Monday, July 31, 2017

Popa and Puppy Dog

My youngest daughter Gracie had been living with us since April. unfortunately with her work schedule, coupled with writing her thesis for grad school, there was really no time for her to do the Naptown "summer" thing. Its a shame because she is a true Baltimoron and loves to do it all. SUP, fishing, crabbing, O's games, lax, etc... she is Maryland. She moved to Baltimore a fews weeks ago, so tonight was an actual "visit" and after a little nap in the pool, she joined me early for a little Popa Doggin. I forgot that only one rod  was rigged and to my dismay the only Popa on board was the one on the end of the rod. Luckily I had a fresh, unopened, "Puppy Dog". Same red and white as Popa, just without the big mouth and spitting. Which is a lot like Grace and I. So fittingly, it was Puppy Dog Grace versus Papa Dog. For the first 10 minutes it was Popa all the way as I quickly boated 3 nice keepers and lost a nice 24 at the side of the boat. It was not long before Grace got into the action, From that point on, I would have to call it a draw. There were very few casts that were not met by multiple blowups. I have to give the night to Grace and particular the Puppy Dog who achieved a new feat about my boat. We netted a double of a 22 and a 20. I have had many doubles before but they were always dinks. We cut out of there around 7:30. Grace took a panorama pic on her camera and we counted 15 boats clustered around the spot. It was really cool to see everyone set up in an orderly fashion and immediately begin slaying them. It was a great to have my Puppy Dog home.








Tuesday, July 25, 2017

I ran into one of those life altering events that you get at 56...my ability to upload pictures to this blog. It started over 3 months ago. Since I have done things a certain way since March 2nd 2007, I am lost. Social media is not my thing. So I have not been posting much. It has actually been 10 years since I started this blog!!!. Its amazing to look back at the progression of my topwater fishing from the headwaters of the South River to present day Shoal fishing. When we first moved to Harbor Hills, which is West of the Riva Road bridge, I set out to fish the South River with topwater plugs like I used freshwater bass fishing most of my childhood. It took a while, but when I had my first topwater slam at the rock pile on the southwest end of the bridge, I was hooked. Stripers make freshwater bass look like lightweights. Soon after that I met James ,who had grown up in Harbor Hills, and was a light tackle junkie. The two of us literally had the entire river to ourselves. Even when we made the tedious ride out to the bay, we never saw people topwater fishing. I do remember Billie and my old find Dabs who lived on Thomas Point road, a stones throw from the shoal. Bille would show up in the fall, but rarely the rest of the year. Unfortunately, Jame moved to Cali, and I was left to my own devises. We had learned the shoal very well after 8 years or so and had many an epic night at the rock pile well after dark. So when my wife and I "downsized" my main criteria was to be a close boat ride to the shoal. When we found the beach cottage on Ferry Point point road I knew I had found my final resting place.want. My practice run was on a choppy day and I still made it in less than 10 minutes, That was a commute I could deal with. Unfortunately, the plan was to rebuild, which would take at least a year. No way I was giving up fishing. Luckily a house came up for lease next to Billie and 8 docks from Dabs. Now I could literally see "the spot" from my porch and be there before the engine was warm. Most nights it was two or three boats and we all knew each other. Over the past fews years I have met quite a few others either through this blog or from guys that would simply anchor up because they saw three boats. Most were not patient enough to learn how to fish in 3 to 4 feet of water with a rocky bottom. I ended up living on Thomas Point road for 3 summers due to a few hiccups building the house. I really learned the shoal those summers and met quite a few others of my ilk. However, even last year, it was rare to encounter more than 5 boats in a night. Which brings me to last night. There must have been 15 boats out there during my hour of fishing and quite a few were clearly tossing red and while Popa's...Nice. Which brings me to my point. I am going to post pics to Instagram using #popadogg. It would be great if those readers who fish the point post their pics and identify the make of your boat. Hopefully my social media guru, Grace, can figure out the pic problem.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Weekly? Update

Last Monday was the best day I had. Caught a real nice 27 at the shoal. On Tuesday a woman from work joined me and we had a blast. She had been asking me for quite sometime to go fishing. Since topwater fishing involves numerous sets of treble hooks, I am always leery of taking someone whose skill-set I am unfamiliar with,for safety reasons. I asked her how her casting was and she said it was ok. Well it turned out, she was better than ok. She cooly tossed her first Popa Dog a nice 30 yards or so with a nice fluid motion. She had never caught a striper and I am not sure she had even been on a boat before. So I had a huge smile on my face to match hers when she got her first blow-up and boated a nice 18. Her total for the night was 6 with one keeper that she took home to her family to show off her mad skills. One of the more satisfying nights of the year. The rest of the week was spent at the shoal as my "Dora the Explorer" approach had yielded little more than kidney damage from the chop I endured looking around. So it has been "the spot" for me. Seem to be settling into a normal summer pattern of 18-22 inch fish. I boated two 20's and a 16 in an hour tonight. Not the action from a few weeks ago, but a great night non the less.
27 inch

Her first Striper


Thursday, June 1, 2017

Dora The Explorer

After the last four nights action, I may not fish "the spot" this year. I was by myself tonight and decided to head out into the big old bay to see what was to be had. I have never erased the trails on my Lowrance so it looks like someone took a black crayon and drew a line from my house to "the spot" on the chart plotter. The only other lines are the trails from my trip with Paulie and his son to the bay bridge and the lines from Memorial Day. Using the trail as a guide, I made my way to green 83 where we had done so well on Memorial Day. The bay was perfect, with no humidity, a light breeze, and a surface that looked like glass. I was marking fish but,a lack of birds and no tail slaps made if difficult to find breaking fish. What did make it easier was the sight of about 20 boats off in the distance at the entrance to Deal. I arrived to birds scattered over a huge area and tails slaps galore. These were not schoolies either. They were clearly north of 28. My second cast was met with a huge slam. It was clearly bigger than my fish from Monday. Prior to leaving the dock, I had changed my line and tied on a 8 foot leader. There would be no break-offs tonight! I was a great back and forth for at least 5 minutes. In Tarpon fishing, if you touch the leader it is a catch. Well...I touched the leader but, sadly she broke loose. The line did not break though. Guess I will never know how big it was but, it definitely rivaled my fish from Monday. It was not long before the second fish came onboard. A real beauty that peeled off line at an alarming rate before giving up as Stripers usually do. They are like March in reverse. Out like a lion and in like a lamb. A third beauty followed. Both were "netted" fish. That normally only occurs a few times a year at "the Spot". Looks like I am going to be Dora the Explorer this summer.
Did not need to push it out... it was big 

Fish Number 1. Based on lid it was 26

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Memorial Day

Fishing for me this spring has been non existent primarily due to windy-rainy weather. I had yet to catch a keeper 20. I have been sailing primarily, and "Mama Dogg"had been seriously neglected. So Sunday morning I took everything except a pair of wire cutters, a box of Papa Dog's, and my rod off the boat and scrubbed her down. We had a party at the house that afternoon, so I had not finished with my spring cleaning project when my buddy Glenn showed up at 4 Memorial Day to head out.

There was a ton a boat traffic, but the spot was calm as low tide was at 4pm. Glenn picked up one small one during the hour we were there. I decided it was time to head out into the real world and try open bay fishing. I had heard from several people that Eastern Bay had been doing well so we headed over to Poplar island. It was like a different world on the Eastern Shore. There was not another boat in sight, which meant I was on my won as to where to fish. I called Dabney to see where he had been doing well, as he has been fishing over there quite a bit. His answer did not give me much comfort. "We were about a mile off the Northern most point of the island in 60 to 70 feet of water. The fish have been on the surface with very few birds around". Not much to go on, but I decided to wing it. When we hit 70 feet, I did see three white birds sitting on water, so that is where we stopped. Within seconds we saw a large pod of fish maybe 100 feet way with their "tails a slappin". On my first cast I brought a nice 26 on board who swallowed the plug. As I was attempting to extract the hooks, without my needle nose pliers, Glenn brought on board an even bigger 28, which was followed by one too big for me to guess. We had no measuring devise, but it was BIG and by far his biggest Chesapeake Striper on light tackle. After literally 20 minutes of trying I finally decided to cut the line and toss Popa and the fish in the box. After re-tying, another big one slammed, which broke the line as I was attempting to swing her over the gunnel. Well thats 2 of my 6 Popa's down. A few fish later, I got my biggest Striper on life tackle ever. This pattern continued until sundown. It was simply incredible. Every fish was huge. I lost the other 4 plugs and several of Glens to break off's. I simply was not prepared for fish of that size. My 10 pound braid had not been changed in 6 months. Still, I did boat the fish in the pic on 10 pound line and a 15 year old reel. Next time, if there is a next time, I will be better prepared. If there had been any boat traffic or wind stirring up the water, we would never been able to follow them that long. I may never have everything fall in place again, but I will be prepared.

I was anxious all day today to get back out there. Unfortunately, it was spitting rain, a little too choppy and appeared that fog was moving in. I was all settled down in my winter gear when Dabney texted me that him and our buddy John were heading out in 30. It took me less than that to be sitting in his cabin, re-rigged, with an assortment of plugs. Dabs set the chart for a spot similar to yesterday and off we went. It actually was not bad. Within minutes of arriving, we hit another large pod of breaking fish. Dabs had promised fish to several neighbors, so we quickly filled the box with fat broad shoulders 26 and 28 inch fish. On the way in we ran into Dave from "the spot". He and his boys were sitting over a huge school sitting right on the bottom in 14 foot of water. We joined them for longer than  planned as the action was incredible with 1/2 ounce jigs snapped off the bottom. I left my rods on Dabs boat as we plan on hitting it again tomorrow.


Dabs with a 26

I topwater guys dream screen- Memorial day 

My biggest topwater fish ever!!!

Tonights Haul

Glenn's biggest

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Trophy Season

Both of my parents grew up in a small town outside of Bethlehem Pa., where I attended college at Lehigh University. Every year, the day after Thanksgiving, my dad and his brothers would go deer hunting. My mothers side of the family was not a big fan of guns or the killing of animals, so it was not a ritual that I was part of. During my Junior year of college, I decided to give it a try. My dad gave me a beautiful Winchester 270 that apparently was quite valuable and set me up on a ridge to await the whitetails that would wander along a nearby swamy area. They had been hunting this area for 30 plus years and assured me that it was the "best spot". I did see a few over the next few years and even took a shot once, but missed. My heart just wasn't into it so I gave it up after a few years. What stuck in my mind more than anything was a talk I had with my uncle Benny. He was actually my dad's uncle, so had been hunting the same club for some 50 years. What impressed me the most is that he had never shot a deer in all those years. Granted it is a hard sport, but 50 years is a long time to come up empty handed. I asked him once why he kept coming and he answered that it was not the deer he was after. There is an old saying that it takes some people their whole lives of fishing to realize it is not the fish they are after. This is something I understand very well. It is why I continue to fish in the winter knowing full well that my chances are slim. So for the last 3 nights I have headed out to "the spot" to do a little plugging. It has been beautiful with a gentle breeze and no boat traffic. The picture below is from March 22nd 2012. It remains the only March Trophy I have ever caught. That is why they call it Trophy season.



Monday, July 11, 2016

One for the ages.

The only night since the 4th that was not red hot was last Weds. Interesting enough, the only boat out of four of us, that was catching fish, was a guy in a Robalo. He was catching one after another within an area about 20 yards wide, using some sort of subsurface lure. Every other night was one fish after another, with the biggest being a 23.

I fished with a new "fishing buddy" Glenn on Saturday night. We have been out quite a bit over the last month, but unfortunately had not experienced a night indicative of how great topwater fishing has been this year. We arrived about 6:15. I had a feeling the tide would not be moving since low was 4:30 pm and was not surprised. Once again, nothing was happening for the first half hour. To make things worse, I nearly sunk a double treble hook into his arm, but luckily just managed to snag his sleeve. Finally, just as the tide was turning, we started to pick up some nice fish. Glenn was using a myriad of offerings due to his job in the tackle industry. By the end of the night, I think Popa had won him over, with him matching me fish for fish with some funky colored Dogg, proving once again that color really does not matter.

Tonight, I was the Robalo guy. He happened to be watching me catch fish in an equally small area, as he had slayed them last Weds when I was skunked. Turns out the guy grew up on Thomas point and had been fishing the Shoal longer than I have. Once I realized it was a new boat, I recognized him right away. With my eyesight, I could not pick out of a lineup most of the dudes that I regularly fish next to. You are normally at least casting distance apart, so you have to rely on the make of boat, voice, and a vague knowledge of hair color and body type. When I arrived at the shoal there was one other boat that appeared to be anchored with the stern facing south. So I set up as if the tide was going out. Unfortunately, they were actually drifting, and the tide was slacker than
slack. By this time I realized this, I had drifted a good way off "the spot". I thought the other boat was Steve B, but when they set up 50 yards or so away, I realized it was 3 kids maybe 12 or 13 years old. Before repositioning my anchor, I made a cast and immediately boated a nice 18. From that point on, nearly every cast was met by a fantastic blow up. I tried to get the young-uns to join the action, but they did not want to infringe on my honey hole. On one cast I had blow up that moved more water than a 30. It turns out that I had a double header of 18's. One on the front hook and one on the back. Now that was one for the ages.

Popa pulls a double. 
That is a funny looking Popa
23 from Sat.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Holiday Review

My youngest daughter Grace had planned on leaving to go back to grad school the morning of the 4th. Luckily, after breakfast, I was able to convince her to stay for a quick outing before leaving. We had not fished over the holiday weekend, so I was thrilled to have her for a few extra hours. Unfortunately, the forecast was for rain and wind all day. When we arrived at the shoal, things were worse than anticipated. It was not raining, but it was downright miserable. I attempted to anchor on "the spot", but the chop pushed me a good 100 yards towards the red marker. Since we did not have a lot of time before conditions were to get really ugly, we had to make due. On literally every cast from that point forward we each boated a fish. I lost count of the number of doubles we had. All the fish were between 20 and 24 inches. We fished well over an hour and then headed in both tired and exhilarated at the same time. I can not stress enough to my readers how good fishing is right now. There is no particular spot. The fish are everywhere. The key is to stay in the shallows. If you watch your depth finder, you can clearly see where the water goes from 6 feet down to 3 feet. Stay in the shallow area and use surface plugs. If you are off the ledge or using a subsurface lure like a spoon or rattle trap, you just will not do as well. These fish are feeding on the surface.

I arrived at the shoal to a picture perfect topwater conditions tonight. The chop was gone and the surface was like a bathtub. High tide was 6:30, so there was little or no tide. Fishing remained "red hot". I did not make a cast tonight that did not result in a boated fish. They were not as big as the past few outings, but I am sure at least 15 were keepers. There were a lot of boats scattered around the shoal. A few of us were doing quite well, but I did see several boats that came and went empty handed. Again, I think the reason they did not have success, is they were fishing the deeper water and using either live bait or swim baits. What works at the point is topwater....period. Most people I talk to are intimidated by surface lures. They should not be. There is no wrong way to work a topwater plug. Just cast it as far as you can and use your rod to move it along the surface in a erratic fashion. Any movement will do. Striped bass will react to the movement..any movement.
Heading into hell on the 4th of July
All is not lost

Bonus time with my Gracie


A 22 and 24. Could not tell you who caught which




Moms snd Popa Dogg
We head back in the rain. 
Perfect Topwater night
What a difference a day makes

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

I just love low tide

Fishing has been nothing short of spectacular this year, and low tide has consistently been the best time. Since low tide was 6:45 tonight, I left a little early with complete confidence that it would be excellent and I was not disappointed. When I arrived at the shoal there was one other boat, a Parker, there. It looked to be a group of mid 20's guys that instantly reminded me of the early days of topwater fishing with James and the boys. They were positioned a little too north of the rip to do much, but it was cool to see a bunch of plugs skipping accross the water. I anchored slightly east of the rip and went to work. On literally my first cast I picked up the biggest fish of the night, a very fat 26. I actually pulled down the net for that one.. From that point on it was non stop action. I lost count, but what I found interesting is that every single fish was around 24 inches. The other Parker slid back a bit and immediately started slaying them. They were having a blast, which is what topwater fishing is all about. It is so cool to see and hear about people having success with topwater all over the bay. My buddy Mike picked up a 30 one morning this week in 20 feet of water. If it keeps up like this, the planer board crew may have to start running light tackle party boats. How cool would that be. I dropped by Marty's to replenish my supply of Popa's and he told me that they sold over 100 last week. It was not even 10 years ago that talk of topwater fishing on the bay was a rarity.

People always ask me about the risk of "spot burn" by writing this blog. Yes, there are more boats on or near the rock piles this year, but I personally enjoy watching other peoples blow ups as much as my own, so it really does not bother me. What bothers me is when others just rush in with no regard for how or where they anchor. Late in the night, a yellow center console came barreling over from the eastern shore to check out the action. What some people do not understand is that at low tide the water is only 3 feet deep and engine noise can easily shut down the bite. These guys tried to literally jump into the fray between the young guys and myself, leaving maybe 20 yards between the boats. Of course they had their engine running the whole time. I don't care if the whole world wants to fish the shoal, just use common sense. It's a big area. There are literally hundreds of rock piles out there. Do I have my "spot", yes, but can certainly make do when others beat me to it. I just ask, that if you fish that "spot" because you read my blog or another reader told you about it, be cool and move about as quietly as possible...end of rant.
First of many tonight. A fat 26
Rainbow from last nights storm

Monday, June 20, 2016

Strawberry Moon

It has not happened since 1967 and will not happen again until 2062. A Strawberry Moon occurring on the same day as the summer solstice. This was according to the Article I read after work tonight. So despite 12-15 MPH winds, I was excited to get out there tonight. Summer would officially start at 6:45 tonight and I would get to experience this astrological event and have a shot at trophy sized fish in June..wow. I left the dock at around 7 and found a bay that was quite choppy and downright uninviting. It took me 3 attempts to get the boat anchored in such a way that I could cast with the wind and what I hoped would be a tide swing at some point in the evening. The wind was blowing hard enough that I was clearly positioned as if the tide was still coming in. High tide was 5:54, so I figured that within a hour the tide would change and I wanted to be positioned behind the rip should the boat fail to swing. After last nights delayed change I wanted be set up so that I would be casting with the wind and pulling Popa back through the rip. By the time I felt good about my setup, it was almost 8 pm. It was still quite choppy and breezy, but the fish started blowing up almost immediately. I picked up a quick 5 or 6 undersized fish exactly where I would expect them to be if the tide was coming in. It was not until around 8:30 that it became clear that the tide was actually going out and the fish were behind me. As soon as I found them things got crazy. The fish were off my port side and I was casting parrelel to the wind towards the eastern shore. Nearly every cast was met by a good sized fish. I boated several 20's and then had what felt like a big fish break me off by darting under the boat. That should not happen. I have literally fished the same leader, line, and Popa Dog since the season began, so it is time to retool my equipment. I have missed 3 fish in the last two nights that were probably north of 30 inches because my line broke. That is just plain stupid on my part. It has been a long time since I have boated a fish that big and there is no excuse not to be ready. It will not happen again. It was hard to get mad as I watched both a beautiful sunset and an equally beautiful moon rise. I took these 2 within seconds of each other. If I make it to age 101, I promise to be fishing, so I can experience it one more time. .
Strawberry Moon
Sun sets on the first day of summer 2016

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Best Fathers Day EVER

Everything about this years fathers day was perfect. The temp was close to 90, but seemed like a perfect 75, since the humidity was so low and a nice southerly made it feel like a day at the beach without leaving home. I was looking forward to a Golden State win tonight, so had not planned on fishing, but when Katie called to see if I wanted to go tonight, basketball took a backseat. Low tide was 5:10 Pm, so I figured our 7:00 departure would be perfect. Alas, when we anchored it was dead slack tide. There was still a lot of boat traffic, so the boat was swinging with the wakes. The boat settled in as if the tide was still coming in. Danny was Fly fishing off the bow and crushing the smaller fish, while Katie and I had yet to get the Skunk off. All of Danny's fish were coming from exactly where I expected, had the tide turned. So when the boat finally swung around, the smirk quickly came off of his face as every cast of ours was met by a huge slam. I had a huge fish break me off and as I was re-tying, I  heard the biggest slam of my life, as Katie was hit by a huge fish. The fish jumped, so we all knew it was a trophy, especially when line started to peel off her reel at a rapid pace. It took a while, but she finally brought the fish to the boat and screamed "get the net". As we brought her aboard, I thought Katie was going to collapse. She was sweating, but clearly pumped by what was the biggest topwater fish of her life. A quick measure and it was confirmed. Her first 30 inch fish. NICE. I could not ask for a better Fathers day present than being there to watch the whole thing. Way to go Katie.

Yesterday, my boy Danny, also had a big day. They had run a 5K and he had come in 3rd out of 80 runners. Unfortunately it was a 29 and under division, and a running club of young runners had surprised everyone and taken the rest of the podium. What should have been a great feat, was replaced by the attached picture that will live in infamy. So when Danny landed one of his biggest Stripers ever on a fly, he was one again overshadowed . So I could not resist recreating the podium scene from the day before. Now is Lebron would just lose, this day will be tough to top.
Her first 30



Poor Danny 1

Poor Danny 2


Danny with a keeper on Fly or Poor Danny 3
Poor Danny 4

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

1950's Redux

My wife and I attended "Bands in the Sand" fundraiser for the CBF. The president spoke for a few minutes to thank everyone for coming and then discussed the results of the efforts of the past few years and how it is finally paying off. Anyone who has been out on a boat this year this year, has been amazed by the clarity of the water. I have no clue what we have to thank for this incredible turn of events, but it sure is great. I can actually see the rocks at the shoal, even at high tide. Every morning I wake up the all kinds of waterman working the waters in front of our home. There are actually "tongers" working several different oyster bars and "trot liners" galore. It feels like you have gone back in time.

I have had the sense all year that fishing was better than ever, but it was hard to confirm. After 18 straight days of rain, we have had to deal with 10-20 knots of wind nearly every night. The guides were telling me that they have never seen so many fish on the western shore as this year. Guys in their 40's were telling me that this was as good as they have ever experienced. Hell, even Capt. Karl posted a few videos, on his personal Facebook page, of several "over 35" fish he landed while just messing around with light tackle. I did have a few good nights by my standards, but nothing like that. He told me he has run into several trophy sized schools slamming baitfish on the surface and picking up 40 inch fish on plugs.

Well that all changed the last 2 nights. I can now say with certainty that fishing is very very good right now. Monday night was a near perfect topwater night. It was chilly enough that I wore my cool weather gear, an old pair of UA sweats and a sweet pullover my daughter Liz gave me for my b-day. It was breezy when I left the dock, but as the sun began to set, it became dead calm. Low tide was 6:30 and I was surprised when the boat began to swing not long after 7. With the tide shift came the slams. It was non stop action until I pulled anchor after 9. The biggest was a 26 that tail slapped literally 10 feet from the boat. Dabs was returning from fishing an area near the radio towers and had a similar experience with over 30's in ten feet of water, October fishing in June...SWEET.

I texted Katie and Danny that it would be worth their while to join me last night, so as we headed out into a mirror image of the night before. I was a bit concerned that things would not be active until closer to 8 as a result of the later low tide (now 7:30), but we were not disappointed. We had barely set anchor and the action began. Again, it was non stop until the DNR boarded us as the sun set (A story for another chapter). We did not break the 22 barrier, but lots of spectacular blow ups. Lost our last red and white Popa Dogg, but the "greenback" color filled in beautifully. For now, I am sticking with my theory about the red looking like flared gills. "Best night ever" as Danny likes to say and I concur.
Biggest of the night at 22 inches on a Popa

26 from Monday on Popa

Crushing it with a Zara Spook

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Record Rain Streak

Last year by May 12 we had 11 days over 80 degrees. This year we have not had a day over 70 degrees. As a matter of fact, we are in the midst of the longest rain streak in history. It has now rained 15 days in a row. Record Rain Streak. It was still drizzling at 6:30 when I decided to head out. I was dressed like it was mid Feb., complete with a wool cap.After a lot of trial and error, I have concluded that the ideal condition for the shoal is 2 hours after a low tide. So when I noticed that low tide was 5:30 I just knew that tonight would be different from the miserable results this week. I anchored at around 6:30 and immediately went to work with Popa. After 45 minutes or so, I decided to switch over to a white twisty to see if the fish were there. Sure enough, on my 2nd cast, I picked up a very nice 22 that actually took a good deal of drag. I proceeded   to land several undersized fish. So the fish were there. Why are they not slamming Popa? As the magic 7:30 rolled around, I switched back to Popa. It did not take long to hear that sweet "thwack" of a big fish hitting a plug. The fish went straight down, so I did not get a good look at it, but knew it was big by the sound of my drag screaming. A week ago I was fighting a 150 pound Tarpon for a 1/2 hour at a time. Tonight the fight was maybe 5 minutes, but in Popa Dogg world, it was as good as it gets...A nice 26. She was still filled with eggs, so there was only time for a quick pic before releasing her to make some babies. .
26 inch female on Popa

First glance of blue sky in weeks

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Back to the future

When I started this blog years ago, I really had no clue where it was going. I can't say the situation is any different after all these years. I have found myself recently using this blog , in a more traditional sense, as a "fishing log". In the fishing world, that term is not as prevalent today. Today, it is usually associated with those that monitor conditions in the watershed. For instance, our River keeper keeps "a log" of oxygen levels, water temp, salinity, etc, to monitor the river for potential problems. I have tried over the years to infuse this kind of hard data that I hoped would someday be helpful. Every fishing book I have ever read talks about patterns. Success in fishing is always attributed to the tide, light, thermocline, lure choice, etc. What I have come to realize over the past year, is that none of that really matters in "Popa Dog World" . If you look at the trails on my Lawrence, it's like someone drew a line with a crayon between my dock and "the spot" on the shoal. Most nights I anchor, according to conditions, within about 20 yards of the same spot as the night before and the night before that. Once at this spot, I break out the same red head/white body Popa Dog and go to work. There is no need to collect a lot of data because I have eliminated so many variables. I use the red head Popa Dog because it casts farther than any other plug I have tried over the years. At some point in the past 25 plus years I have tried them all. My first love was an old wooden Bassarino, but my last love will be Popa Dog. For years I switched off between a black Stillwater and a white Stillwater. It took a few years to conclude that color does not really matter. Now contrast?, that may matter. Thus the red head and white body. It is pure conjecture, but I think the red mimics the red of the open gills of a fleeing baitfish. I am sure that is utter nonsense because 95% of the time the fish can barely see the plug. That is why light conditions matter so much on the Shoal. I have caught plenty of fish at high noon, but let's face it, the best action is in that last hour of light. That is where "action" comes in. There are nights like tonight, when the water is really murky and choppy. We had friends coming to dinner at 7, so I ran out around 5:30. It was cold, rainy,  and despite the slack tide, still choppy. It is real hard to get their attention in those conditions and even harder to work a consistent walking pattern. I find myself using a similar cadence as a walking pattern with an added flick of the wrist that adds the spitting motion of a traditional popper. On nights like tonight, I need both Popa and Dog, to get their attention. The tide was quite low, so I was anchored in about 3.5 foot of water. I did a little probing with the white twisty and picked up a nice 20, so I knew the fish were there. Just as I needed to head in, as I flicked my wrist, a nice 20 slammed, A quick release and I was home just in time to jump in the shower.

The above post was left unfinished last Friday before leaving for the Silver King Lodge in Costa Rica. Our group of eight old friends has fished for tarpon in Florida for a week in May for quite a few years. This year we took a leap of faith and headed to Costa Rica. It turned out to be quite a leap. We found ourselves deep in the jungle in the very northeast corner where the Rio Colorado River enters the Caribbean. I found it interesting that our guides too had eliminated as many variables as possible, given the local conditions. The mouth of the river was quite muddy and relatively shallow. For most of our stay, our guides stayed within a couple 100 yards from this area. Since the water was cloudy we were able to use deadbaits. This was very different from Florida, where lively baits were crucial. My conclusion was that perhaps smell is another variable that matters in fishing. The fish certainly could not see the bait, so action was not important. I have never been big on fishing "advise", but in this case I will offer my opinion. It seems like the best way to approach fishing it to eliminate variables whenever possible. If the fish cannot see what you are offering then concentrate on sound and smell.

But I digress. My original post was intended to discuss how I find myself using the blog. I find myself     using the blog more for looking back to see what conditions were like in past years. I find it quite helpful to look back at the exact week in past years to see if it was cold or warm, windy or calm, etc. As I look back, the next few weeks should offer some very good "topwater nights". End of Rant.

Pictures to follow.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

2016 Fishing Season Begins

I have been out a number of times the past few weeks mainly to take advantage of some great weather. It's a bit like fishing in a bathtub that you can clearly see contains no fish. In my heart, and in my notes, I know that several things must come together before the fish arrive. I have found that when the hanover from St. Patricks day abates, the water temp hits 50, the presence of Cormorants, and, last but not least, the return of nesting pairs of Osprey's, then the season can begin. We have a nesting pole next to our dock, that is wonderfully framed by the windows across the back of our house. Every room in our house has an incredible view of Lucy and Ricky, the names we have given our raptor friends. Lucy showed up one day a week or two ago. Osprey pairs do not spend the winter together and the male will normally show up a bit later to "summer" with his life partner. They really are fascinating. It was in the 70's when I left the office a little before 4, I could feel it in my bones. Not only had Ricky returned this AM, but March 22 has been forever etched in my memory as the day I caught my biggest Rockfish with a plug.
First of 2016

I arrived at the spot a little after 5. High tide was 7, so the water was ripping. Despite the 70 degree temp on land, it was cold as hell on the water. I was sporting a sailing jacket and wool hat. The wind was 12 knots, so the water was churned up quite a bit. Things did not look good for topwater, but hey, thats what I live for. So for the first hour I mindlessly fan casted with Popa, with no action. I switched over to a white twisty and on my third cast had the first hookup of 2016, right up against the rock pile. It was not a trophy, but a fat 20 this early in the season feels like a 30. With the skunk off the boat, I immediately switched back to Popa and continued to cast until 6:30. Mother Nature is one heck of a timekeeper. Picture courtesy of Donna Weaver Photography.
Lucy

Monday, September 14, 2015

Long overdue update

As I look back over my pictures since the beginning of August I would not say fishing has has been bad , but I definelty had quite a few less "perfect topwater nights" than past years. On August 16th I had my daughter Grace and her boyfriend Jack onboard. That was a great night. Jack had never topwater fished before and the smile on his face after his first blow made even Popa Dogg smile. We caught quite a few fish that night and enjoyed one of those sunsets that August provides. Besides that I counted 3 nights where I have pictures of fish over 24, including tonight.

It has been much breezier than years past, which has been great for playing with my new toy, a Harbor 20 sailboat. All I can say is fishing is a whole lot easier than sailing. It's been fun, but my learning curve has been steep. I say this because  Dabs tells me that fishing has been great. So it could be that I just did not go out as much. Things should pick up nicely from here out. The 24 tonight slammed Popa Dogg after the sun went down and we were well into slack tide. He was a good deal off the rip in a random spot, that normally would not yield a 24.
Tonights 24 

August 16th


Grace on Aug 16th

Jack is hooked for life....guaranteed

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