Fishing with the Amateur

I'm currently living in northern VA, and exploring some of the public fisheries the region offers. Here you'll find a quasi-guide of northern VA's small-water largemouth and smallmouth bass fishing venues. I'll also ramble about my life in general.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Fishing in the rain

Over the last few days our region has been pounded by thunderstorms and rain showers. There have been power outages, evacuations, and flooding. Naturally, I decided to go fishing. I'd been searching online for public fishing opportunities and stumbled on to several. Lake Cook, located in Cameron Run Park, was my first stop.

On arriving at the lake I was rather disappointed. I knew it was only supposed to be 2 acres, but I hadn't expected it to be as small as it then looked. Ironically, I had chosen to fish this lake first because I knew it would be small and I could cover the entire lake in a few hours. If they were in there, I felt like I could catch them. The pouring rain and mud-colored water merely lowered my spirits a bit. Nevertheless, I went to work.

The mud colored water told me fish would be shallow, and that vibration and sound would be the keys to finding fish. I fist tied on a Cotton Cordell lipless crankbait. After catching grass on my few casts I decided I needed something that wouldn't run quite as deep. My spinnerbait wasn't riding high enough either, so I switched to a shallow running crankbait - a Mann's Baby 1 Minus. I fished hard for more than an hour before finally finding a friend. A little largemouth that was 12 inches at best hit right at the bank. After a brief battle I qickly released him. A few minutes later 2 catfisherman, the only others to brave the weather, stopped by to chat on their way out. They'd caught their limit (4) and told me there was a healthy population of catfish present, as well as a few large carp. I thanked him and went on.

I soon reached the end of the lakeside trail and started back around. I'd been disappointed with the lack of cover in the lake, and also with the fact that it seemed unusually shallow. I wouldn't have believed the water was deep enought for a bass to survive the winter if not for a park sign indicating a resident bass population. The fact that the lake is spring-fed is the only way I can figure a bass is able survive the winter there.

On my trip back around the pond I switched to a Norman Mad-N crankbait that dives a couple of feet deeper that the Baby 1 Minus. I went back to the few areas that had wood cover, and worked the lure as slowly as I could, but to no avail. Just before leaving, I stopped at a wooden platform that was partially flooded by the rising water. On my second cast I got a hit and set the hook on a better fish. I nearly lost her when she wrapped around a trout fisherman's snagged line (judging from the bait attached), but she stayed on. The fish was chunky and looked to be around 14 inches. (I didn't want to waste time fumbling around with my rainsuit trying to find my tape measure.) After a few more casts I headed home happy.

Looking back, Lake Cook is an intersting body of water. It's spring fed and smack in the middle of the city. The state stocks trout in the colder months, and there seems to be a decent catfish population. However, I wasn't too impressed with the bass fishing. A 14 incher is a nice fish, but it isn't huge, and I doubt the lake can support anything much bigger than that - at least not very many of them. The lake's small size, coupled with the heavy fishing pressure (it's relatively easy to overfish a small body of water like that) has convinced me to concentrate my efforts elsewhere. Nevertheless, under the conditions I faced yesterday, I was very pleased to catch the two I did.

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