Fishing High and Muddy Water
Last week I had a personal appearance at Rosner Toyota…brought my 2011 Skeeter ZX225 with 225 SHO Yamaha outboard…demonstrated casting and showed a bunch of lures. Thanks to everyone who came out to say hi!
Two weeks ago, I was honored to receive the 2011 Environmental Stewardship Award from the ICPRB. I saw a lot of local representatives from MD, VA, DC and the PRFC…along with FWS. I also ran into friends from RBFF, ASA NOAA and from tackle companies. In the Washington area we sure use a lot of abbreviations!
I’ve cancelled more fishing trips this year than ever! Mostly due to high winds, but also due to high muddy water! Lots of rain finding its way into the Tidal Potomac River. On this river, it takes a few days for mud to make it here from up river…but a continual flow of chocolate milk from local creeks and runoff combined with high water and wind have left the river very tough to fish. I leave it up to my clients, but I do give them a fair assessment especially when they bring kids! I really want kids to have a good time! For adults, we can still catch fish, but they’ll have to learn how to fish in these conditions, usually translated to fishing slow and slow fishing!
After fishing the river for over 25 years, I’m learning! Not so much learning, but remembering in some cases. Light penetration is the key to determining how to fish! Toss in rising and falling tides and you have to think again! At lower water, you need to back off the shallow shoreline on a sunny day, while on a cloudy day you can move in. For color selection I use brighter colors on a sunny day and darker colors on a cloudy day. Clear water and sunny skies, I use whites and brights. On clear days, I can go to more subdued baits, but in stained water on a sunny day, I like the bright colors again as light can reach them to reflect the light…fish can see the lures! Then on cloudy days with stained water, I’ll go to my darker opaque colors. This is for moving baits…slower under low light, faster under sunny skies.
My success as a guide is always predicated on how well my clients do, so I have to be a VERY good teacher, but also understand their limitations! I utilize techniques they can learn that will produce fish. There’s an advantage to having regular clients. They learn from me every trip. I have created a Fishing Triangle of skills. The bottom and largest part of the triangle is casting. Without taking time to learn this, nothing else can happen. If someone is not willing to learn this first, I can pretty much predict his or her success…not much. Then it’s lure presentation. Again without being able to cast, presentation does not matter. Also, by giving someone bite-size bits of information, they can digest them better. Finally it’s angling skills, involving hooksets and being able to fight a fish to the boat for me to land…. I use my hands, so I‘ve also demonstrated hook removal…too often! Without this process, most clients would walk away with out fish and empty handed. If they can learn and improve they’ll develop skills to fish anywhere, anytime. Otherwise, the trip becomes about how well I can entertain them…even I run out of things to say and jokes to tell in an 8-hour trip, so the fishing lesson must be a part of the trip!
With high and muddy water, I spent time with my clients teaching them to pitch a spinning reel. I start them away from the bank and have them pick targets about 15 feet from the boat. Since the water is muddy, you can get close to the fish. Once they get fairly accurate…focusing on keeping the pitches LOW, I move in to flooded marsh banks, riprap seawalls.
It always amazes me to see how different people adapt to learning new skills. Women are much better! They listen, and trust me to help them learn. Guys doubt nearly everything I tell them, which raises the question…why did you hire a guide? Was it just to have them be a fishing spot tour guide? After an hour, I feel I can prepare anyone for a day of fishing. I try to keep the bait changes to a minimum. Not just colors, and size, but lure categories…Mann’s Baby 1-Minus, spinnerbait, chatterbait, soft plastics. I have relied on my version of a drop shot for several years now and it is the absolute best way to catch fish. Some would think it was a Senko style bait, but not at all…. even with those baits, you need to be patient enough to let the weightless offering get to the bottom and pull it through cover and allow it to work down drops. Dropshot doesn’t require an accurate cast nor does it require a good presentation, as less is more. As for hooksets…using a Mustad Mega Lite hook allows for good hook penetration by just lifting and reeling and the wide gap usually keeps fish on…so I have kept the skill level of my Fishing Triangle down to a minimal level.
I have had a good mix of clients the last few weeks, so I’ve been able to allow my more advanced clients to try other things. But muddy water forces me to push them into the higher levels of my Fishing Triangle.
I met a lot of great people over the last few weeks along with fishing with some of my regular clients.
Until next time, I’m gone fishing!
Capt. Steve Chaconas
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