Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Weekend Round Up | Morning Trout - Afternoon Stripers

Saturday was a cold morning. Temps in the low 40's. I packed the Miata around 0630 and had to put the top down to fit the two piece rods. I was wearing several layers and a windproof hat. I took off into the mountains to Boonsboro Md. I was meeting other Project Healing Waters volunteers and Wounded Warriors at a gas station. I pulled in early and was the only one with out a gun rack in my car.

The sun was coming up and the temps steadily rose. I shed one layer at a time and was comfortably down to a long sleeve shirt and khakis. Everyone drove to the designated parking lot to fish the chalk stream. The stream was mostly current less. I had to drop some twigs in the stained water to see which direction the water was flowing. I fished with a local angler. We used my rod and reel and his fly.

I chose to take pictures rather than fish. The stream was cold and lined by thick woods. A limestone barn or mill was adjacent to the water with a loch or waterfall and plunge pool. The morning light was perfect. I felt as if I were fishing an English chalkstream.  I was on the other side of the stream when Del hooked into a big fish. Everyone had nets and I brought my big 49" net. Our nets were too small. Del landed the fish after a rather lethargic fight from a big fish in small water. There was a lack of bugs coming off the water and we could not see into the water to observe aquatic life such as cress bugs, baitfish, or where the fish were hiding.

I am awaiting word from some of the others before I post their pictures and big fish. I would like to thank the local clubs and organizations for providing us the opportunity to fish this section, providing local knowledge, and a BBQ lunch.

The morning was over and I had to head back home. THW wanted to go out on the boat. I am not one to drive over the speed limit. Thus I found it amazing that I made it home from Hagerstown Md. to Annandale in one hour. I picked up THW and dr jones and loaded striper gear into the boat, hooked up the boat, and headed to the Potomac.

We got to the river just as the outgoing tide was picking up. There was a glitter boat convention of some sorts in the lot so parking was tight. I had a bit of trouble putting the boat in with the crowd. I loaded the gear and dr jones in the boat with THW and we shoved off. Talk about one nervous dog. His first time in the boat may be his last. He was shaking. We had his dog bed but he opted to sit on THW's lap.

I rowed out across the channel and anchored below the bait and plug casters. THW was enjoying a podcast and the sunshine. I was enjoying schoolie stripers. I lost count of the schoolies and caught two speckled bass. dr jones freaked out every time a fish came to the boat. He hates anything that moves, stinkbugs, squirrels, birds, rabbits, etc. Put a flopping fish in front of him and he was not happy. He wanted to kill the fish.

There were two other fly rodders out there. I  had my back turned to them so I did not see how they were doing. The water was rushing out of the tunnel. The anchor line was covered with SAVs. Fish were busting along the shore. The sun had gone past the Crystal City buildings and I could finally get a respite from the sun. It was getting dark and we decided to head home.

The angler by the tunnel posted on the TPFR board that he did really well at dusk. He landed a 27" striper at dusk. Too bad we didn't stay out there. This was about the biggest fish I took that day.

 Sunday morning was dark, chilly, and windy. I met my clients in Reston with the drift boat. Leah had her father's rod and reel. The reel was an old automatic and the rod appeared to be made from aluminum. It was rather heavy and she was determined to use it.

The wind was brutal as I rowed across the lake. It was nice to have the wind at our back and push the boat along the shore. We started off with a lesson in the basic casting strokes. They learned just what they needed for today.  The fishing was slow. Just a few bites and nibbles on the first 3/4 of the right bank. We had the classic scorpion and damsel dropper rig. The cool nights and recent rains have lowered the water temperature. The fish are starting to put on their last chance for winter fat. Their metabolism is slowing and they were not active enough to take flies on top. After about half an hour the fishing started to pick up. Not only did it pick up, we got a double hook up. The sunfish were big. Both took the dropper.

I have to give props to Leah for fishing the heavy rod in the wind and not complaining. I had an arsenal of lighter rods and she opted to keep fishing hers. This was the first time I have fished with an automatic reel since middleschool. For those of you who don't know, there is no handle to reel in the line. You simply lift a lever and the reel pulls in the line for you.

We crossed the lake and I began rowing into the wind. Leah hooked a nice fish on the dropper. I suggested she fight it on the automatic. She clicked the lever and the fish slack was tightened. The fish ran and pulled line off the reel. I thought this was one big sunfish. After a few more runs and a solid bend in the rod the fish came to the boat. It was a nice largemouth.

A few more big sunnies and a few small largemouth were landed in the next hour. I was pushing water and not making much progress. The two hour session was over and it was time to pull up the boat and head to the Potomac.

The sky was getting dark and there was a bit of drizzle hitting the car. I'm glad I was wearing waders and my Patagonia paddle jacket. I had spare jackets in the boat for my next clients. I got to the river a bit early, put in the boat, and paddled out to see what was going on. The wind was picking up. I paddled back to the docks where a kid was hanging out.

His brothers were bait fishing at the tunnel and just left him alone. He was wearing a single glove in homage to the king of pop. He had never been on an airplane but he went to visit his grandfather who lives in Antarctica. This was the same grandfather who was going to buy a Lamborghini to drive down there. I had no idea what this kid was talking about but it was entertaining. My clients arrived just after five. They asked if the kid was getting on the boat with us, thinking he was with me. I said I had no idea who he was and that he was surely not going to join us.

We got out into the current and dropped anchor. I like fishing this section from a boat. Here is why:
  • you don't need waders
  • there are no trees to catch on the back cast
  • you don't have to deal with the litter on shore
  • you don't have to deal with crowds on shore
  • you don't have to throw huge roll casts to get the line out, you are just a rods length from the fish
Stripping in Clousers was not producing any fish. I rigged up the rods with a white damsel and
Thingamabobber Strike Indicator as we talked about stream restorations, clean water laws, national parks, and loud airplanes. We were eating sunflower seeds and spitting the shells into the water. This was on purpose to determine the current. Before long the seeds went from going upstream to downstream. The tide was changing. We were dead drifting nymphs in the current and the fish picked up. One small white perch and several schoolies. The rain was not coming down and it was October rain. Cold. We had an hour left but the clients were satisfied that they had learned to cast and had caught fish. It was time to head to shore.

I was going to Masala Art in D.C. and had to get home, shower, and change. Time to pull the boat out and head home.

Monday morning had the same weather. Cold, win, and rain. I met the father and son client at the boat ramp. We were about an hour late on the tide change. The water was still rushing out but had already dropped 2 feet. The water was skinny. We started off with the dropper rig and caught a smallmouth fairly early.

The fishing turned off from there. We drifted and paddled along the shore. Several bites from smaller fish but no takes. It was nice wearing a knit cap to cover my ears and protect from the loud rush of the planes. We changed location, switched flies, and kept at it. With all of the different flies being thrown the casting strokes improved. My hands were cold and they still are. Its cold out and in here.

The tides are not great to fish Gravelly this week. I hope to sign up some clients to fish the incoming tide at the Tidal Basin. I just ordered 200 hooks on the ebay so I can start tying up striper flies. That is the focus of the season from here on out. Stripers Stripers Stripers. 


I've just installed iStripper, and now I enjoy having the hottest virtual strippers on my desktop.

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