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Saturday, June 21, 2014

23 inch bass and the week in creeks

With the rivers all messed up I'd decided to spend the week exploring tributaries to the LMR and GMR. It was mostly slow creek fishing this week, I caught a few small smb's and some longears but as always the scenery more than made up for it. One day where the clear water of the creek mixed with the muddy water of the river I did luck out and catch a 17' inch smallie but that was the only decent smallie in five trips. But all week the forecast had the rivers fishable Friday. And I had Friday off. Then Thursday all he#& broke loose and the creeks and the rivers blew out. So I loaded up the belly boat and made the drive to a wildlife area. Little did I know how lucky things would turn out. I was catching pretty nice bass when it started to rain. I decided to switch to a buzzbait. I threw it along a weedy bank with a overhanging willow when a big fish blew up on it but wasn't hooked. I tried a few more casts then decided to switch lures. I tied on a curly shad I just got a few days before. It's kind of a cross between a shad swimbait and a grub. I cast back in front of the tree. Whap! The rod bent double and I'm thinking wow a five or six pounder. Then it jumped. A field and stream cover jump with that big head shaking. I almost died. It pulled the belly boat around a bit. And then OH GOD it jumped again. Stoppit! Finally I got a hold of that big lower jaw and crashed ashore thru cattails and briars till I was like twenty feet from the pond before I stopped. Ok no tape measure. So I carefully cut a piece of mono the exact length of the fish. It later measured a bit under 24 but Im not sure if in my excitement I layed it on the fish following the curve or held it straight. So I'm calling it 23+. I do know It's one of only three bass I've ever caught that I could comfortably stick my fist all the way in it's mouth with room to spare. The other two came from Florida. I have an old mount of an Ohio 6.5 lb bass that I cant do that to. After a few photos I held it upright in the pond till it kicked with it's tail and swam away...









Saturday, June 14, 2014

Brigadoon

Websters defines Brigadoon  as:

Brig·a·doon
noun \ˌbri-gə-ˈdün\
 a place that is idyllic, unaffected by time, or remote from reality
 
Which also fits my little secret place so perfectly it's become the spot's "code" name.. There is a small steep little creek coming off the hillside. Dry ninety nine percent of the time, in some distant past deluge it has dumped a load of rocks out into the river. Not enough to create a big rock bar like those you can spot on google earth but a tiny one just big enough to stand on. Further into the river though the rock bar extends underwater a third of the way across the stream. The only give away to this underwater bar is a row of tiny swirling circles of water in a line across the stream. Not much of a spot really. But it's in an out of the way part of the river no one fishes much so the fish have here a chance to reach their potential even if your not going to catch very many.  
  I clambered down the steep little ravine to the river. Sitting my pack on the diminutive rock bar I pulled on Bob and peered inside. Bob is a two inch tall clay ogre holding a quartz crystal attached to the packs zipper I bought off a witch at Yellow Springs. After naming Bob she cast a spell on him guaranteeing luck. After a couple years it seems limited to fishing, hiking and other things non-financial but I'd be lost without him out on the water.  A moment of panic set in as I realized I had only a couple chartreuse metalflake grubs left. This has long been my go to color for muddy murky water. And the river now is nothing if not muddy and murky. I began to unload the pack setting boxes and gear out on the rocks. Whew! There it is, an unopened package of chartreuse grubs. Every winter I stock up on grubs in smoke glitter, glow, motoroil flake and chartreuse flake. Most years the other colors get the hard use but not this wet muddy year. My usual go to smoke glitter is barely used while the chartreuse is getting low.
  I tie on a jighead thread on a grub and dangle it into the water. You could see the bright chartreuse maybe six inches down. Hmm, I squatted down conflicted. You could still see the dark braid in the yellowish mud. Should I go with braid or mono? I love the feel and strength of braid but have a hard time talking myself into using in daylight for smallmouth even in muddy water. I change spools and replace the braid with 8lb mono.
  I cast and begin exploring the sides of the underwater bar. Two casts in and a dandy channel pounces on the jig.
 
There must be a low spot in the bar because part way across a sluice of faster water pours thru. I cast the jig and let it drift thru the slot on a tight line. Whammo! A hard strike and another great fish, this time a saugeye.

Then nothing for a long time. I paused to watch a great blue heron stalk the riverbank a ways upstream as I take out the waterbottle and sit a while without fishing. After the break I stand and cast back to where I caught the channel earlier in the day. The grub paused in it's journey downstream and I set the hook on just circumstantial evidence of a fish. The rod bent and a few minutes later I lipped an 18 inch smallmouth.

  I remember thinking well this has been a much better day than I ever expected it would be, it doesn't matter what happens now. I'd regret thinking that an hour later. A strong thump on the jig and the drag began to protest. I thought wow another nice channel just before a smallmouth broke water. A very big smallmouth. After an uneventful fight I had the thing right there. Just right there, reaching out to lip it and the hook came free. It swam slowly back down out of sight. I thought for a split second of jumping on it. It was definitely a better fish than the 18 incher, But it was hard to be disappointed. Falling water, muddy water, I hadn't expected to catch much of anything today. The Fish God had smiled today.

Friday, June 6, 2014

6/6 a day outside

With the river temporarily out of service I decided to indulge in one of life's great pleasures. Maybe even a bit of a guilty pleasure it's so easy and unpressured if your at the right pond. That's catching big bluegills on a fly rod. I took a little 7.5 foot four weight and a box of flies containing some dry flies and some beadheads. About half of each tied in bright colors and about half tied in natural tones. Really four options, on top or underneath either gaudy or subdued, for the four possible moods a sunfish might be in.
It was a beautiful morning a lovely change from the last few sticky days. There was such a heavy dew the grass was as wet as if it had rained. I took a cool photo of a dandelion head covered in water crystals.A pretty fog was rising off the pond as I arrived right after sun up.
 
 
 
 
 
I tried a dry fly at first and caught a few. But there were way more swirls that hearty takes so I switched to the beadhead. In my mind a beadhead nymph in a small size like a 16 is just about the best bluegill fly there is. It's also the best practice there is for learning how to detect underwater strikes later on from smallmouth and trout. I'd cast the fly and let it settle for a second before slowly retrieving it in short strips. The trick is to watch the end of the fly line, you will see it pause during the strip even though you feel nothing. That's a big gill eating your nymph. A bright beadhead fished slowly out produced the dry fly I had been throwing at least three to one. Pretty much par for the course in my experience. But I always try to get them first on the dry. It's so much more fun I'll put up with a few less fish some days. Once I made the switch the action was fast and furious as I retrieved it thru some beds of spawning gills. Then in search of some bigger fish I threw out to deeper water and really slowed down my retrieve. The fish came a bit slower but when I caught one it was a dandy.
 
 
 
 
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I also threw for a bit a deerhair bug for bass. The pond is overrun with small bass. This is the reason I'm sure for the size of the bluegills, the bass population keeping their numbers in check. I caught a few ten or twelve inch bass and one gill whose eyes were bigger than his mouth.

I decided I'd rather catch big gills than tiny bass so I switched back to the nymph



After lunch I took a hike in a nearby woods and found some cool plants.
 
 
 
 
This is squawroot or bear corn. Its called bear corn because bears feed on it heavily in spring when it's one of the first foods available to them. It's called squawroot because of its use by Native American women to relieve the symptoms of menopause. Squawroot is parasitic to oak roots and grows in clusters under oaks where it is found. Because it's parasitic it has no chlorophyll and lacks all green pigment giving the plant it's weird look.

I also found a few ginseng plants growing in some dark hollows of the woods. All in all a pretty cool day.
 
 


Monday, June 2, 2014

18+ inches of karma on the fly

Went after work to mow the grass of a sick relative. Pulled the lawn mower out and was just getting ready to start it when the sky opened up and it downpoured. Ok. Ill be back first evening it's dry...

Stopped on the way home at this little spot on the river. No rain here yet. It's a tiny little spot that only ever gives up a fish or two. I had a six weight fly rod and a box of flies behind the seat of the truck. Like I said it's a tiny spot. Just a 15 foot roll cast covers it well enough. It's an underwater pile of rock that has some swift current flowing over it. One of those places you discover over time by accident more than anything. I tied on a weighted streamer. Kind of a zonker type fly. Roll cast then let it tumble. Again. Again. Okay this isn't going so swell. But I kept at it. Ten minutes later whap and a 15-16 inch smallie hurtles skyward throwing the fly. Ten minutes later I catch it's twin. Or maybe the same fish I dunno. I fish on till I've lost faith. I move a bit to try a different angle. Weight, then whoosh the fish jumps, them jumps again. I finally land it. Oh no the camera is in the pack! But I did buy a little keychain ruler last winter and put them on my truck key ring so I get a measurement. Then try to get a phone picture. The phone turns off!!. Uggh. I hold the fish underwater till I get the phone back on. Snap a very bad photo and turn it loose. Pretty happy for a wet grass fish I head home.