|Shellcracker on a brown mini-hopper|
As the crow flies, it's less than 100 miles from my high school, and yet a 170 mile drive that takes a solid three hours. Anyone who grew up on the coast or in the mountains knows this feeling. You may be able to see where you'd wish to be. But you can't get there. 'Member that 1984 REM song "Can't Get There From Here?" Yup. That.
I found myself this far south for a number of reasons, but then also found myself with some nearly useless downtime in the middle of the day. I had a cold and it had just rained EIGHT INCHES, and the air temps were still in the upper 80s with full sun....... so I was not dying to go fishing or kayaking or anything, really. So I convinced myself that I would go scout out some new spots and wait for my daily duties to resume.
If you know me, you know that I can't "scout" a spot without at least three fishing rods. It's an affliction, I tell you. SERENITY NOW. After some fubar activity with a new UL spinning reel, I grabbed my 5wt Cabela's TQR fly rod and headed down the St. Mary's River on foot. The banks were long and shallow, and the bottom was sand and gravel, which was a nice change. That led to another nice change:
|How sad - I can't even remember the last time I fished in bare feet|
The TQR rod - at 6'0" - is designed for these kinds of scenarios - overhanging limbs and stalking around downed trees in the water. Traditional casting with such a short fly rod is a tricky game, and I twisted up my fly line a few times standing out over open shoals. However, the rod excels on roll casts, which is 90% of what I was doing. Unfortunately, there was almost no moving current in the river, so I spent a lot of time just stripping line to create some movement on the surface. After a few minutes, I started catching redear sunfish (shellcrackers). Some were tiny, some were mature 6-7 inchers....not giants, though.
I tried a few other flies as I worked different sections of the river - bumblebees, black ants, hi-viz ants, and poppers, and struggled mightily. Between the dead current and the mid-day summer conditions, it was unremarkable. But again, it was about scouting. I finally started hooking up again on a #10 brown mini-hopper. A few solid looks from big bass, but no takers. I'll blame the rain, and all the bait that had been washed into the river. Yeah, that's the ticket.
Finally, he stomped off elsewhere. Homey was definitely looking for a fight, and I was in no mood to give it to him. After awhile, I noticed that the sun was on the move. Time to load up and get to my next appointment. Still, a great way to spend a long lunch!
Nice spot for a lunchbreak, right?