Saturday, March 23, 2013

Tuckahoe Creek

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My buddy Charles has been studying all during his Spring break, and he wanted to do some fishing today.  He hasn't been kayak fishing before, so I wanted to go somewhere that was a nice easy paddle with a high chance of catching fish.  I settled on going back to Tuckahoe Creek in Hillsboro for some yellow perch, crappie, or catfish.

First time taking both boats out at once!
Today was supposed to start out cold and warm up in the afternoon, so we weren't really in a hurry to get to the creek today.  We arrived at the boat ramp around 11:30AM and took our time getting ready.  We probably got on the water around noon to some light winds and decently warm temperatures.

A nice, quiet place.

We made our way upstream to where I had some success last year, but I was disappointed to see that the shoreline had changed a bit since then.  There were more downed trees, and the water seemed shallower than what I remembered.  Anyway, we sent down some live minnows on circle hooks for a while without so much as a nibble.  We spent pretty much the next 3 hours just paddling around and trying different spots without much success.  I was the only one to hook up today, with a 9.5" yellow perch that came home for dinner - it was barely enough for everyone in the family to taste it.  We also saw 2 other boats out there (1 jon boat and 1 canoe).  Neither of them were getting many bites today, so it seems the fish just weren't too active today.  My guess is that the water was still too cold...maybe in a couple more weeks the fishing should pick up here.

This was the clearest water I have paddled in this year.

Still, it was a good time of catching up with Charles during the 1 hour trip to and from Hillsboro, and he enjoyed his first kayak fishing  trip (though he almost turtled).

Charles doing some shore fishing after.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Catfishin' in the Mattawoman

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I guess it's officially a tradition now for me to catch some fresh fish whenever my mother-in-law visits.  I wanted to go fishing for keeps, and I was hoping for some blue catfish, since that is one of my wife's preferred fish to eat.  I thought about trying for them in the Occoquan, but the past 2 skunky trips I've had there didn't give me any confidence that I would be able to catch anything for the dinner table.  I knew people were catching blue catfish in the Mattawoman through the winter, so I settled on going there.

The day started with calm water
I arrived at the Slavin's ramp and was on the water by 7:30AM.  At this point in the day the wind was non-existent and the water was calm as glass.  The wind was forecasted to be 10-15 mph, so I was relieved by the conditions.  I headed upstream straight to a deep hole that I knew existed from the last time I went to the Mattawoman creek in the summer.  We had done well with blue catfish there.  Before anchoring up to soak my bottom rigs with nightcrawlers, I fished around some of the nearby structure to see if I could bring up some crappie.  I wasn't getting a single hit, and ended up losing a rig, so I gave up on that real soon.  The water clarity was pretty poor too, so I was doubtful that I would catch them anyway.

To give you an idea of the water clarity...

I then proceeded to paddle around the area, carefully watching my fish finder, to see if there might be any slimy creatures around.  As I approached the hole, I could see lots of marks starting from the edge of the channel on into the deeper part - they were in 8 to 13 feet of water.  I went on to the other side of the channel and let down my anchor to hold my position.  I had heard that catfish are real lazy, and don't like to chase around their food, so I made sure to bring an anchor with me today.

I put out two lines with nightcrawlers and immediately hooked up with a small white perch, which I kept around to use as cut bait (didn't do any good, as I didn't get any hits on it).  Soon after, I caught two 23" blue catfish back-to-back.  "This is going to be a great day!" I thought, as I started planning who I might give extra fillets to with the mess of fish I was going to catch.  Unfortunately, that was all the action that I got for the next 3 hours.  The forecasted 10-15 mph winds showed up around the time I got the last catfish, and it was COLD!  I guess that's the thing about soaking aren't moving around much, and if you've got wet hands, they're going to get cold.

I eventually tried another spot further upstream where I knew there was another deep hole, but I didn't even get a nibble for about an hour that I was there.  At least I was protected a bit from the wind at this location... Even though things were not looking good, I kept telling myself that I need to catch just one more fish before heading in.  However, the wind and cold got the better of me, and I headed in around 11:30 AM.  The paddle in was tough with the wind to my face and my fingers feeling like they were going to fall off.  I had some water proof, insulated gloves - but I had left them in the car when I saw the calm conditions in the morning.  I should have just taken them anyway...

The creek looks like a totally different place without all the summer-time foliage.

Well, even though it was a slow day, I achieved my goal of bringing home fresh fish, and we fried up the catfish for dinner.  I brought them home in my cooler without any ice, and they were still alive after the 1.5 hour drive home.  These are some hardy fish!

After I got home from fishing, we took my boys and mother-in-law to the Udvar-Hazy Air and Space museum.  That was a neat place to visit.