|It's truly fall in Maryland when farmers are cutting the soybeans at night, inbetween rainstorms|
In Maryland, this is a barrier I meet every fall. I love warmwater fishing with light tackle, that is, focusing on largemouth and smallmouth bass with very small lures, rods, and reels. At some point in the fall, it becomes nearly impossible to continue fishing as a result of muddy water from fall rains, declining water quality (especially oxygen levels) in warm water bodies, and the overall lethargy of the fish. And yet, like most foolish pursuits, I feel compelled to keep trying until it's beyond obvious that the easy, and even moderately hard, portions of the bass fishing year are over.
|Buttonbush and waterlilies on the Tuckahoe|
As part of an old work commitment, I occasionally have to do technical walk-throughs of university environmental labs to confirm that that everything they are doing is legal and ethical. It's not very exciting, but it's relatively important. A recent such trip to Maryland's eastern shore found me wrapping up work around 6pm and able to run to the nearby Tuckahoe Creek for a little bass fishing.
The Tuckahoe is a bit of an aberration. It's a historic yellow perch spawning ground, but it's dammed up for recreational use. It's seasonally stocked with trout, which absolutely can't survive more than a few days there. It's been known to produce some gigantic largemouth bass, but continued pollution of the creek is not doing the big, old fish any favors. But I was right down the road, so I figured, "why not?"
|Little redbreasted sunfish|
I eventually hopped out of the creek into the floodplain pond with some pretty ridiculous water lily coverage. Great for fish, awful for fishing.
That's right, that's a fly rod in the bottom of the image. Because I am an idiot. There was brush on the ground, branches right overhead, and yeah....the waterlilies. But big fish were hitting the surface, so I figured I tried. Fast forward 20 minutes, and $10 worth of artificial flies were gone. I've started to learn that just because I can fly fish somewhere, does not mean it is a good idea. So I went back to the spinning rod!
This year I have been fishing with a Shimano Stradic on a Bass Pro Qualifier Rod (light, one piece). It's a great setup, even for very small fish, and boy, does it handle the hogs! I targeted these lily beds ever so careful, and just as the sun was starting to go down, I started to see eddies in the water boiling up behind my surface lure, as I worked it between the 6 million lily pads in my way. Finally, the explosion. Unlike most of my fishing days, when this moment culminates in me hauling in a nice looking fish, a disaster ensued. The fish - a nice largemouth - went airborne and then immediately dove for the lily pad roots. I saw the plants move as he tried to wrap the fishing line around the pads. He succeeded, and escaped. I lost yet another surface lure. That was my sign.
It's over. It's time to give up on warmwater fishing for the year. Soon, we'll be hunting geese. Soon after that, deer. Fall is here. Winter is coming. Driving through an armada of harvesters, tractors, grain hoppers, and poultry feed trucks reminded me that it's over. The summer's over.
|Tailing the chicken feed truck....|