Wednesday, July 11, 2012
Do a Little Homework
I like fishing with Bill. Damned if I know why. Together we can't catch shit.
Okay. That’s not entirely true. We’ve had our good days. But not recently. Not this year. This year, after every outing, we’ve come off the water exuding the unmistakable aura of polecat. Three trips. Three doses of putrid aroma therapy.
But the skunks don't tell the whole story.
Our first outing was an early spring foray up the local reservoir feeder to assess how the recent spring flooding had altered the waterway and if, perchance, the white bass had started their run. They hadn't.
Our next expedition was to some new waters, to further explore what appeared to be some fine carp flats, to see if 'dem golden bones liked the area as much as we did. They did, but we couldn't figure out, at the time, what they were eating.
Yesterday, we pointed the truck down east, towing the skiff south of Wilmington to check out and chart the spartina grassed edges of the intercoastal waterway. Redfish country.
Our timing was crap. The tides were falling as we arrived, sending the reds from the shallows, driving them into the channel so as not to be stranded in the lush, soft flats as they were sucked dry. We did get a couple of late shots at some tailing procrastinators, but, for the most part, we missed it.
Bad timing, yes, but, as the saying goes, the best time to fish is when you can, so we made the most of the day by motoring up the small creeks, pitching at the grass points and edges, and watching mothership-proportioned yachts cruise up and down the intercoastal. More importantly, we parked the skiff and walked the now dry flats, learning the bottoms and the patches and the edges of the soft, salty floodplains - looking at brown waterlines on spiky green stuff, nodding our heads and muttering to ourselves.
There's immense value to checking out the lay of the land when the water is low, whether it's the salt marshes, local river, or neighborhood pond. The fishing may be temporarily poor, but the knowledge you accumulate while exploring the exposed streambeds is golden when conditions recover.
Where are the dropoffs, undercuts and deep channels? What's the bottom composition? Is there hidden cover? You can scope out the best wading approaches and confirm where you'll float your hat if not careful. You can see what the fish see for a while and become a more effective angler in the process.
So be willing to hit the water when the conditions suck. Be willing to leave the prime lies and check out the gnarly channels for a while. Be willing to throw the weird stuff from the back of the fly box, just to see what happens. But mostly, be willing to sacrifice a day's catching for a day's learning.
Do a little homework. It'll pay off, big time, further down stream.
That's why I like fishing with Bill.