I currently reside on Ferry Point near Annapolis MD and fish the South River from the headwaters to the landmark Thomas Point Lighthouse. i prefer to fish in 3 foot of water or less and throw topwater plugs. Most nights the action is non stop with small resident striped bass under 18 inches. Throughout the spring and fall it is quite possible that your night will include a mid 20 to 32 inch migratory fish. I never keep fish, just pictures and this blog.
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. .
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.