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.