First, the good news.
No one was killed or even [seriously] injured during the inaugural Wild Life Float Fishing extravaganza.
The bad news? Fishing was tough.
You can’t have it all, right?
Eight hardy souls showed up for the Saturday float on the James River, from the Iron Gate put-in to Gala.
It was nearly seven.
As those of you who followed earlier posts on this know, the Amatuer (that’s how he spells it) was one of those pushing hardest to make this group outing happen. Yet, 20 minutes after the meeting time, there was no Amatuer. Bummer. We left two shuttle vehicles at the take-out and headed to the put-in.
By the time we had everything set on the water, it was after 9 a.m. I drove up to the parking lot and who is sitting there in his car talking to another group of fishermen? The Amatuer. Intrepid readers may recall that the Amatuer had asked a couple of times for directions to the rendezvous spot. A couple of us provided detailed instructions. Yet the Amatuer ended up in Eagle Rock. Not the Eagle Rock boat launch area, mind you. Eagle Rock itself. Some kindly folks provided him directions that were apparently better than those we had offered, and he was able to get to the put-in.
Some of you may also recall that the Amatuer is a belly boater. He intended to do this float in his float tube. Fortunately, Larry had an extra seat in his Coleman Scanoe, or the Amatuer would still be out there.
Before we took off we held an informal drawing for the tackle prizes. Stu and Renee, who were along just to paddle and not to fish, didn’t participate.
The Amatuer won the Ugly Stick spinning combo, while everyone else got bags of sweet lures provided by Perch. We decided to save the hand-carved plug donated by the Amatuer and award it to the angler who landed the biggest bass or muskie.
A cold front that arrived Friday evening meant the weather was beautiful. Sunny, but not blazing hot. Unfortunately, those aren’t the best fishing conditions. We caught plenty of fish, but the action was not exactly on fire.
Dale and Royce were in kayaks, and mostly fly fished. They caught a good number of fish. The catch was heavy on rock bass and sunfish, but they picked up good numbers of smallmouth. Larry did his best on a Berkley creature bait. Amatuer was throwing a crankbait and curly-tailed jig. My canoe partner, Alfie, went with his go-to wacky-rigged Senko, while I caught almost all of my fish on a Berkley Gulp! minnow on a drop shot rig. I did spend a lot of time casting a big buzz toad, and didn’t get a sniff.
That lure did result in the day’s funniest moment (at least to me) when I smacked Alfie on the side of the head while trying to cast. It got him right in the ear and I think he may have cried a bit. It was his fault because he provided the canoe and it was too short, so there wasn’t enough room between the two of us. At least, that’s my take on the incident.
Royce was the only one who managed to flip. We had walked our boats through the tricky spot called the narrows when Royce decided he was ready to get back in. Well, the river had other ideas and pushed his kayak sideways as he was trying to embark. He lost a couple tackle bags/boxes. Amazingly, his three rods that were held in vertical holders were unharmed.
That Alfie won the big fish contest with a 13-incher tells you all you need to know about the fishing. But, the fishing wasn’t the main goal, anyway. The trip was mainly an opportunity for fun and fellowship, and we got plenty of that.
We’ll do it again before too long!