Wednesday, December 12, 2012

It's a Small World to Fish In, Isn't It?

Last week I put my boat into the Upper Tidal Potomac and took my buddy to a spot that has been producing for me.  Now, I could give you a fishing report, but really something more interesting to me happened, although the fishing was also pretty doggone good.  We ran into Gene Mueller’s long time buddies, Andy Andrzejewski and Marty Magone as they were also targeting any fish that was willing to bite that day.
Pictured are Gene Mueller's buddies,  Andy Andrzejewski (left) and Marty Magone that we met for the first time on the water.
I had never met either of them before, but because of Gene’s blog titled, “Gene Mueller’s World of Fishing & Hunting”, I felt as if I’ve known them for some time.  That said, when I recognized them, I was a bit apprehensive about introducing myself at first.  But, being the fishing social butterfly that I am, I blurted out a less than subtle, “Are you Andy?”

Andy’s reply was, “Yeah”.  The tone sort of sounded kind of like a, "what about it?", or  "who the hell are you?", or "what’s it to ya?" type of thing.  For the record, he didn’t say any of those things, and he probably wasn’t thinking any of them either.  That was my own insecure alter ego speaking to me.  But he asked if the reason that I knew of him was because of Gene’s blog.  I replied, “Yes, and also because I’m a fellow outdoors blogger and internet friend of Gene's… Fat Boy’s Outdoors?”

I was hoping that would break the ice, and that they’d recognize my blog name since Gene graciously added my link to his site, and often points folks to my blog.  But it dawned on me that maybe they didn’t know of it, or if they did, what if they didn’t like it?  I think that if that was true, then I’d have fired up the motor and scooted on outta there faster than leaving the house on a fishing trip with chores to be done!

Fortunately, after a pause, Andy blurted out, “Oh yeah!  I’ve heard of you and your blog!”  And Marty added something to the effect of, “ Funny, you’re not as fat as I thought you’d be!”  (although that wasn’t exactly what he said, it was the gist of it).

All I could do is laugh at that point.  The ice was broken, and all of a sudden, it was obvious that I wasn’t a fishing threat to them.  You know, the kind of threat like, why the heck are you moving in on my honey hole?  Still, we kept our distance so as to not disturb their fishing and give them appropriate elbow room, fishing the outskirts of the hole.

Andy then opened up and told us that the crappie bite up to that point hadn’t been all that hot, but they had boated over a dozen bass already.  But it didn’t take long for both Andy and Marty to start nailing the slab crappie, one after another.  Meanwhile, Rodger and I were getting a few hits and misses every now and then, and finally started catching a few.

Rodger had never fished there before, and in fact, had never fished for crappie before.  He may have been getting bites and not recognizing them.  We were jigging for them, and the bites were subtle.  Just a twitch of your line could be a fish, and you may or may not feel the tap of the bite.  Sometimes, you saw or felt nothing other than perhaps a little weight at the end of your line, like a spongy feeling like when you have a large leaf stuck to your lure.  I told Rodg to set the hook on anything.  He still struggled.

Finally, I pulled out the secret weapon…Smelly Jelly.  I smeared his lure with it and the very next cast he caught his first slab crappie.  Then, it was one after another.
Smelly Jelly was the ticket to get Rodger into slab crappie like this one.  Later, the Kalin's grub pictured above took one crappie after another all day long.
Andy wanted to get a picture of each of us holding one, but the problem was that we weren’t getting doubles.  He said to put one in the livewell, but my boat doesn’t have a live well, so we had to hope for a double.  Eventually, we gave up on that because, even when we caught doubles, one of the fish wouldn’t be large enough for a good photo.

We chatted about various things, from fishing, about Gene, about boats, about musky fishing.  In fact, my mouth ran so much that maybe I was distracting their fishing!  But, it was fun and cool for me, adding to my good time.

But Rodger and I wanted to improve our bite, so we moved to another area of the hole out of view of those guys.  We immediately got into some good fish, and some good sized ones.  I found out that the crappie were a bit finickier than the last time we were out, preferring a down sized lure.  The Kalin’s two inch Triple Threat Grub in the lemon meringue color was the ticket.  I was dropping it over the side of the boat and they were nailing it.  Later, using it under a float caught crappie every cast.  Rodger was catching them also using a three inch Bass Pro Shops Tripple Ripple Grub in the pumpkin/chartreuse color.
Rodger showing off a slab crappie that fell for a Bass Pro Shops Tripple Ripple Grub smeared with Smelly Jelly.
Andy and Marty moved over to us and mentioned that they were heading out to try some other spots in search of bigger bass.  Before leaving they tried again to get some better pictures, but we couldn’t seem to produce a double with two quality crappie.  By quality, the smaller ones that we were catching were a mere twelve inches long, big by most standards in lakes in our area, but not ones fit for this fishing hole.

While we fished and talked, they took a lunch break before leaving.  Marty pulled out one of his famous egg splatter sandwiches and asked if I had heard of them.  I told him that I’ve read it about it in Gene’s blog many times, but this had been the first time I had seen one.  It was a Dagwood sandwich if I had ever seen one.  It looks like you almost need a tire jack to open your jaw wide enough to take that first bite!  Andy also noted that Gene makes a mighty three meat sandwich too.  They asked what we had to eat.  I, in an embarrassing tone, replied, “Seven Eleven hot dogs with no bun”.

Andy replied, “Cold Seven Eleven hot dogs???”  I know, it doesn’t sound very appetizing.  And once again, I’m doing the low carb thing, trying to get my weight down.  I explained to them it was so I could keep the boat on a plane in the upper river and allow me to tote along more tackle.  Andy said that I might have to change my blog name to Skinny Boy’s Outdoors if I lost as much weight as I wanted to!

After chatting/fishing a little while longer, those guys left to find that lunker.  Wouldn’t you know it?  Right after leaving we started picking up doubles of lunker sized crappie?  That’s how it goes sometimes.
After those guys left, we nailed crappie like this all day long!
After they left, the fishing improved as the tide changed, as it always seems to do on tidal water.  Slack tide is always tougher fishing, but when the water moves, so does the bait, and so do the predators.  Find ambush points on the edges of the current and you’ll find the predators.  It’s not different in the late fall or winter, except the deeper holes tend to concentrate the fish a little bit.  As Gene noted in his blog post, Rodger and I caught a lot of crappie and bass.  The slabs had shoulders, and even a few of the bass were decent sized.  My biggest largemouth bass was a respectable 18 ½ inches long.
I did catch a bunch of bass that day, with this one being the biggest at 18 1/2 inches long.  Most were on the small side, but I'd say that about a dozen and a half of them were "keeper" sized.
I really had a great time fishing with my buddy Rodger that day, and meeting Andy and Marty made it even better.   They both have a great sense of humor, and it’s always a special treat to talk fishing with people that have that vast fishing knowledge that they do.  I can certainly see why Gene enjoys fishing with those two good friends of his.

If you ever want to read more about them along with Gene’s fishing adventures, make sure that you visit Gene Mueller’s blog, “Gene Mueller’s World of Fishing & Hunting”.  Not only will you enjoy the many fishing and hunting stories that he shares with his readers, you’ll also learn a thing or two.  Throughout his posts are some great fishing tips that I’m sure would apply to many parts of the country, not just our corner of the world.
Gene Mueller with a slab Tidal Potomac crappie caught on a bobber and jig.   Gene provides some great fishing tips on his website, "Gene Mueller's World of Fishing & Hunting".
You can also read an interesting interview that I had with Gene a while back on this blog on a post titled, "Interview with Gene Mueller, Outdoor Writer Celebrity".

And finally, after meeting Andy, a licensed fishing guide that works the Upper Tidal Potomac River, I’m convinced that anyone hiring him would have a great time with him and also catch a boat load of fish.  You can book a trip by calling (301) 932-1509.

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