Thursday, July 31, 2014

For the Record...

My proposal for an annual challenge tournament between the best of Bob's and the best of West Neck is dead. That's why I dismantled the earlier blog post on the subject.

It had become abundantly clear that only one marina supported the concept. And, too, I was starting to receive some correspondence that made me realize I should "call off the dogs."

I have to be honest, though, I was a bit puzzled by both items I had received from Bob's supporters. The one writer outlined a whole list of--to borrow his own words--"reasons why I regularly fish Bob's Fishing Hole." He made several good (and what I personally know to be valid) points. However, the one gnawing thought I couldn't shake as I read those points was this: The same gent has fished six events in our current Dewey Mullins Memorial Bass Tourney Series and, moreover, has finished "in the money" in two-thirds of those events. Is it just me, or does something seem odd here?

In the other case, another supporter informed me that "we fish Bob's because, on a bad day, it is better than North Landing on a good day." Unfortunately, my research into the posted tourney results from the two sites don't support that claim. The writer also served me notice that Bob's has "done more for the fisherman than West Neck Marina has ever done." It's readily apparent this fella never knew the late-Dewey Mullins, or he would have realized the folly of such a statement. He concluded his note with this, "You have a nice day, Mr. Ken, and get your facts straight before you bash someone on your site." I'm left to ponder exactly "who" actually had their facts right, but in everyone's best interests, I opted just to take down my original post.

The one additional point I wish to clarify here before bringing this whole issue to a screeching halt is that I had no ulterior motives whatsoever in suggesting my original proposal. I had nothing to gain personally--one way or the other. If anything, I was only adding more tasks to my "to do" list. I never would have qualified to be counted among the "best"--now or ever. I only saw the idea as a way to pay tribute to those few anglers who routinely do demonstrate that they belong in that select category.

In any event, this issue is dead, and everyone has my assurance that I will NOT, under any circumstances, resurrect it at a future date.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

It Was a 3 - 2 - 1 Kind of Day


I boated 3 bass, lost 2 more en route to the boat, and was asleep at the helm when 1 more hit just moments before I quit today.

For a while this morning, I had begun thinking I might really have to work just to keep from recording a skunk. I had thrown an assortment of topwater lures and crankbaits without having any takers in West Neck. Finally, I pulled up the trolling motor and headed for Albright's.

I quickly ran through the same arsenal there with the same dismal results. Accordingly, I picked up the rod on which I had rigged a swim Fluke and only had made a handful of casts with it before I got one of those tell-tale ticks in the line as I was winding ever so slowly. That tick was followed by pressure on the line, followed by movement first left, then right, and finally a hard charge away from me. I immediately set the hook and felt the fish--a good 'un. When I got him turned, he came up alongside the boat at a distance, taking drag as he passed. I had worked him back about 5 or 6 feet from the boat when I felt another hard head shake, and my line just went limp. The Fluke had pulled out of the wire keeper and had balled up on the hook, preventing a solid hookset.

Only a few moments later, I had another nice fish hit a new Fluke but with the same results--again because the bait had come loose from the keeper. I kept working the same area for a spell, with no further takers, so I headed back to West Neck, intent on staying with the Fluke.

On my first cast to a stump, the line went taut the moment the Fluke hit the water, and my effort to take a turn on the reel resulted in a fish jerking back, which prompted me to set the hook. This time, the keeper held, and my reward was the 1-12 bass pictured above. Out of curiosity, I picked up my chatterbait, and on only the third cast with it to the same stump, I boated a 12-incher.

Before I quit today, I added a 1-2 bass to my total of three keepers. It, likewise, fell for the chatterbait.

While still in West Neck this morning, I had a brief discussion with my friend, Jerry, and his fishing buddy, Eddie, who were out trying to develop a game plan for the old-timers' bass rodeo scheduled for Senior Citizen's Day, which is Aug. 21. At the time, Eddie had boated their only fish of the day--this 1-pounder--just 45 minutes after launching.

They were bound for Pocaty upon leaving me, and I never ran across them again. There was an email waiting for me from Jerry when I got home, though. It seems that one fish was their total catch for the day. This was Jerry's first skunk of the season.

They packed it in at 9:30, with hopes that the bite on Aug. 21 will be a lot better than it was today.

My friend, Jimmy, also spent some time on the water today. A discussion with him this afternoon revealed that he had boated a mixed bag today, including two small bass, some crappie, and other assorted fish.

The final report I have here is from fellow-blogger, Charlie, who spent yesterday in the Albright's Creek Oxbow. "Got a 3-5 on the first cast," he said. His day was complete with great topwater action the first hour. He also did well with the SS Minnow and craw, finishing up with 12 bass total. Most were dinks but he did catch three other keepers besides the 3-5. They included a 1-2, 1-7, and 2-2. For the complete story on Charlie's day, including the usual video, check out his blog at http://vbfishguide.blogspot.com/.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

All But 2 Boats Weigh Fish Today


It was especially nice to welcome some new anglers into our group today, all of whom brought fish to the scales at weigh-in. There were a total of 24 anglers in 13 boats participating overall.





The big winners today, however, were this team of (from left) Bob Glass and Randy Conkle. They captured 1st place with a bag of five fish weighing 15.15 lbs., including the tournament lunker, which tipped the scales at 5.37 lbs. and was caught by Bob.









Laying claim to 2nd place today was this team of (from left) Chris Fretard and Mike Miller. They weighed five bass totaling 11.65 lbs., including a big fish that went 5.25 lbs.












Finishing the day in 3rd place was the team of Allen Napier and (not pictured) Chris Napier. Their sack of five bass weighed 10.85 lbs. and was anchored by a 3.03-lb. fish.














Wrapping up their day in 4th place was the team of Red Bruun and (not pictured) Al Napier, who weighed five fish totaling 10.41 lbs. Their big fish tipped the scales at 3.58 lbs.









The last money envelope today went to this team of  new anglers (from left) Colton Monds and Eric Meyers, whose 3.96 lbs. total weight for four fish was closest to the 3.20-lb. tag picked in the mystery-weight drawing.





Here is how all the other contestants finished:

     * The team of John Matyiko and Mark Cable, five fish, 9.89 lbs. total weight, 3.40-lb. big fish.
     * The team of Mark London and John Goodman, five fish, 7.32 lbs. total weight, no big fish.
     * The team of Mitch Portervint and Skip Schaible, five fish, 7.04 lbs. total weight, no big fish.
     * Ronnie McLaughlin, five fish, 6.36 lbs. total weight, no big fish.
     * The team of Lenny Hall and Gary Coderre, five fish, 5.56 lbs. total weight, no big fish.
     * The new team of Jake Milligan and Zack Rhodes, four fish, 4.47 lbs. total weight, no big fish.
     * Ken Testorff and the team of Jeremy Gatewood and Charlie Reed didn't weigh any fish.

Overall, the anglers today weighed 53 bass with a total weight of 92.66 lbs. The average weight was 1.74 lbs.

For planning purposes, our next event is scheduled for Saturday after next, Aug. 9, from safe light (about 5:45 or 6 o'clock) to 2 p.m. I hope you can join us.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Duo Records Slow Day on Northwest

Jerry and his friend, Eddie (pictured here) were casting before 6 o'clock this morning, and Eddie quickly caught this nice fish, which fell just an ounce shy of 2 lbs., along with a smaller one.

It was an hour and 15 minutes into the fishing day, though, before Jerry caught his first and only fish of the day. "The bass maybe would have stretched to 12 inches if I had fanned the tail," he said.

Conditions weren't too bad when these two anglers began their day. In fact, they described it as "comfortable, with overcast skies, and water temps in the high 70s. Water clarity was great."

After they had boated that third fish, however, it came time to start digging. "We plundered through our tackle boxes to hopefully find a lure that would land another fish or two," said Jerry. "Unfortunately, we couldn't find such a lure."

And so the reports of slow days on the water continue.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Not Many of Us, But We're Still Game


Six (and maybe seven) of us old-timers have Aug. 21 circled on our calendars. That's Senior Citizen's Day and, more importantly, the date set for our Bass-Fishing Rodeo.

As advertised since my first notice of this event, everyone age 60 or over, or who will turn 60 on Aug. 21, are welcome to join us at West Neck Marina. Planned fishing hours are 6 a.m. to 12 noon.

Costs will include a $10-per-person entry fee (with 100 percent payout), optional $5-per-person big-bass pot, and $5-per-boat ramp fee. Unless more people show up than are currently expected, this will be a winner-take-all event. Participants can fish solo or no more than two per boat. Weigh-in is limited to three fish per boat in consideration of the higher temps we usually have this time of year.

Once our day on the water has concluded, we all can sit around and swap fish stories over a BBQ sandwich, if you want.

At the moment, the names I have on our list of participants include Skip Schaible, Jerry Gardner (and perhaps his neighbor), Al Napier, Red Bruun, Jim Bauer, and yours truly. Any more eligible old-timers who would like to join us should email me with their name and a good daytime phone number. My email address is: kenneth34@cox.net.

Look forward to seeing y'all there. Yee-Haw!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Slow Days Seem to Be Here to Stay a While

I'm sure he wasn't trying to duplicate my numbers from yesterday in West Neck Creek, but that's nevertheless what Jim Bauer did today. His best fish of the day was this 1-14 bass, which grabbed a plastic worm that Jim was fishing at the time. He also boated one 14-oz. dink on a chatterbait.

If these had been his only catch of the day, Jim might have been a bit disappointed. However, he was all smiles as he pulled 22 nice crappie out of his livewell.

I'm taking my time doing this blog post tonight because I'm running on fumes after fishing several hours yesterday, then spending about another 10 hours on the water today. Ordinarily, I wouldn't put in such a long day, but my wife has been out of town a couple of days now, so I've been getting in some extra licks. Suffice it to say I'm not even thinking about trying for the third day in a row tomorrow. I'm shutting off the phones when I go to bed tonight and don't plan to rise and shine tomorrow until I feel like it. That's the way I roll when it's just me holding down the home front.

Try as I might, the best I could do today was four bass, led by this 1-6. I also caught two that weighed 1-4 and one that tipped the scales at 1-5. I had those four by 1 o'clock and thought sure I'd have a fifth one by the time I quit at 4 o'clock, but that wasn't in the cards.

Like yesterday, I threw a topwater, chatterbait, spinnerbait, a medium-running crankbait, and an extra-shallow-running crankbait. I managed to catch one bass on the topwater, but all the others once again fell for the extra-shallow-running crankbait.

I had some half-hearted strikes by other fish throughout the day but didn't get hooked up with any of them. They always were gone by the time I got around to trying a hookset.

I'm not sure if I'll get in another day before our next tourney, which will be a week from tomorrow. In all honesty, I'm not certain it'll make any difference, given the way the bite is right now. I'll just have to wait and see how things go between now and then.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Nottoway Report Better Than West Neck Report

Jerry called West Neck Marina last evening and heard that the water was high and muddy. That's all it took to convince him and his friend, Eddie, to pack up and head to the Nottoway River this morning.

Their outing netted a total of six bass, with the two best ones weighing 2-2 and 1-12. The bass in this photo is the 1-12.

Jerry and Eddie hadn't been to the Nottoway in more than a year, so they weren't sure what kind of conditions to expect there. What they found was low, muddy water, but there was a bite, and that's usually all it takes to satisfy a bass angler who is just out for the pure enjoyment of his chosen sport, which was the case with Jerry and Eddie today.

While I did find muddy water in the ramp area of West Neck this morning when I launched, several areas where I dropped the trolling motor looked just fine. One cove that I tried out had exceptionally clean water, but the best I could say about the bite as a whole today is that it was slow.

This 1-14 was the best of only two bass that I boated today. Both fish fell for an extra-shallow-running crankbait. I tried a spinnerbait, chatterbait, medium-running crankbait, some soft plastics, and a topwater--all to no avail.

By the time I launched this morning, the north winds had blowed long enough to start lowering the water level, but there still was plenty left at day's end. I plan another trip tomorrow but will be running south then. I probably would have gone that direction this morning, if it hadn't been for the fact I got a late start and didn't feel like mixing it up with the big boys that I heard running the river.

With any degree of luck, I should have something to talk about in another short post tomorrow evening.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

A Not-So-Funny Thing Happened to Me This Morning

A 3- or 4-foot water snake, similar to this one, greeted me as I raised the door to my boat-storage building at West Neck Marina. He was all stretched out under the tongue of my trailer until he saw me, then turned and high-tailed it toward the back of the building.

As luck would have it, this was a morning when Steve still was on the premises, so I went and told him about my unwanted visitor. His response was quick and decisive. He grabbed a shovel from the bed of his pickup, hopped on the golf cart, and went to confront the snake, which still was in plain view at the back of the building.

His first thrust with the shovel missed its intended target--the snake's head--but sunk into its back. While keeping the snake pinned to the ground, Steve reached for a piece of 4 x 4 I had at the back of the shed, and, on about the third or fourth swing, connected with his original target. He then scooped up the orange-bellied critter on the shovel and carried him away for disposal.

As I was watching this evolution unfold, I was reminded of an early morning venture many years ago when I had come in close contact with another one of these water snakes. I was throwing a Jitterbug just before daybreak and was dragging it back from a long, narrow cut, when I spotted something following the bait. I momentarily stopped retrieving the lure, and whatever "it" was stopped, too, but when I resumed the retrieve, "it" started following again, as well. Once "it" got closer to the boat, I saw enough of the tell-tale orange in what light there was to know what I was dealing with but wasn't sure what I should do.

By now, the lure was close enough I could snatch it from the water with the rod, which is what I did. Instead of waiting to see what the snake was going to do, though, I brought the lure back down and slapped the water with it, hoping to scare the snake away. At the same instant, the snake moved--directly into the path of the Jitterbug, and both trebles found their way into his hide. I spent the next several minutes literally "beating the snake to death" by repeatedly slamming him against the water's surface. Eventually, both hooks tore out, but he already had given up the ghost.

It's nothing new to find various creatures (notably frogs and lizards) moving around in my boat-storage building, but I'm hoping today's run-in with a snake marks the fist--and last--such encounter. You can bet I won't soon forget this experience. I say again, "I don't like surprises."

Saturday, July 12, 2014

A Foggy Start to an Otherwise Beautiful Day


Because of this morning's dense fog at tourney start time, the vast majority, if not all, of the 18 anglers in 11 boats elected to start their fishing day in West Neck Creek. Once the fog had lifted, you could hear outboards firing up all over the creek, as everyone started departing for their favorite holes.







Standing in the 1st-place winner's circle at day's end was Wayne Hayes, who weighed a bag of five bass totaling 11.70 lbs. His big fish weighed 3.66 lbs.












Coming in a close 2nd was this familiar team of (from left) Randy Conkle and Bob Glass, who brought five bass to the scales weighing a total of 11.68 lbs. Bob's big bass today, which tipped the scales at 4.06 lbs., was good enough to claim big-fish honors.









Finishing in 3rd place was this team of (from left) Chris Fretard and Mike Miller. Their five bass weighed 10.91 lbs. They didn't weigh a big fish.











The final team to go home with a money envelope today was this team of (from left) Mitch Portervint and Skip Schaible. Their five fish weighed 5.80 lbs., which was closest to the 5.70-lb. tag  pulled in the mystery-weight drawing. They didn't weigh a big fish.




Here is how all the other competitors finished today:

     * Al Napier, five fish, 10.87 lbs. total weight, 3.25-lb. big fish.
     * Mark London, five fish, 10.16 lbs. total weight, no big fish.
     * The team of Lenny Hall and Gary Coderre, five fish, 8.35 lbs. total weight, no big fish.
     * The team of Steve Bailey and Jason Fittro, four fish, 6.43 lbs. total weight after 0.25 deduction for one dead fish, no big fish.
     * The team of Rob Chatham and Ken Testorff, four fish, 5.29 lbs. total weight, no big fish.
     * Jim Bauer, three fish, 4.09 lbs. total weight, no big fish.
     * The team of John Matyiko and Hayden Capper didn't weigh any fish.

Overall, the anglers today weighed a total of 45 bass for a total weight of 85.28 lbs. The average weight was 1.89 lbs.

For planning purposes, our next event is scheduled for Saturday, July 26, from safe light (about 5:30 a.m.) to 2 p.m. Here's hoping you can join us.