Lately as in July 2015
This summer has offered up some incredible fishing for my neck of the woods. I’m going to try and keep this short but there’s so much to tell. The fishing in the upper bay has been red hot since early June. Of course I didn’t get on the bite till about mid June and stuck with it for over a month. Mid bay, bay bridge area. First I found them suspended over deep water like down 20 feet over 50 feet on the channel edge. Then I’d found them even shallower on the ledge in 25 feet. Then I just couldn’t go wrong. It was incredible on a few evenings in July with a good outgoing tide. But I must say for some reason I always seemed to hit it at the end of the outgoing and still struck pay dirt. The basic rig was to jig long skinny plastics like 7 inch zoom super flukes on 3/4oz jig heads on light braided line like 14# with a 25 pound tippet. With light line like that the jig sinks about 2 feet per second or maybe more like 1.8 feet if you wanted to get really technical. I’d basically mark fish suspended near bait fish schools, cast out and give it a long 4 count and start jigging. At 4 seconds my jig should be roughly 10 feet down but continues to sink as I retrieve it. This way I didn’t go through the fish or below the fish I was marking. I like an erratic retrieve with a sharp, fast jigging action, picking up slack every time after the jig. Hits almost always happen on the fall and you have to be ready with a swift hook set. The fly rod also got some play with sinking line that’s supposed to sink 8 inches per second, 9wt full sinker. For suspended fish, when there are a lot of fish I might add, the fly rod is not a bad tool for the job. But nothing can compare to the efficiency a jig will get down to those fish. If you want numbers, stick with the light spinning or bait casting rod. But to change things up, a fly rod will do wonders too. Two Friday’s ago I went out with my old college roommate in his vintage 1980’s aluminum 16’ boat with an old 65 horse merc on the back. The motor won’t run well at low speeds but does quite well at ¾ throttle. Of course boat wake and typical bay chop beat us up pretty well but wow did we find the fish holding on well-known structure just north of the bay bridge. We had plenty of company and most people were catching well. Hankey was blown away how well the jigging rod worked. Forget the chum he even said. I went out again on July 18th with a 10-15mph South wind, combined with hundreds of other pleasure boaters and every charter boat in the fleet. What was I thinking? I crossed the bay in that crap. But got on the fish again. This time they were hugging the pilings pretty tight and the jig had to be close to the bottom near the top of the pilings. Or the up current side of the pilings. There will be a current break down stream of the piling but also just upstream of them, just like a boulder on a trout stream. The hydraulics of the water pushing around the structure, boulder, bridge piling creates a nice little pocket just up current of said structure. Well, they were there and sunset with a good incoming tide was the ticket again. So, I’ve got a enough striped bass in my freezer to give me mercury poison ten fold. I’ve eaten striped bass two or three times a week in the last month. Probably because I also just bought my first deep fryer. Healthy? Probably not. Even though I had all this fresh fish I still thawed out a packet of frozen fish dated July 2013?! Cut the freezer burn off, dipped it in egg white, flour and some Cajun seasoning and it was a hit for all my neighbors the other day. Don’t tell them it was the 2 year old fish. I had some and it was probably my best batch yet. I’ve been pretty good about releasing the larger fish and keeping the smaller fish… to some degree. Of course on July 4th we were staying at a friends on Kent Island and I needed a lot of meat for a lot of people so elected to keep the biggest fish. This fish would rival anything April on the Potomac could offer. What’s going on? Some of these fish still had sperm sacks, large sperm sacks inside of them. All males and big ones at that. But for some reason the rest of the bay is void of these fish. Why are they all above the bridge? What’s wrong with the water elsewhere? Why is every charter boat running miles upon miles to the same area to put their clients on fish? Well because there are fish there. Or were. This past weekend’s results were a fraction of what it was two weeks ago.
July 10th again. Here's a 33 inch fish that broke through a 50 year old net just as we lifted it out of the water. I knew that net was useless but after losing our first nice fish when I tried to lip it, Hankey wasn't having it.
|June 22, 2015 limit. Insane fishing. Probably at its peak, before the word got out too much. Many more 30 inch fish came to hand that night.|
|Some nice fish on the fly rod too from June 22, 2015. |
Because of the hot striper bite I’ve done very little musky fishing. We were plagued with crazy amounts of rain in June. The full moon in June fell around June 2 and it was cloudy the entire time. John C and I floated 8 miles in complete darkness on the hottest musky moon of the year and were skunked?! It was jet black out with no moon from the cloud cover. But of course we hooked up at the take out.. twice. Once when we dropped the car off early in the evening and again at 3am when we got back to the car. Same fish? Who knows but he got off both times. But I did score a musky in mid June on a quick trip on my own just prior to one of the strongest thunderstorms I’ve ever seen. The radar showed pink, purple, green blue, red, all at once about to unleash hell on me and this fish hit Mr. Whiggley just feet from the boat. Even with that single treble hook in the head of the bait, the fish was hooked well. It blasted the bait in plain sight just as I started the figure 8. Awesome take, and a darn good fight for a “small” fish. I was happy. But it was my only musky in june. My third musky of the year out of about 40 hours effort in total. I’ve had a few complete skunks this winter and spring/summer. The river is pretty much off limits until it cools down for me. But my Canada trip is coming up with the full moon in August. Hopefully I can kill a 9 year skunk on the mighty st. Lawrence. No that was not a typo, I’ve been skunked 9 years in a row. Yea, I’ve hooked and seen fish every year but just can’t seal the deal. Get a guide young man, get a guide damn it. But I just won’t. Save some money.. yea right.
June 20th musky on Mr. Whiggley
What else…. It’s hot, damn hot. The hottest day of the year with temps in the high 90’s fell the last two days, July 20, 2015 and 19th. The humidity put the “feel” temps well above 100. Sweat pours down your back as soon as you get out of the truck and it almost feels like a dog tick crawling down your crack. So what do you do? You go trout fishing just outside the beltway on a tailwater fishery no one knows about. Water temps 5 miles downstream of the dam are still below 70 degrees?! I had 65 degrees at my one favorite pool today in an area that hasn’t been stocked with trout in decades. The cool water acts like an air conditioner and it’s quite pleasant. The water is at or near low summer flows and gin clear. At first I tried fishing an ant from far downstream to try and not spook the pool. But you inevitably end up walking up on the pool to fish the head of it, knowing full well that the best part of the pool is the root wad in the tail end of the pool. But no one wanted my dry there so I found myself right on top of the fish. I caught a glimpse out of the corner of my eye of a perfect red stripe just hovering motionless within a rods length of my feet. One of the nicest trout I’ve seen in this stream was sitting right next to me! I do a half hearted roll cast and plop the beetle on its head. The fish just floats back downstream as my size 16 terrestrial passes over its head. I tried that about a dozen times till I pushed the fish almost out of the pool. Darn!! So I take a far cast to the head of the pool but the whole time I’m watching this fish behind me, not paying any attention to my fly. I know it’s now started to slowly sink but figured I’d still see a tiny dimple on the surface when a fish took. Well, I didn’t. I go for another cast and I’m hooked up. This fish is no joke either. They are incredibly strong in this tiny stream. The fish takes line, goes instinctively for the undercut and I try to put the brakes on. That doesn’t work with 6x tippet. Did I ever say how much I hate 6x tippet. There goes that fish. I felt pissed off for losing the fish but I also felt kind of bad leaving a fly in its mouth. These are my pet fish. This is my go to spot, maybe 5 miles below the dam. I could almost name each of these fish. Well, maybe not because today I saw probably 8 individual fish that us trout fishermen would consider adults in the 10 to 12 inch size, not including the behemoth 15 incher that eluded me. I later fished a small brassie off a dropper behind a large beetle. The black beetle vanished in the water, even if it was a size 14. It didn’t work well as a strike indicator but I saw the trout move towards where I thought the nymph was drifting and just pause. It made this move towards something so I just set the hook thinking just maybe it took the fly. Yep. Fish on! A few cartwheels later the fish runs near the bottom and wraps the tippet on the only stick stuck in the bottom and the beetle snags the f…ing stick. Yep, two fish broken off. Time for redemption now. Backed off to 5x, put on the old faithful cone head woolly bugger and hooked up on the second cast and finally got one to hand. Nice one hour lunch break I’d say. Later I checked the water temps a few miles further downstream and it only rose a couple degrees. Still in that comfortable range for trout survival of 69 or 70 degrees. 80 is lethal, 70’s isn’t great but doable. It sure would be nice to make that whole stretch a catch and release stream again. Or just keep it to myself. One of these days I’m going to get that 15 incher and I’d expect there are even larger fish in there somewhere. Forget the gunpowder or the north branch. Why drive that far for similar size fish when I have that in my back yard? My own little St. Vrain in the middle of suburbia.
What else…. Oh.. the bass ponds are fishing well. Even in muddy water after one of the strongest rainstorms we’ve seen in 5 years the fish cooperated for Ryan and me a few weeks ago. Dark colored stick worms did the trick.