Monday, March 12, 2012

501st Post, and a Trip to Fifty Dollar Lakes

New spot: deep hole.
Hard structure.
Good current.
Love it.
Hmm. How to tackle this.

The combination of reaching my 500th blog post on River Mud, catching my first (and more!) fish of the year, catching a new species of fish (chain pickerel), and having good luck at a new fishing spot I'd been eyeing up for 5 years is a lot to tackle in one blog post.  Some other outdoor blogs would be prone to writing 5 individual posts, posting them one hour apart, all 3-8 hours after the fishing occurred.  My reaction was the opposite.

Writer's block. 

I guess we'll start with the big one.  500 blog posts - and it doesn't count all the blogging I've done for work over the years, guest posts on the Outdoor Blogger Network or other blogs, nope, none of that.  Other bloggers have achieved that metric in a year or two compared to my 4.5, but I'd like to think that, especially over the last two years, my posting has been a lot more deliberate than writing a post about a facebook post.  Or whatever.  But that's me.  And at the risk of sounding like I take myself seriously (I actually don't), I do enjoy some meaningful content.  Mine or others'.

I have a series of posts coming up here, pursuant to my "goal setting" blogger tips on the Outdoor Blogger Network, that will look at where River Mud started and has ended up, and where I'd like it to go.  It will require me to actually follow some of my own advice, and if you know me in real life , that statement will make you chuckle.  But I ruminated over this whole issue a bit over the last few days and had a totally obvious realization:  this little fishing story is actually what River Mud is all about.  Getting out. Being unconventional outdoors. Making it happen.  Trying your luck.  So here we go.  Here's my first fish of 2012:

He's not a giant but he's a good fish.  He took a #6 Mepps (brown and gold, extra deep) in a spot with a good, deep current.  He was solidly hooked, but only once, and was back in the water after about 30 seconds.   The sun glare and wind were horrible - it felt good to have caught a fish using only my theories about where he should have been.  So let's back up a moment.

This spot is called.....well......I'll call it "Fifty Dollar Lakes."  Fifty Dollar Lakes sits on that fine line of  fishing spots between "the city wants to publicize this as a public resource," and "the city really does not want to have to send more police officers up there, so it's better that nobody knows it's there."  I first "discovered" it by driving by it in 2007 or so, and then looking it up on Google Maps.  The place is surrounded by "no trespassing" and "keep out" signs, plus a healthy dose of chain link fence with razor wire.   I drove around its extensive, forested drainage which basically is like a woody castle - there's no way in that offers someone the deniability of "Oh, I didn't see the no trespassing signs."  In 2010, the park totally closed again (without, of course, impeding the neighbors' access), and in 2011, the City decided to actively advertise their permit system for the park.  In late 2011, I took a new job that includes the long-term habitat management of Fifty Dollar Lakes as an actual work-related consideration, and so in 2012 I bought a permit.  This was my first visit there - just a week after the park opened for the spring.  I was not happy with the conditions that day.

This is what happens when you decide you'd rather be hungry and go fishing at lunch.  The wind blows. Horribly.  In fact, it even swirls (I'm surprised by that fact every spring.....why?).  A brief walk down the banks showed no shallow fish anywhere.  No panfish. No minnows.  Oh, great.  But I put my thinking cap on and quickly figured that the fish were still in their winter holding spots.   To a better angler than myself, this is not a problem.   But me? I hate even thinking about the tedium of chasing bass 30 feet deep.  Not my style.  But in this situation, I knew I had to do something to plumb the unknown depths (without a fish finder or depth finder).

Since everything was really working against me (only a lunchbreak to fish, middle of the day, bad wind, cool air, cool water), I decided to try to anger fish into striking instead of fooling fish into striking.  That proved to be a good attitude, as I ran multiple inline spinners as deep as I could, and got several strong strikes from angry, sleepy bass.  As the winds kept swirling, I had to vacate my new fishing spot - a breached earthen dam with a deep channel and eddy against the remaining structure - and try to get leeward of some trees...or anything.  

For no apparent reason, I picked a quiet corner of an impoundment that was completely muddy.  I don't even know what I was thinking.  On the first cast, I saw a big sign of silver.  Hrmph.  Probably gizzard shad.  But I cast again, giving a slow, twitching retrieve back through the green knuckles of pickerelweed, and SLAM! This happened:

At first I thought it was a redfin pickerel (haven't caught one in several years), but I'm pretty sure now that it's a chain pickerel. I maybe catch 3 grass pickerel and 1 pike per year, so go easy on me!  He was lip-hooked and I released him before he could bite my thumb.   A few casts later, an even bigger pickerel, easily 20", latched on for a second.  At the exact moment I nervously whispered, "Woah, big fish, big fish!" he rolled and rolled and eventually threw the hook.  That was exciting...but fruitless.

So there you have it.  This blog summed up in one post.  Wordy. Fish. New spots.  Taking chances.

Thanks for stopping by - hopefully I have a good run of fishy outings ahead of me. It's almost spring.


Devin Angleberger said...

It's a big day...great pickerel, haven't caught one of those yet.

gorckat said...

I think I might recognize that it currently county and city resident access only?

If so, boo since I no longer live in that county :P

Kirk Mantay said...

Devin, if you fish farther south or east into Maryland, you'll eventually nail one. They bite 12 months a year.

gorckat - that is indeed the case. Although the way it's structured now, you only need to be WITH a person with the permit, who's supposed to be a city or county resident. The guest policy is very generous.

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