Wed09172014

Last updateThu, 19 Nov 2015 8pm

   20140901MetroCastweb

Being flexible and keeping it simple pays off

The weather has been odd, to say the least this year. Many who enjoy the outdoors, whether it is chasing gobblers, gardening or fishing, will tell you that the weather has impacted their pursuits. The turkey woods were full of cankerworms, and within a week, many trees on our property were halfway devoid of foliage.
Cool spells and rain downpours, and then very hot spells played havoc with us. I suspect it did so with the gardens, as well. My broccoli flowered expectantly, which pretty much ruined our crop. We won’t have any apples this year due to the cankerworms. The blossoms fell off once the leaves were gone. I hope the same does not happen to the oaks and acorns!

Fishing has been good, but erratic, from what we have heard from anglers. I have gotten out a few times, and my stringer has been either very heavy or very light. The times we did well, it was unexpected, or at least the manner in which we were successful was unexpected.

For instance, last week, Jay Davis and I headed my little duck boat down the river and stopped at one of my favorite catfish spots. Jay wanted to catch a few fish, and so did I. I had always done well at this particular spot we fished at on the Rappahannock. It was my “go to” spot when I needed dinner or a young person needed to experience a good trip.

When we rolled up to the spot, the conditions were pretty good. The tide was rolling out; water color was decent, but not clear yet not muddy, and the weather had been consistent with the exception of a recently passed thunderstorm which we waited out. I had rigged the rods with bottom rigs, had some fresh cut bait to use thawed out, and we were ready to go once the boat was anchored up and tied off. Five minutes after the lines hit the bottom, we did not have any bites. For this particular spot, that was highly unusual. I began moving a few extra lines around and probing other spots. Honestly, I was beginning to get concerned. I wanted to see the young man have a good time and go home with some nice fish for his family to eat. Once fifteen minutes passed, I knew something was amiss. I had to change the approach. So, I re-rigged a rod with a float and hung a tantalizing piece of cutbait on it and suggested that Jay toss it near a log and bush that was not far from us. In a few minutes, the float disappeared. A nice fish was landed, and we re-baited and tried it again to be sure it was not a fluke; it was not.

Sometimes the float hit the water and immediately disappeared. I kept fishing with bottom rigs out of stubbornness, but Jay was wearing them out on his float rig. We never moved the boat either. I think he put over twenty fish in the bucket from that one spot in an hour and fifteen minutes (counting our fifteen minutes of no activity). I put a measly two to three fish in the bucket for my stubbornness. That makes me look pretty bad, but at least Jay got into them!

I definitely learned that being flexible and keeping things simple was a winning combination that evening. I could have easily decided to change spots, drift fish with a fish finder rig, or any number of other things, but I knew in my heart the fish were there, and they simply needed a different approach. I am glad Jay was willing to fish with a float and a plain-old hook covered with fresh cutbait. If he had not been willing, then we would have been looking poor when we arrived at the ramp with three fish!

If you have not ventured out on the river yet, it is a gorgeous time to get out. The weather is warm and even hot some days, but the wildlife is thriving along the water. We saw a bald eagle perched in a snag, observed various herons and other smaller birds, and we were serenaded by a gobbler as we cleaned our catch. If you get out, take a camera with you and get some nice pictures. Don’t forget the bug spray if you are out near dark. The mosquitos were hungry as we pulled up the anchor around sunset and headed back.
Good fishing!

Mark Fike

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