Saturday, March 20, 2010

The Early Season

It's a 70-degree day on mid-March, and I'm frustrated. It couldn't be nicer outside, but I'm too sick to go fishing, so I might as well use that as an excuse to catch up on this year so far.

Which hasn't been much. I've been out four times and managed just one fish. I'll give myself credit for some tough conditions, particularly since this winter has been extremely snowy (making much of the water around here either inaccessible or blown out). The first time I hit a local lake with fly rod looking for some early season 'gills. The lake was still partially iced over, and I wasn't expecting much -- I just wanted to get out on a nice day.

A week or so later I hit the George Washington Forest for some brookie action. It was sub-freezing when I started. I was missing one glove and discovered a leak in my waders. It was cold enough that when I climbed out of the river and walked to a new spot, the line on my reel froze up, locking up everything. I pushed through, rewarded with one native brookie four or five inches long. That was an "eh" day. I didn't know whether to expect anything at all.

I hit a nearby DH a few weeks ago. Thinking it had been stocked, I got there early (and was wise to do so -- when I left around lunchtime, there were 4 anglers fishing a 100-yard stretch of water) and dealt with the cold, the iced-up guides, etc. Nothing. The upstream portion had changed enough that I wasn't even able to find the weird fish I've only ever caught in this stream. I later found out an entirely different stretched had been stocked, which meant I'd spent the day fishing high, cold, heavily poached water. I'm not too disconcerted.

Last weekend was bad, but I couldn't resist going out to the lake. I was hoping crappie might be in a little, but it was cold and raining, and the water was considerably off-color. I would like to have been in a boat -- retreiving into deeper water and away from the already problematic vegetation -- but I made do. No strikes at all, aside from one little chub in the outflow.

I found a protected cove and kept twitching a minnow lure over the grass. Finally I had a big bass hit. And come off within seconds. A few casts later, something big swirled at it and missed. That was the only excitement of the day (unless you count losing a lure in the brush).

I'm pretty sure that's more skunkings already this year than I had all last year (and maybe as many as the last two years combined). Normally I wouldn't mind too much -- conditions have been bad and everyone can have a bad streak -- but I know it's unlikely I'll get out anytime in the next few weeks. So for now, it's blogging, shopping for equipment online, and -- if the Vitamin C kicks in -- learning to tie my own poppers.

Wish me sanity.

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