Saturday, July 15, 2017

Aqueduct Action

Pat woke me up this morning, saying, "I'm going to go fishing, bye!" I was groggy and was confused. Then he said, "Just kidding."

I was a bit more confused. Was he going fishing or not? I pondered this for a bit, until I heard the ice maker dispensing product. I got up and went to the kitchen. "Are you really going fishing?" He said yes. "Can I come?" He said yes. So I got changed and loaded my Bass Pro Shops Megacast and the Abu Garcia Vendetta into the Lightning, along with my tackle bag.

He wouldn't say where he had in mind on the trek down MD100 to I-70. I thought maybe he'd head to the Monocacy Aqueduct, since I'd had some success there on Wednesday. Or maybe to the Lander Road boat ramp near the Catoctin Aqueduct, since he's talked about going there previously, but I'm not sure if he actually has. In the end, it turned out that our destination was the Antietam Aqueduct, where we often camp (and have reservations for next weekend).

Oops. I did it again.
I started off upstream of Antietam Creek while he wandered downstream somewhere. The first place I went, there were four college-aged kids, along with a pool raft. I turned around and went just a little further downstream to another area with enough open air for me to fish from shore. Sadly, it was only about a 100yds downstream from the brobeans and their girls. While they splashed around and the girls "tee-hee-heed" to some really awful commentary, I tried a Reaction Innovations Little Dipper (lost it in the rocks) and then settled on a TRD Finesse Worm. The Ned Rig was getting some interest, but for the most part, no actual bites. I had one fish almost hooked, but it jumped and the hook went one direction while the fish went elsewhere.

Hearing one of the girls say that they needed to leave by 10AM was heartening. They cleared out around 9:40, and I thought maybe some action would come back. Just some tap-tap-taps, but nothing else. By 10AM, I was done in this area, and figured I'd look elsewhere.

I knew that Pat and I had biked further down from the creek previously, but I couldn't remember how far down. I hiked down to a trail I semi-remembered from a prior trip; it was steep, and it was tough to get out an area where I could cast from shore without getting tangled up in trees or other vegetation, but before long, I was set up. I tossed the TRD Finesse Worm a few more times before it got caught on something, and I laid down that rod.

It was about my third or fourth cast with the Spanish Fly Little Dipper that I felt a hit. It felt like a hard hit, but when I went to set the hook, it seemed more like a big branch. Still, there seemed to be something on the other end, and the closer it came to shore, the more it acted unbranchlike. Finally, I could see it through the water, and my heart dropped.

Using the Megacast as an impromptu ruler

It was a walleye. And I still didn't have a stringer to keep it until we were ready to go home.

Of course, it had to be bigger than the walleye I caught before my Acadia trip.

This one would measure in over 17 inches. It would have made a tasty fillet tonight, but sadly, I tossed it back into the river, hoping to meet it again one day.

These teeth are no joke!

I had to switch out my swimbait after the walleye, because it was pretty beat up. I replaced with the same thing, still the Spanish Fly coloration, and shifted a bit to my left so that I could safely cast away from some downed trees.

It didn't take long to get another hit, and this one was, as Pat likes to say, angry!

A good 13-14" fish
I didn't have my Megacast nearby, nor a ruler, so my best gauge said this was a 13-14 inch fish, though I initially thought it was bigger. It sure fought like a bigger fish, but that's what smallmouth bass are known for, right?

Little fish
I had to do some damage control after that bass, as somehow I'd managed to cut my finger. Fortunately, I have a mini-first aid kit in my tackle bag, and after I got cleaned and bandaged up, I was ready to catch some more fish.

The first few casts were awkward, as the bandage really interfered with what I was doing. Once I got used to the lack of sensation when casting due to the bandage, I was on a roll again, before I shifted a little further to my left, even closer to a weedbed and a rocky area. Lo and behold, I caught another smallmouth, a dinky little 9-10 inch thing.

Then Pat texted that he was done and waiting for me back at the truck. It was time to pack up and head out. :(

Evidently, he had only landed one smallmouth, and lost another while using a topwater lure. :(

I should note that I shouldn't have been surprised to catch a walleye here, as Pat had caught one about a mile further up the river when we'd camped during the beginning of my Spring Break. He'd even caught it on a Reaction Innovations Little Dipper.

We headed over to my mom's in Sharpsburg to say hello to her and the spaz dog before heading home. Bruce was, as always, super happy to see Pat.

One more week until the road trip, so I know we'll be back here next weekend! :)

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Potomac Monsters

I'm not a big fan of meetings, especially when they don't really impart any information that couldn't have been distributed via email or newsletter. Trainings that drag on for hours because they are catering to the lowest denominator also kill me, especially for computer based things. Just give me free rein, and I'll figure the thing out myself. I'll ask a question if I need more.

So, after a second "fun-filled" day of meetings and training for my summer resource teacher work, I was a bit stir crazy. I'd grabbed two of my rods and my fishing bag on the way out this morning on a whim, and so when I left Gaithersburg High School, I plugged Monocacy Aqueduct into Waze instead of going straight home into rush hour traffic on I-95.

The Mouth of the Monocacy
I knew Pat had fished here recently, and I was pretty sure that I remembered him catching some decent fish. I'd chosen it because it was far enough up, I knew I wasn't in danger of being in tidal waters (which needs a special license), but it was still within a reasonable distance from home for a weeknight where I had to go to work the next day.

While setting up my two rods, I saw a young man and woman leaving from an area just 75-100 feet away from me, and I asked, "Catch anything?" He shook his head. He'd been fishing for bass, but thought he wasn't able to cast his bait far enough to entice them. Looking at what I was about to throw into, I opted for a Ned Rig (TRD Finesse Worm) on my old school Bass Pro Shops Megacast rod, and a Reaction Innovations Little Dipper swimbait on my Abu Garcia rod.

As I was prepping the rods, I saw an eagle majestically swoop down and pluck a fish from the water right in front of me. I knew there were fish to be had.

I cast for about 20 minutes at the confluence of the Monocacy and Potomac Rivers, with nothing. There were a few bumps on the worm, but the swimbait was getting no love. A big old water-striding spider nearby started threatening me (for real), so I opted to move a bit downstream on the Potomac, to an area with some weedbeds and a little shade from the shoreline trees.

There were actually two of them here at one point. Frighteningly, I don't know where the other one went!
I tried the worm again, and promptly got it caught on a log that I could clearly see. I'd lost the swimbait off the other rod earlier and had already tied a Whopper Plopper on it, so I figured, "What the heck?" There were tons of little bugs on the water, to the point that it almost looked like rain drops on the surface, and the smaller birds were having a field day grabbing at them. So, I thought maybe a topwater lure would be a good choice, even though both Pat and I have been skunked when using them for quite a while now.

I tossed to an area just over to my left, which seemed to be kind of weedy and reeled in. Nothing. A second cast, and it was like a slow motion video as the smallmouth came up and grabbed the lure. I was like, "Oh my god, did that just happen?" I set the hook and reeled frantically; the fish tried to jump a few times, but got nowhere as I was keeping the rod tip down. All I could think of was the last time I'd had a smallmouth on a Whopper Plopper, only to lose it just before landing it.

This time, I managed to keep the fish on the hook as I brought it to shore, and it was a pretty good sized Potomac smallmouth.
A good fight, my man!
Just over 14 inches!
I was pretty psyched. While I had the one fish hooked on the Susquehanna, I'd never actually caught a fish with a topwater lure, and definitely not a 14 inch fish on the Potomac! I cast several more times in the same vicinity, but nothing.

Switching to a blue craw TRD Finesse worm (since the coloration was similar to the Whopper Plopper I used), I was able to get some interest from.... something, but no bites. I tried a swimbait again, and promptly got it stuck, again. So, it was after six, and I was thinking, Maybe I should go home.

So, I tied on my other Whopper Plopper, and committed to "10 more casts." The first toss.... nothing. The second cast.... was like a replay of the previous catch. The fish rose up and grabbed the lure as soon as it hit the water, and the game was on. I set the hook, and this one fought big time, but never rose to the surface, so I wasn't sure if it was a little feisty guy, or a monster until it was about four feet from me.

It was more on the monster side!

Using my Megacast rod as a guide, the second fish was just a tick over fifteen inches, easily my largest smallmouth on the Potomac.

I tossed the Whopper Plopper a few more times, just for the heck of it, then packed up to head home. I was satisfied with the two I'd caught, and how I caught them.

But... I have more meetings and training tomorrow. So, maybe I'll hit up the Potomac again? I guess it depends on just how hot and miserable it ends up being. The forecast is pretty awful.
The aqueduct is pretty awesome.

Friday, January 20, 2017


Today was the day our 45th President was inaugurated. Sadly, it was full of protests and riots in DC. I'm glad we were no where near the chaos and violence.

A friend of mine took video from his office at the Washington Post that included the above limo on fire. It looked like something from another country, another world. This is something I said elsewhere, in response to someone's corporate analogy about why "half the country is unhappy, but it bears repeating :

"Honestly, I think that more than half the country is unhappy, and it's a bit more complicated than just your analogy. The government as a whole has been increasingly divided, going at least back to the Clinton administration when there was an attempt to impeach him over the Monica Lewinsky stuff and his perjury. Since then, things between the White House and Congress have become worse and worse, to the point where the workings of government essentially grind to a halt for ridiculous "investigations" that go on and on and on, because the investigators' beliefs aren't verified by the results (see "Benghazi" and "Clinton emails" for the most recent examples). Neither side is immune to this bullshit; the Democrats did it when GW was in office, but the most recent GOP roadblocks are in the forefront since we've had a Democrat in the White House for the past eight years. 

I don't like Trump, I don't think he has the makings of a good President, but that doesn't mean I want him to fail, because I think Pence is even worse. Additionally, a failure of a President is a failure for the entire country. However, I don't see him being able to "Make America Great Again" because the definition of "great" for far too many is a return to a dark time where "coloreds knew their place" (something I've heard vocalized WAY too much lately), where "them faggots get what they deserve" (meaning that LGBT+ people can have the "gay" beaten out of them, electroshocked out of them, or just beaten up because they are different -- again, something I have heard with my own ears at work, in public, etc.), and generally an unenlightened America where big business fat cats get fatter and the working man trudges along with no real light on the horizon. 

Additionally, the man's compatriots do not necessarily have his vision in mind; the GOP didn't want him as a nominee, but when it looked like he could win, then they started to tentatively embrace him. Look at all those waffles who degraded him who are now trying to worm their way into his favor and inner circle, including Romney, Cruz and Rubio. I don't see much happening Trump's "way" in the next two years, and the result is going to be a Congressional swing back to the left in the next (midterm) election.

No one wants to give.

No one wants to compromise.

It's been "my way or the highway" for far too long, both in government and in society. There is no longer any "gray area," just a vicious ying-yang of perceived right/wrong where everyone just fights each other over everything instead of trying to understand someone else's point of view, much less trying to reach a middle ground.

You can be patriotic, yet still understand why others see the American flag as a symbol of their oppression. Keep in mind that the American flag was the flag of the South up until the Civil War, and even through the first part of the 20th century, when to have skin that was darkened by melanin meant you couldn't drink from the same water fountains as others, much less ride in the front of the bus. Keep in mind that the American flag was the flag of Custer and countless others, who felt that genocide was the best way to deal with the native peoples of this land. Keep in mind that the American flag was the flag that flew over prison camps that interred Americans of Japanese heritage during World War II.

Trump won on a platform of "Make American Great Again," but as I stated above, I fear that for many Americans, what they feel were the "good old days" are not something we should revisit. For other Americans, I don't think they truly understand that some jobs will not return to this country, ever, and other manufacturing returning to the US will mean an increase in consumer costs. It's a basic scientific principle; for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. In even simpler terms, there are consequences for actions.

In the American public ready for the consequences of a Trump administration?

Be the change you want to see. If you're happy with Trump, his cabinet choices, the GOP Congress' actions, how people act in the name of Trump and/or how people act in defiance of Trump, then keep sitting there, smiling smugly. But if you want something to happen differently, use your brain. Search out unbiased sources, join a movement, help out at a shelter, make donations, run for office.

Do something. Please.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

I Come In Peace

The sickness continues. Yah. At least I was able to sell my tickets for Thursday night's Caps game, and tonight is an away one.

I have to say that I was disappointed in having to miss that game, though. Watching it on TV just isn't quite the same. I was pretty surprised that the Caps not only broke the streak, they shut out the Blue Jackets by a pretty hefty margin -- 5-0. It was almost like the Boudreau era again. 

Anyway, if you didn't already know, I was recently accepted into the Subaru Ambassador program. I guess having some notoriety and a stickered up WRX is good for something. ;) 

A photo posted by Karen (@kiirenza) on

I actually got word of my acceptance in a sort of roundabout way. The original "welcome" email never came through, not even to my spam folder, but I received a message on how to order swag and ambassador gear. I figured maybe I'd be getting a letter via snailmail, and since our USPS mailperson is notoriously awful, maybe I received the email before the letter.

So, I ordered some swag and gear, since I had $150 to burn up before January 1st. A week later (and after my order arrived), I still haven't received anything official from Subaru. So, I sent an inquiry.

Sure enough, there had been a glitch in the emails going out that day, and mine was among them. They resent the email, and I've since also received my "starter kit."

In the meantime, I posted up a "contest" of sorts on my Triskelion Racing Facebook page for what I billed as a winter prize pack.

While the local Maryland Subaru group had people that seemed interested, I guess it was either too complicated for them, or too much effort to post a photo. Their loss! In the end, some of my friends from Ohio were the big winners. I guess that's good for them, since they've had a lot more snow than we have in Maryland so far.

I got a lot of neat little things to give away, including some diecast Subaru vehicles (a Legacy GT, an Outback and a WRX) that will be in an upcoming prize pack, some pet-related stuff, ice scrapers (evidently a big ticket item right now) and some other stuff.

If you see me around, especially in the Subaru, say something. I will have gear to give away on the spot too. And no, I haven't coughed or sneezed on it, so it should be sickness free. :p

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

NPS Checklist

So, as I sit here and listen to John Walton's play-by-play of the Caps game (since Pat and I opted to stay home tonight, too), I also am reminiscing about the multitude of National Park Service sites I was able to visit last year. Since I have my Passport book, I figure I'll look back over the stamps I managed to get this past year.

Lake Mead National Recreation Area (2/13)
Old Spanish National Historic Trail: Lake Mead NRA, NV (2/13)
Tule Springs Fossil Beds National Monument (2/13)
Death Valley National Park: Furnace Creek (2/14)
World War II Memorial (2/20)
National Mall & Memorial Park (2/20)
Vietnam Veterans Memorial (2/20)
Lincoln Memorial (2/20)
DC World War Memorial (2/20)
Korean War Veterans Memorial (2/20)
Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial (2/20)
Ulysses S. Grant Memorial (2/20)
West Potomac Park (2/20)
Thomas Jefferson Memorial (2/20)
American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial (2/20)
Japanese American Memorial (2/20)
Old Post Office Tower (2/20)
Signers of the Declaration of Independence Memorial (2/20)
Washington Monument (2/20)
National Mall (2/20)
John Paul Jones Memorial (2/20)
Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial (2/20)
Pennsylvania Avenue National Historic Site (2/20)
Constitution Gardens (2/20)
Ford's Theater National Historic Site: Petersen House (2/20)
John Ericsson Memorial (2/20)
Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine (2/21)
Star Spangled Banner National Historic Trail: Baltimore, MD (2/21)
Baltimore National Heritage Area (2/21)
Antietam National Battlefield (3/13)
Antietam National Battlefield: Newcomer House (3/13)
Journey Through Hallowed Ground National Historic Area (Antietam NB, Newcomer House, Monocacy NB) (3/13)
Monocacy National Battlefield (3/13)
Underground Railroad Freedom Network: Monocacy NB (3/13)
Gettysburg National Military Park (3/25)
Journey Through Hallowed Ground National Historic Area (Gettysburg NMP) (3/25)
Cedar Creek and Belle Grove National Historic Park (3/29)
Shenandoah Valley Battlefields National Historic District: Cedar Creek and Belle Grove NHP (3/29)
Shenandoah National Park: Big Meadows (3/29)
Appalachian National Scenic Trail : Maine to Georgia (3/29)
Andrew Johnson National Historic Site (3/30)
Andrew Johnson National Historic Site: National Cemetery (3/30)
Andrew Johnson National Historic Site: Tailor Shop (3/30)
Stones River National Battlefield (3/30)
Tennessee Civil War National Historic Area: Murfreesboro, TN (3/30)
Underground Railroad Freedom Network: Stones River NB (3/30)
Stones River National Battlefield: Stones River National Cemetery (3/30)
Stones River National Battlefield: Fortress Rosecrans (3/30)
Trail of Tears National Historic Trail: Stones River NB, TN (3/30)
Obed Wild and Scenic River (4/3)
Harpers Ferry National Historic Park (5/8)
Underground Railroad Freedom Network: Harpers Ferry NHP (5/8)
Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail (5/8)
Civil War Sesquicentennial 2011-2015: Harpers Ferry, WV (5/8)
Valley Forge National Historic Park (6/5)
Schuylkill River National Heritage Area: Southeastern, PA (6/5)
Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site (6/5)
Schuylkill River National Heritage Area: Elverson PA (6/5)
President's Park - The White House (6/9)
Star Spangled Banner National Historic Trail: Washington, DC (6/9)
James A. Garfield National Historic Site (6/13)
Cuyahoga Valley National Park (6/13)
Underground Railroad Freedom Network: Cuyahoga Valley NP (6/13)
Ohio & Erie Canalway: Boston, OH (6/13)
Cuyahoga Valley National Park: Boston Store (6/13)
Catoctin Mountain Park (6/19)
Greenbelt Park (6/24)
Baltimore-Washington Parkway (6/24)
Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail: Harpers Ferry, WV (7/4)
C&O Canal National Historic Park: Sandy Hook, MD (7/4)
War of 1812 Bicentennial 2012-2015: Harpers Ferry, WV (7/4)
Clara Barton National Historic Site (7/12)
Clara Barton Parkway (7/12)
Glen Echo Park (7/12)
George Washington Memorial Parkway (7/12)
Theodore Roosevelt Island (7/12)
Edgar Allan Poe National Historic Site (7/17)
Thaddeus Kosciuszko National Memorial (7/17)
Gloria Dei Church National Historic Site (7/17)
Independence National Historic Park (7/17)
Benjamin Franklin National Memorial (7/17)
Schuylkill River Heritage Area: Philadelphia, PA (7/17)
Underground Railroad Freedom Network: Independence NHP (7/17)
Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary National Historic Trail (7/17)
Declaration House (7/17)
New River Gorge National River: Sandstone Visitor Center (7/24)
National Coal Heritage Trail: Sandstone, WV (7/24)
New River Gorge National River : Grandview, WV (7/24)
Bluestone National Scenic River (7/24)
Gauley River National Recreation (7/24)
National Parks of Southern West Virginia (7/24)
Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historic Park: Boyhood Home Unit (7/25)
Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historic Park: Hodgenville, KY (7/25)
Mammoth Cave National Park (7/25)
Shiloh National Military Park (7/26)
Shiloh Indian Mounds National Historic Landmark (7/26)
Trail of Tears National Historic Trail: Pittsburgh Landing, TN (7/26)
Fort Donelson National Battlefield (7/26)
Fort Donelson National Battlefield: Dover Hotel (7/26)
Fort Donelson National Battlefield: National Cemetery (7/26)
Fort Donelson National Battlefield: Fort Heiman (7/26)
Underground Railroad Freedom Network: Fort Donelson NB (7/26)
Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site (7/27)
Hot Springs National Park (7/27)
Fort Smith National Historic Site (7/27)
Trail of Tears National Historic Trail: Fort Smith NHS (7/27)
Oklahoma City National Memorial (7/28)
Washita Battlefield National Historic Site (7/28)
Alibates Flint Quarries National Monument (7/29)
Alibates Flint Quarries National Monument: 50th Anniversary 1965-2015 (7/29)
Lake Meredith National Recreation Area (7/29)
Petroglyph National Monument (7/29)
Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument: Quarai, NM (7/30)
Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument: Mountainair, NM (7/30)
Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument: Abo, NM (7/30)
Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument: Gran Quivira, NM (7/30)
White Sands National Monument (7/30)
Carlsbad Caverns National Park (7/31)
Guadalupe Mountains National Park (7/31)
Chamizal National Memorial (7/31)
El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro National Historic Trail: Chamizal NM, TX (7/31)
Gila Cliff Dwellings (8/1)
Chiricahua National Monument (8/1)
Coronado National Memorial (8/2)
Saguaro National Park (8/2)
Tumacacori National Historic Park (8/2)
Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail: Tumacacori NHP (8/2)
Casa Grande Ruins National Monument (8/3)
Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail: Casa Grande Ruins (8/3)
Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument (8/3)
Wupatki National Monument (8/4)
Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument (8/4)
Walnut Canyon National Monument (8/4)
Tuzigoot National Monument (8/4)
Montezuma Castle National Monument (8/4)
Grand Canyon National Park (8/5)
Grand Canyon National Park: Desert View Watchtower (8/5)
Mojave National Preserve: Hole-in-the-Wall, CA (8/6)
Mojave National Preserve: Kelso, CA (8/6)
Old Spanish National Historic Trail: Mojave National Preserve, CA (8/6)
Castle Mountains National Monument (8/6)
Death Valley National Park: Stovepipe Wells (8/6)
Manzanar National Historic Site (8/6)
Devils Postpile National Monument (8/7)
Yosemite National Park: Tuolumne Meadows (8/8)
Timpanogos Cave National Monument (8/8)
Dinosaur National Monument (8/9)
Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument (8/9)
Capulin Volcano National Monument (8/10)
Santa Fe National Historic Trail: Capulin Volcano (8/10)
Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve (8/10)
Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area: San Luis Valley (8/10)
Old Spanish National Historic Trail: Mosca CO (8/10)
Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve (8/11)
Fort Larned National Historic Site (8/11)
Santa Fe National Historic Trail: Fort Larned NHS (8/11)
Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site (8/11)
Santa Fe National Historic Trail: Harry S Truman NHS (8/12)
Oregon National Historic Trail: Missouri (8/12)
California National Historic Trail: Harry S Truman NHS (8/12)
Harry S Truman National Historic Site: Independence, MO (8/12)
Harry S Truman National Historic Site: Grandview, MO (8/12)
Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site (8/12)
Jefferson National Expansion Memorial (8/12)
Underground Railroad Freedom Network: Jefferson National Expansion Memorial (8/12)
Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail: St. Louis, MO (8/12)
Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historic Park (8/13)
Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers National Monument (8/13)
Hopewell Culture National Historic Park (8/13)
Friendship Hill National Historic Site (8/14)
Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail (8/14)
C&O Canal National Historic Park: Cumberland, MD (8/14)
Arlington House, Robert E. Lee Memorial (12/28)
Arlington National Cemetery (12/28)
Marine Corps War Memorial/Netherlands Carillon (12/28)
George Washington Memorial Parkway (12/28)
Lyndon B. Johnson Memorial Grove (12/28)
Star Spangled Banner National Historic Trail: Fort Washington, MD (12/28)
Fort Washington Park (12/30)
Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail: Fort Washington Park (12/30)
Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail: Fort Washington Park, MD (12/30)
Piscataway Park (12/30)
Fort Foote Park (12/30)
Harmony Hall (12/30)
Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail: Piscataway Park (12/30)

After typing all that, that was a lot. And I hope to get to as many, if not more in 2017. I'm already trying to figure out my itinerary for this summer, and for spring break. :)