Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Oct 6 2018- a rare freshwater update

About 4-5 years, I sold both of my freshwater boats and for the most part completely discontinued freshwater fishing.  Not because of any dislike for the sport or for any reason of being challenged.  I simply did not have to time to do it.  Translated, I didn't have the time to work, salt water fish, brew beer, hunt, make jerky, play guitar, serve in church, spend time with my wife, and everything else that was and is part of my life.  There is a clear observation here- the older I get, 1) the faster time flies, and 2), the less time I seem to have.  Mathematically, I just doesn't seem to add up to me.  Maybe some day I will understand the equation. 

Anyway, my fishing buddy Dan invited me to join he and some friends of his that are part of an organization called Heroes on the Water (H.O.W).  Their mission is to bring healing to veterans through kayak fishing.  I enthusiastically accepted the invite, only I didn't realize until that Dan had invited me as a participant, not as a volunteer. As a veteran, I had never counted myself as one adversely affected by my service, but rather as one who had benefitted so immensely.  And, that is a story, a big story, worthy of sharing in and of itself some other time.

At 6:50 AM Saturday morning, I show up at this secluded and restricted access pond near Salisbury that has been granted exclusive access to for this event.  The "regular" volunteers are already there, having camped in the night before.  Dan is there too, and I stagger around for a brief while drinking my coffee, meeting the guys, and forming a vision of what may develop as the daybreak draws on.  I had visions of 10 volunteer guides, me among them, and 20-30 veteran kayaking/fishing participants, ready to slay largemouth in a small lake rarely visited by men with hooks.  What developed was more of the opposite- 20-30 volunteers, and less than 10 participants.  Well, since the regular guides already had a good experience base, I quickly became just a veteran fisherman, blessed to fish this unexploited hone hole.  

We didn't launch until ~8:15 AM, which was a little unfortunate.  It was a warm, still, overcast  morning, but the clouds parted soon thereafter and with it came full blue skies.  Just after launching, I hung a nice 15" bass on my all-time fav topwater lure- the "Hula-Pop".  There is absolutely no re-counting how many bass I have caught in this lure.  Unfortunately, at least briefly, this would be my last top-water catch of the day.  I next turned to a 4" lizard (in watermelon seed color) on a 1/8 oz jig head, so simple.  The sides of the lake were drowned pine, and structure was aplenty.  I soon hooked another nice one, but then the sun came up full-strength and this show was over.

My next move was to the opposite side of the lake. The fall sun was rising at an angle, and there was plenty of shade on the opposing shore, so that's where I headed.  As soon as I got there and got out my first cast, BOOM- money. For the next 60 minutes, I caught a largemouth on nearly every cast.  It became ridiculous,... At one point, I had to set my rod down and grab a drink of water.  As I grabbed my drink of water, I left my rod tip hanging over the bow of teh kayak, with the lure dangling 6 inches in the water, unsupported of course.  Now- by now you know where I'm going with this.  Yes, for real- a bass grabbed that dangling lure and almost ripped my rod over the side of the kayak.  Nore pic- hat pulled down low- I forgot my sunglasses.

I needed to leave just after 10 AM to get back and watch a WVU football game with my wife.  Yes, we have dates like that.  I'm told by Dan that the fishing was great the rest of the day also.  I'm hoping for the opportunity to fish there again, and also to fish with these H.O.W guys again, regardless of there or somewhere else.  Next up is Squirrel Camp near Mountain Grove, VA (actually we are fishing in WVU.  More details on that next week.


Monday, October 1, 2018

September 2018 wrap-up, (slight) return of the Specs

Final weekend of September brought gorgeous sunny weather, west-northerly breezes, and most welcome- cooler temps.  Since it had stayed so warm so deep in the year, I was sure I would be able to time a perfect outgoing tide in the Manokin River with hungry rockfish.  I launched out of St. Peter's Creek in Champ, MD, flying solo and determined to fish until dark and trust my GPS to get me back to the dock.  I'm starting to get more comfortable launching and especially re-trailer the boat in the dark ,and even solo when necessary.  I just installed new roller guides, and I think they help position the boat as it is coming up on the trailer.

On Friday, 9/28 I anchored at 4:30 pm at the mouth of the small creek draining St. Piere Marsh, which I had mistakenly called Teague Creek in the past.  It's actually on the Champ side of Teague Creek (north).  I must have cast 5000 times between then and 7:00 pm (sunset 6:50), and I rotated my rigs every few casts.  I was using top-water, shallow diving, and also 4-inch bass assassins on 3/8 oz jig-heads.  The only takers were two small (sub-14 inch) speckled trout.  But- noteworthy were that these fish were the first speckled trout I had connected with this year.  And, they coincided time-wise with some of the better spec fishing I had experienced last year.

The real mission of this weekend was to reposition the camper at the fishing camp.  For years I/we had been encroaching on the neighbor's property, and it was finally time to correct that.  As a result, I didn't get out on the water until 4:30 pm on Saturday 9/29, and I was quite exhausted when I got out there.  I spent the first hour casting jigs toward the south end of Little Deal Island (facing west).  It was blowing straight out of the west, and the water was quite rough.  When I finally rounded the south end of the island and gained protection from the wind (and now the tide just starting to ebb), that's when the fish started to bite.  First up was a really nice speckled trout.  I was using a brand new Penn reel and had not had opportunity to dial in the drag, and I think the loose drag cost me this spec right at the side of the boat.  Estimated length, 18 inches.  Over the course of the next 45 minutes, I caught 3 rockfish, all a tasty 16-17".  If only I had more time, but the sun was setting, I was tired and wanted to try the jetty outside of the Wenona harbor.  I should have stayed behind Little Deal Island.  Next trip not planned to be for 3 weeks, as I 'm on track to go to Squirrel camp Oct 11.  #dealislandrandy

Sunday, September 23, 2018

September catch-up

It's been a real bummer of end-of-summer fishing for me. Some of this was self-inflicted, some not.  To start, I had two weddings to attend in September, one being my oldest son.  Both were awesome, as I knew they would be.  Aside from that, we have been deluged with rain. Rain. Rain. More rain. Then when I was just getting tired of rain, some technical difficulties with my boat trailer.  And the latest bit of fun, the necessity to move my camper and all that comes with that.

In teh midst of all this, I did manage to fish twice.  Yes, twice in one month- what was last year one of the best times of the year.  First time was early September, in the Manokin.  It has been blazing hot, and this day was no exception.  The word (according to Bruce) was to be at the fishing location prior to daylight, and casting topwater lures. We threw Bomber Badonkadonk lures and caught a few 16-18" rock, but apparently had had just missed the big blitz the prior few days.  Water temp was near 85F, needs to cool down.  Fast forward to 9/21, same location, but late in the day catchign the end of the outgoing tide.  Bait everywhere, and it was blowing a gale.  Dan and I (OK, Dan) caught 2 specks and one rock.  Bruce was there in his boat and reported catching a few, but blasting them the prior week in 79F water after dark.  As usual, time and timing are my biggest issues. I'm hoping to try again next weekend and tide timing will be right.  We'll see.  Talked to Bruce today, and he thinks the fish have left the river and are out in the bay.  I disagree, the water is still too warm and I thin the bait are hanging in the river.  We'll see.  We'll see. #Dealislandrandy

Sunday, August 19, 2018

August 10, 2018- Scouting trip (meaning, no fish)

August 10, another blistering hot Friday.  Took the day off to get a few chores done, including hauling the boat back to Fruitland to fill it with ethanol-free gas, and mowing my knee-deep grass at the Deal Island camp.  This was a solo fishing adventure, and as much as I enjoy fishing with friends and family, once in awhile it is neat to get out alone.  Fishing solo, I'm unencumbered by the drive and necessity to put my passengers on fish.  I take it as an opportunity to explore new places and assess their potential for fishing, perhaps at another time.

As I already mentioned, it was brutally hot, and it has been for well over a month.  Water temps were in the upper 80's, so while the rays and skates are still thriving in the shallows, the rock, trout, and everything else are not.  At least not in the daylight hours.  I've been pouring over my nautical maps in attempt to identify new fishing spots.  I described one in a recent post, on the east side of South Marsh Island.  What I have been looking for are mouths of creeks that are draining marshy areas.  But rather than looking for creek mouths that are simply draining marshes on the outgoing tide, I'm trying to identify creeks that cut through the islands in a more or less north-to-south manner, where the outflux from the creek mouth will be on the INCOMING tide.  And on this trip, I found a really cool new spot.  This was located on the northeast side of Smith Island, with nice deep water (5-8 ft) leading up to it.  

And even though I did not catch anything here (it was between 3:45 and 5:45pm), I can see in my mind's eye this place producing fish once the water cools.  I am certain to return,.... #dealislandrandy

Monday, July 30, 2018

July 27, 2018- Fishing with TJ

A full moon and a forecast for light (<5 mph) winds was all it took for me to plot my next course. It was a hot and humid day, as it has been lately.  Extended periods of rain up north had the water a little more dirty looking than usual.  The wind never did lay down as predicted, and somehow I got the direction wrong off my fav app- Windfinder, so surprised to find winds 15 mph+  out of the NW.  Chalk me up for a directional fail, and a misinformed speed, both conspiring to make my 2nd of 3 spots (NW side of South Marsh) an extremely poor choice except for the one lone keeper croaker (11.5") I caught here- first keeper croaker in 2 yrs.  This was preceded by my first choice to return to Brant Point on the E side of S. Marsh. Pictured here is TJ with one of the several rockfish he caught that day.  Bottom structure provide to be a little challenging but I like this spot and I plan to return here.

Our final move was to my favorite hole on the back side of Little Deal Island.  This spot has produced keeper rock the last 2 times I've been there. It's usually around 4ft deep on high tide.  This quickly falling low tide had us in less than 2 ft of water.  No matter, we caught rock anyway (everything on soft crab today, the fish still aren't hitting crankbaits during the day).  The day's tally was 4 rock in the cooler.  Going to have to take a little break as I'm wrapped up the next couple of weekends.  Maybe I can sneak one in during the week.

Lastly, a shout out to Jason- a blog reader who was thoughtful enough to stop in the yard at the camp and say hello.  Turns out Jason has a place right up the road in Dames Quarter and is an avid fisherman.  It's great hearing from and meeting people that read the blog. I can see the stats on blog traffic, the average blog entry is viewed by approximately 200 people.  I don't post everything here (gotta hold back a few secrets) but enough that it serves my own purpose as a journal.  Feel free to reach out and say hello, or leave a comment. 


Monday, July 23, 2018

7/20/18- Fishing with Kara

In my last blog entry, I promised I would be trying a new spot next time out.  Being true to my word, I tried a new spot.  I had been researching my maps, trying to predict a good new spot.  What I came up with was a creek outlet just above Brant Hole Point, on the east side of South Marsh.  I chose this spot for two reasons- 1) depths were average 5 ft right up to the shoreline, and 2) The creek ran into the island and drained it from a point further south.  That meant that with an incoming tide, the water in the narrow creek would be exiting where I was anchored.  

Kara and I launched at 3:30 pm, with a decent wind blowing out of the SE and a low tide.  On the way to the ramp from the camper, we passed a WBOC film crew with their camera rolling.  As we waved to the camera and reporter, I told Kara to watch the news the next day, and sure enough, we made a 1-2 second appearance driving down the road.  

Anyway,...We tried drifting the deep water first, hoping to find croaker (which had been reported to have been caught in the area) and spot.  After two drifts I realized this was a waste of time and headed over to the scouted spot at Brant Hole Creek.  After a half hour or so there and zero action, I began to consider the effect of the stiff wind and how it was churning up the water where we were.  So, we relocated in an effort to dodge the effects of the wind and hopefully to also start catching fish.  We anchored off Gunbarrel Point right around 5pm, and for the first 30-45 minutes caught nothing (casting softcrab).  Then, as if someone flipped a switch, the rockfish started biting.  This continued until 6:30pm, at which point we had caught 7 nice rock.  Only a skate and two cownose rays (one being the biggest I may have ever seen) interrupted the action.  By 6:45, the wind had picked up to steady 25mph + and seemed to be increasing, so I called it.  And since the wind had also shifted to straight out of the east, we had a pretty bumpy ride back to the ramp.  Unfortunately, since the action was so steady for so brief we neglected to get any pictures.  Oh well, I guess we'll have ot go again soon !!   #dealislandrandy

Sunday, July 15, 2018

where not to go,... Jul 13, 2018

My fishing buddy Dan had been on a charter boat the week of the 4th of July, and slayed multiple species, including 4 keeper rock.  I decided that it was worth a trip up that way, seeing as had never fished or boated that area.  We launched around 3:15 from the ramp at Dames Quarter, another first.  The moon was new and the high tide was starting to spill into the parking lot.  Launching was interesting- you have to pull up into the driveway of whoever lives across from the ramp in order to back your trailer in.  And once your in, there really aren't any poles or cleats to tie off to.  Shame on you state of Maryland, you really could do better (in contrast, the ramp at Wenona is spectacular).  Anyway, it's clear that on a low tide you better follow the channel markers tightly and have your prop up just a little, as I was marking 2.1 ft near the ramp. 

We ran out of Dames Quarter Creek (very pretty here) and up into the Nanticoke River.  Had I not taken the wrong route, it would have been about a 20 minute ride at 24-25 mph.  When we got to Roaring Point I was surprised to not see any charter boats fishing. Heck, there was nobody fishing- bad sign.  There are a couple of nice holes just to the NW of the point, with oyster bed bottom.  However, all we were able to coax in with soft crab were catfish and some 6 inch rockfish.  And this was on our beloved falling tide.  Apparently things had changed in the week and a half since Dan last fished here.  Returning to Deal Island, we got word that the charter captains had moved back down into the Sound with the arrival of decent sized spot.  I like spot, but I just don;t get excited about catching a mess of them. They taste good, but a smallish fish with not too much meat.  Pales in comparison to my beloved croaker, and doesn't fight nearly as well.  I won;t be returning here for awhile,....