A nice day on the Great Miami

Every once in a while the stars align and things fall into place without any planning whatsoever. I hadn’t planned on fishing yesterday. In fact I was supposed to be installing graphics in Cinci all day. But luckily we managed to get all that work done on Thursday and I was able to take the day off.

It just so happened that Ben was in town for a wedding and was to be floating the Great Miami with Donnie when I called him on Thursday to ask what was up, serendipity.

So, yesterday I spent a nice day on the Great Miami River fishing for smallmouth. We ended up with a few rock bass and one decent greenie as well. We had plenty of cold fried chicken, good and not-so-good beer, poppers, Clousers, craw-dad patterns and a lot of fun.

It wasn’t an EPIC day but it was, just fine. Which means, they weren’t biting like would we hoped, but we brought plenty of fish (30+) to hand. The big ones didn’t seem to be too active. We had one 13″, one 14″ and one 15″, all the rest were in the 10-12″ range. So, while not EPIC, it was a good way to spend a day for sure.

Smallmouth on the Great Miami

I went out for smallmouth the other day for a few hours.

I’ll never tire of them; probably my favorite fish. They aren’t a thinking man’s fish.

They take a fly willingly. They fight like they are 2 times their actual size.

They are agressive, predatory, territorial, feisty, spirited and a truly a joy to behold.

They are native to my drainage and plentiful.

More should be done to develop their habitat and conserve their numbers.

In short, I’m thankful for their presence.

Here’s a few more pics.

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Bluegill inside a Smallmouth, big appetite, incredible.

I got the picture below from a friend last night.

Caught a smallie on Sunday night while out with the wife, he had a good sized bluegill in his throat and still wanted to eat…wonder if he’ll be able to finish that meal, it looks to be heading down with the wrong end first

A fishing trip saved by my SmithFly Modular Gear

The 3X prototype on my wading belt. Also in the pic is the rod butt holder that will snap on anywhere you have some webbing, another addition to the line up.

So Friday was a unique evening because my wife was doing a “girl’s night out” and my parent’s could watch my two boys. So I hit the local smallmouth river after work for a few hours.

When I arrived, I rigged my rod, donned my waders and tied on a popper. Yes, I know, it’s strange; it’s April and the Smallmouth are hitting poppers like it’s June, go figure. There’s not much better than the surprisingly enthusiastic take of a smallmouth on a popper. You’ll catch more fish on subsurface flies but seeing them hit it, is where it’s at.

So I grabbed my SmithFly Boat Bag, yes I do use it to wade too and as soon as I grabbed it, I realized, EGADS, I had left the shoulder strap for the bag at home. SHIT and DOUBlE SHIT!

You see, I’ve been working on a new prototype for a messenger bag (check back here for pics of that item later) and I was using the shoulder strap for my boat bag to check out the fit, and I’d left it attached to the prototype messenger bag.

But because the SmithFly Pouches are modular I was able to take one of them off, the prototype-super-secret-next-year’s-model, 3X Pouch off of the Boat Bag and wear it by itself on my wading belt! How badass is that? This is pouch is 12″ wide and 6″ tall, a bit bigger than the current 2X and made to be the full width of the boat bag.

I could get my my smallmouth tippet spools, my big streamer box, and spare leaders in that one pouch. Pretty much everything I NEEDED, I just had to leave the “nice-to-haves” in the car like the DSLR, tripod, rain jacket etc etc. Then I took my Poquito and clipped it over top of my waders, and I was off. Shooweee, thank the lord for modularity!

That saved me having to drive all the way home and fetch my strap. The beauty of modularity.

In fact, that reminds me, I need to get on those vendors about getting me prices for that 3X pouch.

The Great Miami River. Looks quiet but it's full of smallies hungry for poppers.
This, is the capital of shit eating grin territory.

The Sunfish Slam and a creepy ending to some dry fly action.

Last night I fished one of my favorite stretches of cool water but was chased out by a specter of unknowable origin.

First the Fishing

This stretch of water is usually riffley and pocket-like when flows are up, but last night it fished more like a pair of big creeks where it split into ribbons around the big island. I usually fish the larger backside of the island first then hit the secondary channel on the way back to the Jeep. I hit it just right last night, and found what I like to call the Sunfish slam.

Sunfish Slam is of course, my stupid name for catching a Smallmouth, a Largemouth, a Green Sunfish (or Bluegill, Red Ear, Black Ear, Warmouth, whatever) and a Rock Bass, in one outing.

Does the world need another fishing "Slam"? Probably not. Is it some sort of elite prize? Probably not? Does it involve a high level of skill? Probably not. Was it a whole bunch of fun? YES!

Even better yet, they were all caught on my 8′ 4wt while throwing a Simulator dry fly. This makes for some seriously exciting takes of the fly. Most were on the small side, but I’ve driven much much longer and hiked many more miles to catch much smaller fish than these.

Throw in the mini-tarpon-esque, silver sided, dry fly attacking, giant (8″) creek chubs that eat nymphs and dries just like little somkey mountain brook trout, and I had about as much fun as can be had with a 4 wt.

Ad to that a heapin’ helpin’ of spinners, clouds of caddis and the atmosphere turns into a very pleasing combination of fish and bugs.

A night like this with a fish on every other cast is fairly rare event for me and honestly probably for most fisherman, if truth be told, so I take it when I can, with a smile, and know when to say when.

Finally the Specter

After I lost track of how many fish I brought to hand I headed back toward the Jeep.

With my pearly white sh*t eating grin illuminating my path through the woods, I heard someone yell out to me,

“Hey, come over here!”

“Uh, Nope, I’m fishing” was my reply.

“Hey come closer”, he said.

“Uh no, sorry, I’m fishing” I responded as I hopped back onto the dry gravel bar from shore.

I couldn’t see who it was, or where they were exactly, but they were fairly close, just through the tree line and into the field a little way. My walking pace quickened and I fumbled for my cell phone to call a witness in case something nefarious took place.

I finally got a hold of my wife, the audio witness. I talked her through the situation a few times before she understood me through my panting breath and concerned state of mind.

I stepped up my pace to a jog when I got to the more well trodden fisherman’s trail.

I ducked fallen trees. I hopped logs, and took twigs to the eyes. Somehow I managed to never, not once, ever, snag my fly line on the nubbin of a branch. Since when, can you avoid that trap whilst running through the woods?

I looked back and could see him standing on the trail behind me. He was still. A shadowy figure standing there in dark attire. His legs faded into the misty ground. His profile was outlined against the pale evening glow of a sunset sky. His hands were cupped to his mouth but his shouts were drowned out by the crunching leaves, crashing sticks, and heart pounding in my ears.

I kept running and narrating the events to my wife over the phone.

She kept asking me, “How far to your Jeep?”

I finally arrived back at my Jeep, with no person in sight behind me. I tossed my gear in the back, hopped in the driver seat and fired it up. Doors were locked. Gravel flew and wheels spun as I high-tailed it out of there.

I have no idea what he wanted.

I [thought] I was fishing on public land.

There were no vehicles, other than mine, in the gravel pull off.

There are a few houses in the general area, but not at all, close by.

What did he want?
Why was he out there?
Where did he come from?

And why he wouldn’t clarify himself  beyond “Hey! Come closer” might forever remain a mystery.

Maybe it was a very polite and educated Sasquatch? Who knows.

This reminded me that I recently read a scientific study about how endorphins and other hormones secreted during times of fear apparently help to cement memories more vividly in our brains.

This is one Sunfish Slam I will never forget.

Breaking News Update:

Ok, so I did some internet sleuthing on the county auditors website and discovered that the land I thought belonged to the county actually belongs to the house directly north of the sanctuary where I parked my Jeep. So I was fishing on private land without permission. Ooops.

So I looked up the folks who owned the house to the north and called them. Mind you, the internet failed to produce a good phone number, so I was reduced to slumming it in an actual phone book. Old school techniques paid off, they were in there!

As it turns out, the lady who owns the property lets her grand daughter and grand son-in-law hunt deer out there. And as you might guess, he was out there the other night. He was down from his tree stand looking for an arrow and heard me tromping through the woods.

He was apparently as concerned as I was, because he thought he saw me with a bow? Go figure. So I can see why he was being a bit cagey with his call outs.

So I apologized to her for trespassing and told her I wouldn’t have been fishing there if I knew it was private property. However, after that I asked her if she minded if I still fished out there, and she said sure no problem. Its just that easy.

I did reassure her that I would fish other places during deer season though.

Wow, what a specter huh?

When all else fails, hit the farm pond.

Got in some casting practice on the blown out muddy creek.

We headed out Friday evening in search of smallmouth and rock bass on the local creek. Its a great area, perfect wading, nice broken up water with riffles and pools, and usually pays off with some nice fish. But unbeknownst to us, it was like chocolate milk and the fish were not biting. So after a quick phone call my fearless leader got us on to a farm pond and saved the day. The large mouth were hitting pretty well when got there. The bite lasted for all of about half an hour, it was so much action I didn’t snap any photos. The pics below were from the old blown out creek.

At one point I snapped the shutter and a fish jumped right at the same time. So I got this ghost like pan fish photo, pretty cool.

Strip that streamer!

Just happened to hit the shutter right when this pan fish jumped out of the water.

Americas Most Endangered Rivers

A quiet stretch of the # 3 most endangered, Gauley River, where there are no doubt some killer smallies lurking beneath the surface.

A yearly report released today by AmericanRivers.org lists America’s Most Endangered Rivers. There are some good trout streams on here, the top two, in fact. With the oil spill in the gulf rightfully getting most of the air play in the environmental debate right now this might not get the top billing that it might in other more quiet years, but lets take a moment and think about what it will require to maintain these habitats and not destroy them like so many others.

The list looks like this.

  1. Upper Delaware River, PA, NY
    Learn More | Act Now
  2. Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, CA
    Learn More | Act Now
  3. Gauley River, WV
    Learn More | Act Now
  4. Little River, NC
    Learn More | Act Now
  5. Cedar River, IA
    Learn More | Act Now
  6. Upper Colorado River, CO
    Learn More
  7. Chetco River, OR
    Learn More | Act Now
  8. Teton River, ID
    Learn More | Act Now
  9. Monongahela River, PA, WV
    Learn More | Act Now
  10. Coosa River, AL
    Learn More
    | Act Now