Tuesday, April 16, 2013

It seems Spring has finally shown

With the warmer air and water temperatures, the spring fishing season is heating up.  Besides the weather, the biggest obstacle in spring is deciding what species to target.  Typically I am too restless to spend all my efforts on one species. However this is one of my favorite times of the year to target Largemouth Bass and I will spend more time pursuing bass than other species in the Spring. Don’t worry Mr. Trout, I have not forgotten about you either.

With the longer sunny days and bass preparing for the spawn, I have been hitting several reservoirs near my house on the Peninsula.  The fishing has not been on fire but I have managed to grab a few nice bass on each outing and some decent Chain Pickerel have made a showing as well.  Until the spawn, my go to setup and lures are spinnerbaits, jerk/stick baits, lipless baits and crank baits.  Most of my bass have come off my Rapala X-Rap’s and SPRO Little John MD crank bait.  I have most success targeting northern portions of the main lake in 8-10 feet of water adjacent to spawning flats.  With the constant north winds and cold fronts the bite has been slow or nonexistent on many lakes in the earlier part of the day.  Later in the afternoon once the water temp rises a degree or two the bite turns on.

Fat Pre Spawn 6 #er
This bass had only one good eye.
22" Chain Pickerel
Can't resist a Rapala Original Minnow
Industrial park ponds also hold some decent fish and offer a great stress break from work.  I try to visit them during my lunch break or before making the drive home from the Southside. Luckily there is an industrial park with some nice ponds near my office.  Just a few minutes are all I typically need.  In the early Spring the bite is almost non-existent.  That is until the north winds subside and the water warms which draws the fish out from the deep.  Walking the bank is a great way to fish in the Spring especially when the bass start to spawn.  I utilize the shoreline cover to hide me from the bass.  Bass spook easily when on the beds, but if you give them a couple minutes and take cover, the bass will move back onto the spawning bed.  I keep this fishing simple; I carry one spinning rod for light weight soft plastics and one casting rod with a spinnerbait or crankbait.  

Pond Bass

Another quality Largemouth
After getting my sweet water fix, I typically need something a little more briny to chase it down with.  This is a great time of year to chase and harass some Speckled Trout.  With the river water temps steadily rising the trout are making their way out the river and heading to their summer getaways.  I have put my time in on many branches of the Elizabeth River and have found many places where the fish move up, stage and feed while migrating out of the river.  It is sort of like taking a road trip and stopping off at a rest area on the turnpike. Best of all, hardly anyone takes advantage of these rest stops.

For the first time, this Spring I have been able to avoid the lower Southern Branch and the horde of boaters and kayakers by fishing some less pressured and often over looked sections way north.  Two Sundays ago I was greeted to a beautiful 70 and sunny, but the winds from the S-SW were harsh and made the 6 mile paddle exhausting.   With the tide starting to come in I was able to get up into the first rest stop and quickly pick up a couple of 18-19” specks on a Bass Assassin Goldfish 4” Sea Shad in some super skinny water.  After a few more stops and nothing happening I decided to make my way up to a stretch of sandy beach and stretch the legs.  While casting from shore, using mirror lures ttr and 52m, I quickly started hooking up, this time they were little baby stripers.
Lure is almost as big as the Striper.

E.R. Speck

A few casts later and wham! I hooked up to what felt like a trommel from Gold Rush Busting on the surface it was headed straight towards me.  Talk about a heart stopper, this made me a little nervous and it felt like a paper worthy fish - or so I hoped. After a few strong runs I was able to get the net to this fatty Speck.  After a quick visit to the hawg trough it just wasn’t meant to be and came up ½” shy.  

23.5"-5.5# Speck
Since trading my Shimano Sustain for a pair of Boga Grips I did confirm that it was 5.5#s, but as I don’t care to eat trout, she was released and my hunt for a citation trout continues.  I made a few more casts and the action started to heat up with a couple in the 20” range.  Only after getting frustrated with the many small stripers hanging around, I paddled back to where I caught the first couple of specks but got no love. I called it a day and made my way back to the truck while taking in the scenery of the river.  While many anglers view Elizabeth River in disgust, I call it home. 

Ya gotta love this weather with Summer around the corner and nonstop fishing on the horizon!

American Coots