Monday, June 20, 2011

Kayak Fishing The Upper Chester - What Marine Forecast?

Rain? Naw, it's not headed over here.  Wind's blowing the other way.
Work and dinner with a nonprofit donor took me to Maryland's eastern shore for the day.  I thought I'd drag the kayak out for the first time in 2011, and if those weren't enough bugs to get out, I figured I'd take my new Cabelas TQR 5wt fly rod to a 1860s mill pond (previously a forested swamp) in the headwaters of the Chester River, near the Delaware border.  Have I ever fly fished from a kayak? No.   Was the forecast for a 40% chance of severe thunderstorms? Maybe.  Did I let these minor details get in my way? Duh, of course not.

Wow, the wind's shifting directions.  Getting a little wet.
This mill pond is actually a great habitat for warmwater fish - the bottom is sandy and there is a great freshwater supply from seeps and springs all along the length of the impoundment.  The water is nice and clear, and I could see bass beds everywhere. 

I was really intent on catching a big largemouth on a fly, so every time I got a hit on my spincast gear, I'd immediately switch to the fly.  Yeah, that didn't work at all.  Not a single strike on a nice big green hopper.   My casting and "water whipping" definitely wasn't a factor ( ha ha).  Again, with the "never fly fished from a kayak before " thing. Apparently, it's harder to keep your line flying above the water, when your casting arm is only 16" out of the water.  Who knew?  Didn't really matter - once the wind shifted and the thunder started rocking the lake, the bite shut off entirely.  And then things got real in a hurry.
Thank God for the tree I was under.  It got nasty QUICK!
Not the evening I had in mind

The wind fully shifted around and went from about 10-15kt to 25-35kt, bringing actual waves to the side of the swamp I was trying to fish.  The skies opened up and thunder roared.  I started crushing that water with the paddle and found shelter under a big old cypress tree after a few minutes of frantic searching.  Luckily I had put my Marmot PreCip jacket on under my PFD before I left the ramp, so I was able to put the hood up and just put my head down and wait for the rain to let up.  Which it did about 30 minutes later. 

I continued to fish, but it was clear that everything was spooked.  A few big bluegills bum-rushed my light spinning tackle but never even bit.  When the sky opened up a second time, I sighed and paddled through the waves, back to the boat ramp.  Unwilling to give up despite the fact that darkness was setting in and the rain was not relenting, I decide to fish the tail race of that old mill pond. I fished there once before, in 2010, seeing many more big fish than I caught.  Despite the horrid fishing conditions, I caught a few moderate size sunfish and this world-record-setting golden shiner.  It was a weird night.  But I've had weirder, and worse.
I wouldn't call this an "attractive" fish....


Mike Sepelak said...

A true adventure. You may not have caught much but it's a trip you won't soon forget. And that's what fishing is all about.

Kirk Mantay said...

You're totally right. I also learned some new things (like that I am not ready to fly cast from a sit-in kayak) and those lessons usually don't come this cheap.

It's always great to get out on the water - I'm posting a video of the storm rolling through, later this week. It's impressive.

In the end, I got out on the water, didn't get hurt, didn't lose any gear, caught several fish in what I would have thought were impossible conditions, and didn't have to burn a day off (or a day at home with my boy).

I would trade MOST days for a day like that!

Erica said...

Great adventure. Glad you had fun! That fish is awesome!

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