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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.
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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.

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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.

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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.
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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.





Sandy River Reservoir 4-3-2010

3 04 2010

Rachel and Sadie went to visit her sisters in Charleston, SC so I had a few days to myself. I had planned on fishing every minute possible during a 3 day stretch. The first leg (Friday afternoon) was nothing to discuss. I fished 3 hours at Fluvanna Ruritan Lake without a single bite. I didn’t even see a fish which was really discouraging after reading the VDGIF fishing opportunities writeup. No matter…my big day was going to be Saturday at Sandy River Reservoir where I was going to meet up with several fellow KayakBassFishing.com members.

I haven’t fished Sandy River Reservoir before, but I’ve read good things. The VDGIF write-up is glowing…needless to say I was excited for Saturday. I’m meeting KBFers at Sandy at 7:30am, so I’ll need to get up 6:30am to make it there on time as it is a 75min drive. I wake up at 6:30am realizing my alarm’s volume wasn’t set loud enough. I hop out of bed and head on my way. I get to Sandy and the KBFers are still gathering by the launch, so I haven’t missed anything yet. I haven’t met up with any of these folks yet so I had to go through some introductions: Aaron, Dave, Carl, a couple of Jims, and the Queen of Spring — Tina.

Everyone launches a couple at a time and I head out close to last. By this time, one of the Jims (we’ll call him JimW) has a fish on. I find myself next to the other Jim, a retired Marine (Tina’s husband), who I think prefers fly fishing to conventional tackle. There was talk of fishing “rip-rap” which confused me…what the hell is rip-rap? Feeling like a fishing moron, I quietly mumble to Jim, “what’s a rip-rap?”. Jim explained to me it was a wall of large rock put up to help the bank from eroding and the boulders tend to hold heat and thus, attract fish in the early spring. Awesome…let’s head to the rip-rap. I have a new rod & reel combo (Mojo Bass Crankbait + Shimano Curado E) and I want to try a few casts so a couple of the KBF guys make their way around me to the rip rap first. Aaron paddles up beside me and we chit chat a bit…he’s got a few Mojos and Curados as well. We both agree they are SWEET. About this time I hear a “WOO HOO!!!!”. JimW has boated a 19.5″+ largemouth off a laydown. Someone’s on fire! Of course we all check what lure he was fishing, how he was fishing it, etc. Everyone parts their way and fish their way up the rip-rap.

I make a few casts about 20 yards from the laydown where JimW caught his bass and I get a tap-tap on my line. I start reeling in, all excited…I got something! It feels a little funny and I think the guy is foul hooked. I get the 8″ LMB to the yak and realize he is foul hooked pretty bad, probably won’t live through it. Sorry little buddy. I throw him back and fish the rip-rap. I get my jig-n-pig hung up in the rip-rap about every other cast on the first 20 yards or so, so I completely skip the rest of the 200 or 300 yards of it. Not to mention all the other KBFers were hitting it pretty hard, I didn’t have a lot of faith I’d get anything.

I paddle across the the large part of the lake and start banging the bank with the jig-n-pig and a shaky head worm, I get a few nibbles but they feel small. About 40 yards from my yak, I see a hawk swoop in and pick up a bass. I yell to the bass boat angler bout 20 yards off “that bird has caught more fish than I have today!”. He chuckles and we both continue to fish. A few minutes later, I see that guy pull in a 22″ largemouth. That’s citation sized folks and a very large fish. There’s definitely fish in here, I’ve now seen several big ones pulled in. I keep fishing the area I’m currently in for another 15 or 20 minutes, no luck so I start to move out. About that time another bass boat moves and starts fishing where I just left. I hear a young boy on the boat yell “fish on!” so I stay to watch the fight. He’s got something big on. When he finally boats it, it’s a 22″, 7.7lb largemouth. Holy crap…I was just fishing there. Figures doesn’t it? I need to change my luck so I decide to pick up and paddle a good distance away, throw under a bridge that crosses the lake.

I make my way over and along the way manage to catch my shirt on one of my lures, a Rat-L-Trap. I love that lure but the treble hooks are a bitch to get out of clothing, so I have to perform surgery. I spend close to 10 minutes trying to cut my shirt out of the lure! I finally get to the bridge and throw the jig-n-pig a few times and I get nothing. On the other side of the bridge is more rip-rap, so I throw the Rat-L-Trap parallel to the structure. After a few casts…fish on! This time I boat the guy and while it’s only a 10″ largemouth, the skunk has been removed! I throw a few more times and get another largemouth, a 12″-er. Very sweet, I’m getting excited. JimW was in this little cove and we get to chatting. He says that across this little bay he has had some good success so we make a bee line over there.

There are several good looking laydowns here, so JimW and I start to hit them pretty hard. My first cast, I get hung up and lose my jig. About the same time I’m losing my jig, JimW is yelling “fish on!”. After a short fight, Jim lands a beautiful 20.5″ largemouth bass. I paddle over to take a few pictures for him.

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JimW is on FIRE today. I go back over to the sweet laydown I lost my jig on and go to cast again. My first cast I get a big hit as soon as the jig hits the water. Yes, this fish has a little bit of size. When I finally land the largemouth, he’s only about 15″ but that’s a respectable size.

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Now I’m really motivated, 3 fish in the last 30 mins or so and it’s just mid-morning. I keep paddling along this bank and am just banging the bank…alternating between my jig-n-pig and shaky head. Several different laydowns later and I’ve landed another 5 or 6 fish. None of them went bigger than 12″, but it’s a lot of fun when you’re landing fish.

The entire time, we’re making our way towards a GIANT submerged timber field. Bass anglers are always looking for structure and this sort of location is the epitome of structure. I can’t wait to fish it as I’m expecting to catch monster bass on every catch. I paddle up to the area and see all these giant, daunting tree trunks jutting up out the water.

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Another picture:
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I wish there was more to say about this place. We fished here for nearly an hour and not a single bite between JimW and myself. I was a little disappointed as I was really expecting to pull a few in from here.

The wind was really starting to pick up, gusting well over 20 mph and creating some whitecaps on the lake. Fishing was damn near impossible so after 30 or so more mins of fishing with no action, we picked up and headed home.

What a great Saturday. Wish I could have been on some bigger fish, but I had a blast and met some new friends.