Note: If you haven't read Day 1 and Day 2, please do so now. It is much better when read in order.
Once upon a time in my much younger years we camped at this same spot and I got up at the crack of dawn to wade and fish the area. This was probably 10 years ago or more. That morning I used a Zara puppy to land Iron Jaws and came back to the tent and woke up everybody holding an 18.5” bass. This is probably the most commonly told story of past year's canoe trips.
Back to this year: About 6:30am Kristen woke me up when she got out of the tent to go to the bathroom. When she got back in I told her to leave the door open since I was about to get up and go out fishing. I laid in bed for another 5 minutes trying to get myself out of bed. Normally it was easy but for some reason it was hard this year. Maybe it was the cushy 6” air mattress we had this year. Maybe it was the fact that I’m now 30 and my desire for a little extra rest is starting to outweigh my desire to fish. Either way, it took me a few minutes but I finally willed my body off the heavenly mattress and out the door. I changed into my cold wet swimming suit (another reason not to get out of bed) and walked over to the canoe to grab my pole. This year I have baitcasters. Kristen has been using one of them and other two were set up with a Zara spook on one pole and a buzzbait on the other pole (I had lost my last plastic frog the evening before). I decided to try the buzzbait. The morning was very foggy with steam rolling off the water. It was light enough to see a few feet away from you but between the fog, steam and low light you couldn’t see as far as you can fast. I took my first cast with the buzzbait right in front of our tent. I was literally standing a foot from the canoe and had not even entered the water yet. It hit the water and I began reeling it in. About 5 seconds into the retrieve I heard a huge splash. It sounded like somebody threw a boulder into the water. I felt a pull on the line and set the hook. I still couldn’t see far enough to see the fish hit. A few second into the fight the fish took the air. It sounded like a person jumping around out there the splashes were so loud. Kristen was still trying to go back to sleep and she said in a grumpy tone, “Your being loud.” I was too busy to reply. I made some progress on the fish and then he would pull out more drag. The water was pretty swift in this area so when he turned downstream he pulled out a good 20-30 feet of line and I couldn’t do anything to stop him. I made up some ground and it felt like he was coming closer and then he jumped again. This time he was close enough that I could see him. I muttered a “Holy Cow” to myself that I’m pretty sure both Kristen and Pops heard since the tent was less than 10 feet away from where I was standing. The fish made another good run and then a few short runs before I got him close enough to shore that I could wade in and grab him. I pulled him out of the water and he was a giant. I grabbed Pops weigher and tape measure out of his canoe. He was a tad over 21” and fluctuated between 4.1 and 4.2 lbs. Remember this was literally my first cast of the morning. After the weighing and measuring I took him over to the tent and showed Kristen and Pops. I knew Kristen was already up and Pops wouldn’t mind being woken up by this size of a fish. I showed him to Kristen and Pops through the window and told them quick version of the story and then let the fish go. What a way to start Day 3.
I waded up stream and caught a few more on the buzzbait but nothing big. I did have two other really big hits that sounded like big fish but somehow both of them missed the lure and wouldn’t come back and hit it again.
The rest of day 3 was pretty uneventful. We broke camp at 9:30 and hit Howardsville by 11:30 or so. The fishing in that section was good as always but nothing else huge this morning. The river in this section is pretty quick with lots of rapids, beautiful and goes all too fast.
As we neared the boat ramp Kristen did catch 1 more nice fat 14” bass on her last cast to the shore right before the Rockfish river comes in. A good ending to a wonderful trip. Totals for the trip was something like 98 fish of which I caught 46 including 3 4-lbers. Only regrets I have for the trip is that I wish we could come back again sooner. See ya next year James river.
9 months ago