Here is a link to reviews of some of the gear we use on the water.
Last night I got to hit the river in a completely new way and pardon the pun, but; “I’m hooked”!
I got to go out on the New River at night with Dwayne and Will to have them show me their passion; bowfishing for carp! Now, I’ve heard of people doing it now and again and always heard how ridiculously difficult it is- I have to admit that it’s not easy, but Dwayne and Will have it down to a science.
The night started with me meeting up with them at dusk on their favorite stretch to hunt. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect as far as the boat goes as I kept thinking about the grievous harm that an arrow could do to just about any boat. When I got there, I saw (and, no, I didn’t think to photograph it, but will soon!) an absolute beast of a boat. It’s not that it’s huge, but it is a very thick, heavy fiberglass rig- picture a fiberglass jon boat on steroids. It’s outfitted with 7 high pressure sodium lights around the front, a main outboard and a smaller kicker motor to do their trolling with. To run the lights there is a trusty honda generator, and once they are ready to troll along with the kicker, there is a custom control station up front on the shooting platform. There is a center console for the main outboard and in front of that, the platform is at gunwale height and is wide and sturdy.
Once I was aboard, the bows were readied and a quick 30 second lesson on the operation of the reel and things to watch out for set me up for the experience. As we moved out to the first stretch to cover, they gladly put up with the seemingly hundreds of questions I had for them and I got to see why they want to share their love of this niche sport and look at guiding others on these nighttime excursions. They’ve both been bowfishing a number of years and it fills the void between the end of one deer season and the start of the next. They fish tournaments, pulling their floating tank (it’s a really sturdy boat) as far as South Carolina to compete with other anglers with bows to see who can boat the most fish. The sport has been around for a long while, but is just now starting to gain popularity and be rediscovered.
Back to the trip though. As we slowed our pace a bit, Will cut the main engine off and tilted it up and out of the way and the trolling motor was trimmed down and the generator started up. Thankfully, the generator is pretty quiet and talking to each other is easy. The HPS lights come on and slowly grow brighter until I can see why it is they want to hunt at night- the lights allow you to see each individual fish out there much easier than the best sunglasses in the daylight. Shad of all sizes were suspended, we saw muskie, catfish, bluegill and the occasional walleye- all illegal to hunt with a bow in Virginia. We were looking for one of two species of carp to be found in the New River- grass carp and the common river carp, with the latter being the only fish legal to hunt for with a bow here. The grass carp are stocked here by VDGIF to help control, as their name implies, grass in the river and lake to keep it from choking everything out. The river carp on the other hand, are much larger and are bottom feeders that often prey on the spawning beds of other fish, like my beloved smallmouth bass. It’s not long before Dwayne shouts ‘There’s one! Right there!’ and I take my first shot. I bowhunt for deer in the winter and have the misguided hope that this will help me; it does as far as getting the arrow to hit the water, but from there I can see it’s going to be a learning curve. My first shot hits the water and, as expected, goes right over the fishes back. Fortunately, Dwayne is ready and he also takes a shot and hits the massive fish broadside and starts pulling it in to the boat:
And so the night went; I took many more shots than both Dwayne and Will combined, but I did hit 5 total by the nights end, including several that were so tough the arrow simply bounced off. At the end of it all, I am thinking that we need to offer this experience to our clients (with Dwayne and Will at the helm) and we will be adding this to the website soon. Just the experience of getting to see everything you get to witness at night with the lights is worth it! I am looking forward to getting out there again and seeing what we can stir up!
Last weekend, I had a great group of anglers come to float with us on the New for two days. It was especially good because last year we had to scrub their trip because of a massive amount of rain that blew the river out…much like the past two days.
Not this time though! Chris and his crew of anglers made their way up for a trip and the New cooperated. They did come and they did fish, but there wasn’t a lot of shutting up going on, in spite of Chris’ hat which read: “Shut up and fish!” Those of you that fish with me regularly know I do talk a lot on the water. I talk about the current bottom structure, areas to cast and inquire about who you are and where your from as well as relating a lot of irrelevant things. There is a method to my madness though; as said before, fishing is somewhat like the lottery and you may go a lot of ‘tickets’ between wins. Talking while you’re ‘playing’ helps relax you and get a rhythm and keeps you from getting frustrated. It’s a time to recount past trips, successes and failures and be out there for what you really came for…and true fishermen know it isn’t just the fish!
Here are some other pictures from the two day trip that are something to talk about:
It may seem like an oversimplification, but often times the difference between heading home with an empty camera and having plenty of fish stories to tell boils down to the same principles as winning the lottery.
What is the best way to win the lottery? Play more tickets and increase your odds of getting the numbers right. So many times I see people through a few casts, lay the rod across their lap, sigh and look around. Then they want to change lures and repeat the process all over again only to continue to come up empty handed.
Every cast is a lottery ticket and the fish you are casting to are the prize. The more casts you make, the better your odds at getting a fish to hit the lure. You can’t accurately say that a lure isn’t working until you’ve made an adequate number of casts with it in the right areas and under conditions which that particular lure works best. If you’re casting top water lures on a day when the water temps are cold and the fish are laying deep, you’re not likely to get them to rise up. If you’re casting a quiet soft plastic lure on a day that the water is cloudy and visibility is way down, you aren’t giving yourself the edge.
On the other hand, if the water is cloudy and cold and the fish are deep, casting a noisy, flashy spinner bait and letting it sink down low gives you an edge. Keep casting (playing) and eventually you’re going to find the sweet spot and get a reaction strike when you put the lure within reach of a fish and they go for it!
Of course, some days, the conditions are all wrong and the fish are lethargic and unlikely to move, but that’s why we call it ‘fishing’ and not ‘catching’. If you were guaranteed to catch fish all the time, though, you’d get bored and not bother.
So check your strategy and keep casting-the tough days require persistence and tenacity; even a blind hog finds an acorn now and again!
Billy Cook of North Carolina starts the Greasy Creek Outfitters 2013 season off right with this 8lb, 27″ walleye!
We hit the water Saturday morning with the hopes of seeing a first muskie for Billy and instead were rewarded with this beautiful walleye.
On this cold day, the water temps made fishing slow, but Billy’s son, Bill also walked away with a nice 17″ 4lb smallie for the memory books. Look how light her coloring is- she’s been on the bottom!
Now that we’ve indoctrinated the 2013 season right, I promise to bring you updates often. It’s been a hard winter with the river hitting record levels and remaining unfishable, but we’re back and we’re ready!
If you ask any fishermen that question, the answers you get will vary among those you ask, but I think you’ll also find a common theme: solitude. Even when you’re out with friends casting to an illusive quarry, you have a sense of peace and tranquility that you can’t get any other time, save for hunting. It’s about getting in touch with the outdoors and your Creator while you test your mettle against your quarry. Many fishermen out there never or, like myself, rarely keep what they catch, but there is a sense of accomplishment in the simple knowledge that if you had to, you could feed yourself and your family with your rod and reel. We like to know that we can be self-reliant; that we can walk away from our cell phones and the internet and the social media that permeates our lives and not only survive, but thrive. I watch my children and all of their video games and I recall how, in my youth, the first video game I came in contact with in the form of pong and kept me occupied for about half an hour before I put it down and went out into the real world to entertain myself. These days, the nature of the world is such that we are pulled away from our natural habitat…think about that phrase for a second…”natural habitat”… do you think of your “natural habitat” and conjure up images of the woods and waters you long to escape
to, or do you see yourself in an office or cubicle? Unfortunately, I think a lot of us out there tend to identify with the corporate, urban vision out of habit. I think that’s a shame and we should strive to get out of that environment as often as possible and change that because, THAT is why we all fish at the bottom of all our other reasons!
Tight lines, Darin