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When you’ve spent the last year trying to find a new job (unsuccessfully), training a new dog (semi-successfully), preparing for a forced early retirement at 64 (remains to be seen), and dealing with all that the previous life events entail…it cuts into your fishing time a wee bit. Couple all of that with my favorite river rolling through high water event after high water event due to heavy rains last year and depression and facial tics can easily settle in if you let it.

But this year is starting out much better. Water levels have been average so far for Spring around here with elevated slightly levels and a brownish green tint to the water and the Smallmouth have been chewing. I was finally able to get out on lower end of the Shenandoah on the main stem with a combination of fellow club members, some Northern Virginia Kayak Bass Anglers folks and a couple of my fellow Bravo Zulu Outdoors members. I’ll be covering BZO in a later blog post. I’ve been trying to get these various groups together for a while and I finally was able to get them on the same float. Our organizations should all compliment each other, with Potomac River Smallmouth Club being the trip-organizing and conservation arm, the NVKBA folks being tournament oriented for those so inclined, and the BZO providing for our altruistic, ‘giving back’ part of our fishing souls.

Our float this morning started late because we wanted to get the water warmed up tad and for a change…everyone showed up on time and with no gear forgotten!! Trust me…in this bunch, a lot of us bring extra gear for just such issues. The day started cool and the water was a hair higher than normal but definitely manageable, and water was moving quickly at the put in due to recent bridge building activity, an old pre-Columbia fish-dam just downriver of the access point and a slight gradient to boot. But everyone managed to get in the water and paddling with no incidents.

Water was great, the water temperature was good, the time of year was perfect It was late pre-spawn and we had a weather front rolling through the next day…we should have been golden. But fish were very shy and closed mouth due to rising water. We worked the banks to start, and then the obvious feeding spots as we went. Even just getting bites was tough. Most of us only had a couple of love taps all day. My buddy Steve Kimm and PRSC president, only managed a single smallie. I was not as lucky. Had one on for a second or 2 and couple of smallish followed my offering back to the boat, otherwise …..bukis. Even Cilla Johnson, something of a celebrity here in the mid-Atlantic, only managed 2 less-than picture-worthy smallies.

Another issue….After so much high water last year, that included 4 different flood stage events, our river has been ‘rearranged’ if you will. Gravel bars have been reshaped, reduced, or completely obliterated in some cases, and new ones deposited. Old logs that we fished for years…are gone. And there’s new wood piles, new ambush points etc etc. The river has been totally reshaped, from Port Republic down below Elkton, all the way to Harper’s Ferry. Going to be a lot of search and record missions in the next few months. I just hope we can manage to find where the Smallies have moved since some of their old neighborhoods have undergone a lot of ‘renovation’ . No matter, gives me something to look forward to in retirement.