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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 1969
    Location
    Harrisonburg, VA
    Posts
    37
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    WOW it's been 8 years - how time flies....

    First and foremost, apologies to the Virginia board. Sometimes life just gets in the way. I revisited the site today and was stunned to see my last post still on here - a Shenandoah River report posted in 2010. WTH!!! Since 2010 I got married, bought a farm, dealt with health problems with my best fishin' buddy ever, my uncle, and now I'M BACK. Sometimes life makes you re-think what's important. Fishing has and always will be important to me - but not as important as God, husband, home, friend, family, and neighbor. Work also still tends to get in the way too, but I can't really blame my absence on that this time. Before I continue I need to say this too. For those of you who have a best ever fishing buddy - make sure they know how much you enjoy the time with them - while you have it. If you don't have one - FIND ONE! My uncle taught me to fish, we spent days and weeks on end over decades on the same boat. When he came down with some health problems I had to decide what to do. I just had no idea how hard it would be to fish alone or with someone new. I still *enjoyed* fishing even if I was alone and thankfully my wife likes it too but in shorter doses, but still it just wasn't the same. But now, HE'S BACK and to boot, I have another NEW fishing buddy!!! Two for the price of one. I went several years with no fishing all, but now the dust has been cleaned, the reels have been oiled, the line has been respooled, the tires have been replaced, the batteries have been charged, and I'M BACK!!!!

    A few years ago a neighbor retired and moved in from the city and wanted to fish after we got to talking one day, so I took him to the river last Spring. Last time out, he kicked my @$$. Now on numbers, I catch 10 or 20 to his 1 every day - that's the way I've always wanted to fish rivers. But his one, usually, wow, would eat my other 10 for breakfast. He fishes these giant lures on the Shenandoah that I always convinced myself had no chance outside of a big impoundment. Better yet, he's satisfied with 1-2 bites a day - I, AM NOT Attached, I hope, is a pic of his catch from last May on the Shenandoah. Best bass I've ever seen come out of that river, caught in probably 2' of water or less under a tree. Never weighed it, never measured it, took two pics and got her back in. You see, new friends can provide some insight you'd never thought about before. And now we share that winter urge to get out of the house and on the water on the first nice day - whether or not that water's still a little too cold. You know what I'm talkin' about.

    Now it's late January 2018. I won't start fishing the Shenandoah again until probably late March. We've had an extremely cold December and early January here, with temps below freezing, and often below 0, for several weeks straight. Now like most of the rest of the country, we're getting back to more seasonable, but still chilly, temps. I have never been overly successful on the western side of our state until the late March time frame (unless you like stocked trout - meh), and even then you need lots of patience, slow baits to a crawl or even stop, and try a bunch of different presentation techniques.

    Today I will offer a basic, 1-year old fishing report that describes my overall 2017 fishing season on the Shenandoah. What good is that you might ask? Well, what else are you doing on a cold Virginia day in January that you don't have time to read it Hey it's the best I got.... To summarize 2017, the Shenandoah was EXCELLENT!! Some of you may remember massive fish kills in the early-mid 2000's. They were devastating. Bluegill, smallmouth, and crappie all took a huge hit. From what I can tell, wow is it back. Last mid-April (2017), we got into a PILE of huge crappie - crappie I haven't seen in the river like that in literally decades. Some were 14", all were over 10". We threw all of them back. The bluegill are big, aggressive, and abundant in deeper pools early season and shallow bank late. The smallmouth still seem mostly to fall on the average to small side with an occasional 17-18" but the largemouth are much better than I remember before. To boot, I'm seeing pictures and hearing other reports of really large muskie coming from places not known for having them just a few years ago. Maybe that's my new winter endeavor for the future?

    Where to go on it, anywhere honestly. I am most familiar with public boat and access ramps in Rockingham, Shenandoah, and Page counties. Depends on whether or not you want to wade or boat. Rockingham has more "wade-able" areas I think and Shen and Page are much deeper in most areas and better suited for boats, canoes, or rafts. If you'd like more info I'll try to help and I'll subscribe to this thread for reminders of new posts. My favorite baits are 2-4" curly tail grubs, on either 1/16th or 1/8th leadheads they are good for pretty much anything. I primarily use basic colors in early season, black, pumpkinseed, watermelon and then in late spring and summer switch over to more flashy stuff with silver, red, or blue metalflakes. I particularly like the Southern Pro Hot Grubs for those early March/April crappies but they are getting hard to find. My favorite ramp for crappie, Egypt Bend. Target any trees and boat docks, the usual hideouts. Last year we found crappie both up and down river from the ramp.

    This got long, I will stop now. Life is even better now that the bug has returned. If you already have that bug pray you never lose it.

    ...BillH
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