Going Fishin'

Going Fishin'
Red Sunset

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The New River

Our first view of the New River as we crossed mountain gap from West Virginia headed to Pembroke, Virginia, had Dale Black and I wondering why jet boats were not a recommended craft for the river. But a couple miles down the road, we had to re-evaluate our initial opinion – two side by side solid rock rifts extended shore to shore creating significant impediment for a jet boat.

The next morning drifting down river in a self-draining 3-person raft with smallmouth guide Britt Stoudemire we were able to more closely assess a number of these rifts. With years of experience on the New River, Britt is able to slide the inflatable raft over small openings in the bedrock rifts, but whether a jet boat could negotiate the numerous mini falls would be a question for another day. On this trip, we were secure in an oar raft managed by capable hands and our goal was simply to catch smallmouth.

Britt had hoped for a jerkbait bite. But a change of conditions had put the fish down. Numerous smaller bass were taken on the new Pointer 95 Silent, but larger bass came on soft plastic fished slowly along the bottom. Stoudemire, a tube jig man (what smallmouth angler isn’t?) was a bit skeptical when I pulled out a packet of trusty Galida Grubz in my favorite green pumpkin river color. Grubs are passé on the New, he said. But when I landed the largest smallmouth each day (plus hooking a 40-inch-plus musky which won its freedom before being boated) on the 4-inch ribbed grub, Stoudemire gladly accepted the remainder of my pack when we concluded our 2-day trip.

Meanwhile, Dale “Captain Dinger” Black caught most of his New River smallies on – what else – a Yum Dinger. However, Dale had wanted to make Britt’s 5-Pound Wall of Fame. Unbelievably, on the last cast to the last eddy on the last day, Dale set the hook on a hawg brownie. It went airborne twice, allowing us to guess the weight as 4.5 to 5 pounds. Just as I was counting on a splendid photo of a trophy fish to end our trip, Dale’s line unexpectedly broke. Those rocky rifts are sharp as well as hard!

For information on New River smallmouth trips, contact Britt at http://www.newriveroutdoorco.com/.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Six Pound Smallie Bet

Well, it was a first for Presque Isle and Lake Erie. Three days in a row with winds under 8 miles an hour during an outdoor writer event! That has never occurred in the all the years I have been holding these familiarization tours for Visit Erie.

Perhaps our good luck was brought from Wisconsin by event sponsor Matt Bichanich on his first-ever visit to Presque Isle Bay. Representing Uncle Josh and Kalin brands, Matt introduced several new clear-water grub colors for us to field test on smallmouth bass.

Everyone caught sassy smallmouth and richly-marked largemouth on day one. And photo opportunities abounded for media representatives. However the real trophy brown bass were camera shy.

If you recall from my previous post, I had made the statement that someone in our media party would catch at least one 6-pound-plus smallmouth for photos….or I would shave my beard! Here is the rest of the story…

Monday’s sunrise to sunset fishing produced smallmouths over 5 pounds, but no true 6 pounders. Taking Tuesday morning off to rest up, Dave Lehman then made an afternoon run down the big lake in search of bigger bass. Although the bite was slow under a prevailing east wind, Lehman managed a 6-pound 4-ounce smallie on a Hopkins Spoon. Arriving in the Bay, Matt Bichanich and I witnessed the weighing of the bass. But the bass was in a weakened condition from livewell confinement. We decided it might not survive if held it for an evening photo shoot, so the big smallie was released and it swam off.

Wednesday was a surprisingly good jerkbait bite in the Bay with Rapala X-Raps and Lucky Craft Pointer 78DD-SP for 2 to 4 pound smallmouth and largemouth – but no huge smallies.

Since the bet had been a 6-pounder for photos, I failed because Lehman’s 6-4 brownie was released before Vic Attardo or John Neporadny had an opportunity to photograph it. Therefore I upheld my end. Check out the accompanying photo – a naked face for the first time in nearly 40 years. The grub dangling from my mouth? The hot new Apple Juice color from Kalin was the best smallmouth producer of several new colors.

Now, I’ve got a week of office work before heading to the New River in Virginia.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Hope Springs Eternal

Each spring Dave Lehman and I have a friendly wager on who will catch the first 6-pound-plus smallmouth at Presque Isle Bay/Lake Erie. The bet is always (well, almost always) resolved between April 7th and 15th when the first movement of big smallies from the main lake arrive at Bay drop-offs. With unseasonably warm weather of late, we thought the date might be pushed up a bit. So on Good Friday, Dave and I made our first Erie trek seeking bronze
We checked all the usual Bay spots from 8 to 20 with hair jigs, blade baits, spoons, grubs and tubes. Apparently smallies had not been advised that 80 degree temperatures had warmed Bay water a little quicker than normal. It was so calm that we even ran out onto the main lake to look for really deep fish – all to no avail.

I have several writer friends scheduled to arrive in Erie for three days of fishing the early bass bite on the Bay. Am I worried about not catching a single smallmouth last Friday, April 2? Not really. Smallies operate under their own timetable, and when Mother Nature gives them the “go” signal, they will show up like clockwork.
I’m so sure that we’ll encounter big smallies that I’ve informed the group if we don’t catch at least one 6-pound smallie for photos then I’ll shave my beard. Be sure to check this blog on April 15 to see whether I’m beardless!

Oh, the picture on this post? Dave Lehman’s first 6-pound-plus of two seasons ago – taken on his 3rd cast of the year into PIB.