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Need Hog Wally to show me how....


Al Agnew

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I had to do something early yesterday morning that I couldn't finish until after 9 AM. But the weather was so nice, and the forecast so unpromising, that I was sure wishing I could go fishing. Mary is still waiting on the schedule for when her treatments start, but she had other things she had to do yesterday. But she told me that she would come and pick me up if I wanted to do a Big River float, as long as she was back home by 6:30 PM. So I decided to do one of my "home" stretches, a 6 mile float on the upper river. 

By the time I loaded the stuff on the Prius, which is a bit of a pain because my racks for the old Prius don't fit the newer one, and so I have to use foam blocks, and then try to find somewhere on the front and back of the car to tie down, I knew I probably wasn't going to get on the water before 10:15. When I got to the river, I was surprised at how clear it was, with more than 4 feet of visibility. I started to take the water temperature and then realized I'd switched over my tackle to warm weather stuff, and had left my thermometer out.

I fished through the first two short pools with absolutely nothing happening. Not good. In the next pool, I was fishing my twin spin and had a big largemouth come over a log and take it, but it didn't stay hooked. The next pool is a good one that almost always produces fish. It produced one small spotted bass. Next one after that is big and deep, and I got a couple of small largemouth from it.

Where were the smallmouth? I hadn't even seen a smallie at this point.

At the head of one of the better pools in this stretch, I tried a Superfluke, and had several fish take it. They looked to be all spotted bass, and I only boated one of them. But the action on the fluke was encouraging...it just didn't last. 

I was halfway through the float before I finally caught a smallmouth, all of 10 inches. I was trying everything by this time, and trying it everywhere. One thing about a river the size of upper Big River--you CAN try everywhere you think there might be fish. On a larger river, if the fish aren't in obvious spots, there's a lot of not so obvious spots to look, and you might never really figure them out because even if you fish the right spots, you might happen to hit it when the fish aren't active or they just aren't in that spot even if they are in the next spot just like it. But on a smaller stream, you can pretty much fish the whole thing as you go. And on this stretch of Big River, with the water clarity it had yesterday, you can eliminate a lot of water by sight alone...no fish visible and no place for them to hide.

But a person floating that stretch yesterday would have sworn there weren't a half dozen smallmouth in the whole river. The few I ended up catching, all small, all hit different things, but they all came from fairly deep water well off the banks. The largemouth were tight to cover and close to the banks for the most part, the spots were mostly in faster water, what few I caught. I caught one fish on topwater. None on Mitch's craw. None on my Subwalk. Some on jerkbaits. Some on the Superfluke. Some on spinnerbaits, both my twin spin and regular willow leaf spinnerbaits. A few on my shallow running crankbait. A few on a deep diving crankbait. And nothing was at all consistent. No big ones; biggest spot was 14 inches, biggest largemouth 16. Only 25 or so fish altogether, and only 4 smallmouth, none over 11 inches. I had to be content with being out on a nice, if windy, day, with bluebells blooming thickly in the bottoms, redbuds showing beautifully, and the trees beginning to green up nicely. The water was flowing well, and except for one spot it was an easy float. The one spot? There is a place on this stretch that, for as long as I've been fishing it, well over 50 years, their is an island with the right side a wide, gravelly channel that is nearly always dry, and the left side very narrow, high banked, and tending to get log-jammed. The last couple of years, there has been some water going through the wide side, but the narrow side still carries more water, and it's always been good fishing. Yesterday, there seemed to be a little more water going to the wide side, though the narrow side still carried more than half the flow. I took the narrow side as usual, and halfway down it (it runs for a quarter mile), in a spot that for many years had a huge log completely across the channel but with a spot on the left where you could paddle over the log, there was log jam completely across the channel. Deep water from bank to bank, high, steep banks. Drag the canoe back up and try the other channel? Then I saw that on the left edge, there MIGHT be a way to push the canoe through some thick brush with no tree trunk blocking it.

I ended up with scratches from greenbriars, a ton of dirt and debris in the canoe, wet up well past my knees, and I nearly broke a rod, but I made it through--only to immediately encounter another tree across the river. Fortunately, there was a bit of unblocked gravel bar that I could drag the canoe over.

I don't mean to complain; any day on the river is a good one. But I'm in a slump on bigger fish, right when Hog Wally and those guys are catching so many good ones!

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I had to do something early yesterday morning that I couldn't finish until after 9 AM. But the weather was so nice, and the forecast so unpromising, that I was sure wishing I could go fishing. Mary is still waiting on the schedule for when her treatments start, but she had other things she had to do yesterday. But she told me that she would come and pick me up if I wanted to do a Big River float, as long as she was back home by 6:30 PM. So I decided to do one of my "home" stretches, a 6 mile float on the upper river. 

By the time I loaded the stuff on the Prius, which is a bit of a pain because my racks for the old Prius don't fit the newer one, and so I have to use foam blocks, and then try to find somewhere on the front and back of the car to tie down, I knew I probably wasn't going to get on the water before 10:15. When I got to the river, I was surprised at how clear it was, with more than 4 feet of visibility. I started to take the water temperature and then realized I'd switched over my tackle to warm weather stuff, and had left my thermometer out.

I fished through the first two short pools with absolutely nothing happening. Not good. In the next pool, I was fishing my twin spin and had a big largemouth come over a log and take it, but it didn't stay hooked. The next pool is a good one that almost always produces fish. It produced one small spotted bass. Next one after that is big and deep, and I got a couple of small largemouth from it.

Where were the smallmouth? I hadn't even seen a smallie at this point.

At the head of one of the better pools in this stretch, I tried a Superfluke, and had several fish take it. They looked to be all spotted bass, and I only boated one of them. But the action on the fluke was encouraging...it just didn't last. 

I was halfway through the float before I finally caught a smallmouth, all of 10 inches. I was trying everything by this time, and trying it everywhere. One thing about a river the size of upper Big River--you CAN try everywhere you think there might be fish. On a larger river, if the fish aren't in obvious spots, there's a lot of not so obvious spots to look, and you might never really figure them out because even if you fish the right spots, you might happen to hit it when the fish aren't active or they just aren't in that spot even if they are in the next spot just like it. But on a smaller stream, you can pretty much fish the whole thing as you go. And on this stretch of Big River, with the water clarity it had yesterday, you can eliminate a lot of water by sight alone...no fish visible and no place for them to hide.

But a person floating that stretch yesterday would have sworn there weren't a half dozen smallmouth in the whole river. The few I ended up catching, all small, all hit different things, but they all came from fairly deep water well off the banks. The largemouth were tight to cover and close to the banks for the most part, the spots were mostly in faster water, what few I caught. I caught one fish on topwater. None on Mitch's craw. None on my Subwalk. Some on jerkbaits. Some on the Superfluke. Some on spinnerbaits, both my twin spin and regular willow leaf spinnerbaits. A few on my shallow running crankbait. A few on a deep diving crankbait. And nothing was at all consistent. No big ones; biggest spot was 14 inches, biggest largemouth 16. Only 25 or so fish altogether, and only 4 smallmouth, none over 11 inches. I had to be content with being out on a nice, if windy, day, with bluebells blooming thickly in the bottoms, redbuds showing beautifully, and the trees beginning to green up nicely. The water was flowing well, and except for one spot it was an easy float. The one spot? There is a place on this stretch that, for as long as I've been fishing it, well over 50 years, their is an island with the right side a wide, gravelly channel that is nearly always dry, and the left side very narrow, high banked, and tending to get log-jammed. The last couple of years, there has been some water going through the wide side, but the narrow side still carries more water, and it's always been good fishing. Yesterday, there seemed to be a little more water going to the wide side, though the narrow side still carried more than half the flow. I took the narrow side as usual, and halfway down it (it runs for a quarter mile), in a spot that for many years had a huge log completely across the channel but with a spot on the left where you could paddle over the log, there was log jam completely across the channel. Deep water from bank to bank, high, steep banks. Drag the canoe back up and try the other channel? Then I saw that on the left edge, there MIGHT be a way to push the canoe through some thick brush with no tree trunk blocking it.

I ended up with scratches from greenbriars, a ton of dirt and debris in the canoe, wet up well past my knees, and I nearly broke a rod, but I made it through--only to immediately encounter another tree across the river. Fortunately, there was a bit of unblocked gravel bar that I could drag the canoe over.

I don't mean to complain; any day on the river is a good one. But I'm in a slump on bigger fish, right when Hog Wally and those guys are catching so many good ones!

Al, I haven't had time to go but my humble pie is waiting for me I'm sure.  

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On 4/5/2016 at 3:40 PM, Hog Wally said:

Al, I haven't had time to go but my humble pie is waiting for me I'm sure.  

Always enough humble pie for everyone.

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