Alarm started blaring right at 6:45AM, normally in the summertime it would be set for 4:30-5:00AM, but with the forecasted conditions and it still being early April. I’ve found that the best activity starts later morning through the whole afternoon when the sun is at its highest. So, I hopped out of bed, threw on a couple layers since the temperature outside read 34 degrees, and then scurried around grabbing the gear I setup the night before along with a pop tart to eat in route. I pulled away from the house at 7:15AM and shot over to grab my new fishing buddy Rafael. Him and I get along great because he loves to fish as much as I do and he’s always ready at the drop of a hat. Now typically because of the Corvid-19 situation, I wouldn’t have carpooled with anyone. Instead, I would just meet whoever at the agreed upon spot but since Rafael has become like family. We both know that neither one of us would willing put either of our families at risk like that.
After a quick stop at the uni-mart for drinks, we arrived at our destination right at 7:40AM and the conditions couldn’t have been more perfect. The spot I chose for the day was in the small town of Duryea. I personally have only been there a handful of times and only caught crappie 1 of the most recent times. I originally found it because of the mobile fishing app I use called “Fishbrain.” Which I will be doing a full post on soon. The first time I checked this spot was with my brother at the end of last summer. We came in from a different way and only spent about an hour there never going back further then our original spot. I later discovered another way in from an access point in town. What really makes this place so appealing is the fact that you walk over a bridge that’s built over the Lawkawanna River. Then after an easy 5-minute walk back, you come upon not just 1 pond, but you’ve got 3 different ponds in one big area all with great access points for shore fishing. So, let’s recap, by going to this 1 area you get access to 3 different ponds and numerous spots along the Lawkawanna River. When it comes to being restricted to only shore fishing, you really just do not get any better than that.
Based on the last time I was there along with-it being Rafael’s first time, I decided that we should start off where I left off. In my opinion, it’s the best spot for a base camp giving us multiple spots to cast. Besides that, there’s a few different paths that take you to shallows or to the deepest points. Being accustom to the restrictions of shore fishing only, you learn to travel light and use only 1-2 poles. Personally, I’ve used a backpack for my tackle and gear for a long time now. I’m able to fit 1 large plastic case, 3 mediums, and 1 small along with using old utensil bags for my plastics. To check out the gear that’s currently in my arsenal when starting this venture, head over to my post here for the complete list.
Along with my trusty backpack, I always bring my spinning rod and bait caster combo. Since I currently only have those 2 rods and reels, they are usually setup with whatever I had on them from my last time out. Unless I set them up differently before leaving the house of course, which I did not do this time. This time out I decided to bring along my smaller spinning rod and reel that I setup for the kids when they want to come out. Usually I wouldn’t have this with me, but after some issues with the original closed reel that came with this rod. I switched it over to a smaller open spinning reel and wanted to personally take some casts with it to insure it properly functioned no matter who used it.
From my last trip out, I had a Monkey Butt colored 110 Whopper Plopper on the bait caster, a 1/2 ounce black football jig with black and blue skirt and a black with blue flake creature bait trailer, and the smallest rod had my go-to bobber setup with a white trout magnet plastic on a silver hook. That bobber setup has always been my preference for the kids because you can always get some pan fish to bite with a simple change of color.
No matter the conditions, I’ve always been in the habit of dipping my reels into the water before taking a cast. Especially when it comes to braided line. When line gets wet, it’s strengthened and makes tying nots much easier. My opening choice is usually my favorite, the Whopper Plopper on my bait caster. Anyone whose used a Whopper Plopper knows how versatile and useful they are in all conditions and times. You can usually judge whether or not anything is showing interest in those conditions. Even more so if you’re wearing some polarized glasses to help see into the water better. Though I might not have official polarized glasses, my daily sunglasses do help a bit. After hitting the key points on the pond with a few casts in each spot. I decided to switch over to the smaller rod and reel with the bobber setup to see if the white crappie were bit at least. Last time I was there that’s the exact setup I used that landed me a couple nice size crappie.
Sure enough, after 30 seconds of being in the waters. My bobber started going up and down, then stayed under. I set the hook and believed I had it. I got it reeled into about 3-feet from shore when it spit it right out. Usually that would be extremely aggravating, but not when I’m trying to gauge the activity and possibility of schooling. Not wasting time, I got my trout magnet back in the water. Missing setting the hook a handful of times before finally landing my first white crappie of the day. Rafael wasn’t having the best of luck, which kind of confused us both since he had decided to use the same bobber setup for a bit.
Thanks to Rafael using that setup, I decided to change over to my spinning rod and reel with the black and blue football jig. Since the crappies were biting on white plastic, I took it as a sign that the other species in the pond would be more likely to hit on something white as well. I’m not sure why I didn’t immediately switch up to my white skirted football jig. I guess it could have been pure curiosity and my constant need to try everything at least once before ruling anything out. The weight of the jig made it possible for me to land it a foot from the island that sets off to left of the pond. Not being 100% positive on whether or not the bass in the pond have spawned or were still in the prespawn stage. I kept my retrieval slow and steady, dragging it on the bottom and through what I guessed to be a large bed. As I got to the edge of the bed, I felt as if I hit a log or brush. It didn’t feel like a bite at all. There was no pull or normal take off you usually get when a fish strikes. It wasn’t until I decided to give it a quick tug to try and free it from whatever it was stuck on when my line tightened up and took off. It was a bite, and not just any bite either. From the way my line took off after I set the hook, I could tell right away it was a beefier fish.
Normally when you get a bite, you’re immediately able to judge whether it’s something big or something small. Just by the way your tip starts to bed and the amount of force on your line. If it’s something smaller or around average, you’re able to reel it in with minimal effort and time. But when it’s something above average, you experience what all anglers do when that reality clicks in their head. An immediate adrenaline rush that’s followed with a surge of excitement that’s heightened even more so from the mystery of what could possibly be on the end of your line. This feeling is something that never gets old and never goes away. It’s one of the main reasons why anglers will get up at 4:30AM on their days off and spend an entire day on a body of water. There’s just nothing like it and until you’ve experienced it for yourself, you’ll just never truly know.
After that rush hit and I attempted to calm myself down, I went from trying to crank it in as fast as I could to doing the complete opposite. I remembered what I learned from watching hours of YouTube videos and reading numerous guides online. The bigger the fish, the more cautious and patient you need to be when reeling it in. The risk of snapping your line for keeping it too tight or the risk of the fish spitting out the bait when your line is too loose, is much higher the bigger the fish is. So I took it slow, letting the fish tire itself out a bit, and brought it in little by little until I finally got it to shore. Once I got it about 2-3 feet from shore, I was able to confirm that it was a very nice size largemouth bass. I didn’t bring a net so I had to roll the dice and do something that you usually would need to be on a boat to say. A “boat flip”, something that is as equally risky on a boat as it is on shore due to the chance of snapping your line or rod from the weight of the fish.
I got my prize on land and rushed over to lip it up, the whole time acting like a giddy little school gear because of the size of this prize. Rafael was 20-30 yards away on the farthest left side point when I announced that I had it hooked. By the time I got it to land, he had reeled in his bait and somehow got right by my side ready to assist in anyway he could if I needed it. Seeing that I had it handled, he then went to the next step most of us have become accustomed to and pulled out his phone to record a clip of my catch and snap a few pictures for me. Back in the day, which was a Wednesday by the way (As told by Dane Cook, haha!), anglers never would’ve considered pulling out a camera. Let alone something like a cell phone, to document proof of their catch. Hence why they had fishing stories which became commonly known for being overly exaggerated and held little truth.
Once Rafael got a couple photos with his camera, I gave him my phone to get a couple pictures and a quick video. All of which can be seen below or on the media page. We put our phones away and I got out my scale/tape measure combo tool that I really don’t like that much because of how finicky it is when getting an accurate weight. In the end, it measured out to be 23 inches and a few ounces over 7 pounds. Not big enough to take the place as my new personal best (commonly known as a PB), but it came really close. Being newer to bass and trout fishing, Rafael never got to experience firsthand a fish of this size. So of course, before releasing it back into the water, I had to hand it over and let him get a feel for this magnificent creature.
Typically, I am not the negative type, I try to see the best in everything and keep a positive attitude despite however I may truly feel on the inside. I truly did believe after releasing that prize, that the fish was on! I encouraged Rafael to change up his tactics and try something else. Assuring him that I had faith in him and was confident that it he would land himself one before the day was out. After 2 hours of casting out from numerous points, switching between all the viable options we had in our arsenals, and me only landing 1 more bass that was significantly smaller then the first. We decided to call it quits and gather our things to head out to give the river a try before ending our day completely.
We came across a couple that had just stumbled out from a path that lead to the river we were heading to. They informed us that they had absolutely no luck at all despite their different tactics and hours attempting to get in their limit. Even though they didn’t favor so well, we still decided to give it a shot but instead of going to the spot the couple came from. We decided to walk further north up the river to the rapids in hopes that we might favor better.
It didn’t take long before we decided to chalk it up as a flop and head out for the day. Rafael snapped his line, losing his lure, and then did the same with mine after I let him use the spinning rod and reel for a few. To prevent losing anything else, along with any further dents to our egos. We gathered our things, policed up any garbage we had, and loaded up the car to head out. Looking back at the day as an overall win for both of us. Even though he didn’t catch anything and had nothing but bad luck when it came losing lures. The experience gained from the new things I showed him, being able to witness my awesome catch, and having the chance to check out a new place. Made it all very much worth it in the end.
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