Saturday, October 30, 2010

Windy Saturday

It was cold and brisk when I ventured out this morning around 10. The wind was not too bad, so I made my way to the shoal and made several drifts. I was able to pick up one dink and a barely legal 18. As the morning wore on the winds picked up which made for some uncomfortable fishing., so I headed in.

The winds tonight were even stronger with gusts up to 20. I tried several creeks off the main stem that seemed to be out of the wind. With the shifty winds and heavy leave coverage, it was difficult to find any clear water to fish. I tried the creek on the south shore right after what used to be called Pier 7. The entrance is blocked by a number of moored sailboats, so I had never ventured back there. It was actually quite nice. The wind was still swirling, but I was at least able to make a few good drifts. The creek is very narrow, so I was able to basically drift down the middle and work both shorelines. About halfway through my drift, I had a small blowup by what seemed like a small fish that missed. I backed up and made 15 or 20 casts into the bulkhead where the fish hit. Out of nowhere, I had a huge explosion that missed, but the fish turned and slammed again and came tight. He had engulfed the entire plug, so I had a bloody mess on my hands. It was a pleasant surprise when the fish measured 23 inches. Not bad for a back creek. A new spot and decent fish in some miserable conditions, made the whole day a success.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Frustration Squared

You could not ask for a better October night. It was 80 degrees, bright blue ski, light NW wind and dead low tide when I left the dock at four tonight. It did not take long to realize that the river was just not fishable, due to the leaves on water. So after a few stops, I arrived at the Thomas Point Shoal at around five. Just as I arrived , Dabs pulled up with a buddy. It did not seem like the fish were there, so Dabs went off to chase some birds. I decided to anchor on my spot. The tide was just beginning to come in and the wind was a bit more brisk than the river, which made for a strange boat position. For the next solid hour, I plugged away with nothing but a cramped back to show for it. Dabs returned with the same results and anchored up close by. My buddy "Wild Bill" showed up and anchored on the mark. One of the guys on his boat immediately boated a 19 using a plastic storm shad. It was nice to know that the fish were there, but disgusted that a "non topwater" guy was the one to show me. Soon after I had my first blow up that missed. This was followed by eleven straight blowups that missed. Needless to say, I was quite frustrated. I had been using my rod with an old black Stillwater with rather dull treble hooks. I finally switched to my rod with a brand spanking new white Stillwater. On the next blowup the line finally came tight and I boated a very nice 22. Just as I went to make my next cast something caught my eye. I had read in nearly every "Striper Book" about their feeding blitzes, but had never witnessed one. The water on both sides of the boat exploded with baitfish jumping in every direction. This was followed by what can only be described as hundreds of simultaneous blowups. There were BIG fish jumping and slamming baitfish everywhere. The "plastic guy" from Bills boat came tight and was immediately broken off. I grabbed my big daddy rod with the Stillwater Sr. tied on. I was able to make a good 25 casts before it calmed down. Unfortunately the only thing I boated was a baitfish that was snagged in the mayhem. Needless to say, I was quite frustrated. Great night despite the one fish result.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Leaves Galore

It had been raining all day, so I was pleasantly surprised when the skies opened up and the wind laid down at 4:30. The temp was a perfect 73, light breeze, and mirror like water. The problem was that every spot I tried was covered with leaves. There was just no way to get a plug through without snagging one. I made the decision to head out to Thomas Point. It was a good deal rougher, windy, and cold than I had expected. I started by drifting towards the mark and immediately picked up a 20 on a black Stillwater Jr. I tried anchoring with no success. Dabs showed up and anchored beside me. We gave up after 10 minutes and tried drifting once again. The water had got even choppier in the interim, so I switched over to the Stillwater Sr. On the first drift, I picked up and 18. At that point I was done with the bay and headed in for the calm of Glebe Bay. Worked both shorelines with no success and then headed in a bit early. Nice night to be out, but the leaves have to go.

Last night was also a bit frustrating. I fished with John and we had the same problem with leaves. Only managed one very skinny 18 on the north shore of Broad Creek.

Monday, October 25, 2010

They are Everywhere

It was a warm night with a strong incoming tide and nice breeze from the east. This allowed me to drift lazily along the shoreline and work some spots that I would not normally hit. My first fish came across the river close to "Al's Spot". Twenty yards downriver there is on old pier that only the pilings remain. If largemouth bass were my target, this would be the first place to look. I have made hundreds of casts with nary a swirl, until tonight when a nice 21 exploded from next to the third piling. I drifted the river side of the point and"the nest" with no action. Moved over to the Broad Creek side of the point and picked up a feisty 19 that jumped a good two feet in the air. I moved across Broad Creek to the northern shore and made one long drift. At the second living shoreline, I picked up a 19 that exploded within inches of the rocks. There is a reason why its called Rocktober...there are fish everywhere in the river. Three fish and two new spots made for a very good night.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

New Topwater Club Member

My partners tonight were an old friend Larry and his kindergarden age son Lawrence. I met them at the dock at 5 sharp. Little Lawrence was excited but very apprehensive when he learned that his 2 foot rod, complete with some cartoon character, was to remain at the dock. The week before, I had met Lawrence at the marina and taken him through the basics of spin casting. So, tonight he was to use the "big boy' rod. We started with a little pre game warmup. I was proud to see him grab the pole, pull the line tight to the reel with his finger, flip the bail, and whip off a very respectful 30 foot cast. OK, now I am apprehensive. The thought of a set of very sharp treble hooks traveling at a high speed was disturbing. He was going to need a large berth!

It was dead calm with a slight breeze and incoming tide as we set off. My plan was to make a quick run to the Thomas Point shoal and pray that it would be nice and flat. After stopping briefly at the western shore of Glebe Bay, we anchored at "The Spot". It was very choppy with a ton of boat traffic...not good. It did not take us long to figure out that the best approach was for Larry to stand in doorway of the pilothouse while I kept watch from the safety of the walkway to the bow. In between casts, I was able to hop down and make my cast. On my third cast I had a nice blowup and handed the rod to Lawrence. He did a great job and soon had the fish at the side of boat and I swung him aboard. I showed Lawrence how to grab the bottom of the fish's mouth with his thumbs and lift him up for a picture. I knew as soon the shutter closed that a "topwater man" had been born. Since it was so rough, Lawrence had not really experienced the full impact of the 22 inch Rock blowing up on the plug, so I pulled anchor and headed back to Glebe bay to catch the last half hour of light. Unfortunately, with the boat traffic, we were never able to find some clear stillwater.
Great night with a great kid.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Rare Saturday Fish

My partner tonight was my youngest daughter Gracie. We left the marina at five and planned on only fishing an hour. I figured our best shot at a quick fish was Glebe bay, so we headed straight there. Met a couple of guys I know who had just finished fishing the western shore with no action. They said the eastern shore had a lot of leaves. Nevertheless, we headed to the the eastern shore and started plugging. After a half hour or so, we moved around the corner to the "brown House". I had not fished there for over a week and felt certain it would be the ticket. I was wrong. It was beginning to get dark and we were well past the allotted hour as we headed for the western shore for a few more casts. Had a nice slow drift of the entire shoreline. As we passed the "white house" I said to Grace "well I guess we got skunked tonight". Just as the words left my mouth a fish exploded within two feet of the boat. The sound was deafening and scared Grace more than the haunted house she visited last night. It turned out to be a 18, but was a welcome sign as I have been shut out nearly every saturday all season. It is very difficult to fish on weekend due to the boat traffic. Incredible moonrise to boot.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Sunset and Moonrise

My fishing partner tonight was Brandon. He had read my blog and asked to hop on one night. Luckily we were both able to get out early, so I met him at his dock at 4 PM. There was a stiff breeze blowing which made fishing the river proper nearly impossible. We initially tried both shorelines at the mouth of Glebe Bay. It was difficult to maneuver for any kind of decent drift as the winds kept shifting directions. We tried anchoring the eastern shoreline in about 2 feet of water, but once again came up short. Moved across the river to Aberdeen Creek. We finally found some stillwater that was conducive to pluggin. Finally, Brandon had a blowup that missed around 5:45. We tried several casts to get the fish to reappear, but failed. Brandon had the sense to switch over to a plastic and immediately hooked up with our boy, a healthy 18. We continued working the shoreline and Brandon picked up another 18 ish fish on a grub. The wind finally laid down, so we headed back to Glebe Bay. As it began to get dark, I had the sinking feeling that tonight would be my first Skunk since August. We moved over to the eastern shore as it began to get dark. Brandon picked up 2 more fish on the grub as I continued to plug away with my trusty white Stillwater. Conditions were perfect as the full moon made it seem much earlier. At little before seven, I had my elusive blowup and boated a 20. We made one more stop on the western shore before heading in. Given the conditions, it was a fairly decent night. Either way, it was one heck of sunset and moonrise.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The One That Got Away

When five o'clock rolled around, I actually thought about skipping fishing. I was a bit tired and the brisk breeze from the west did not look very inviting. Never the less, I pulled myself together and headed out at 5:30. For the next half hour I tried several new spots inside of the Riva Bridge. As 6:15 approached and I still had not had any action, I decided to head out to Glebe Bay. I made it through the speed zone in record time and in short order made my first cast into my new honey hole by the grass bed in front of the "White House". On the second cast, I had a blowup that missed. As soon as my plug hit the water on my second cast, the water exploded. After a short but fierce fight, I boated a very health 24 inch fish. A short way along the western shoreline, I had an even bigger explosion that missed. It definitely appeared to be bigger than the 24, but I could not get him to appear a 2nd time. I moved across to the eastern shore and quickly picked up a 20 in 2 feet of water. It was now well past dark, but the light from the full moon, allowed for a bit more time. I ran back across to the eastern shore to try one more time for the big one that had alluded me earlier. I was ready to give up after 5 casts, when a huge swirl appeared ten feet in front of me. I made the short cast and before I could make my first twitch of the rod, the water exploded and I had my man. Unfortunately after several head shakes he was gone. I continued my quest for another 10 minutes, until finally giving up and heading in.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Big Chill

Fall was in the air when I left the marina at five tonight. I was bundled up with four layers, but the moist cool air was still getting to me. The river was like a mirror and tide was a good deal above high, due to a full moon. Everywhere you looked seemed promising, so I set off to find some new spots. After making it past the route 2 speed zone, I started my night in front of South River Landing. There is a cove with a sandy beach where the first house is located. I have passed the spot hundreds of times, but never bothered to give it a try. The water was only about 2 feet, so It was tough to get within casting distance of the shoreline. I did not take long to get a blowup, but was never able to boat the fish. Did not seem very big, but was still nice to find a new spot. My next spot was along the Londontowne shoreline. I have tried this spot many times due to its sheer beauty, but never even had a swirl. On my third cast, I picked up a nice 19. The colorful foliage was reflecting off the mirror like river when the blowup occurred and reminded me why I love topwater so much. I ended the night working both sides of Glebe Bay. Picked up another 19 along the eastern shoreline and was once again surprised when a very nice 22 exploded by the grass bed on the western shore. So I ended the night with 4 fish, and was happy to to return to a warm shower.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Peaceful Night

I was solo tonight, and was able to get out early, so really had no plan. Started off at "Al's Spot" with no action. My next spot was the "the nest". The guy who owns the pier had watched John and I catch the two twenty's there last night, so when I showed up he seemed eager to get my attention. On my second cast, had a nice blowup and boated a twenty. He was waving one of those short poles with a reflector that you put around your driveway. I could not hear him due to the motor noise, but he seemed to want to talk, so I motored over to the dock. I gathered from or discussion that he is from Thailand and had been trying to catch fish off his pier for some time and wanted to know what "bait" I was using. I showed him my plug and explained how it floats..etc. He said he had caught several bass up to 12 inches, but had never gotten anything like what he had been watching me catch. It was then that I noticed his setup. He had a 8 foot line tied to a hook and was using the reflector pole as his rod. Nice guy (Peter) that I hopefully converted to the Topwater brotherhood.

I moved to the "Oak Tree" and picked up another 20. This was followed by another 20 at the first pier on the eastern shore of Glebe Bay.. "White House". There is a nice grass bed to the left of the pier that I have made at least 200 unsuccessful casts into over the last 10 years. Well tonight was the charm as the fish exploded the second the plug hit the water. The fish missed, but was all mine within three casts. It turned out to be the biggest of the night at 24 inches. Ended my night in the exact spot that we finished the
night before. Took a while to locate the fish, but then it was non stop action until dark. Final toal for the night was 6 fish.

Monday, October 18, 2010


Yesterday was about a nice a day as you get in October. I fished from ten in the morning until the Ravens game started at 1. Worked my way out to the point with no action. Once I got there the breeze was stronger than I had expected, so I took a page from Friday night and drifted instead of anchoring. I was using the big sized Stillwater on my med-heavy St Croix. I rarely use this rod, but was hoping for one of the big boys. It did not take long for my plan to work, as I had a huge blow up and boated a fat healthy....18. Oh well, I was still happy to have picked up another fish on the drift. I have noticed on my last couple of trips to the shoal a large number of new boats crowding around "the spot". I am sure they are Tidalfish brethren who read my blog, so the company was welcome. I think they are to missing the point though. You can do well with topwater anywhere on the shoal, not just the particular rock pile that my lazy butt goes to every time out. It is a Shoal...not a Honey Hole. I need to say that 3 times before my next trip out. Headed back out after the game and was shut out. What is perplexing is why Sunday's have been so lousy and Monday's have been so damn good. My only theory is the lack of boat traffic on Monday

Met up with John, a old fishing buddy, who has not fished with me all year. We started off at "Al's Spot" and picked up 3 quick fish. John's Dad is a gourmet cook, and he wanted to keep a few fish, so into the box they went. Moved over to "the nest" and picked up another 2 fish. We then headed to the "brown house" where we gave up after 15 minutes. We continued our drift around the shoreline to the eastern shore of Glebe Bay. The two of us had slayed them there this time last year, so John took the reins and positioned us just as he remembered. Well he must have a good memory, because it was non stop action from the time we shut the engine off until dark 20 minutes later. We boated at least 6 and had many more blowups.
John cleaned the fish when we returned to the marina. I thought it was interesting that they had nothing in their stomachs. That explains why they were so aggressive.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Bad Bet

Today was our annual community fishing tournament,and for the 4th year in a row, the conditions nearly made fishing impossible. There was a steady 25 knot wind blowing straight out the river. There were actually white caps in front of my house near the headwaters. Fortunately, I did not wake up until an hour after registration and was, to my chagrin, sitting this year out. Most of the fleet of 5 to 10 boats are weekend warriors who's sole comfort zone is trolling the deep waters of the bay proper. Since the tournament is held in mid October each year, I have exclusively fished the river, and am always the only boat to do so. I knew the guys had to miserable, yet I kind of wanted to go fishing, but it just never looked like fun.

As five rolled around ,and the winds had died down a tad, I decided to fish the last hour of light. There were still a few guys from the tournament hanging around on a boat a few slips down. On my way out, I stopped to see how things had gone. The grand total of fish caught by the 5 boats was zero. The one guy described his trip across the bay to Poplar island at the crack of dawn when the winds were fairly light. They had trolled for 2 and a half hours with not even a knock down. As the winds picked up they decided to head west towards home. Two and a half hours later they arrived back home drenched and exhausted. As I started to head out one of the guys bet me a hundred dollars that I could not catch a keeper sized rock in the next hour. I thought of " Al's Spot" before telling him that I did not want to take his money, Headed straight to "Al's Spot" and immediately had what appeared to be a twenty at the side of the boat when I lost him. Damn, that would have been sweet to show up two minutes later to prove the "Trollers" wrong. Could not get the fish to resurface, so I headed to the seawall from last night. Had several quick blowups that missed, before finally boating a 20. Was it possible to run this fish back, show them that there are plenty of fish in the South River, and release the fish? I left the fish attached to the plug and hauled ass back to the marina. Their faces said it all as the clearly heathy "keeper" sized rock swam off in front of their eyes. After the accusations of cheating died down, I headed back to the seawall. By this time the winds had completely died down, but not before blowing a ton of water out of the river. The water was 3 to 4 feet below median low tide. It was non stop action until dark. I ended with 7 virtually identical twenty inch fish and had many more blow ups. It was like a mirror as the sun set behind me and the plug from my last cast was sent five feet in the air by one aggressive rockfish.

Friday, October 15, 2010


The strong wind and a commitment to take my daughter somewhere, was to keep me from fishing tonight. When she called and said she had a ride, I hopped on the boat for a quick jaunt around Lake Riva. The wind was blowing east and the tide was going out at a brisk pace as I made my first drift along the river side of the point. I was only able to make about 10 casts along the entire shoreline as my drift had me moving at a good 10 knots. I moved across the river to the "nest", which was a bit more protected. Made about 10 cast before the wind had pushed me past the last pier. One of the lessons I have learned over the years is that the wind can be your friend. I have had very good luck fishing coves where the wind and current is pushing the water up against some man made structure like a wood or stone bulkhead. As I surveyed the situation, it looked like everything was being pushed against the cement wall on the south shore of the Riva Bridge across from Pauls. I see a lot of shore fisherman casting from there and usually avoid it for several reasons. Foremost is that I have never had a blow up or observed anyone from shore landing a rockfish. I have seen many a catfish and perch caught, but never a rock. Last night James had good luck with the big Chugger, so I changed rods and abandoned my trusty Stillwater. On my third cast up against the wall, I had a nice blow up and boated a 22. Moved back out for a second drift and picked up another 22 at approximately the same spot. My third drift resulted in several blow ups that missed. At this point, I headed in, content to have landed 2 fish on a night that I was just happy to be out on the water.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Bonus Night

It had been raining non stop all day, but I was determined to get out there.My buddy James was still in town, so we planned on meeting at 3 PM. Fortunately, we both got tied up by life, so 3 became 5.30. At 5 I started looking for my rain gear, when I noticed that the western shy was beginning to brighten. It was breezy, but certainly not enough to keep us off the water. I arrived at the boat first an snapped off a picture of the first glimpse of blue sky. We pushed my Yammy to max RPM's and made it to the point in record time.We hoped to at least get in 45 minutes of good fishing. After anchoring up and making a few casts into the wind, we realized we were way under dressed. It felt like fishing Va Beach in December. We fan casted around the boat for the next half hour and finally deciding to call it a successful night just for getting to fish and enjoying a great sunset. Just as James pulled up the Anchor, I had a nice blow up that missed. It was hard to cast back into the spot as the wind was now howling with a fast moving ebb tide. We decided to drift for a while. After about 5 minutes James had a nice blow up and landed a 22. As soon as the fish hit, I hit the waypoint marker on my HDS8. It was now dark, but we decided to go back and drift one last time over the waypoint. Sure enough, just as we hit the waypoint, James had another blowup and boated his 2nd 22. Back to the dock at 7.30.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Short Window

My buddy James from CA, called yesterday and said he would be in town today and needed a topwater fix. Unfortunately he was not landing until 4:40 and needed to stop at his parents house, down the street from me, to change.So, by the time we got to the dock it was already 5.45. We headed straight for the point and arrived a around 6:15. There was another boat on the fish already, so we tried to anchor up close enough, but give them their space. Unfortunately, like last night, the fish were staged in a very small area. Finally we found a comfortable spot, and James immediately hooked up to a 20. He continued to get several blowups as I fumbled around in the front of the boat with a perplexing line tangle. By the time I made my first cast the sun was disappearing behind Thomas point. This generally signals that the fish would shut down within 15 minutes or so. It did not take long to boat my first fish of the night. The next 10 minutes was fairly crazy with more blowups than hookups., but we did manage 3 more in the 18/20 inch class. The ride home almost made up for the short fishing window due to one incredible Oct. sky.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Best Night of the Year

I wait all year for a night like tonight. Left the dock at 5:15 and headed straight to the shoal. The water was like glass and there was zero boat traffic. Then my first 4 casts resulted in spectacular blow ups and four 20 inch healthy footballs. I was in heaven. I got a call from Dabs who said he just got home and would be out in a minute. I had read a post on Tidalfish last night about using bigger plugs to catch bigger fish, so I tied on a plug that Jim from Marty's bait shop had given me. It is a long plug with two wood pieces that slide back and forth and makes the sound of blocks banging together. The plug had barely touched the water when it was inhaled by a Rock. There was no blow just disappeared. After a great fight I boated a 6 pound 26 inch beauty. There is no doubt that bigger plugs catch bigger fish. As I was removing the hook, Dabs showed up. He anchored to the east of me about 20 feet from where the fish were staging. He then proceeded to catch the next 4 fish while my offering went untouched. It was only after I told him to stop "ROCK BLOCKING" me did the real action begin. We both casted to a 10 by 10 ft area off the left corner of his boat. No sooner would the plug hit the water the fish would explode. It was total mayhem with numerous double's and fish breaking all around us. The bite continued until dark when we pulled anchor and left breaking fish behind. What a night.

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