Today was the best day I have ever had fishing on the Shenandoah River. In the past week I have gone fishing three times from my kayak. All three times I have caught numerous fish, some of which have been decent, but tonight was unbelievable. What makes this night so special to me is that I caught really big fish on the river. For the past few years the Shenandoah has been plagued by fish kills which have wiped out the adult population of fish. Therefore large Smallmouth bass were a rarity to catch. This year there hasn't been a kill, and the river level has stayed up all summer long. This combination has made for some great fishing!
I got in the river at about 4 p.m. and paddled close to two miles upstream from where I started. I had fished this stretch of river the other day, but wanted to go farther upstream over some small falls that require portaging over. I caught a few small Smallies like this one, before I got to the falls. On the first cast after I crossed the falls and got back into my 'yak all that changed.
I cast my #3 Mepps Spinner and hooked into a big fish. After fighting it for a minute or two and being treated to some spectacular jumps I landed this hefty Smallmouth. This fish was wider than my kayak. I judged it to be about 16 inches long (longer than my forearm) and weighing between three and four pounds. After taking some more pictures I released it back into the river.
I caught two more nice fish that weighed around two to two and a half pounds in the same stretch over the next hour. Here was big fish number two.
Big fish number three.
The last fish I hooked into of the evening was a monster. I cast into a deep hole just above the falls that I had portaged earlier in the evening. I let the spinner sink, and then started a slow retrieve, barely keeping the blade turning. I was rewarded with a heavy strike and about a 2 minute fight with a huge Smallmouth. Because I was so close to the falls, I had to paddle with my left hand and fight the fish with my right. I finally felt like I could make a try at landing the fish, so I dropped my paddle and got the fish next to the boat. I had the fish out of the water and laying on the side of the kayak, when it gave a shake and broke my 8 lbs. test line. I swear this fish was around 5 to 6 pounds, because it dwarfed the first big fish I caught this evening. I only wish I had gotten a hold of it long enough to get a good picture. I am pretty sure it may have been a citation fish.
I was blessed with a great evening, and I hope to get back out on the river in the next few days. It would be great if I could convince my Dad or some other family members to join me on the river for some trophy Smallmouth fishing! We'll see what happens...