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Sunday, October 28, 2012

Fishing the plastic grub..

I river fish sixty or seventy days a year most years (sometimes twice that) and you won't ever catch me on the water without a three inch plastic grub. If I'm wading and not carrying alot of tackle I might only have a couple colors but one will be smoke metalflake. It just looks so much like a generic minnow in the water with just the right amount of flash and I have caught so many fish with it over the years that I just have alot of confidence in throwing it. I'm also pretty big on the various orangish brown combinations out there because I feel like they look alot like many of the darters and sculpins in the river and bounced along the bottom make an okay crawfish imitation. You can find a plastic grub in almost every color you might imagine and then some. It seems I have owned most of them at one time or another and you wanna know a secret? Most of them catch fish. I guess I'm a presentation first, color second, kind of a guy. However, I'm also certain some colors more than others will improve your chances of catching catching a fish while fishing grubs. Smoke metalflake, motor oil, and clear metalflake are good colors in clear water and on sunny days, especially in the later part of spring and most of fall. These guys closely resemble those of baitfish. Try some grubs grubs in translucent (somewhat clear allowing light to pass through) colors that also include some gold or silver flakes in them. This will add a little flash to their action when the sun is bright. On overcast days metal flakes will lose alot of their flash. I was given some gawd awful pearl gold grubs with gold flakes in them. So ugly they made your eyes hurt, but they catch fish and I use the things all the time. I also find I throw these alot more when I'm fishing by myself and no one is looking but that probably says more about me than the grub. Pumpkin Seed, red or any combination of green, orange, brown and yellow will work to imitate the colors of crawfish. Try and determine the color of the craws in the water you're fishing and go with the closest color to that. I like the grubs that are two toned with one side being orange and the other brown too for the same reason. Chartreuse is an awesome color when you're trying to catch smallmouth bass. Why? I haven't a clue. Chartreuse metalflake is probably the first color I'd buy after smoke metalflake when starting to fish with these things. I realise that flies in the face of the time honored tradition of trying to find out what the fish are feeding on and imitating it. Just remember bass fishing also has an equally time honored tradition of the googly eyed red and white striped creature lure from outer space catching fish. Look at how flyfisherman go about it. Trout fishing they count every leg and appendage on whatever they are imitating. Put the same guy on a smallmouth river and he will be catching fishing on a pink and orange deer hair bug with a yellow tail. I like to think rather than bass being dumber than trout it means they are smart enough to look at that pink and orange monster and reason that "hey I've never seen one but its alive". And being the mean cantakerous bastards they are, then try and eat it. A chartreuse grub is just the essence of that boiled down and wedded to the deadliest river fishing lure there is. And plastic grubs are also dirt cheap, something to consider in todays world of ten dollar crankbaits. Live a little and experiment you just might find a color that produces for you and which can be your own little secret. Just make sure you have some smoke metalflake grubs in your river box too okay? Trust me on that. Most of the time I fish a grub on a plain roundball jighead either a 1/8th ounce or 1/4 depending on the depth and current speed. If I find fish feeding in a run but not on the bottom (white bass alot, sometimes smallies) I'll go to a lighter weight to let the grub swim down the run on a tightline rather than hug the bottom.
I also think sauger, in contrast to most other fish, actually like a bit of resistance when they hit and If I'm catching more sauger than bass I'll fish a quarter ounce jighead. Ill also go heavier in swifter deep water like say below a lowhead dam. I think you almost have to work at fishing a grub wrong, just chucking it out and reeling it in will produce some fish tho most time I try to swim it slowly just off the bottom or let it sweep thru a run on a tightline, again just off the bottom. In slower water like a hole or around a bridge abutment I'll sometimes tightline the grub to the bottom and bring it back in a series of lifts or slow sweeps. This is also a good way to pick up a nice channelcat or two also. Some of the nicest channels I've caught have been on grubs. It certainly wakes you up to be smallmouth fishing and tighten up on a ten pound catfish! That is one of the grubs main strengths, in a river like the Little Miami you might catch any of seven or eight different species of fish on one on any given trip.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Indian Summer

Did quite a bit of fishing this last week before the cold arrived... 10/23
Was out for just over an hour before work. Water temp at noon was 64/65! Thats way up from last weeks 57/58 at the same spot. Fish were aggresive and nailing a topwater plug. Made me want to call in sick today. No big fish today but 7 nice 10 to 14 inch fish on pop-r and a minnow plug fished as a topwater. Highlight was cutting back thru the riverbottom to the truck and jumping a big ten point buck that was bedded in a patch of weeds and brush. He was going to let me walk right by and then jumped up when I was like ten yards away. Gave me a heart attack!
10/24
My God the river was beautiful today. Some days this time of year I spend half my time just standing around soaking in the beauty. But then I spend the other half heartbroken that soon it will all be over. The gorgeous colors all gone to brown, the fall asters dead, the smallies lethargic and sulking in some deep hole. But not today, the weather perfect, the river low and clear and 65 degrees, may glorious fall never end. I started fishing right where I'd left off the day before. I'd caught smallies pretty good off this riffle and I had high hopes. I first threw an inline spinner and caught a white bass on the second cast. Then nothing. Nothing for a long time. Where are my smallies? I tried a grub, a pop-r, a rebel minnow all with the same result. 0+0+0=0. I put on a grey marabou jig and caught two small bass. Oh well at least I wasn't getting skunked. I moved slightly downstream where the water pouring into the hole from the riffle above really slowed down. Then a shad began skipping, frenzied as if it was running for its life. It was also bigger than the things I was throwing. In my box I had a couple of Bass Pro's awesome XPS Floating Minnows and I tied one on.
While only a bit longer than the rebel minnow the xps was broader and deeper and "fished" much bigger. It reminds me of nothing more than a miniature smallmouth buffalo and comes in a beautiful foil finish reminiscent of those japanese plugs that cost so much. I threw it out and let it sit a couple seconds then twitched it and began fishing it as a topwater, pulling it under then letting it float back up, reeling a foot then stopping, twitching it on top. About every five minutes a nice smallie would slash at the plug. From where I was standing the light was just right and I could see about half the fish come and bash the minnow plug. Usually when this happens I'll miss the fish, striking too soon and it will take a fish or two to settle down. But today was perfect, my timing good, i think I landed every one. For one golden hour life was perfect today.
10/25
With a mild case of insomnia and it being 65+ at midnight I decided to do a bit of night fishing. In three hours I caught about 8 or ten sauger/saugeyes and one small smallmouth. All on a crankbait. I hadn't caught any decent saugs at all while smallmouth fishing lately just small ones. But night seems to be the trick for the better ones, five or six were better than any I've managed to hook during the day. And then this guy hit, I actually thought I had hooked a four or five pound shovelhead till I landed it. A few more like that and I may have to quit badmouthing the way they fight...

Friday, October 26, 2012

Fishing with Edgar

I walked up the desk at the retirement center and mumbled incoherently the way I often do around strangers in such instances. I'd certainly starve if I had to make a living as a salesman. I muttered something about writing a book on fishing the river and wanting to talk to someone about how it used to be. The lady just stared at me for a long time. I couldn't tell if she hadn't heard me or was thinking of calling the cops. Then suddenly she was in motion, "yeah come on" she said over her shoulder and led me down a hallway to a room. she introduced me to Edgar and left. I just kind of stood there for a second or two and it took a few momments to explain to Edgar I just wanted to talk fishing and wasn't trying to sell him something. After feeling each other out and trying to find a connection in that way country people do when they first meet, we established that Edgars father had certainly worked with my grandfather at Peters Cartridge Co in Kings Mills and Edgar relaxed and began to talk fishing. Edgar grew up on Shawhan Road above South Lebanon and had fished the river off and on for three quarters of a century. He said his earliest memories of fishing the river were tagging along with his older brother Earl and his cousin Bob catfishing at night. Edgar had a small radio by his bed and must listen to country music because he said, "you know that song where that fellas wife leaves him for fishing? Well Bob sounded just like that fella in the song...aaww lookie there I got a bite". According to Edgar they fished with large stout poles made of cane they bought st Brownings Hardware in South Lebanon. The reel and the guides were then taped to the cane with old fashioned electrical cloth tape.(friction tape) He said he didn't fish on those trips and he thought looking back they let him tag along so he could gather firewood. He still remembers the excitement of being on the river around the fire at night back then. Edgar said they went to a nearby field and picked field corn and boiled it in the minnow bucket over the fire. I asked him if they caught any big fish and he said "God almighty they caught some whoppers", that some of it may have been his youth but the "yellowcats" looked as long as him. That they used chub minnows for bait and also set jingle lines up and down the river from sycamore branches. I asked him if they baited the jingle lines with chubs and he said mostly but they also used nightcrawlers and crawdads on the jingle lines but you had to bait with nightcrawlers right at dark to keep the little fish from pecking them off. He said they caught chubs with a cane pole from the creek up from Stubbs Mills (bigfoot run) and from Hall's Creek. That just up from the river was a big pothole in Halls Creek they could always catch bait in. (there's one there now too, though the creek is dry right now). Edgar said they would go down the hill on a wagon path and cut across the riverbottom to just below Stubbs Mills. Here they often kept a skiff and would gig fish by lantern light. Edgar said a man he called Mr. Brent would come up from Cincinnati to Morrow on the train and would buy bait from Edgar and borrow the skiff. That just below the Stubbs Mills bridge was a small hole in that shallow section and Mr Brent would anchor the skiff and fish minnows for bass and channelcat in that hole. Mr Brent also sometimes would drive up from Cincinnati and would arrive in a coat, hat, and a tie. He would never take off the tie till he had bought bait. Never, he said you could bank on it. He would buy his bait, take off that tie and open one of the beers he had in a bucket with ice in his trunk and go fishing. The nurse stuck her head in check on Edgar and said something about not staying too long but Edgar cut her off, "dammit woman can't you see I've got company, get the hell out". I promised her I would leave soon. When she left Edgars expression softened and he said she never would let him cuss till he was dying. I was at a loss for words at that but it didn't matter, Egdar jumped right back into his story. He said they had a big homemade wire trap that they caught crawdads in using rotten fish for bait. That people always loved eating the craws but he always smelled the rotten fish in his head and couldn't eat them. I asked him about spinning tackle and he said he remembers that Dupont was the only company that made monofilament and he owned a mitchell 300 and a grey cardinal with a drag on the top of the reel housing in the back. That he still has the 300 in his son's garage rafters if it hasn't been thrown away, "best damn reel ever made". He said the river was deeper then because of the dams. That you could waterski below South Lebanon. "Try that now and that shallow water above the new bridge will rip your moter right off". He said when he got older they caught alot of bass above Stubbs Mills on C P Swing spinners and Pork Rinds. And that his brother owned a Bass Oreno and he remembers wanting one badly. Edgar vividly remembers the river flooding and said you could wade neck deep "where the smorgasbord is now".( Duffs smorgasbord has been closed for years.) Edgar coughed loudly and seemed tired and I made up an excuse to leave but Edgar made me promise to return. "Nobody in this damn place fishes".

Saturday, October 20, 2012

cold water smallmouth

As the water cools into the fifties I begin to use more and more a lure I haven't used all year, The hair jig. By mid october fully half of my fishing is done with one of two different kinds of hair jig. The one I use the most is a light marabou jig, normally a 1/8 ounce but I will go down to a 1/16th. I like the 1/16th ounce jig but it's hard to get close enough to the fish to cast it so most times I throw the 1/8 ounce jig. I carry them mostly in two colors. A light grey one and a black one. Somedays the color makes a difference but most of the time if you put a marabou jig of any color in front of a fall smallie he will eat it. The light weight and bouyancy of the marabou jig means you can fish it much slower than say a plastic grub without it getting snagged. Most people think of the jig as a deep water lure but a marabou jig is very much at home in shallow water. Smallmouth in the river often still move up much shallower than you would think late into the fall. The same places you would fish a minnow plug or a roostertail earlier in the year are prime places to throw a marabou jig in fall. The other type jig I throw in fall is a heavier 1/4 ounce bucktail tied with bear hair with a bit of mylar mixed in for a subtle flash. This I fish in deeper water and places I can't reach with the lighter marabou jig. The bucktail is more bouyant than a grub and you can fish it a bit slower. But the difference is not much as with the marabou jig and many days a plastic grub will fish just as well and the bucktails I tie myself and hate to lose to a snag. Smallmouth will take a hair jig even in the cold water period when most of us think they're laying dormant on the bottom too inactive to eat. Wrong! They're never too lethargic to eat, just to chase. This fall throw a jig at em, I promise you that you will catch more and bigger smallies...

Monday, October 15, 2012

love them fall smallies

You can observe a lot just by watching." —Yogi Berra
Having the whole day free, it seemed the only sensible thing to do was spend it on the Little Miami. Walking in two beautiful does just stood frozen and let me walk right by them at twenty yards. How they know when I do or don't have a bow in my hand is one of life's great mysteries. The river is in gorgeous shape low and clear. With the fall colors and the sun peeking in and out of the clouds I found myself over and over fumbling in my waders for the camera. I started out with a super spot and right away caught a couple bass.
But the spot was running too deep and was constantly fouling with leaves. Moving upstream to the run I'd caught the fish ohio smallie two weeks ago I tied on a minnow plug that ran shallower than the spot. That seemed to be the trick for the day. I'd switch minnow plugs to find one that I could work slowly over the bottom without running too deep and fouling on leaves. Find the right combination during midday when it was warmest and the smallies would nail it.
Including this pig that stretched the tape past the 18 inch mark...
The fish were all fat and beautifully marked and I found myself wanting to take a picture of every one.
Oddly enough I didn't catch any other fish than bass, usually I catch a bit of everything fishing here. I did catch one odd fish though, a largemouth about a foot long. When I first caught it I was sure it was a nice spotted bass but try as I might I couldn't make it anything but a small largemouth in the middle of a herd of smallmouth bass. During the middle of the day the fish hit very well and the average size was great. I must have caught a dozen smallies over a foot long. As it cooled in the evening the bite slowed. I dropped back into deeper water and dredged up a few more bass on a 3" grub and then later on an 1/8 ounce marabou jig but the best action was definately midday on minnow plugs. I also found out I talk aloud to fish sometimes. I was standing midstream trying to calm a fish to unhook it when a doe snorted loudly on the far bank. She had came down for a drink unseen by me and spooked back up into the woods as I talked to the bass. Total deer seen-four. Total fishermen or canoes seen- zero. Simply a wonderful fall day. Walking out bone tired at dark I was treated to a great horned owl making the woods ring with hoots...
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Monday, October 1, 2012

Fish Ohio Smallmouth

So I left work thursday night for a long weekend of Bowhunting with a bit of fishing thrown in. Little did I know it would end up a fishing trip with a bit of hunting thrown in. Sat was the first day of season so friday I stopped by scioto brush creek for three hours before heading out to my hunting cabin. Well Scioto Brush Creek looked nothing at all like our streams, you would think it hadn't rained there for months. Crystal clear. Its a stream that is not at all wader friendly even though its not very big. Not alot of places to get on the stream either. I hit it just below the covered bridge at Otway. I caught about a dozen smallies in no time though. I imagine that if you put in a canoe this would be the perfect smallie stream, miles and miles of stream all to yourself, all running through beautifull woods and farm country SOC_9366 S5031085 The next morning I was up the tree about an hour before arrowing a big doe. So after taking care of the deer my hunting trip turned into a fishing trip. That night sitting around the campfire I looked up to see a beautiful ring around the moon... SOC_9423 The next morning after trimming a few trees for treestands it was back to Scioto Brush Creek. This time I fished longer and must have caught thirty smallmouth all in the 8 to 14 inch range. Plus some gorgeous longeared sunfish that look like jewels. S5031081 S5031082 I then hit Greenup Dam on the Ohio for a bit right at dark. I didn't catch anything right at the dam but a bit downstream on some huge rocks I caught a half dozen nice smallies on a crankbait and a gar. S5031065 S5031062 Then another night of staring at the night sky and the campfire. The next day the forcast was for rain so I started back towards home and the Little Miami. Right away I caught a really nice smallmouth on a spinner. S5031087 There was another guy there fishing so I walked down and asked him to snap a photo. As he's taking the photo he says hey I know you... Your the guy on the Ohio Gamefishing forum that caught the giant goldfish. Yep, thats me, the giant goldfish guy. Nope not the guy thats got thirty deer with a bow or has two ten pound bass on the wall...nope I'm the giant goldfish guy. Everytime I'm the giant goldfish guy. Thanks OGF. So I caught a few white bass and then a nice channelcat on a three inch plastic grub. I caught a hog nosed sucker and a quillback sucker too. S5031089 S5031093 It started to rain a bit as I worked my way up to riffle I caught the nice smallie on earlier. In ten minutes I caught three smallies that probably averaged 15 inches and lost another so I knew tonight was going to something special. In the calm water across the river I kept seeing bass run minnows up on the bank and a couple times bust one on the surface so I switched to a pop-r. On the second cast a big fish nailed it. It jumped twice and then I could just see it open its mouth underwater and blow out the plug. I was shaking it was easily the biggest smallie I'd had on all year. I then decided you only get a chance or two like this all year I'm fishing till dark or a big fish, whichever comes first. I caught two nice smallies in the hole down below on a crankbait. Then a little bass on a spinner on the riffle below that. It was getting darker and raining a bit harder as I headed back up to the spot. Nothing. switched lures. Nothing. Then the pop-r back on, nope. I put the grub back on and hooked a buffalo. It was around ten pounds and I loosed the drag way up since it was six pound test. After babying the fish around forever it came off right as I was going to land it. I threw right back in the same spot and wham the rod bent double. I thought well I'm not going to baby this one since I lost the last one anyways. I leaned back on the rod a big smallie catapulted skyward! After a few very nervous moments I finally lipped this one without her getting off. After snapping a few photos I measured her carefully she was 5/8ths past the twenty inch mark! Its funny but if had actually landed the buffalo I'm not sure If I wouldn't have packed it in and headed home first... S5031102 S5031099