A Guest Post; and some updates on the radio silence

The Sporting Physicians would like to apologize for the radio silence of late. We just spent the last seven days on a fly fishing bonanza. We travelled through four states (and one district) and fulfilled our goal of catching and netting nine varieties of freshwater and saltwater species. We are sunburnt, all argued out and fully recharged for a return to the OR after this holiest of holidays. We have many stories and photos too share but need to put in some time with the family.

I had the fortune of recently working with a very bright medical student at UVA. William politely requested to be let out a few hours early on a Friday to have some fishing time with his family. I not so politely informed him that if he darkened the door of my OR that day I would promptly fail him. For my largesse he promised me a guest post and some photos.  His story offers a different perspective than usually seen on the SP.  He also features a nice Easter twist! Enjoy.

William Borch and Family
3/24/12
Dundee Creek off the upper Chesapeake, near Joppa, MD
Air temp 60 deg F
Water temp 50 deg F
Conditions: Overcast; sporadic light to moderate rainfall with muddy water.
Winds ~5mph.

My brother and Dad and I got our first opportunity to line our schedules up and hit the water together this year, and of course Murphy’s Law would dictate that our Saturday would be cold and rainy. But it didn’t matter – it was a great day to be out on the water.

We were out for yellow perch. My brother Jim had been following the fishing reports on the DNR website and he was determined to find them. He bought a decent sized fishing boat a couple years back for a great price: the kind of price that demands a lot of love and effort to get the thing floating and working again. Jim thought she was ready to float, so Dad and I helped him get her into the water at the marina and with a little trepidation we climbed aboard.

She floated. The engine started. And there we were at 8:45 AM in light, cold rain out on the water with the widening creek mouth in front of us. Once clear of the marina, she was ready to fly and Jim gunned the throttle—unfortunately, little happened. Apparently the “putt-putt” speed she had so far was all she had in her until Jim could get her back in the garage to tinker with her engine a little more.

The prospect of going out into the Bay proper with an unreliable engine was not appealing. I wanted to spend the day fishing, not rowing, so the three of us decided that chasing the perch would have to wait for another day.

We dropped anchor where we were, in the middle of the creek at about 6 feet of depth and a few blips on the fish finder. Each of us tied on small jig hooks on light tackle on a couple rods each and for bait we used the simple and classic nightcrawler. We cast them out about 15-20 feet and just let them sit on the bottom while we watched and shivered through the spotty rains.

An hour passed and nothing happened. I pulled in one of the lines and tried to jig in a white Mr. Twister instead, probably more to keep myself warm and focused than anything else. A half hour more of this and still nothing.

By now the rain had tapered off, and we began to watch large silvery forms smash the surface near the shallows by the banks on the north side of the creek. I had no idea what they were (Jim said he thought they were carp and Dad agreed), but we decided it was time to move and try something new. So we pulled the lines in and moved toward the action and tried again. The chorus of chirps from our fish finder sounded promising.

I threw in a generously-baited jig hook and within about 30 seconds the tip of my rod gave that tell tale twitch that warms every angler to the core, no matter how cold and wet he is. I cautiously picked up the rod and set the hook, and immediately my reel was screaming. This fish was big. He kept making long sweeping runs from side to side, and on my small ultralight trout rod it was all I could do to keep him from getting tangled in the prop. In about 5 or 6 minutes he was tired and I got him up to Jim’s net. Bingo! A healthy sized channel catfish, our first fish of the day; we threw him onto the ice in the cooler and eagerly threw our lines back in for more.

Dad was next. He pulled in a 5 inch white perch – definitely not eating size, but since we were in good catfish territory, he cut it up and each of us put a chunk on our lines.

The cut-up white perch proved to be the magic bait. Left and right we pulled in channel cats and bullheads and into the cooler they went. And for a bonus, Dad pulled in a couple large eels, both of which almost escaped by squirming through the mesh of the net.

By 1:30 PM, the rains returned and the winds picked up. We had the cooler well stocked at this point and we were running out of perch to bait the hooks. We decided to call it a day and chugged our way back to the ramp.

The fruit of our labors was about 10 cats and 2 eels. Jim took them home and cleaned and vacuum sealed them and threw them in the freezer. This year our Easter dinner appetizer will feature blackened catfish and smoked eel – a worthy prize for setting out on Dundee Creek in a fix-me-up boat on a cold and rainy March Saturday, and not a bad alternative to yellow perch.

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