Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Spiders Attack! on the Upper Bay

Beautiful morning on the 'yak in Rogues Harbor, upper Chesapeake Bay
Well, it wouldn't be summer without at least one debacle. I had a small window of time to squeeze outdoors and do my own thing last weekend. I have decided to go back into (night) teaching for some extra income and public speaking trainng, which means a more constrained schedule for the fall. In addition, Hank is 11 months old, walking, and very curious about the world, but also a gigantic danger to himself, so I spend a lot of "outdoors" time just making sure he doesn't hurt himself / eat a velvet ant / try to pet a raccoon. But back to the debacle.....
We got to the boat ramp right around sunrise and put out into the tidal grass beds to see if we could hunt down any schools of striped bass. The wind was totally calm, air about 80, water about 72. The fish were not doing anything. With thick water celery and pondweed in 6-8' of water, there was no use to try to run deep lures in the beds. A few perch or menhaden were jumping, and we tried to run them down with beetle-spins and other small lures, getting a few bites but no fish on the hook.
This is when Plan B, and the spiders, came into the picture. I predicted that our tidal fishing wouldn't be extremely successful, and I had identified (on the internet - key) a coastal embayment / abandoned mill pond just beyond the beach, that we could portage across and paddle into, and likely enjoy some amazing largemouth bass fishing. The last 20 yards of water toward the beach was thick with wrack and woody debris - an impossible paddle. We hopped out of the kayaks in about a foot of water and walked up on the gentle beach. Through what I thought was going to be a thin strip of vegetation, I could see nothing but Phragmites, Greenbriar, and spiders. Look at the picture above, to the far right. Yup. That's it. Know what else was there? About 10,000 of these guys, who I have yet to identify:

Looks like a fishing spider? But blue?
Well, we piled through the brush as well as we could, and the 40-50 acre "pond" that was shown on a mid-winter satellite image was covered in standing vegetation. No open water at all. Disappointed, covered in spiders, and bleeding, we crawled back through the brush, over the beach, slogged down through the shallow water and floating debris, and paddled back out to deeper water. We were fishing (in the kayaks) off of a rock revetment for perch when I noticed that the dust and dirt on my kneecaps was.....moving. From my last nearly identical debacle in nearly identical clothing and nearly identical vegetation, I knew that I had stepped into a nest of seed (larval) ticks. I pulled as many off as I could and hoped it wouldn't be as bad as the last time. Long story short: it wasn't as bad, but not by much. I netted about 150 individual bites, most of them behind my knees, on my knees, around my ankles, and inbetween my toes. The ones inbetween my toes made for a miserable 72 hours. It was like having poison ivy between your toes.
At any rate, we caught nothing, paddled back to the ramp, and put the kayaks in our trucks. I couldn't give up that easy, so we cruised around the "Neck," and parked up at my new favorite semi-secret, semi-public fishing hole. From my previous outtings there (none of them in 85 degree, full sun days in August) (see here and here), I've gauged that I can catch about 6 bass + 8 sunfish per hour there. It's a good spot! This time, given some summer fishing pressure and the weather, I really had to empty the tackle box to find some stuff that worked. The two winners - a term I use lightly since all I caught was a few sunfish - were the 1" Berkley Power Nymph (chartreuse) and a Joe's Flies Super Striker (chartreuse).
Another hefty bluegill from this old mill pond - I will definitely eat some this fall!
For the first time, I ran into another angler, who was (RV) camping for the summer nearby. He was set up in a big camping chair, a big red bobber, and a tub of worms, and told me, "Fishing's great today - I've caught 14 bass in 4 hours!" I didn't have the heart to tell the old guy that on other days I've been there, I could double or triple his production....with artificial lures.
The Fishing Hole.....probably DOA for the rest of the summer

Another spider. Ugh!


Unknown said...

Now that sounds like a tuff day! I'm sure you will find better luck next time!

Jeni said...

I got the heebie-jeebies just reading this! Hope you are healing quickly and have better fishing luck next time!

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