Friday, December 2, 2016

Year's First White Bass?

When Eric Porterfield and I caught several white bass between largemouth catches in Oklahoma last month, I didn't even consider that I might be adding to my year's species list. White bass are such common catches in my travels that I normally log my first of the year by the end of spring. While updating the list the other day, though, I started looking up and down the list and found no listing of white bass, and as I think back, I can't specifically remember catching others this year. I could have caught others and forgotten to record them, but for now anyway, white bass is a November listing, my most recent, and species number 37 for 2017. I'm headed to the coast, where any cast is apt to produce a host of different species, later this month, so maybe the final tally will find the forties.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016


It rained here yesterday. Somewhat significantly, even.

Normally that wouldn't be noteworthy. We get quite a bit of rain in North Georgia. We've been dreadfully dry this fall, though. In fact, if I recall correctly, our last measurable rainfall before yesterday was during the first full week of October and was related to Hurricane Matthew, and our air has been smoky from wildfires more often than not for most of November.

Even folks who always grumble about rain seemed happy about a wet, dark day yesterday, so I can't even imagine the smiles on the faces of the trout as their homes got a bit of a recharge. We need much more, of course, and it looks like another round might come later this morning. For now, though, I'm thankful for yesterday's rain.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Delightfully Miserable

It's not that I prefer awful weather. I like 75 degrees and sunshine as much as the next guy. However, I cannot deny that I find a strange romance in enduring harsh conditions through a day of fishing.

I can't really explain what is fun about wading waist-deep in a cold river with 33-degree air and a soaking rain falling all day -- like I did last week on Michigan's Grand River -- or kneeling on the ice on a bitterly cold and windy day when I can barely stand to hold my rod and reel in gloved hands. That fun undeniably exists for me, though, and is part of the reason why I commonly go north during the cold months, when most folks I know are venturing south.

The fishing itself is the main appeal. I don't travel north just to get cold. I could do that without fishing. I suppose enduring the conditions (whether hot or cold) is simply part of the adventure.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Ozarks in Autumn, Round 2

Having taken the same basic trip at the same time with the same group (two of my boys, a friend and me) two years in a row, I supposed it could have been dubbed our second annual Autumn Ozarks Adventure. Whatever the name, we made the trip a week or so ago, and much like last year, enjoyed some excellent fishing and had a bunch of fun.

We spent most of this year's fishing time working the Buffalo and White rivers, hitting both rivers in several spots. My 12-year-old son Asher also got to spend a delightful day catching trout from Dry Run Creek, which is a wonderful youth- and handicapped-only, catch-and-release trout stream. The other two explored a bit on the Norfork River during part of that day, but didn't find much to their liking. I just followed Asher and stayed busy taking photos.

The Buffalo was mighty low and a bit slow. We did catch some fish, though, and the Buffalo is such a beautiful river that wading along its edges or floating it is always delightful. We started fairly far up the river and hopped from access to access, walking river banks and wading. The White yielded plenty of trout, including a few truly fabulous flurries.

This year's trip also include stops at a handful of disc golf courses, including one in Mississippi that we visited along the way and four in Arkansas.

We split our nights between camping and cabins and enjoyed both in different ways. Best meal, by my take any way, featured cheap steaks cooked over coals beside the White River.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Nantahala Play Day

It had been far too long since Nathanial, Asher and I had spent a full day together trout fishing, so our recent day of work and play on North Carolina's Nantahala River was extra fun. We left home dark and early, got to the river just about the time daylight was finding the gorge, and spent the day hopping from spot to spot to catch fish and take photos. Photos were the work objective, so we each kept a camera handy all the time.

We caught a bunch, and all three of us got a slam of rainbows, browns and brook trout during the day. Beyond the catching, it was just a fun day spent together by the river.

The catch-and-release season on North Carolina's delayed-harvest streams just opened a couple of weeks ago. What that means is that these stream sections are well stocked and the trout haven't gotten too educated. Fooling fish isn't an amazing accomplishment, but it's a barrel of fun. We like the Nantahala a lot because it's a beautiful stretch of river with a lot of variety in types of water, and it's just big enough that at any given pull-off, it is practical for two or three people to spread out a bit or even to fish side-by-side. It's also nice because a road parallels the river, so you can fish an area for a while and then move to another pull-off.

We're far from alone in liking the Nantahala, and it can get kind of crowded. However, the many pull-offs and the configuration of the river make it pretty easy to find a spot where you aren't fishing in a crowd. Arriving early also helps. We had the river to ourselves when we arrived, and we got to hit a few spots first. Fishing on a weekday helps a little. Maybe the best thing that can happen for the sake of less company is to have horrible weather (not the case last week), and in truth, wet, nasty days sometimes offer the best fishing action.

Friday, September 16, 2016

A Most Memorable Bass Strike

Do you have favorite fish strikes etched in your mind - ones you remember as if they occurred 10 minutes ago? One of my favorites recently came into my mind, although I'm not sure what triggered the memory of a fish I caught 25 years ago.

The setting was a small lake in Barnwell State Park in the South Carolina Lowcountry. I suppose I had found a bit of free time while traveling somewhere by car and had stopped by the park, which I'd never been to before, to rent a johnboat for a couple of hours and try fishing the lake. I'm pretty sure I only had one bite, but that's no complaint. The bass was a good one, but not a giant (maybe 6 pounds). The strike itself was the memorable part.

I cast a weightless worm through a gap between two clusters of reeds and line draped over a strong strand of spider web between reeds. As I started reeling, the web strand held strong, keeping the worm high so it was skimming the top. Suddenly the surface bulged, like a folded piece of paper, about 6 feet from the worm. The bulge surged toward the worm, and the worm disappeared in an eruption. I set the hook solidly and connected.

Since I was alone and this was long before the era of cameras that shoot good selfies, when I released the fish, only a memory. It was (and is) a good memory, though!

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Species 30, I Think

I've been somewhat slack in recording species as I've caught them this year (and even slacker about recording interesting catches), but if my 2016 tally is complete, the fallfish pictured above is species No. 30 for the year. As I understand it fallfish, which are basically giant minnows, are fairly commonly caught by stream fishermen seeking other species in the Northeast. However, I think they much more commonly grab fly-fishing nymphs drifted close to the bottom than crankbaits. This one came from the Penobscot River in Maine while Asher and I were smallmouth fishing with Doug Teel of Northridge Outfitters.

Looking down the list my "firsts" of any give species for the year, which are the only fish I record, they have come from eight states. Arkansas has added the most species, with seven that all came from a single trip during April. Georgia and Florida are close, though, so with one third of the year remaining, one of those two could take the lead. Looking down the list, my favorite inclusions would have to be the Guadalupe bass from Texas and the Suwannee bass from Florida, both of which were all-time first catches for me.

I'm fishing in Georgia and Alabama next week. I wonder whether the list will grow.