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Saturday, August 17, 2019

I've created a monster...

So I'm close friends with Britney, she's 20, never been fishing much less caught one, never waded in a stream, never kayaked, never ate a hotdog cooked on a stick over a fire. And now we are going to check off all those boxes on one trip. I'm a little nervous about how this is going to turn out...
Little did we know she was born for this. We checked off those boxes and then a few more. Catching crawdads for bait, checking out deer skulls, turning over rocks looking for creepy crawlies, catching toads and frogs, hiked thru the woods to look at big trees, sneaking up close to watch great blue herons. The whole thing turned into one of those grand adventures that summertime is made for. And for the record she caught the catfish all by her self. Four foot nine inches of future fishing legend.  Me, I never caught a fish but still had one of the best trips of the year. Not much beats poking around a creek on a hot summers evening.

Saturday, August 10, 2019

A river giant

So this fishing report really starts over a month ago. I misjudge a cast and my grub goes too far up in the riffle and over a rock into this tiny slot about 15 inches wide on the other side. I give a quick jerk to flip the jig back over the rock. And over the rock in a wide arching somersaulting jump comes one of the biggest smallmouth I've ever seen. The problem is the fish goes one direction out of the leap and my jig goes another. About a week later I had the fish on again. Again in the slot and again the fish came unbuttoned. Then the next trip no strikes. I finally give up and wade up to check out its hangout. And out comes the fish. And a few more trips follow with no strikes in the spot and no sign of the fish.
Finally time enough to be able to spend the night on the river. Camping out on the river is one of my greatest pleasures. And last night was a perfect example of why. A bald eagle winging up the river. A snowy egret flushing ahead of the yak. A few decent fish, a tarp shelter, campfire and a couple big andouille sausage cooked over the flames. Two barred owls, one on each side of camp, sending out haunting calls. The only slight downer on the trip was the river was low. Very low and the slot was only about an inch deep with just a trickle running thru.
It was now pitch black and calm the only sound the slightest murmur of the river and the occasional owl still calling. Time to fish. But off comes the 8lb pound mono and on goes a spool of 20 lb braid. Instead of the usual grub or curly shad I tie on a buzzbait. A big 1/2 ounce triple wing model not one of those little cute ones you sometimes see guys throw on the river. Two casts in and a beautiful Fish Ohio smallmouth tries to rip the rod out of my hand. Then nothing more for ten minutes as I work my way up towards the slot. I'd probably logged 30 hours in this pool trying to hook the fish again in daylight and I was comfortable slowly wading in the dark. About twenty feet this side of the slot the river still ran pretty strongly over the riffle. Enough that I'd thought about running the riffle here in the Jackson on the way in before deciding to beach the yak and hike down to camp. I threw across this run into the slack water on the other side and then brought the buzzbait back at a right angle to the current. Nothing on the far side but just as the lure cleared the current on my side something hammered the bait. The rod bent all the way into the cork Tenn handle and I was sure I had a big channel on. No somersaults or leaps skyward like before just a heavy strong pull. A really strong catfish or hybrid striper pull. Then the fish comes up with it's head out right at the bank and I slide her out on the gravel. Holy $#@ its a smallmouth. The smallmouth. Fully twice as heavy and several inches longer than the fish I'd been so pleased with a few minutes before. I'd guessed right before on how big I thought the fish was. Just a tiny sliver under 21 inches and fat as a sumo wrestler. A fish worthy of whoops and high fives at St Clair or the boundary waters much less southern Ohio. I doubt I will ever see a fish rival this one in bulk in my streams ever again. Come to think of it my biggest smallmouth ever came from the boundary waters in the middle of the night on a buzzbait as well. I guess I'll be stalking the rivers at night a lot more in the future.
Just before daylight a shovelhead hit a big swimbait and the most exciting fish of the next morning
was a smallmouth of about 18 inches that hit a buzzbait with about a rods length of line out. The fish zoomed around in a big semicircle and actually jumped right out on the bank at my feet. It flopped a couple times, threw the buzzbait, flopped back in the water and was gone. It was about as exciting a 3 seconds of fishing you will ever see. 
Daylight brought smaller fish but some cool encounters with wildlife. I'm walking down the path and two deer take off busting thru the brush with white tails wagging. And as they do three racoons flush up a couple trees scared by the commotion. On my side of the tree peering around the tree trunks like scared squirrels. If you look closely at one of my pics you can just make out the closest one. Then another eagle sighting, a beaver and some dink smallmouth to finish off the trip.
Easily one of the most exciting and enjoyable trips I've had in years. And some serious food for thought about night fishing rivers for trophy smalljaws...

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

summertime and the livin is easy...

With the streams lower than they have been all year and as warm as bathwater it seemed like a good idea to make good on one of the goals I'd set last winter. I'd vowed to do more hybrid fishing which I've felt like I've done and I'd also vowed to get back to basics and at least a few times mess around with live bait. Just gathering your bait is just about as much fun as the actual fishing. And the warm low water was perfect for wading in with the seine and getting some craws. Tackle wasn't anything special a small baitholder hook and a split shot crimped on ten inches or so above that. I did hike a pretty good ways from the road though to give myself a chance at some better fish. Turns out the channel cats were really in the mood for craws and I quickly lost track of how many I caught. Maybe 15 with most being in the one to four pound category but I did manage to catch a couple brutes. If you have never waded a creek in a pair of sneakers and swimming trunks pitching craws into likely spots you are missing one of summertimes true pleasures....

Monday, August 5, 2019

seeing double

Everything was doubled tonight. On the way to the river I saw two bald eagles sitting in two sycamores. I then twice jumped two deer at once. (one was a monster buck btw) And I caught two Fish Ohio smallmouths on two different lures. One on a mylar paddleswim and one on a curly shad. Hopefully this means tomorrow ill have my second day in a row like this.  Both fish were in really fast really shallow water just, umm... in two different spots.

Sunday, August 4, 2019

making lemonade...

Too much work has made me a very dull boy so when I got a few hours free I ran for the river even if it meant hitting the river a few hours before daylight. Luckily this time of year that's one of the best times to fish. Just be sure and stick to a section of river you have already learned well during daylight hours. This morning a buzzbait was the ticket till the sun came up. Once the sun came up though the buzzbait  quit producing though I caught a couple more on a curly shad before having to quit about an hour after dawn.

Monday, July 29, 2019

Same place, better night!

And I thought the other night was fabulous. Well tonight actually started off horribly, I was probably an hour into it and had one fish. One tiny maybe 8 inch fish. Then in five minutes time everything changed. And I mean everything. The sky went dark, a stiff breeze blew up, the occasional rain drop splatted on the rocks. And the fish simply went off. Nice fish, big fish, bigger fish.... In shallow fast water and actively chasing. I actually saw a couple fish chase minnows right up on the gravel. I was using a classic shad colored curly shad and the fish were hammering it so hard I never saw any reason to try anything else. Its simply amazing what a storm can do for the fishing once midsummer really settles in. The big fish you see in the first photo whacked the lure like it was trying to turn it inside out then did an end over end somersault. It was a fish and an hour I'll remember years from now. Saw an eagle, two deer wading the stream, and caught some great fish. For an old river rat like me things don't go any better than tonight did.

Friday, July 26, 2019

halcyon night

Tonight was one of those oh so rare nights when quantity and quality come together. Its nights like tonight you remember long after you have forgotten the fishless trips. Almost all of my fish tonight were in very fast very shallow water. A couple of the best fish were definitely in water less than a foot deep but it was really moving. A few on a square bill crankbait, a couple on a grub but the clear winner in the fishes eyes was a paddleswim. Mostly on short pitches up into shallow fast water and trying to reel fast enough to feel a bite, which wasn't too hard since they were really trying to murder the bait tonight. If you look at the close up photo of the one fish you will see its completely clouded over eye which didn't seem to bother it a bit as it ran down my bait in the swift water. I'll go to sleep happy tonight.