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Thursday, April 20, 2017

Why I fish...

So why do I do this? I'm asked that a lot. Why do you fish? And why so daggone much? Never mind that those that are asking have probably spent more time watching television than I have fishing this week.
The answer is pretty simple really. (in a complicated sort of way) People watch movies or TV or follow a sports team to get away from life for a while. To forget about their lousy job or bills or their horrid spouse. Not me, I'm not out there trying to get away from life. Out there is where I am most alive, where I am free to be completely me.
If you fish a lot you find you don't get away from life at all. Instead you get it under your fingernails, smeared all over your tee shirt and baked into your skull. You even smell it on yourself sometimes when you get back home. Doing something genuine like fishing is reality, all the stuff we do in our "real" lives is absurd when you really think about it.
For me the ultimate, the very best kind of fishing trip is the overnighter, or week long one for that matter. Where, tired from fishing all day, I can sit by the fire. Possibly hear the hoot of a barred owl or just the soft music of the wind in the treetops up on the ridge. Watch the sun set or rise and experience time the way you are supposed to, the way a deer in the woods does. Not the artificial, contrived, fake time we have created to get us to work and back in time to see our favorite TV program. But instead real time where things unfold at just the rate they are supposed to. You cannot make the evening rise on a trout stream happen any earlier. You cannot make the topwater bite on your smallmouth river not end with the coming of the heat of the day. Out here in the "real" real world things happen according to their own rhythm and there's not a damn thing you can do about it.
People talk of the beauty of nature and I have seen great beauty while out fishing, thundering waterfalls, tiny mountain streams, first light coming thru the trees, brook trout seemingly painted by the hand of God. Things so beautiful they almost bring tears to your eyes and are beyond mere words. But I've also gotten stuck in the mud, rained on, snowed on, baked by the sun and nearly hit by lightning or washed away in flash floods. I've fished behind factories, under highway overpasses and in bad neighborhoods. I've cut myself, hooked myself, fallen, had my eyes nearly put out by sticks and nearly bashed my brains out. But all of that, the good and the bad, all of the things listed above and ten thousand other things I would never have experienced sitting on the couch.
I think some people have to do certain things. They have to paint, or hunt to feel alive. There are runners who have to run. They would run even if it weren't good for them, even if they could never race. It's just a part of who they are. It's like that with me and fishing, without it I wouldn't be whole. I could never be completely me.
I sometimes get to the grocery store and forget what I came for or where the car is parked. But I can name you every creek or river within a hundred miles of my house and probably half of those within three hundred. And give you a pretty good run down on how their individual food chains differ. I fish for the same reason I breathe. I cannot help it, it's just who I am. A fisherman.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Hybrid fever

Another day of chasing trash fish. Caught a couple good ones and several smaller guys on curly shads.

start your engines...

Yep the white bass run has begun...
Find any creek, river, or stream running out of the Ohio river and odds are there are some white bass running up it today.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Good Friday...

It's a pretty sweet deal actually.  I put the yak in and float about a mile down down the river. It's a long slow stretch and pretty easy to paddle back up afterward so there is no need for a car shuttle. About two miles down a creek hits the river. But I don't float all the way down to there. I've learned over the years if I stop about halfway down and hide the yak in the bushes a short five minute walk will have me hitting the creek about 3/4 or a mile up from it's mouth. Right in it's sweet spot. My spot. Where I've never seen a bait container or a piece of fishing line, only deer and beaver and the occasional wild turkey. I try not to overfish it so that all summer when I really need to feel a nice fish on the line I know I can come here and have a good chance at one.I'ts a little creek, just an easy short cast across and in most riffles you can cross in just a pair of rubber boots. But here there are three or four deep runs where you could get very wet if you weren't careful. At the first two gravel bars stretch all the way across the creek like mini low head dams with nice pockets of deep water below them and swift chest deep runs feeding into the holes.
At the Columbus Fishing Expo Vic had a bunch of sweet 1/4 ounce willow leaf spinner baits for sale and I'd nabbed a couple. One of the perks of being cheap help is that you do get to sample the product. Willow leaf spinnerbaits are perfect for current and track thru it where a colorado blade won't. And these spots screamed spinnerbaits. Sure enough at both I caught a dandy smallie right where the fast and slow water meets and lost another big enough to elicit a bit of light cursing. In a creek this size these are mostly one fish spots with a nice smallie tailwalking across the little pools spooking things for a while. The next hole is different. The current is all shunted over against one bank and there is a long deep run right along the bank. One step off the bank and you would be in over your head. And the bank is covered in rock and twisted sycamore roots. I pitched a clear with gold grub out and let it sink deep and drift along as close to bank as I could I get it. (it's been the color of choice all week) Bam! the fish dart out from the rocks and twisted roots and caverns under the water and just hammer the jig. Here in the deeper water catching one doesn't scare the others and I catch a half dozen smallies from ten to fifteen inches. Not as big as the other fish but more of them. Also here and at the next two riffles I start picking up a few white bass and small hybrids starting their spring run.  It's been swell fishing all week and the kind of spring time fishing we dream about but don't get every year, get out and enjoy this one if you can.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

what a fattie...

Back to the river today. Still throwing the clear with gold flake grub though. This girl hit in a tiny eddy right inside an otherwise raging riffle. What a cool fish, with a great paint job and bigger around than she was long I think.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

The wade of a lifetime

 two smallies/39.5 inches!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Fishing a creek about 3/4 of a mile up from where it runs into one of the rivers that feed the Ohio River here in Southern Ohio. The first fish hit in really heavy current and the rod just bent double and she bulldogged it for a while. I was certain she was a good channel or shovelhead right up until she suddenly went airborne just about giving me a heart attack. I was sure she was going to get off as I could do little with her in the heavy current and couldn't follow but after a few heart in my throat moments I managed to land it.
The other fish was in a bathtub sized hole right in the tail of a riffle and hit like a freight train and jumped three or four times, once end over end. I measured on at a bit under 19.5 and the other at a bit over 20 conservatively and as fat as any Ohio stream fish I've ever seen. If anything the pictures don't do justice to the guts on these fat girls. I'd say it's the second heaviest Ohio smallie I've ever caught in 40 years of doing this pretty hard. Yeah the tapes not pulled tight in the pic but you can see she's hanging over the 20 mark on each end with her mouth open and without the tail pinched. She was flopping a bit and that was as good a pic as I was willing to take and still get her back in the water as fast as possible. I also caught three smallies in the 14 to 15 inch range. Everything on a clear with gold glitter grub in pretty stained water. What a trip. Life was never better for an old river rat.

Friday, April 7, 2017


With the river up and the color of chocolate milk I found some spots where a bit of clear water enters. A whole bunch of stripey fish and a couple bonus green ones. On a clear with silver glitter curly shad on a 1/4 ounce jighead.