Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Earth Day on the Cahaba: a big fish story

The Cahaba Lilies have bloomed early in 2012.

Cahaba Lily or Shoals Spider Lily (Hymenocallis coronaria)

They are supposed to bloom from approximately Mother's Day to Father's Day. Mother Nature decided to go ahead and grace us with their presence for Earth Day this year instead.

It's the first time Kelly and I have seen these locally famous flowers named for the river that flows through the heart of the Birmingham metropolitan area. Sadly, you have to drive well outside of the city to see the lilies. Kelly and I found them in the Cahaba River National Wildlife Refuge. The flowers have become a symbol of the river that is considered to be one of the most biodiverse watersheds in North America.

Maybe I'll get one of these license plates.

We weren't sure what to expect as far as the fishing was concerned, but we went to the river refuge hoping for more than just a chance to see lilies in bloom. The weather was less than ideal. It had been quite cool the night before, and the wind was ripping through the valley making fly casting a challenge to say the least.

We were not deterred. The sight of Cahaba Lilies in the distance and the hope of willing Spotted Bass called us to wade further upstream. We waded and probed every likely spot with our poppers for quite a while. By the time we reached the lilies, Kelly had landed one small Spot and I missed what I believed to be an average Green Sunfish.

I did not come here for Green Sunfish... and neither did Kelly.

The wind was becoming too ridiculous to deal with, and we began to wade and cast our way back to where we entered the water. It was nearly going to go down in history as a less than stellar day, but then... in a nice looking lie, tight to the bank, Kelly found what we were looking for...

Big bass on a Booglebug

I coached her on playing the fish, but she didn't need my help. "Keep your rod high," I said, as if she didn't know what to do... but we all know she's well past that lesson in the curriculum. Perhaps I can take at least some credit for being a good teacher, but that's little consolation when I catch nothing and she catches a truly remarkable fish.

20" Alabama Bass (Micropterus henshalli)

As usual, I was outfished by a girl,

but truthfully...

I couldn't have been any happier.

Definitely an Earth Day I'll never forget.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

From "the Home of the Blues" to "the Magic City"

I apologize for my recent blogging hiatus.

I wish I could say it was all because I was too busy fishing, but it's mostly due to relocating the headquarters of The Naturalist's Angle.

I've officially moved from Memphis to Birmingham. For the first time in quite a while, Kelly and I are living under the same roof again.

Living in a new city, I'm home again.

In the limited amount of free time we've had between moving trips (with both vehicles loaded to their limits) and the daily grind of work/school, we've still managed to find a little time for some local fishing.

Cahaba River Alabama Spotted Bass, 21 March 2012

A hefty Green Sunfish from Shades Creek, 4 April 2012

Midland Watersnake from Shades Creek, 4 April 2012

Shades Creek Green Sunny double, 7 April 2012

Shades Creek Alabama Spotted Bass, 7 April 2012

On Easter Sunday we went to Lewis Smith Lake (Fishing Through Life Bill's home water) in the kayaks. I caught a single 4" Longear Sunfish, while Kelly caught a whole bunch of sunfish, a few small bass, and this little thing... 

20.75" Northern Largemouth Bass, 8 April 2012

This fish more than qualifies for the Bass Slam. It's been a while since we've added anything to the list, but it's still a quest we plan to complete. Dobby dog got to go along on this trip, and Kelly couldn't help but get her in this photo for a little dog-fish size comparison.

The fish looked a little thin, but it was still a lunker.

The gentle release


"Must learn balance, Dobby dog"

Cahaba River Alabama Spotted Bass, 20 April 2012

Cahaba River Alabama Spotted, 20 April 2012

Shades Creek Alabama Spotted, 21 April 2012

Perhaps the most colorful Green Sunfish I've ever seen...

Shades Creek Green Sunfish, 21 April 2012

same Green Sunny as above

Whew... that pretty much brings us up to date.

Even in a "magical" new place with better fishing opportunities close to home, I'm still being consistently outfished by a girl.

Wait until you see what she did yesterday.

"Earth Day" fishing report coming soon.