Wednesday, August 17, 2016

10-day Fish Pic Challenge - Day 5 - Roanoke Bass

Day 5 of the fish pic challenge is a fish that is near and dear to my heart - the Roanoke bass. I caught my first Roanoke shortly after moving to central NC in the summer of 2008. Given their similar appearance, I thought it was a Rock bass; however, I was quickly corrected after posting a picture online. The Roanoke bass is a unique species of bass, although more of a sunfish than a black bass, that lives in only a handful of watersheds in NC and VA. This one wasn't particularly big, but it had gorgeous spawning colors.

Over the course of my time in NC, I caught numerous Roanokes, including many that surpassed the IGFA world record. Coincidentally, the IGFA record is 1 lb 5 oz, but the NC state record is 2 lbs 11 oz. The VA record is listed as 2 lbs 9 oz. I have heard numerous stories as to why those state record fish aren't recognized as IGFA records, but the real stories have probably been lost in translation over the years. Myself, Gary Ribet, the Froggy Waters Outdoors crew, and many others won't submit an IGFA record unless it also breaks the state record. Although I've caught some fish over 2 lbs, and even a couple around 2.5 lbs, I have only seen one fish that I believe would have broken the NC record. It was caught by a good friend of Gary in a central NC river. After a couple quick photos, it flopped off of a measuring board and swam away, so we will never exactly how much it weighed. However, I wholeheartedly believe it was over 3 lbs. In this day and age, I suspect someone will lust for that piece of paper that says they caught a world record, and we will slowly see the IGFA record go up in weight. For me, it was always about the fun and the challenge, rather than a piece of paper that hangs on the wall. Go grab your creek tromping shoes, an ultra-lite rod, and a handful of lures and get knee deep in a river full of Roanoke bass. There aren't many better ways to spend a summer day!

Monday, August 15, 2016

10-day Fish Pic Challenge - Day 4 - Pennsylvania Brown Trout

Day 4 of the fish pic challenge is a beautiful brown trout caught by my beautiful wife. It was one of her first winters in Pennsylvania, as we had come up to spend some time with my family around the holidays. She, my dad, and I decided to hit a local creek for a few hours and see if we could manage a few winter trout. First, we had to get her bundled up, which included a variety of cold weather gear and a mid-1990's Penn State Starter jacket. Fishing was slow, but we did manage a handful of trout, including this chunky brown trout. The following year, we could barely keep them off the hook in some of the same areas, catching dozens of native brownies. Despite everywhere I have traveled and fished, I will always have a special place in my heart for my home waters in central PA. It is a great place to grow up and learn to fish. Tight lines!

Friday, August 12, 2016

10-day Fish Pic Challenge - Day 3 - Bruiser Bass on Tournament Day

Day 3 of the challenge was a memorable day on University Lake. "U" Lake is the location of the annual/bi-annual Duke-UNC Charity Fishing Tournament. The fishing clubs from the two teams square off in a bragging rights contest that benefits charity (100% of the proceeds go to the charity of the winners choosing). The year prior, my fishing partner Santosh and I had won the event, catching around 20 fish over the course of the day. That blog can be found here. However, spring was unusually early, and fish were in an early spawn funk. We started the day with a solid 4+ lb fish flipping to wood cover. A short while later, we had a borderline 8 lber in the livewell. In the afternoon, we put the icing on the cake, landing another stud out of wood. Other than a couple short strikes, we didn't miss a legit bite all day, ending with 3 fish for 18 lbs 9 oz. That was good enough to win the event by roughly 3 pounds, making us repeat champs. Full details of the day can be found here.

Two giants from University Lake that helped secure a repeat win for Duke
(note that all fish caught swam away healthy and happy)

The following year, Santosh and I fished on different teams, as we had a number of young anglers joining the Duke club. It was a pretty tough day on the water with my new partner Dean, as conditions made it tough. We had a small limit until literally the last minute, when I landed a 7+ lber from under a dock to seal the deal. That win gave Duke the three-peat. That was my last event, but the Duke club also went on to win the last two or three events. Sadly, I don't think the tourney happened in the past year or two, but it was always a great time for great causes.

Monday, August 8, 2016

10-day Fish Pic Challenge - Day 2 - Alpine Rainbow Trout

Day 2 of the fish photo challenge took me to alpine Wyoming, specifically, the Bighorn Mountains and Cloud Peak Wilderness area. I originally blogged the day a few years ago (click this link for the full story).

After a bumpy, winding drive, we arrived at the trail head ill equipped for the hike. Because the trip was our first to that part of WY and a mixed bag of visiting my sister and her family, exploring, and doing a bit of work, the only backpack we had was my satchel-style computer bag, and the best we could do for footwear was running shoes. Still, we managed the challenging climb to almost 10,000 feet, which included maneuvering a boulder field and a stream crossing. The lake was crystal clear and tough to fish, particularly given the gusty wind. Many of the active fish were far from shore, and those closer to shore were fairly cagey. It is amazing to look back at how much I've since learned about fishing those types of lakes. This beautiful rainbow was one of a number of solid fish we caught that afternoon. I can't even remember what flies we were using. I think one was a mosquito and the other a bumble bee pattern.

As if the hike, fishing, and scenery wasn't enough, we also got to see a black bear swim across the lake in front of us and bumped into a big bull moose on the way out of the mountains. What a great day and great trip - one that really made Mary May and I fall in love with that part of the west.

Friday, August 5, 2016

10-day Fish Pic Challenge - Day 1 - Bartrams (Redeye) Bass

I've noticed that Facebook has become the modern day form of spam email. "Like" this or you won't have good luck. "Share" that or I won't give you 10% off my product. "Come play this (time wasting) game with me". I could go on, but you get the point. However, FB has also become a place for bickering and negative political banter. It seems like all the terrible things from the media end up there, yet you see considerably fewer positive posts. Thankfully, I am friends with some great folks who always manage to make me laugh and smile with what they put online. That includes people putting up awesome pictures of fish. Where am I going with this, well, a couple weeks ago a hashtag trend started for the #profishingchallenge. The name is a bit misleading, but the goal is to load up FB with fish pics rather than negativity. So, if you get nominated, you post a fish pic for ten days. I'll admit that as soon as I saw the hashtag, I knew it would eventually come by way...and I balked at it. But when my nomination came (via good friend Chris Ferguson), I actually really enjoyed looking through some old fishing pictures. Rather than post all my biggest fish or sunsets and scenery shots, I decided to grab 10 photos from trips that mean a lot to me. I am going to post them here for the next ten days, with a brief recap of each picture. Without further ado, I present pic #1.

A Bartram's Bass (Redeye) from north Georgia

This fish is a Bartram's bass, which is a subspecies of the Redeye bass. Redeyes are only found throughout parts of the southeastern US (off the top of my head - SC, GA, AL, and possibly TN). Although they generally don't get very big, they are an aggressive species that mainly occupy rivers. The Bartram's was the first target on the BASS Slam trip that Bill Kohls and I did back in 2012. We had driven all day and got to the river in time to fish for about an hour. It looked more like a trout stream, but before long Bill caught one on a jerkbait and I soon followed suit. It was an amazing start to what would be an (brace yourself for an overused term) epic road trip. Spoiler alert - later that year, we completed the BASS Slam in Texas with my Mary May in tow. We made a lot of good memories on those rivers - and this is one I will never forget!