Sunday, September 10, 2017

Ten for Fifteen

fifteenmile creek
Use your illusion.
No rain or hurricane remnants were supposed to be passing through the area, so Karen and I went camping at Fifteen Mile Creek Campground along the C&O Canal Trail.  We hadn't been here for more than two years -- I don't remember having much fishing luck then, but it was where I saw my first live muskie!  I actually saw two  right near where the creek runs into the Potomac River.

It started off really slow for me on Saturday afternoon.  I must have gone two hours without catching a fish.  There were a few sunfish nibbles, but I had nothing to show for it.

potomac smallmouth bass
My "big" smallmouth.  Couldn't even keep it in the frame!
The water was really shallow and fast moving.  There were also lots of weeds and moss growing on the rocky bottom, which made fishing difficult because lures came back caked with green stuff.

I kept wading on and finally came to an area that seemed to open up.  There wasn't much green on the bottom, and it had deeper (two to four feet) pools.

Finally success casting a small spinnerbait when I saw a fish come out of nowhere and attack the lure.  Reeling in, it initially felt like the fish wasn't hooked on the other end, but there was still some tension on the line.  It turned out to be small sunfish, which explained why it didn't fight much.

A little bit later, a tiny smallmouth bass got hooked on the spinnerbait.  If the fish was eight inches, I was being generous.

Targeting exposed rocks and slow water along the shore, I ended up with four more smallmouth -- the biggest measuring 11.5 inches -- in this section.  Two were caught on a Z-Man Finesse TRD Worm and two on a Campground Special Teaser Tube.  With the bottom-bouncing plastics, the sunfish would nip-nip at the tail of the lure.  Each smallmouth I caught, the fish grabbed it and headed in another direction.

Sunlight started to fade, but so did the bite.
As soon as the sun ducked below the trees, the action fizzled.  It was like a switch was turned, and I didn't get a single bite after that.

Back at the campground, I went up to the aqueduct spanning Fifteen Mile Creek to see if I could spot "The Muskie" like when we here two years ago.  No muskie but I saw a nice sized smallmouth bass cruising the depths.

Karen came back and said she ended up a couple miles upriver at a dilapidated railroad bridge that crossed the Potomac from Maryland into West Virginia.  She said she caught 14 inches of smallmouth -- three fish that probably totaled 14 inches.

potomac smallmouth
One of Karen's fish.
It got really cold once the sun went down. We burned some stuff and grilled some stuff, not necessarily in that order.

In the morning, it sounded like raindrops were falling, which discouraged me from fishing.  Finally when I got out of the tent, it wasn't raining but there was a lot of condensation, which I think made it sound like rain with the wet buildup dripping from the leaves of overhanging trees.  It was still cold, too, and I didn't feel like getting into wet, leaky waders.

We had to head out early so I packed my fishing gear up.  Karen got up, and we made breakfast of sausage with eggs from a box.  She offered one of her fishing rods for me to go fishing while she started breaking down the camp site, and I took off to the end of the boat ramp.

I kind of explored this area yesterday, and it was chock full o' weeds.  The TRD worm on her rod almost got snagged twice, so I figured a topwater lure might be better to skim across the surface.  I switched to a bullfrog-flavored Heddon Zara Puppy and had a fish (probably a sunfish) peck at the lure.

cold lightning
Sometime in March, 48 degrees will seem warm.
Two casts later, something HIT the lure.  I waited half a second looking for the lure on the top of the fog-encrusted water and didn't see it, so I set the hook.  The fish was hooked but it wasn't very big.  It fought OK, and I reeled it in with no drama -- another dink smallmouth.   That made it six smallmouth and one sunfish for the weekend, and along with Karen's three smallmouth, 10 total fish.

The cold weather last night and this morning was a slap-in-the-face reminder that good fishing is almost over.  The water felt a few degrees cooler than last week downriver at Brunswick, so soon the smallies will have disappeared to their mysterious wintering holes.

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