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Thread: Skunk left on the way to the dock

  1. #1
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    Default Skunk left on the way to the dock

    Today I explored a part of a setback off of the CT river that I had never been on before. Where the West River joins is called the Retreat Meadows. It's kind of a complicated shallow area, with lots of islands and sandbars -- I've fished most of it in the past, but found a section I hadn't been on before. It was very scenic, but pretty much devoid of fish of any kind today. Water was very clear and the bottom was sand and mostly about 2 feet. I found a couple of holes, but nothing seemed to be in them. I didn't use a depth sounder because it was so shallow and I could see everything anyway.

    So then I headed out to the mouth of the river in about 20 feet of water and spent time drifting and anchored. Still nothing, and the wind started moving me too fast for drifting. It wasn't consistent from any direction. During the whole day I'd used a 1/32 oz jig head and with various plastics that I usually catch crappie on. This isn't one of my main crappie spots, but I did catch one her a couple years ago, so I thought I'd try it anyway. I did pick up one baby smallmouth, not too healthy with a lot of black spot.

    Finally I decided I'd had a day of it and started rowing up the West river back to the dock. There's a highway bridge there, so I thought I'd try the concrete pier, but, still no crappie. I started to row back again, and then thought, I have a pack of Niko Helgramite plastics, big ugly looking things about as long as your thumb. I stuck it on a 1/4oz round black jig head, and tied it onto a stiff baitcasting rod. Since the wind was blowing me back in the direction of the dock I just cast it out and drifted, letting it bounce bottom. I was about a two minute row from the take-out.

    Wham! I knew in that first second it "warn't no crappie" when 20 pound braid drag peeled off the reel. Confirmed when a fat brown bass cleared the water behind the boat by two feet, then dove and bulled its way around the back side of concrete pier. No ya don't! I gave a shove of the oar one-handed against the wind, and just got the rod tip around that side of the concrete. Put my thumb on the line and put the pressure on. He turned and headed back under the boat, and jumped on the other side. I had to put the rod tip down in the water to clear the boat and got him turned again. Then it was a couple more shorter runs and I netted a 17" smallmouth. No camera, natch I had everything stowed away for the return, so I just held it up for a good look and released him.

    Coulda been a disappointing day, but it wasn't. Fun to use a lure you never tried before and get a nice hard fighting surprise. Even if it isn't a crappie!
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  2. #2
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    If you're going to avoid a skunk, better with a fish like that than a 4" bluegill! Gonna be tough to beat that on your next trip out, though.
    Bluegill still fear me...but the crappie are not laughing quite as loudly as they used to.

    Ya gotta do what you have to do before you can do what you wanna do.
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  3. #3
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    Awesome catch! Congratulations!
    "A voyage in search of knowledge need never abandon the spirit of adventure."
    Thanks SRHacksaw thanked you for this post

  4. #4
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    Beautiful fish. Nice to see you on the New England page. Hope to hear some of you Crappie fishing outings. Welcome aboard.
    Thanks SRHacksaw thanked you for this post

  5. #5
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    Thanks guys!

    6Pound, guess what? I went back and tried to repeat it today, got there earlier, same spot by the bridge, this time dragging both the Hellgramite on 20#, and the bobby Garland Blue Ice on 4# (this is a crappie forum after all). And just as you said, couldn't repeat it. Nothing for 2 hours, straining the water all around where I'd caught that smallie. So again, was thinking of heading back in, though it was still early. Maybe go home and do some chores. Exciting.

    Then I thought, ya know you've got that big Whopper Plopper that you bought for northern pike. Never caught anything on that either. Might as well get rid of the hellgramite and see if I can get a pike on the way back.

    Pike was on my mind. Before I took off in the morning I'd talked to a friend on shore about northerns, and he said he'd caught a few nearby. Seems like you catch them on a real high speed retrieve, he said, like when you're just reeling in a cast fast to make another one. I know what you mean I said.

    So with the Whopper Plopper tied on to some stout mono, good, I gave as long a heave with that big lure as I could. It weighs a ton, and it landed with a big splash that probably drove what few fish there were in the area away. Reeled it back in, splashing and gurgling. Nothing.

    I'd passed the bridge pier already, and behind me about 50 yards away was a shore fisherman watching a rod in a forked stick. Didn't seem like he was catching anything either.

    Another cast and a splashdown, sounding like I'd thrown an anchor at the shore. Okay, man, reel it back as fast as you can this time, you can't be bothering anything worse than you already have.

    Half way to me the water opened up under that lure, and a split second after that what looked like a brown bowling ball shot up out of the water. The guy on the shore yelled "Holy ....... " I couldn't make out that last word. Confused by these unexpected occurrences, it eventually dawned on me that I should lift the rod and see if there was a fish attached to the line. There was. The biggest smallmouth I'd ever seen. Three more seconds into it, and the drag wasn't tight enough. The reel handle seemed to slip, then the fish turned and ran toward the boat. A second later the line went slack.

    It's funny how you can change your mind about things like deciding to do chores rather than fish, shortly after what looks like a four pound smallmouth throws a lure. Again I strained the water all around that area. And again, nothing.

    Remembering the day before's journey around the back end of the sandbars up river, there was one spot that was a little deeper than the main channel. And it did have some logs tangled into it. Seemed smally-ish or crappie-ish to me, though I had no luck there with jigs before. What about the Giant Whopper Plopper? What the heck. Try that, and if nothing just REALLY go home.

    So I did. And there was indeed a smallmouth there. And I caught it. And I even had my camera with me. Sixteen inches this time. A nice fish that jumped and ran like his big brother did earlier. Only I'd tightened the drag, and he was kind enough to stay on. That made my day again, and I really did go home after that and do chores!

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    Last edited by SRHacksaw; 09-25-2020 at 03:16 PM.

  6. #6
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    That's a heck of a good way to follow up your last trip! Congrats on hooking in to another beauty, bummer that your 1st one gave you the slip. I've never fished any rivers for crappie so I'm absolutely no help there. The good thing is, catching fish of any persuasion is fun and catching the unexpected can often bring a bigger smile to my face.
    Bluegill still fear me...but the crappie are not laughing quite as loudly as they used to.

    Ya gotta do what you have to do before you can do what you wanna do.

  7. #7
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    Thanks 6pound. I went back to the same place yesterday and caught no crappie, another smallmouth, a largemouth, and a northern pike. I had the camera rolling for the largmouth, so I made a short video of it. The morning was cool and misty, and absolutely no one was around -- unusual for a weekend day. I was done by 11. The sun came out at 1 and the wind picked, so I was glad to have my misty fall morning to myself.


  8. #8
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    Nice fish and nice video. Thanks for putting it up for us.
    Bluegill still fear me...but the crappie are not laughing quite as loudly as they used to.

    Ya gotta do what you have to do before you can do what you wanna do.

  9. #9
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    Thanks for sharing. I am sure you will get on the Crappie again soon.

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