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.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Return Trips

Over the last month I've made return visits to Lakes Cook and Fairfax. I've hit Lake Cook once, and Lake Fairfax twice. Overall the lakes didn't change much, but it was enough to make things interesting.

I had hoped to find Lake Cook a little cleaner on my second visit. I believed the heavy rain was responsible for the dirty water on my first trip. While the lake was a little cleaner the second time around, it was still pretty stained. The fishing hadn't improved much either. The grass had grown, so I spent some time fishing the thicker stuff. I also hit the limited shoreline cover. A few hours later, I had only one fish to show for it. Consequently, I won't be back anytime soon.

My visits to Lake Fairfax were more productive. On my first trip back I didn't do as well as I would've liked, catching only two keepers. The water was a little lower and the grass a bit higher. Moreover, the lake had been pressured hard. I talked to a guy who'd said he'd been camping for a week and caught good fish every evening. I saw him catch a three pounder out of a hole I'd been anxious to fish for a week - he was already there when I arrived. I'm convinced the fish were holding a little deeper that day, and the fishing pressure really shut them down. Continuing the tradition I began a few weeks before, I missed a good fish right before leaving.

The third trip to Fairfax was arguably the best yet. The water was low and the heat was almost unbearable. I felt that the fish would be in deep (cooler) water, which I couldn't access from the bank. The next best thing would be to visit the large feeder creek at the upper end of the lake. I figured the water would be cooler there also. That turned out to be a very good decision.

I headed upstream until the creek began to look like a trout stream. Fallen trees and brush littered the shaded water, which was also brimming with baitfish. The spot had everything the fish needed. Small plastic worms captured three solid fish. After convincing myself that no others were present, I moved out to the mouth of the creek.

On a whim I tied a Zoom Toad onto my baitcast rod and threw it out across the flat. My first cast landed near a patch of matted grass. A fish sucked it down before I could turn the reel handle twice. That fish came off though. The fish hit a full cast length away, and I hadn't hit him hard enough on the hookset. He stayed down in the shallow muck and worked the hook out. A second fish hit a few casts later and I landed that one. He wasn't as big as I believed the first on was, but he was still the nicest fish of the day. After missing two more fish, I finally landed a larger one - 16.5 inches and very thick. After that the fish shut down, so I moved to the other feeder creek, which is much smaller.

Daylight was fading so I worked quickly, casting to holes in the grass. Though I'd never caught a fish from that part of the lake before (it's extremely shallow), I quickly hooked and landed a big fish. It was about the same size as the last one - maybe a little bigger - and he increased my total to six fish. A few more casts produced one more small fish, my seventh. By now the sun had set and night was fast approaching. I trudged back to the car, quite pleased with my performance. The fish were right were I thought they'd be, and I figured out how to catch them.


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