Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Squirrelly Fine Smallmouth Action

For starters I simply have to acknowledge that I have no idea how many fish Nathaniel and I caught yesterday. In fact, I couldn't guess within 50 fish. We made no attempt to count, and Nathaniel, who was in the back of the raft, probably caught a few dozen smallmouths that I never saw. Often my attention was on the fish I was landing, my next cast or the path of the raft, and unless a fish was bigger than average, attacked with added gusto, got serious air or did something else of note, Nathaniel would just land it, unhook it with a grin, slip it back into the river, and fire off another cast.

Squirrel, as veteran guide Brian Hager is best known, said he had little doubt that we eclipsed the 200-fish mark, and I believe him. Squirrel has led a load of fast-action days on West Virginia's New River, often with anglers intentionally counting every fish, so he has an excellent gauge of the action. I do know that Nathaniel and I both hit snaps where we'd catch a fish every cast for several casts in a row, and the only thing that broke some of those snaps was missing or losing fish that hit hard and probably should have been landed. I also know without question that Nathaniel and I had never caught nearly that many fish together in a day.

Don't misunderstand. Fish-catching action is only one measure of a day of fishing in my mind. However, if you consider the setting, those other values would have earned the highest of marks had we not caught a fish. I got to share a raft with my son and a guide who loves to show off the New River and its spectacular gorge. We spent the day crashing through rapids -- sometimes picking a smallie from an eddy pocket on the way through, and working the deep green runs that separate the rapids, all between the boulders and cliff walls of 1,000-foot-deep gorge.

When given a choice early in the morning, I briefly pondered whether to fish the gorge or an upstream section, only because the river has run so high all spring and summer that Mountain State Anglers hadn't run any fishing trips through the gorge section. I really didn't have to think about it for long, though. Squirrel was confident that we'd catch 'em, and he quietly suspected it might be exactly the sort of day it turned out to be. I'd fished the gorge twice previously, and while other sections are beautiful as well, the total experience of running New River Gorge is without rival in my mind.

This part probably goes without saying, but I sure am glad we opted to fish the gorge!

No comments:

Post a Comment