I fish therefore I am. Of all the motivators I have for preparing and planning a better life I believe it is all done so that I can fish more. My kids fish therefore they are. In episode 54 Fishing Report – Catch More Freshwater Fishing I did a book review of the Art of Freshwater Fishing and explained why that book is a great resource for everything related to freshwater fishing. It’s practical and easy to follow advice has been proven in the numerous fishing trips my kids I have taken throughout northern Virginia. After I did the book review I got a great case of fishing fever and soon organized the gear to kick off this season. All of the reels were respooled with 6 pound line. I started my kids on spin casting reels when they were 3 and that worked until they turned 6. Spin casting are the old style reels with the push button for the thumb to release the line when casting. For several years now both have been using spinning reels and if I had to start them again I would only start with spinning reels. Spinning reels differ in that they have an open face and you flip a spool holder rod open prior to casting. The reason I recommend spinning reels over casting reels for children is because they will eventually have to learn to use them. They are also better prepared for it than we may think. Spinning reels ensure better fishing success because of the action on the reels compared to typical spin casting reels.
Our first trip this year began at our favorite place which is bull run which drains into the Potomac river basin and then flows into Chesapeake bay. The area we go is about 10 miles south of the civil war battlefield area. Bull run is shallow and about 40 yards wide in most places. We have fished in several mandmade lakes and the Potomac river but for us Bull run has proved to be the most productive location.
We’ve been fishing Bull Run for at least 7 years and we have pulled all kinds of fish out it. pulled out a 20 inch largemouth bass 30 inch channel catfish, striped bass, smallmouth bass, crappie and the proliferate sunfish such as blue gill. So we have learned when ever we’ve tried other places in the past that Bull run never fails provided we have live bait.
The Potomac is a really great for fishing too but a lot of the best places are quite dangerous to fish from especially for kids. The big rocks are slippery and the river currently claims at least a couple of lives each month during spring and summer. Lives lost are mostly those of boaters or swimmers but also an occasional person fishing will get cast in to the fast current or onto the treacherous rocks.
Our first fishing trip this year was on April 1 and it was a bit of April Fools Day for us. I rigged all the poles with artificial lures with the intent that this was the year we start pulling them in with lures. Using lures is more fun for me than live bait fishing because you have to really convince a fish that something worth risking their existence is on the end of my line and I’ve convinced them to take a hit. However, the lures weren’t working at all. Additionally, as this was the first outing of the season I spent most of the time that day untangling my kids lines. They take after me well. I am the tangle master but over the years I have gotten to be pretty good at untangling lines. But too many times the kids were presenting me with crazy tangles I can’t even conjure.
Once we had a handle on technique and reducing tangles the kids went off to find some worms for better luck. They did find a few worms in the dry dirt but soon lost them to eager takes. One had a #10 hook and the other a #8 so it was hard to understand why they were being taken so easily. Again its technique and also how well the bait is presented.
After 3 hours without a single landed fish we decided to pack it up and head home. The nice thing about bull run is the hiking in and out of the fishing area. It takes a least 15 minutes to hike to the water and the hike out is mostly all uphill. Have the dog along to help pull one of the kids is helpful. Once we get to the water we can walk as much as we want in either direction up and down bull run to find a variety of eddies and pools that hold fish.
The only thing that sucks about fishing at bull run is that the best places are typically only accessible by boat. Preferably a canoe. We only do shore fishing but we have been doing it long enough to find our favorite spots.
Since we went home empty handed we decided we would go again on Easter provided the weather was nice. In preparation for that trip the night before my son and I gathered a bunch of worms from the back yard just by rolling over logs and scooping them. In a short time we must have gathered about 50 and put them in the garage until the next day. We used a little LED flashlight to aid our spotting of the worms and that worked just fine without scaring the worms into their holes to quickly.
We hiked into to a new and distant favorite spot and although the first half hour or so was spent getting through tangles and bad casts that soon dissipated into some fine team work by my kids on their own. My girl landed in the first bluegill of the season and then there was a steady stream of them coming in and getting put on the stringer. For this trip I had rigged my spinning reel with 20lb line because I was going to try for the big catfish. Using live bluegill is my favorite bait for them. Hence by the time my kids landed fish number 5 I had one of their first fish rigged slip sinker style.
That bait was soon taken but reeling in the catfish proved to be too much for my rod reel set up. I had a spinning reel and flexible ugly stick , and the first big cat eventually snapped my line. By the time I was getting ready to hook another bluegill as bait my daughter brought in the first largemouth bass of the season. Not a keep but she was beaming with the 9 inch largemouth. I wanted to get a good picture of this fish with her and tried to teach her hold to hold a landed largemouth bass. At first it was a little to creepy for her but after my demonstration she gave it a try and held on to it real well.
The kids kept at it until they each had landed 12 fish. 11 of which were bluegill. None of which would have been brought in without live bait. By then 3 hours had passed and the worms were gone so we diced to pack it in and call the expedition a success.
I lost a second catfish similar to the way I lost the first and decided to do some homework about doing it right next time. Getting the catfish to take a well presented bait is not difficult but reeling one in a test of will and strength not presented in other fish. I still love bring in big largemouth bass and the 20 incher fight is ingrained in my memory for life. But a 30 inch channel catfish requires concentration and determination to last longer than fish. Once the catfish gives in a little which can take up 20 minutes some momentum can be gained and the fish eventually come closer to shore. When they are about 15 meters from shore they tend to thrash and roll around to get free and it’s hard to hold onto the rod and the excitement of seeing the fish swoosh around in the water soon passes to excited call for help by getting the next ready and continuously reeling in further. Until you see the face of the giant catfish and you know it has still not given up. It’s hard but exciting and something I haven’t experienced in about 4 years.
That night I had picked up the art of freshwater fishing again to determine what I did wrong and realized that my rod and reel set up were not sufficient for brining in the big cats. I need to switch to a bait casting reel and much stiffer rod. Luckily I had a prespooled bait casting reel I bought several years ago but was too intimidated to use it because it backlashed too easily on me. Bait casting reels are especially designed for heavy line and ultra-strong reeling mechanisms to hook and reel the big fish. I finally got around to making it part of my regular gear.
The art of freshwater fishing helped me we study bait casting reels and I switched out my spinning reel for the bait casting reel and am ready to have another go with the cats. I also need to find a stronger pole to ensure the odds are in my favor. It’s cold and rainy this weekend and prohibits fishing but provides time for reflection.
There will be more upcoming fishing trips as we are only about 7 miles from where we hike in to Bull Run and we will be prepared for them. We’ll ensure worm supplies in advance and I will make sure my catfish rig is ready. Check out the links at Todolisthome.com for more information.
That’s it for today now go and produce something useful.
- Episode-54- Fishing Report – Catch More Freshwater Fishing – Book Review
- When and how to start fishing
- To Get Worms Out of Soil, Just Grunt. You Never Seen This Before!!! At least I hadn’t. Got to try it.
- How to hook a worm on a fishing hook
- Fishing Knots Made Easy
- Hemlock Overlook Park and some of the best fishing in northern Virginia in nearby Bull Run
- Potomac River dangers
- How to untangle fishing line
- How To Catch Big Channel Catfish
- Slip Sinker Rigs For Catfish *Catfish Rigs* – Learn To Catch Catfish