Tuesday, September 1, 2009

New Looks at an Old Site

There's a park in town I've fished a few times, and I haven't made up my mind what I think of it. I've never been skunked, and I did have one of the best outings of my life there last summer. Other than that day, though, I've never really done great. I usually manage a handful of fish, none too big.

But I go there because it's accessible and fits my schedule, and because I know that great outings are possible. The only downside is that the hike on the trail is like walking on the beach, which is a little annoying.

I was there a few weeks ago with pretty good luck, catching a few bass, losing a decent one, and getting into some big 'gills. The highlight of the trip was seeing a bald eagle, something I've only done once or twice before. The big bird even landed on a tree branch for a few seconds so I could get a good look.

More recently, I headed back when I had a short window. I took a chub and a little smallie on 2 of my first 5 casts with a floating minnow lure, so I thought the day would be a busy one. Then it cooled. I watched a 2-foot longnose gar twice look at and refuse my bait, and then I spooked a largemouth.

Heading out of the water was the key, though. I decided to try to find a way through the woods to a paved trail, which would save me plenty of time fishing this spot. I saw some people who'd been picking plants heading through the trees, so I chased after them, and discovered they were using a trail. I went up the trail and discovered...a cricket game? I've seen some strange things in the wild, but people playing cricket might be the oddest.

I backtracked, followed an alternate path, and came out at a parking lot. Even better than just coming out at the trail. I took the paved road back to where I'd parked and decided to try downstream. To my great joy, there was a path I'd never seen (more like a clearing, really) that led to a nice pool downstream. I fished that pool, and the calm water just downstream from it and took maybe a dozen or so fish, including largemouths, bluegill, and even a crappie. I didn't have time to explore further downstream, but it looks like there's some good water that way, too.

There was even one moment of excitement in there, when something huge struck my minnow. I never got a good hookset, but I saw a flash of fish, seemingly too long to be smallie, but to thick to be a musky or a gar. With the visible vertical markings, I suspect it was an unusually big smallmouth. Which means I'll be back.

Sometimes fishing is about getting away from it, but sometimes you just don't have time for that, and I'm happy to find a place that's manageable with only a couple hours free.

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