Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Tricking Murphy - Paddling & Fishing on the Most Unlikely of Days

End of the line - entering the riffles and bars on the Jones Falls
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So, as some of you may have noted from the 3D Baby Widget, we are expecting a baby...well...yesterday. The doctors believe he's a biggun, so they will be inducing sometime during the next several days. This is a cause for quite a bit of anxiety at our house, and the little guy is showing only minor interest in out-of-womb residence, so I thought, "Maybe I can make Murphy's Law work FOR me." I took the day off of work and decided to go kayak fishing - out of cell phone range - with a baby who could decide to come, literally, at any time. Perhaps then, my wife would go into labor sooner rather than later, and we could get on with the child-rearing (which we are very excited about). This "waiting" crap is for the birds.
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So, I selected my most local spot - the 80 acre (or so) abandoned reservoir near our house. As I've written about previously, the fish habitat at this spot is highly compromised due to pollution, sediment, carp, and rampant poaching by Americans and immigrants alike. It is an urban American lake whose shorelines have returned to forest. Downstream (Jones Falls) is highly polluted by roadway runoff and sewage contamination (although rumors exist that smallmouth bass do exist along the 10 mile reach between the Lake and the Falls' mouth at Baltimore's Inner Harbor. Upstream of the Lake (and into the old English Land Grant farms from the 1700s), some pollution does exist (fertilizer, manure, road runoff), but according to Trout Unlimited, self-sustaining populations of brown trout and brook trout exist....less than 15 miles from downtown Baltimore. Who'd a thunk it?
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Consider me a skeptic. I've been fishing the Lake (and the tailwaters below the dam) for about 7 years. I have had some fun days, landing 40, 50 or more panfish, catfish, carp, etc. and seeing some amazing wildlife (like the first and only time I saw a Baltimore Oriole). I rarely get skunked at the lake, but I had never caught a bass at the Lake before now. In fact, on this blog, I had theorized why the Lake was not sustainable bass habitat (carp and pollution, primarily).
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To make matters significantly worse, the City of Baltimore (geniuses that they are) DRAINED THE LAKE to clean woody debris off of the dam....IN FEBRUARY (2009) (I believe their though was that no one visits the lake in the winter, so they would receive fewer annoying phone calls from visitors). In what was a surprise ONLY to Baltimore City DPW, the over-wintering fish became highly stressed and a early spring fish kill resulted. As a result, fishing on the Lake has been miserable in 2009. So imagine my surprise when I was casting an extra-long gold, yellow, and black rooster tail against a cliff in the lake (where I caught my first fish from a kayak, ever, in 2006), and landed this 10" largemouth (who looks like a smallmouth). Amazing catch? No....but given the circumstances, I was amazed that he was alive, healthy, and in the Lake at all!


After 7 years of fishing this urban lake...my first largemouth.
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He was caught along a rock drop-off below some overhanging branches in dappled sunlight. I continued to paddle upstream, hoping to find the "navigable" limit at the dam's current capacity. I found it, and there were very few fish up there, but it was nice to have to think through some kayaking "problems" with submerged wood in riffles, overhangs, sandbars, etc. On my way back down, I stopped at another area in the Lake closer to the dam, targeting a group of several sunken trees with a steep dropoff and overhanging branches. I was getting hung up on every other cast, but I was also catching some decent size panfish, so it was all good. At one point, I was working the lure very closely along a sunken tree and hooked up with this guy:

Not a monster....but nice to see he's healthy & happy in our local Lake!
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As the sun worked its way up into the middle of the sky, I figured it might be time to get out into the open lake and try to get cell service....I did...and no calls! I made the decision to pack it in and go home and help out the wifey...since her wait for the baby is far more tedious and anxious than mine!

The new ride: 2010 Tacoma Crew Cab, TRD Sport, Long Bed, Off-Road (ignore my cheesy tires) & Tow Packages.
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The major, ironic difference from my old Tacoma......this is also compatible with a baby seat.
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This is my last child-free post!




3 comments:

mizlan said...

Wow! good size largemouth...bravo with your catch .I have one question..are there snakehead at your lake?...

Happy fishing!
mizlan malaysia snakehead hunter

Swamp Thing said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Swamp Thing said...

Mizlan - funny you ask. This lake would be PERFECT habitat for snakeheads. The Snakehead is Non-Native to the USA, but was introduced into the Chesapeake Bay in the 1990s by pet owners and other people who no longer wanted to care for the snakeheads. Now they are reproducing and preying on juvenile bass (several species) in many of the rivers. Bass (largemouth, smallmouth, striped, spotted) are the most popular game fish in North America. So the snakehead is considered an "invasive species" and scientists have no idea how to get rid of it - it's much more aggressive than all of our native freshwater fish species. Here's an article about them:
http://en.wikinews.org/wiki/Snakehead_fish_appear_in_large_numbers_near_Potomac_River