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“Blast and cast” fun to try

Years ago, I was friends with a Marine stationed at Quantico, and he had access to a property in Westmoreland County that had a pond on it and some outstanding turkey hunting. He gave me a call one evening and proposed a “blast and cast” trip to the property where we would hopefully bag a turkey and then go cast for some fish.

I recall bumping a huge gobbler off the roost as I set off in the predawn hours to get set up, and then I promptly messed up another setup less than an hour later by getting too close to the bird.

I did have a good time casting for largemouth bass, crappie and bream in the pond on the place. We did the “blast and cast” event several more times before he moved on. Many nice bass were taken from that pond, and we had several nice cookouts afterwards, too.

Since then, I have enjoyed the prospect of “blast and casts” and have tried my own in various forms. Spring is full of emerging life and lots of outdoor activity. The spring run of anadromous fish like striper, white perch, yellow perch and shad are sure signs we will finally be headed towards fresh vegetables, fine fishing, summer temperatures, fireflies and grilling weather. Enjoying the spring as I described above is easy if you have access to a turkey hunting property with a good pond or water access, but you can fish somewhere before or after the hunt and still get the best of both worlds.

Friday night, I finally was able to put aside everything piling up on my desk and on my chore list to go to Fredericksburg and have a date with my wife.

Our date was not the typical date, and some might even groan at what you are about to read. After a really enjoyable time last year casting for shad and catching multiple species of fish while doing it, we both agreed that trying it again was a must. When my wife drove up after work on Friday night, I had the boat hooked up, and we were backing the little duck boat into the river in Fredericksburg a short time later. This time, we did not catch multiple species of fish, but we certainly caught more than our share of hickory shad. In fact, every fish we hooked was a hickory shad, and there were many of them.

Within two casts, my wife hooked and landed a huge hickory. She not only caught the first fish, but she caught the largest and the most. No, I did not allow that to happen just so she enjoyed our “date”, but that is not a bad idea! For us, it was not about who caught the most or largest fish, but simply about having a good time. The fish were very cooperative, and the scenery was gorgeous, minus the city and noise behind us.

We watched a muskrat glide in what looked to be an effortless manner past us upstream against the tide. It was wisely hugging the bank and staying out of the bad current. Geese honked overhead as they moved up and down river. There were plenty of birds chirping and likely either attempting to find a mate or defending their established territories. The trees on Friday evening were just beginning to show a hint of green, and by Saturday evening, many had visibly sprouted leaves or were beginning to. By the time readers get this issue, the trees will likely be in full green.

After we had our fill (and then some) of the shad, I suggested we not be greedy, and let the fish head upstream unimpeded by our temptations of crappie jigs to finish their spawn. We had to get home to lay out our turkey hunting gear for the next morning anyway.

On Saturday morning, we headed over to my parents’ place to try for a tom. Tom was gobbling, but not quite as willing as I would have liked. Another hunter that was calling from the adjoining property did not help the situation that much, either. Missy and the girls heard the birds fly down, and then they shut down their vocalizations for the morning. However, the birds around us, albeit not turkey, were chirping, singing and fluttering about. We heard robins, bluebirds and hawks, and actually saw an eagle at less than 75 yards!

We tried another spot without hearing a gobbler and then came home and called without any response. I went back out to another location at 11:30. At that time, I got a response, but perhaps the hen with the ol’ boy was too pretty to leave. He would not budge and soon shut down. That was fine, though, because a half hour is not much time to get a turkey to come in. The clock was ticking, and noon soon arrived without an appearance by Mr. Tom. Perhaps another time, we can make the “blast and cast” work for us. As far as I am concerned, I was thrilled to take the shad we took, spend time with my wife and then spend time with my wife and kids as we sat in the woods early in the morning listening to it come alive around us. I cannot wait for another opportunity to get back out there and enjoy the woods and water!

Mark Fike

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