And he said to them, "Follow me and I will make you fishers of men." Matthew 4:19

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

With Spring Coming Early, Here's an Early Fishing Report....

Okay, the last three months we had here in Virginia was hardly one we could call "Winter".  Little to no snow, and really not that many cold days, even.  Global Warming?  Climate Change?  Just an anomaly?  Who knows.  I'll leave that debate to the experts who can't even agree on anything.  This post is about fishing....  (And I will say one thing about having a milder winter -- at least there were no fish kills of puppy drum or speckled trout like Eastern North Carolina and Tidewater has had the last couple of winters.

Parke has gone out in his john boat several times, either alone or with a friend, when he's not in class, and with the milder temperatures, not only have the flowers been blooming about three weeks earlier than normal, but the lakes have been warming up, too.  And that has triggered an earlier bass bite and spawning season.  But even when the fish weren't biting, Parke was out taking photos of amazing sunsets, and beautiful nature scenes.  One was so outstanding, it even made the front page of our local newspaper.  The glory and beauty of a sunset is absolutely captured in this amazing shot he took....
What an amazing mid-winter (really) sunset!  This photo was  on the front page of our  local newspaper, above the fold.
Shortly after this shot appeared in the paper, I noticed a painting in the reception area of our office.  It struck me as somewhat similar in composition and color, even if it lacked the silhouetted tree.  Still, now I can't look at the painting and not think of Parke.
Of course a camera doesn't do justice to nature or even a painting, but there's no denying that Parke's photo is quite amazing in its composition and color.
When Parke had his Spring Break a few weeks ago, a good friend of his from college came to visit him for a long weekend of fishing.  Their first day out on the lake proved to be quite successful, as I later received this photo of a couple of bass that Parke caught on rubber worms.  It made me jealous that I hadn't gone with them.  Fortunately both bass were released to live and fight another day.  (We never keep largemouth bass, as they just aren't good tablefare, and really do deserve to grow bigger.)

Without a scale or tapemeasure on him, we can only estimate these two fish.  But my comment to Parke was that the one in his left hand looked about long enough (22") to qualify as a release citation.  They are both beautiful bass.

Finally, I had had enough and I told Parke he had to take me to his spots on the lake.  I've lived here for over 18 years and have never caught two bass like that.  So, last Friday afternoon after I got home from work, he took me.  A front was getting ready to go through the area, so we had to be mindful of the weather, but I was excited.  And I made sure I had a tape measure and a scale.  Unfortunately, they were not needed for the one fish that we (Parke) caught.  A barely legal bass....
Usually an impending front means good fishing.... Not that evening.  This was all we caught before the threat of rain, lightning and heavy winds chased us off the water....
Still, it meant we weren't skunked.  And seeing two bald eagles, a river otter, two great horned owls, buffleheads, wood ducks, a kingfisher, mallards, geese, and hearing a big old Tom turkey somewhere in the woods beyond the waterfront added to an enjoyable time on the water, while we were there.  But we did learn something that had occurred since Parke had been on the water two weeks earlier with his friend.  The bass were now in shallow water, beginning to bed.  We could see them in three feet of water or so, and the bigger the nest, the bigger the bass.  We started looking for beds about three feet in diameter, but cast toward any.  Then the thunder and lightning came.  To be continued....
The first clouds of the coming front weren't a problem....  It was those that came later that made us get off the water sooner than we had wanted.
Heading back to shore didn't stop Parke from getting refreshed dipping his head in the water, as the boat moved along with its 9.9HP motor.  Odd boy, that Parke....
As we searched for bass beds, using our polarized lenses, Parke would stick his head down in the lake.  (I worry about that boy sometimes....  Ah, not really.)
The next day we went out again.  It was a beautiful day, and we were hopeful, but again the bass didn't cooperate.  Maybe it was the temperature change (it was cooler now), maybe we were using the wrong color worms and spinner baits, but the time on the water was still beautiful.  The cypress trees and smells and sounds were all signalling the beginning of spring....  And we found an area that was the mother lode of bass beds....  For next time.
Carefully moving among some "flats" filled with cypress trees, we continued searching for the tell-tale signs of bass beds....  open circles, cleared of debris and vegetation, protected by the bass that cleared it.
We fished for a few hours, talked with some other boaters, and learned what else we need to get.  So this week, I've gone ahead and gotten a few more colors and shapes.  So that next time, we won't get skunked again.
Even if the fish aren't biting, time that a father and son spend fishing together, is time well spent....  But I look forward to posting a photo of me like that first one of Parke with the two bass....  (To be continued.)
So I'm ready to go again with him when I get the chance.  But in the meantime, I'll have to console myself with  this plaque that came in the mail today.  I finally received the Virginia Citation for the large 42 pound Striped bass I caught last year.  I guess that not only am I not only am I a pretty good angler in my own right, but I'm a darn good teacher, too.  And I absolutely enjoy the fact that my son is now able to teach ME a thing or two about fishing.
It only took 13 months since I caught the giant rockfish, but I finally received my first official citation.
Just in case you don't remember this fish, here's the 42 lb. cow I enjoyed catching last year.  This past winter, there  was no better fishery for striped bass AND bluefin tuna, as Virginia Beach.  And it was all within the first 3 miles of shore.  It was certainly a winter fishing season to remember.  And the humpback whales that winter here are still around.

We are entering the time of year when largemouth bass fishing is at its peak.  Here's hoping we can both add another citation to our walls in the upcoming weeks.  I'll have my tape measure and camera on me, just in case....

Until next time,

Fish ON!


Epilogue:  I received this photo from Parke late this afternoon.  It may not be a bass, but it's pretty much the biggest bluegill I've seen in a long, long time.  I'd say it's a citation....  What do you think?
Okay, so the tape measure is curved around the fish, and unreadable.  But here in  Virginia, a sunfish just has to be 11" to be a citation.  And Parke's size 11 shoe is shorter than the fish.  I'm thinking it's 13".  Regardless, it, too, was released to live (and fight) another day.

It's the Sunday after I first posted this blog, and on a rainy afternoon, Parke and I went out again for a little more than an hour.  Not having a lot of gas, and dealing with threatening storms limited our outing, and apparently there was also a tournament on the lake.  Boats were everywhere, including our "hotspots".  Most of the bass were not on their beds....  Were they hiding?  Were they in someone's livewell?  Who knows.  We only saw a few.  But we did see a few.  And a few minutes after spotting this one, Parke was holding it in his hands.  Not a bad fish.  We'll get some more gas, and go out later this week, again.
Even wearing a goofy hat, Parke knows how to catch a bass.   We saw this one on its bed, and kept casting toward it, irritating the heck out of it, until it finally couldn't stand it anymore and attacked Parke's jig.