Rain, rain come – now!

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 25, 2002

I hear that the reason you don’t hear too many people protesting against sport fishing anymore is they are afraid they will catch that loudmouth bass virus that is going around. Another reason is there isn’t a whole lot of money in it.

We could use some rain. The last time I looked, last Sunday, the water level at Buggs Island Lake was about a foot above full pool, which is good, but the Shenandoah and James Rivers were running low. The James up at Scottsville was a scant 2.9 feet which is getting down there.

I noticed where the Governor of dry Colorado has banned fireworks this summer and I guess it wouldn’t be a bad idea for authorities here to keep a sharp eye on things. Conditions are so bad across the U.S. that several thousand U.S. Department of Interior staff personnel have dropped their regular duties and are reporting to the fire lines. This is not considered unusual. Many such people with fire fighting training are called upon to fight fires every year, but this year the fire situation is so bad there are more folks switching duties and they are doing so earlier in the fire season.

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Down in Florida they say the water in the marshes is so low that even air boats are having trouble getting around. With the water so low the larger alligators are moving into the deeper waters in the canals along the rim of the Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge. The competition for food among these big ‘gators is so fierce that some are literally coming out of the water in pursuit of fish hooked by anglers. Because of this bank fishing is temporarily prohibited in some areas.

Out in California, and probably only in California, shooting coyotes with paint balls and bean bags has been suggested as a means for discouraging the wily animals from coming into the City of Los Angeles. Fortunately, these were not considered to be viable methods, but I bet the coyotes would have enjoyed it. One plan being implemented is to make water available to them halfway up the hillsides to &uot;keep them out of the backyards&uot;. The coyotes are attacking pets and some are making nuisances of themselves. Authorities plan to trap injured or overly aggressive coyotes.

According to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune Minnesota has its hands full with a noxious weed called the garlic mustard plant. The plant from Europe has spread into Wisconsin and Iowa before it became known in Minnesota. The plant spreads extremely rapidly and crowds out more desirable plants. There is no control program in effect right now, but authorities are looking to see if there are insects that may attack this plant. It first showed up on Long Island in 1868 where it was used for medicinal and cooking purposes.

Casting About

Chickahominy Lake remains the most consistent lake in the state for catching bass, pickerel and bowfin.

You may ask, &uot;why bowfin?&uot; For years, bowfin, called &uot;grinnel&uot; or &uot;grindle&uot; have been considered to be rough fish, less desirable than bass. To me, the bowfin’s big crime is not being a bass. In 1964 I wrote a story for Sports Afield magazine called, &uot;The Case for the Counterfeit Bass&uot;. Bowfins were way ahead of bass in those days because more guys released them than they did bass. But today, most anglers don’t eat bass. In some quarters killing a bass is akin to killing a bald eagle. So, these days, since we don’t eat bass anymore and very few people eat bowfin shouldn’t the status of bowfin be elevated?

The bowfin will clobber most baits that bass hit. They fight about as hard as bass and they often run bigger than bass. So, with tongue only slightly in cheek, shouldn’t we have &uot;Bowfin Masters&uot; or the &uot;Bow-fin Anglers Sportsmen’s Soc-iety.&uot; Or, at the very least, shouldn’t their weight be counted right along with bass?

The pickerel fishing at Chickahominy has been holding up very well. At one time there was a story that pickerel didn’t bite in the summer because &uot;their teeth were sore.&uot; More garbage can biology or at least the pickerel at Chickahominy Lake didn’t get the word. Judging from the competition that must exist in this lake between the predators for groceries the Chick must have one good forage fish base.

That night fishing for brown and rainbow trout up at Lake Moomaw is awfully attractive to me. They catch them with minnows fished deep under lights. There is a 16-inch minimum size limit, but persistent fishermen are catching quite a few three- and four- pounders. Larry Andrews at the Bait Place says the trout are delicious. The consolation prizes up there are king-size yellow perch, which are also delicious.

They landed a 600-pound bluefin tuna out of Hatteras lately. Judging by the Virginia Saltwater Fishing tournaments weekly score sheet the past week wasn ‘t all that great. The biggest item was offshore where 17 release citations for blue marlin were scored. Ken Neil of the Peninsula Sportsmen says the blue marlin bite was &uot;unreal.&uot; On the HIGH HOPES they hooked five blue marlin and defeated four of them in one day! The POOR GIRL landed three a few days before. Gaffer dolphin are also still present with the billfish and dolphin action out beyond the 500 fathom line.

Although there are still no bluefish over 16 pounds on the books citations for six bluefish releases are. Three of them were added this week and they came from the 26-Mile Hill area. There are bluefin tuna in the 26-Mile Hill area, too, but the bluefish are grabbing the baits.

The cobia score climbed from 17 to 27 citations for fish over 50 pounds, but the 90-pounder and the 97-pounder caught last weekend are not yet counted. There were 12 cobia releases added this week bringing that total to 19.

Only eight citation croakers were added this week, bringing the total to 51. No one is complaining of a shortage of croakers in the bay or rivers. There are four spot on the books, one of which was added this week as the spot fishing builds with individual fish larger than usual.

Although I have heard that red drum fishing has slowed there were 30 release citations added, bringing the score up to 143. Only one citation black drum was added bringing that total up to 150. Drum enthusiasts are hoping the big blacks show up around the Bridge Tunnel Islands this summer.

Amberjacks got a jump start with a dozen release citations, the first of the year. The ‘jacks are reported to be plentiful with the Southern Tower said to be the place to go for them.

Jack Randolph is a regular News-Herald columnist.