010

I had a hard time deciding if I was going to go fish for bass during the pre-spawn or to hit the James River Shad run of 2010. It was probably the only chance I’d really get to Shad fish so I chose that. It was suggested to me to use the 14th St whitewater take out to launch as it would be easier to get to the fish. Sounds good to me, I headed out at 6:30am.

I couldn’t find the entrance to save my life. I thought I found it on Google Earth however I was looking at the wrong thing. I drove back and forth on 14th Street until I finally noticed the sign for the takeout. By this time I had wasted 15 mins of solid fishing time. I was told that you have to deal with stairs to launch, but it was doable. Wow, these stairs were a bitch…but it was doable. Not sure I want to do that again. I struggled with my 13’6″, 68lb kayak (and gear to boot).

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Finally got all my crap down to the water’s edge and pushed off.

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I began casting no more than 50 yards off shore and started to get nibbles at my shad dart. SWEEET, this is gonna be a good day. I pulled in my first fish of the day and I couldn’t quite tell what it was. It definitely wasn’t a Hickory Shad…could it be an American? Either way, it was no larger than my hand so I threw it back and kept casting. (I figured out later on that these are White Perch and definitely not what I was fishing for)
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About an hour later and 6 or so of these small fish landed, I decided I wanted to catch bigger shad so I moved out to the main channel where there were about 25 boats all within 100 yards of each other, seemingly making 2 parallel lines of boat at the base of the 95 bridge. I’m assuming the Shad were swimming upstream between the lines of boats…anyways, people all around me were pulling in shad left and right. The boat directly behind me pulled in a MONSTER striper. I casted in this located for about an hour…not so much as bite, all the while people around me pulling them in left and right. Another kayak angler pulled up beside me and we chatted for a moment. He wasn’t having any luck either but he was throwing a shad dart with a spoon trailer…hmmm…that looked like a good idea and would certainly increase my chances for a hookup.

I move upstream from the main concentration of boats, above I95 but below the 14th St bridge…right in front of Southern States. I attach a spoon trailer to my dart, hoping for a little more luck. After 5 or 10 minutes of casting I finally get a Shad on. Over the next 2 hours or so, I caught 5 or 6 hickory shad (these may be blueback herring…they all look so similar to me), but it was SLOW for me today. I spoke to several other anglers (both kayak and conventional boat) and there were mixed results, so I wasn’t the only one having a tough day.

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The wind picked up considerably by noon and made it terribly difficult to fish so I headed back in. I’ve never fished the tidal part of the James; with the outgoing tide and wind blowing in my face (both in the opposite direction from where I’m heading), padding back to the launch site was a chore.

Here are all the pictures I took this morning.