Saturday, May 22, 2010

More Fishing the High Barometer...and Pressing My Luck

Nuphar (yellow pond lily) getting a little fed up with the shallow water
Got a chance to take a few "hiking" breaks during my travels in southern Maryland and tried to beat the odds again - after several days of rain, most rivers are flowing muddy - really muddy - and I thought, "What if I can find some spots, using my new "fish around the rain" techniques that will allow to target fish anyway.
One stop was at a semi-public park along the Patuxent River corridor that features catch-and-release fishing in restored gravel pits - no runoff from adjacent sites. I call it "semi public" because you 1) need to know it exists; 2) need to find it - no map to it anywhere; 3) have to get through the locked gate system.....or walk in from the road, which is a very long haul. All you have to do is call two separate government agencies in two different counties, confirm to them that you've spoken to the other agency, and one of them will give you the code to the lock. Ahhh, serving the public.
The ponds (picture above and below) are mainly groundwater-driven, and the water was clear. However, it was a bit shallow and there was about 40% surface cover (aquatic grasses, duck weed), 100% bottom cover (branches, twigs, roots, water lily stems), and about 50% cover in the water column (aquatic grasses). Add "lazy fat fish" to the equation (fed by several days of rain-induced prey drop-ins), and it was really, really challenging. However, after about 20 minutes of being frustrated and quickly moving from spot to spot, I found this:

Much less structure up in the shady guts of these ponds

There were dozens of fish in this little area, barely sticking their heads out of the grasses. They were so lazy that they wouldn't chase weighted lures down or across the bottom, so lazy that they wouldn't hit surface lures, but I threw a few weightless/suspending "presentations" (lol) at them that proved pretty effective. I had used up my "hiking" time so had to cut the effort short - but now I know what types of areas to target the next time I visit this spot.

CCC Pond built on the headwaters of Zekiah Swamp

That same day, I was able to stop into one of our state forests, which has protected a lot of the headwater acreage of Zekiah Swamp. Zekiah Swamp is one of the largest and most intact freshwater wetland systems in Maryland, the largest intact forested wetland system in Maryland, and one of Maryland's 9 scenic rivers. Although its "scenic" nature is not navigable by even the smallest kayak.

For a few years, I've tried finding some high quality fishing through this corridor, but because of the area's natural state (flooded swamps instead of deep creeks and streams), I've largely failed. The pond in the picture above is a great, shining example of that failure. However, I keep looking, and hopefully I'll find that perfect spot in the swamp one day!

And as for my fishing on the rising barometer - perhaps I'll limit it to the aftermath of SMALL rain events. If nothing else, it was great to get outside and enjoy the smell of marsh mud baking in the sun....another summer will soon be upon us.

Zekiah Swamp Canal - hand dug by CCC workers getting paid $1 per day


Anonymous said...

Sounds to me like a great hike and your pictures are absolutely divine! The black and white ones, especially the last one, remind me of Ansel Adams. Very nicely done!

Tovar@AMindfulCarnivore said...

That is some interesting aquatic terrain you're trying to fish there!

Kirk Mantay said...

Thanks for the compliment! The first photos I'd taken in awhile that showed enough structure or texture to justify publishing as b/w.

Tovar - it is challenging fishing for sure. The vegetation came in about 3 weeks early this year due to very high temps (90-96 degrees) for about a week in April.

I really like light tackle fishing but in July & August (maybe June this year), you've got to go deep around here.

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