Friday, July 19, 2013

Catching Up: a photographic journal

It's been far too long since I've posted anything to the blog. There's been a lot going on around TNA headquarters, but we've still managed to get out and catch a few fish. I figured the easiest way to catch up was to share some photos from our recent adventures, and just give a few details as necessary.

Little River Canyon, 16 June 2013. We met up with another Alabama fly fisher named Matt and tried to help him get into some bigger Redeye Bass... but we were unsuccessful on that front. Matt was a really nice guy, and I look forward to our next chance to fish together. As we've come to expect around here, Kelly caught the best Redeye of the day as well as a small Striper.



Kelly may have had the best luck with the fish, but the real "catch of the day" was a large Gray Rat Snake that we encountered while he was crossing the river. He was not happy with me when I caught him... but a beautiful animal regardless.


Cahaba River NWR, 25 June 2013. The water was a bit high and a little murky... and I knew it would be a pretty good day for bass on the surface. Any ideas I had about catching a carp pretty much went out the window however.

I landed the first decent fish of the day...


and Kelly landed the second...


Somehow we forgot to bring our usual wet wading footwear (hardsole neoprene SCUBA dive boots), but I had on my Chaco sandals so I was gonna be okay. Kelly was wearing slip on Crocs... so we stopped by the Dollar General not far from the river and acquired the highly fashionable wading footwear pictured below.

Same bass as pictured above

I ended up landing the best fish of the day (a rare occasion around here) which measured right at 17".


Cypress Creek, 26 June 2013. A long awaited trip to one of our favorite fishin' holes. There may not be anything in freshwater as beautiful as a Cypress Creek Longear.


Kelly caught the big fish of the day, a 17" Smallmouth, but swears there was a much larger one that she missed.


Hiwassee River, 29 June 2013. Finally fished the Hiwassee above the Apalachia Powerhouse for Smallmouth. Yes they're there, but I wasn't really impressed. The wading was challenging to say the least, and the best Smallmouth of the day is pictured below. I know there are better fish in there, but the effort is not worth the return in my opinion.


We found a dead male Dobsonfly as we were walking along the railroad tracks by the river on our way back to the car. Just thought I would share for those of you who have never seen what a Hellgrammite (the inspiration for the original Woolly Bugger pattern) grows up to be.


Conasauga River, 30 June 2013. Fished a tiny piece of a river located within the boundaries of Tennessee that seems a bit more like Alabama because it is part of the Coosa River watershed. It is the only river in Tennessee that is not part of the Mississippi River drainage. The water was gin clear and before we got in we could see plenty of fish cruising the river including some decent sized Buffalo and Freshwater Drum... but unfortunately none of those were caught.

An Alabama Bass (Micropterus henshalli) in Tennessee.


A Tennessee Redeye Bass (M. coosae).


Kelly caught a decent Largemouth right before we exited the water, and it put up one heck of a fight for its size. If you've never caught a Largemouth from a swift flowing river, I can assure it's not exactly the same beast that dwells in a farm pond.


Closer to home, 09 July 2013. I caught one of the nastiest Largemouth Bass I've ever personally seen in our urban creek close to home. There is clearly something not right about its tail. Makes you wonder... what's in the water?

Authentic reaction, not staged for the camera

Cahaba River, 17 July 2013. Only two bass were landed this day. I caught one 9" bass while Kelly caught one 19" bass.


A little lightweight for its length, but still a really nice fish

The fish never leaped and fought more like a catfish trying to run deep. For a moment, we thought it might have been a carp because the take at the surface was so delicately sipped.

Well, I guess that pretty much sums up the highlights of the last month or so of fishing. I'm still being outfished by a girl... so some things never change.

I'm glad to be getting back into the swing of things though, and I hope to be posting a few reviews in the coming days.

19 comments:

  1. One date you left out... July 8th... The day I defended my thesis and completed the requirements for my Master's degree. I know it's not fishing, but it's an important day from the past month.

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    1. That may have been one of the things I was referring to in the first paragraph when I said, "there's been a lot going on." It was a very important day, and I'm very proud of you.

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  2. Congratulations Kelly! Jay, pretty good catch up job, I like. That longear is beautiful and the snake is...snakey. Yeah, good catch up. Enjoy the rest of the summer you two.

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    1. Thanks, Howard. I knew you would enjoy the snake.

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  3. Way to come from behind as they say in the game of fishing! Looks like you two have gotten in some fairly serious fishing time. Oh, Jay, theres girls, theres women, and theres ladies, They tend to outfish me, too!

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    1. Thanks, Mel. Glad to know I'm not alone. We've been busy lately, but most of our free time has been wasted chasing fish... no better way to waste time in my opinion.

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  4. You guys consistently catch more nice bass than just about anyone I know. Some good fish in there. As far as the Hiwassee, that area above the powerhouse is pretty rugged. It's known for the smallmouth but the bigger fish I've caught back there have been spots. And you're right - the wading sucks.

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    1. Ty, the water was high and off color so we couldn't really see the bottom in most places... which of course made the wading even more ridiculous. Kelly and I both slipped and took the plunge a few times. The nicest fish I saw was actually a Largemouth in one of the slower pool areas. I caught one other Smallie that was about the same size as the one pictured, but we also caught a few nice sunfish. I've heard there are some nice Spots up there, but unfortunately we didn't find them. We really didn't explore very far... maybe a mile and a half or so above the Powerhouse. I guess it's certainly possible that we hadn't reached any of the good stuff yet. Do you know if they ever release from the dam above that section? It really seemed like there was a lot of water coming through there. More than I would have expected from what I've seen of that area below that dam in the past... I went there about ten years ago and it looked like only a trickle was leaking through the dam and it was never actually opened up (based on the vegetation). Curious.

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  5. Water is very, very rarely released from the dam upstream. While it's possible they were releasing, my guess is that the river is just running high from all of the rain. Quite a few tribs feed the river upstream of where you were. Either way you saw the worst of that section. That area is best fished in summer when water levels are at their lowest. I like fishing back in there with huge terrestrial patterns when the water is low.

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    1. Okay, okay, I may give it another chance. I guess June 29th was just too early. Size 4 Poppers and Stealth Bombers qualify as huge terrestrial patterns, right?

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    2. Yup, those will work. Anything big and buggy lookin'.

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  6. When you guys moved, you definitely scored some quality water. Kelly seems to do VERY well with poppers. Love the Fanta and Double Bubble wardrobe. I don't know how you grabbed that snake but you are definitely a man in my books. Good to catch up.

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    1. Josh,
      AL is something of a paradise for stream fishing for bass. It's certainly a good place to be if you like that sort of thing. The Double Bubble hat is Kelly's lucky fishing hat... I'm not sure how much good luck the Fanta shirt has, but I know she kicked my butt that day.
      As for catching the Rat Snake, I've been working with snakes in some way for almost twenty years. I've been a reptile zoo keeper, and I've even done radio telemetry tracking of Rat Snakes in the wild. Once you can get past the fact that it's a snake, and you know it's not a dangerous (or venomous) species, non-venomous snakes pose less threat than a feral kitten. I've been bitten by both, and I'd take the non-venomous snake over the kitten every day of the week and twice on Sunday. On the other hand, I've worked with venomous snakes too and I've never been bitten by one. I use extreme caution and the proper equipment when working around animals that are truly dangerous. The non-venomous snakes have such small teeth that being bitten by one is really no big deal. I promise I'm not any braver than you are. I just know what can and can't hurt me.

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  7. Looks like a lot of fun was had. That Dobsonfly is hugh!
    Great catch Kelly!

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    1. Thanks, Kevin. Dobsonflies are a bit intimidating... especially when they're flying around your head. There's a gas station on the edge of Hardy, AR right across the road from the Spring River that attracts a lot of them during the summer. I always think it's cool to see, but I'm sure it's frightened off more than one customer.

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  8. Hi, I'm Juan. Found you over at Howards blog and just thought I'd stop by, say hi considering you catch bass on the fly rod and that is something I am looking to get into.

    I have never seen a Hellgrammite and I had no idea that it was the inspiration for the original Woolly Bugger. Good to know considering it is one of my favorite flies to use!

    Also, When you say a largemouth from a pond and one from a river are different, what exactly did you mean? I have never caught one in swift moving water, just slow or non moving waters.

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    1. Juan,

      Thanks for stopping by. I've been a very inactive blogger as of late, and I'm sorry that it took me almost a month to notice your comment. I'm still here though and happy to answer your question.

      Many fly fisherman identify Largemouth Bass as being fat lazy farm pond fish that are not very sporting to catch- they essentially roll over and let you drag them in without much of a fight... and this may be true of many farm pond fish... or really any Largemouths from still water habitats. Among fly fishers, Largemouths rarely get much respect (as you probably already know). You may have seen them being disrespectfully called "ditch pickle" or "swamp donkey" by other fly fishers online. All that being said, I would rather catch a true riverine bass such as a Smallmouth (Micropterus dolomieu) or a Redeye Bass (M. coosae)... but their Largemouth cousins from moving water habitats aren't far behind. I suspect many of those who call them silly names have never caught a true riverine Largemouth. So what I'm saying is these fish do put up a strong fight and are definitely not fat or lazy.

      It is often said that Dr. Henshall's famous line from The Book of the Black Bass, "Inch for inch, pound for pound, the gamest fish that swims," was a reference to the Smallmouth, but I'm not so sure he wasn't speaking on behalf of riverine Largemouths... after all... most fishing in 1881 took place in rivers (there certainly weren't any big reservoir lakes that are now famous for Largemouth Bass) and our farm ponds didn't exist as they do today.

      If you ever want to visit the South, I'd be happy to show you to some true river Largemouths. I'm not sure how common they are outside of this region, and I suspect most fisherman whom have ever caught a Largemouth Bass have no idea what I'm talking about.

      You should also check out the blog "Mike's Gone Fishin'... Again" as he catches some fine river Largemouths on his home water, the Haw River, in North Carolina. I suspect he may be one of the few out here in cyberspace who knows what I'm talking about.

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    2. Hey man, I must confess, I am a bit confused!! I just started fly fishing and before I did I used regular spinning reels . In fact, I still enjoy fishing this way even though lately I have taken a particular liking to fly fishing and am slowly but surely becoming addicted! Anyway, One of my favorite fish to catch is the Largemouth bass. I personally have yet to catch a largemouth on the fly but I was specifically looking to catch one on the fly BECAUSE of the huge fight they put up. I have caught largemouths in creeks, lakes, sloughs and farm ponds and they have more often than not put up a hell of a fight. The large ones will sometimes jump out and become airborne as I reel them in and I have also caught smaller fish that have put up crazy fights, I’m talking about drag peeling, swimming in all different directions, hiding under logs, etc. So what I’m saying is that my personal experience with largemouths has been different from what you are describing. With this being said, I have never caught largemouths in a place with swift current so I don’t know the difference between their fight and that of a slow water bass.
      I have noticed people calling LM’s ditch pickles but I didn’t know it was out of disrespect, lol. I have heard smallies put up a greater fight but the only two I have caught (on regular gear) were tiny and I just muscled them right in. Thank you for the invite to “the South!” I have never been and I just might take you up on that in the future! The same invite goes out to you! As far as I know, The nearby Yuba River and putah creek are supposed to be excellent trophy trout fisheries! As for the Mikes gone fishing page, I will definitely check it out!!

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    3. Well, Juan, if you experienced a good fight from some stillwater Largemouths, you could probably multiply it by two for the river version. I should clarify that I wasn't suggesting Largemouths don't put up a fight, because they do... but fly fishers who go after big trout or Steelhead would tell you they pale in comparison. The fight is over relatively quickly for any bass in comparison to some of the big sleek river Salmonids... and I wouldn't deny this fact.

      Hopefully, you can find some useful info here on my blog for helping you hook up with your first Largemouth on the fly rod. I'm sure it won't be long.

      By the way, I'm not sure how disrespectful guys are trying to be with the "ditch pickle" label... or if it's just meant to be funny... but I can assure you that you will never hear those same fellas refer to a Steelhead with a silly label... no cute funny names... just "steelie" or "chrome" or something similarly cool and worthy of the creature they so highly revere.

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