Sunday, May 12, 2013

Crazy Lakes

After my epic redfish adventure I was put back in my place with a thorough skunking on the Roanoke River. If muskie are the fish of 10,000 casts then striped bass are the fish of at least 1,000. A buddy and I fished the whole day with out so much as a bump. I needed a pick me up. Nothing is more of a sure thing than fly fishing for gills. Especially in May. This spring has been so strange I never know what to expect anymore. At my favorite honey hole the fish weren't in their usual places. There seemed to be bass where the brim usually are. I'm not sure if the bass are chasing the gills out of their beds or what. It took awhile but eventually I found a nice swarm of chunky gills.
There is a lake I have been fishing quite a bit this spring. This lake is supposedly loaded with PCB's. There are fish advisories all over stating you shouldn't eat any fish caught from the lake. The water is always dingy looking and doesn't have the best shore access for fishing. All of these things combined make a body of water that is absolutely phenomenal. The fish activity at this lake is some of the craziest I have ever seen. There seems to be more fish per square foot than I've ever experienced. The catfish are especially aggressive and always eager to take a fly.
My daughter's friend kept talking about fishing and her dad asked if I could take them. I felt there weren't many better places than this crazy lake. It didn't take long and they had a fish on. The great thing about this lake is you can catch different species of fish with out using bait.
The kids had a blast. My daughter continues to impress me with her fishing skills. She still struggles with casting, but other than that, she can do everything else. I love how she isn't afraid to touch the fish.

This next lake is really what I wanted to post about. I have seen more weird things here than any other place I've fished. Yesterday topped them all. My daughter and I were walking around the lake when we spotted something weird on a small island. This island always has turtles on it but there was something else twitching near the edge and it looked strange. The island is only about 6ft from shore so you can see everything on it pretty well. As I got closer I told my daughter it was a snake. It was too large though to be a snake. Then I tried to make out the head. There were two. It was two snakes. One of the heads kept twitching, I figured the snakes were mating or one was eating the other. Then while trying to figure out just what exactly they were doing another head appeared.  Then my daughter said there are 4! Sure enough she was right. I had to take a picture of this and I'm a little disappointed that I didn't have a camera with a good zoom. You can still basically make out the animals on the island. I've pointed out the snakes.
These were banded water snakes. They are all over this lake. My daughter actually almost tried picking up another one in the rocks.
I have actually seen these snakes do some goofy things. I hope to get some video evidence of this behavior this summer. My daughter and I moved on to fish various spots on the lake. I didn't realize how difficult it was going to be having her fish with a fly rod. She can't seem to get the hang of it. She's so small she has a hard time stripping line and looking where the rod is pointing at the same time. So far she hasn't gotten discouraged. Mostly because after I hook a fish I hand her the rod. This one gill was a doozy.
Even though she only listens about 10% of the time, scares me to death by digging in between rip rap and silently walking up behind me while I'm casting I absolutely LOVE fishing with her. I have always dreamed about fishing with my kids. I'm blessed that I can actually do it. My fondest times are when we put the fishing aside and just enjoy the day.


  1. Man, the snake in the close-up photo looks a lot like a copperhead to me. You know your local snakes better than I do, but the BW snakes we had growing up in Florida were much darker with rounder heads and less distinctive markings. Be safe.

  2. Dude, that was awesome. She'll remember those trips the rest of her life.

  3. Brent, water snakes and copperheads do look very similar. The picture doesn't do a good job of this but you could tell by the head and color pattern that it wasn't a copperhead. We have brown water snakes here and they are huge. They make a copperhead look like a baby. I saw one on the Haw that I thought was a boa constrictor some one had released

  4. Awesome job with the daughter! Nothing better than watching the smile on a kids face erupt after they land a fish. Those snakes are crazy. Glad we don't have a ton of those around me. I hate snakes!

  5. Looks like a couple of great trips! One thing about starting a family someday that I'm really looking forward to is the chance to hopefully pass on my love for the outdoors to my kids. I've never caught a catfish on the fly, any suggestions on how to do it?

  6. Great report as always, man. Water snakes are awesome. I used to feed them small bream I would catch all the time, just spot one on the bank and chuck him your catch. Nice fish, and well done on taking the little one with you. She's hooked for life now!

  7. Joseph, the main thing is you have to find a place where they are thick. They aren't really picky. Any wooly bugger plump style pattern will work. Certain times of the year they are easier to catch than others. In May and August they become really aggressive for some reason. Not sure why exactly. It could be their spawning times. Possibly because May is the first time the water really heats up and late August the water is at it's highest temperature.