Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Chris wades the Fox and catches smallies

Ready to hit the water
It was Sunday, our actual wedding anniversary, and again my awesome and lovely wife said I should go fishing. What did I do to deserve this amazing lady?

I quickly packed the car, grabbed my still-wet boots, and hopped in. I was off! There was no question where I should go- I was headed back to the Fox. I pushed the pedal to the metal, headed to my rematch with some Fox River smallmouth bass.

Just as I parked, another car came in the lot and parked near me. A lady come out, and noticed me putting on my waders. "Looks like we have the same idea!" she said, as she pulled out her own pair of waders from her trunk. We talked for a bit, I told her that tubes had worked yesterday although I couldn't hook up. We wished each other good luck, and I quickly hiked down to the water. There was plenty of water for us to share; on the other hand, I wanted to get back to the spot where I had so many hookups the day before! So much of the water upstream had been unproductive- I wanted to stake my claim on that particular stretch, and land some of those beasts.

This time I headed downstream on the trail, and instead of getting lost in the woods I quickly and efficiently made my way to the open area by the strange machine building. This was the spot where I caught my first smallie of 2011, and the spot where I left the water the previous evening. I fan cast the area- with my green tube jig of course- and entered the water.

On my third cast in the water, casting downstream (which many people say will absolutely just not work) I hooked into a smallie. Yes! It was on! I was determined not to let this one get away. The fish took the tube in about the same place the big smallie took it the night before- about 40' downstream. I set the hook, and the fight was on. I got the fish close to me, and somehow after becoming airborne multiple times, the hook was still securely in the fish!
First fish caught while wading!

Carefully, I held the fish close to my waders, and lipped it.

Success!! I landed a smallie, in a river, while wading. I had just accomplished what was for me a huge achievement, and it was only my third cast. Fishing is awesome.

I reached into my waders, pulling out my old iPhone which I had tied to some shoelace and caribeaner'd around my beck. I wasn't ready to bring my newer phone into the river- if I slipped and dropped it, it would be a disaster. So I found my old iPhone, which still took pictures. My newer phone had a camera on both sides, making it easy to take self portraits while holding fish. My old phone on the other hand was equipped with just a single camera, making it very difficult to get a good shot. It was also prone to blurriness, and it was hard to find the "take a picture" button with my wet index finger. Somehow I managed to get some shots.

I took the tube out, and carefully placed my friend in the water. Unscathed and unfazed, he immediately shot away, like the powerhouse of muscle he was. Like a torpedo.

Casting some more, I hooked into two more of his cousins, or brothers, or sisters; but couldn't keep the hook in. This was an absolutely great time! It really was more of a battle with these fish- there was no certainty even if I found them and hooked into some fish that I would be able to land them and get some pictures. It was exciting, and difficult. The payoff was huge, if I could manage it.

And I did, again! A smallie took the tube on the drop, and ran for it. Somehow I set the hook, and after what seemed like a long battle, my thumb was on its lip and I was taking our picture. I tried to hold it with my other hand, to get the full picture of its body, but it got wise to my grip and deftly jumped back into the water. Fair enough, fish, fair enough.

What a fish
I slowly worked my way upstream, letting my wading staff float in the water as I fished. I was feeling more confident wading, although I was more comfortable knowing it was there if I needed it. Farther upstream I saw the lady in her waders, fly fishing. Fly fishing!? I wondered if you could use tube jigs on a fly rig. I guessed not; I couldn't see what she was using, but I was pretty sure it wasn't a tube jig.

I worked every square inch of the area with my tube jig, every few casts bending the hook back into place with my pliers. There were many rocks, which were taking their toll on my hooks! I wondered if they were dulling the hook point as well, which could be preventing me from good hooksets. I didn't have my hook sharpener with me; I'd have to bring that next time for sure. I ended up breaking the hooks of two of my tube jigs from so much bending them back and forth! I have lost very few lures do to over-use; most of them get stuck and I can't get them back. It was nice to be able to pocket the "used up" tubes instead of covering the riverbed with lead and plastic. And maybe I could recycle them into some new lures....

The lady and I talked a bit, I told her about my catches; she said she hadn't had any luck yet. She was working her way downstream on the other side of the river, I was going upstream.  I was having a good old time in the river- it was just warm enough to make the cold water rushing around me feel very refreshing, I was catching smallies. The past few weekends I'd fished pretty much the same area of the Fox- I was getting a feel for the constantly changing river, and some good spots along this stretch.

And then, another! This was a great day fishing. Over the next hour or so, I hooked into more smallies; some of them made it to my fishing album... Some of them threw the hook and swam away. All caught on the good old tube jig- and I only lost 3 or 4 of them. I used three different colors and sizes, and they all landed fish for me. I wonder if it's not just the color or size but how I was working them along the bottom that was triggering strikes.

Biggest one of the day (~12"..?)
Once again, the sun began to set, and the air began to chill. This time I was actually getting cold, standing in the icy water while the air temperature sunk. I worked my way back to my original entrance to the river- back by the strange machine building. (I don't know what it is, or what else to call it!) I fished a small stretch of the river for a few hours- perhaps I should have traveled more, but I was extremely satisfied with the outing! I emerged from the water, cast a few "last casts," and headed up the trail. The almost full moon shined through the trees as I hiked back to the car. Today my hookup score was 3 for 6, which was a big improvement on yesterday's 0 for 8.

Fishing is awesome.

As I walked, I wondered when everything would be too cold for me to wade... November? December? What if I packed on the layers? Would anything bite in frigid water? I need to find out, because this is awesome.

Maybe THIS one was the biggest...

1 comment:

  1. Great fish nice job. River smallies are a blast. Maybe next summer we can fish some together. I got a couple great Wisconsin spots.

    Women who fish are seriously kewl!


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