Go Fish

Go Fish, Pets, Places, & Things

Fishing Resolve

By Steve Chaconas Fishing Resolve Who keeps New Year’s resolutions? We make them and for a few months, or weeks or days, they stay front of mind. Then they vaporize and we go back to the bad habits we ended with the previous year. Not many hobbies or professions lend themselves for sharing with those close to us. In the DC area, resolving to share our passions with others won’t work if you’re a government worker, lawyer, or lobbyist. But fishing can be enjoyed once, twice or for a lifetime. Professional anglers develop skills to enable a higher rate of success and take much of the luck out of the sport. Guides, especially, are skilled in transferring the years and often decades of experience to their clients, making them well suited to resolve to take friends and family out on the water. Resolving again to take more friends out on the water, 2022 will be memorable. For nearly 20 years, I’ve fished with my client, turned buddy, Alan Friedlander. Almost every week we took to the water, and in recent years we took guided smallmouth bass trips with Capt. Matt Miles on the Upper James where Alan introduced me to his love of fly fishing. But 2021 greeted Alan with medical issues and he was unable to get out on my Skeeter. We noticed his stability on the boat was getting shaky towards the end of 2020, but managed a full season and our annual fly trip with Capt. Matt. When it became apparent Alan wouldn’t, or couldn’t, get on my boat, we considered scheduling our Upper James trip later in the year. Alan worked all year to prepare himself physically for our scheduled October trip. Normally we make the 4-5 hour drive to our fishing spot to meet Capt….

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Go Fish, Pets, Places, & Things

Fishing for Holiday Gifts

By Steve Chaconas Fishing for Holiday Gifts Shopping for anglers is frustrating; but for people on the receiving end, there’s a guaranteed stint in return lines! Choose gifts for on and off the water! For the recipient who wears the pants in the family, there’s a pair they’ll put on one leg at a time to give them a leg up in the outdoors. Sitka’s background traversing the backcountry bridges technology gaps in fabric, construction, with a performance perspective.  Hunting for pants where the unexpected is always expected, waterproof Dew Point pant has micro-taped seams and no pockets making it easily packable.  Waterproof and breathable GORE® C-KNIT® backer technology with 20-denier nylon ripstop allows movement. Sitka’s Dew Point Pant is easy is on and off with two-way side zippers for pocket access and venting. Boots come on and off with sides unzipped. Articulated fit won’t tug when you’re active, no matter the weather. Adjustable nylon web belt. Can be layered for versatility. sitkagear.com Carl Grundén, the son of a fisherman, grew tired of unforgiving weather in Sweden and took on the forces of Mother Nature. Today, foul weather fishing clothing specialist Grundens’ steps up with their Gaff Pant. Pockets for everything. Two back pockets. Two side mesh hand pockets for a cooler, dryer feel, a thigh pocket with a drain, and a thigh welt pocket tailored into a nylon spandex blend fabric with a Durable Water Repellant finish and more flexibility. Grundens’ Gaff Pant gives fishermen water-resistant, quick drying performance.  7 belt loops provide a better belted fit and a metal riveted button adds security for active anglers. Perfect for warm weather rains or wading. grundens.com In 1992, the FBI chose 5.11 Tactical® for training pants. More extensive 5.11 law enforcement gear was developed in 2003 to meets the needs of…

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Go Fish, Pets, Places, & Things

Catching Cobwebs.

By Steve Chaconas Catching Cobwebs. During a recent visit to the Potomac River, I finally got to step into my pro buddy’s boat for more than a quick interview or a photo. Troy Morrow has been around for a while, fishing several pro tours. He has a knack for the Potomac River. Lots of things have changed for Troy in the last two covid seasons. The biggest, his move to Phoenix boats was a rare move for the Georgia pro who’s had the same sponsors for quite some time. His deck was decked out with 17 white Duckett rods and reels, spooled up with high end Sun Line. Each outfit is specifically tuned for each technique Troy plans to employ in this tournament. His lures of choice to cover water were a unique buzz bait and a Zoom crankbait. Troy demonstrated a new sticky sharp Gamakatsu G-Finesse hook. The bait keeper secures soft plastics, perfect for drop shot. Zoom soft plastics are on his line for every fishery across the country. Every tournament stop requires different baits and different colors to be successful. Making baits for nearly 40 years, Zoom is one of the oldest soft plastic makers with more than 70 industry-leading products and more than 400 unique colors.  But it was the crankbait made by the company’s founder Eddie Chambers that got us talking about how innovative his company was, stretching the imagination of the soft plastics industry and going beyond with fish-catching balsa wood crankbaits. After Eddie’s death, Zoom stopped cranking out crankbaits, but Troy keeps throwing them, taking extraordinary efforts to retrieve when snagged as they are selling for hundreds of dollars on eBay. A Garmin LiveScope master, Troy uses two LiveScope units, one in forward scan, the other in the wider perspective view. Finding the fish holding cover that produces…

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Go Fish, Pets, Places, & Things

Catching Covid

  Catching Covid The word elicits a response from social media overlords, fact checking and links to the CDC with information about social distancing, masks, vaccines, more masks, and booster shots.  But when you mention covid to anglers, they go fish. Even the Maryland Governor’s stay at home order in March 2020 couldn’t keep fishermen from wetting a line. As covid continues, many family gatherings, outdoor activities, and sporting events have gone underground to avoid being labeled a “super spreader”.  Rising above it all and keeping it real…and safe, families and friends chose fishing as the much needed escape from the incessant media and political coverage of things you could and couldn’t do. Tournaments continued on a limited basis and the 25th Annual St Jude Children’s Hospital Tournament was cancelled. Always an inexpensive and accessible activity, during covid fishing hooked participants normally not even remotely interested. After every other form of recreation was shut down, fishing was wide open.  Alexandria-based Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation’s (RBFF) 2021 Special Report on Fishing shows fishing grew in popularity with nearly 55 million participants, including 4.4 million first-timers. Fishing satisfies covid cops as being a safe activity. Picking up a rod relieves other covid symptoms, stress, and anxiety, enabling participants to focus on something outdoors that’s free from covid hype or hypodermic needles. While covid has shut down the country, it has led new people to the water. Getting to the water is the first step toward fishing. Most first time anglers expected their trip to be relaxing. Spending time with family was the most common motivation to start fishing, according to the study. These newcomers have brought the fishing industry closer to its goal of reaching 60 million participants within the 60-month period ending in December 2021. Fishing isn’t just a “guy” thing. This report says…

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Go Fish, Pets, Places, & Things

By Steve Chaconas New Toys, New Modifications There’ve been many new devices to make bass fishing more effective and enjoyable. A few stand out. Many were met with resistance by fishing’s rank and file. “I don’t need that” or “I’ve always done it this way” or “Just wait to see if they really work” were common excuses for not embracing the new and disposing the old. One of the first was the gas foot pedal. In early years of boating, a hand throttle was standard on every bass boat. Left hand on the steering wheel and the right on the throttle. Boaters operated their throttle by hand with one hand on the wheel. Along came the foot pedal, allowing complete boat control with both hands on the steering wheel. Better for boat handling and safer too. About a decade ago, shallow water anchors were becoming available for bass boats This enabled remote control of two anchor spikes deployed into the lake bottom. Prior to these devices, anglers used trolling motors to keep boats in position. Along came Power Pole and anglers stayed put with the touch of a button, especially handy in current or windy conditions for fishing specific target fishing. Trolling motors wouldn’t be used, making it quieter near fish hangouts. Effective while fishing and for taking a break to change tackle or retie without losing boat position. In addition, these anchors made docking a piece of cake, allowing boats to be safely away from the dock to avoid damage. Fishing electronics have truly changed fishing. “Seeing” underwater to find fish hangouts or fish themselves, these minicomputers with big screens eliminate unproductive fishing time. In the last few years, Garmin released the most innovative advancement since Humminbird released side imaging. LiveScope allows anglers to aim a transducer to see…

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Go Fish, Pets, Places, & Things

“Catching” Up

By Steve Chaconas “Catching” Up In this fast paced world with email, Instagram, and social media posts, there’s nothing like a 6 hour fishing trip to get reacquainted with high school classmates. Fort Hunt High School was a huge school. Our class of 1973 had nearly 650 graduates. Alumni from all over the country gather every year to stay in touch at an annual reunion at Fort Hunt Park and via social media. A couple of us reunite on the Potomac River for an annual fishing trip. During our school years, we all fished. Why not, with the Potomac River right up the street. But then the river was nasty, polluted with forever contaminants and fresh raw sewage. But by the time we were in the waning years of school days, the river cleaned up. My buddies Duel Ballard and Keith Salo moved out of the area but maintained contact with those who just couldn’t leave the Alexandria suburbs. In the 70s Duel spent several years on the Fort Hunt Crew team, rowing up and down the river. Duel and Keith grew up in the oldest part of Fort Hunt territory, Hollin Hall. In fact, our baby boomer classmates provided a steady flow of students into one of the best high schools in the country. Nearly every home housed a Federal or future Federal.  Most of them enjoyed fishing. Flash forward to 0600 on a July morning, the same guys who couldn’t get up to go to school on time were at the dock ready to fish. We all anticipated a wonderful day, regardless of Mother Nature. But today she cooperated with fantastic weather and decent fishing. But, let’s face it, we weren’t out on the Potomac just to fish. We sped through 50 years chatting about our friends, teachers and…

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Go Fish, Pets, Places, & Things

How many fish in the sea?

By Steve Chaconas How many fish in the sea? Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources biologist John Odenkirk has been counting Potomac River bass since Northern Snakeheads (NSH) invaded in 2004. While shocking and studying NSH, the River’s prized largemouth bass were a by-catch.  While the Potomac NSH population is down, likely due to predation by fish, birds and anglers, the largemouth bass fishery is in outstanding shape. Odenkirk says the only poor year class in the last six was the 2018 class, the wettest year in recorded history, showing a drop off in the 2019 surveys. Odenkirk says the good years are “…driving the gravy train.”  The DWR conducts regular and consistent fishing surveys with electro shocking boats maneuvering where bass are located. These areas are the same and the length of the surveys are timed. Once stunned, bass float to the surface where they’re netted, measured, logged, and released. This process doesn’t harm fish. Samples are collected from 4 Virginia creeks, once in April and once in May. There are 3 runs in each of the four creeks with 2 survey periods. Data collected is calculated to give a statistical count of largemouth bass. Odenkirk says when trying to compare catch rate with relative abundance…more sample sizes the better. Odenkirk only conducts spring surveys when bass are shallow and before submerged aquatic vegetation emerges interferes with access to bass with thick vegetation. This is different from other jurisdictions, running their own surveys. From this data they determine the relative abundance of bass, and this statistical number of bass is a surrogate for actual population. DWR data is stratified by age. Generally, a fish under 8 inches a fingerling or juvenile. On average a one year old bass is 4-12 inches. Much of this is dependent on environmental influences, habitat, and forage, but…

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Go Fish, Pets, Places, & Things

Oh no, not another tie!

By Steve Chaconas Oh no, not another tie! Here is my annual “Dude, don’t get Dad another tie column”! He might wear it…only when you’re in town or when you mention it. He really dreads having to tie one on for you! It’s Father’s Day, put a bit of thought into the gift for the guy who was always thinking of you! Let dad know he’s legendary. Don’t let dad get caught short in shorts. Hiking or wading a stream, Filson’s Dry Falls Shorts have the best of both material worlds to keep dad in motion, cotton for comfort with 2% spandex for durability and a bit of stretch. He might not know he has them on, which might avoid an embarrassing family picnic. A drawcord and elastic waistband keep Dry Falls Shorts comfortably in place. Deep front pockets hold phone, wallet, and keys securely. Back pocket flaps secure with Velcro®. These shorts are up to any tall task or trip. Comfortable and tough. Filson.com Toss dad’s rubber rainsuit. Sitka’s 3-layer GORE-TEX Dew Point Jacket provides lightweight, waterproof, and breathable Gore-Tex foul weather protection and comfort. Lightweight and tough, Dew Point is cut to allow layering for nearly all-season rain protection. For high activity, armpits unzip for added ventilation. Zippered side pockets are accessible while wearing a backpack.  Sitka’s adjustable hood keeps elements out. Cuffs seal and jacket bottom cinches, preventing rain from creeping into dad’s arms and waist. Big in features, Dew Point is packable, squeezing into nearly any space.  sitkagear.com Pull the wool over dad’s eyes with a gift he’ll never take off. Nothing feels better or more natural than merino wool. In 2002 Minus33’s outdoors passion began with a snowmobile brand, expanding to hiking, skiing, and hunting. Minus33 products naturally provide warmth, breathability, and comfort. Chocorua Crew…

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Go Fish, Pets, Places, & Things

Angling Buzzes with Cicadas

Go Fish By Steve Chaconas Angling Buzzes with Cicadas Showing up every 17 years, cicadas enter the region with sight and sound and are expected to appear up and down the East Coast between late April and early June, as the ground temperature reaches the mid 60s. They come out of the ground, mate and then die while their offspring go back underground and wait another 17 years before emerging to repeat the process. Anglers and fish will be waiting for cicadas with baited breath. Cicadas provide a meaty snack that creates a buzzing invitation along the surface, often buzzing in circles to allow fish of every species to zero in. A few billion will take to the air and some will inadvertently end up in the water. This creates a topwater feeding frenzy. During Cicada season 17 years ago, anglers noticed that fish keyed on anything that lingered on the surface as the cicada conditioned fish looked to the skies when eating. Around 2 inches in length, cicadas are not hard to find. They are all over trees and on the ground, making them easy to collect for bait. If they can’t be seen, noisy males can be heard and then located. As if the noise wasn’t enough, these insects are hard to miss with their orange wings, buggy red eyes and distinctive noisy mating calls. They are totally harmless to humans, and a tasty meal to fish. Cicadas may enhance fishing in clear-water scenarios where fish feed by sight, or in shallow water where they are close to the fish despite visibility. Fish will find them. Looking for birds diving on cicadas will reveal areas chummed with cicadas. These are the best places to fish as the buffet attracts fish. As with other topwater lures and baits, low light,…

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Go Fish, Pets, Places, & Things

No Fishing?

By Steve Chaconas No Fishing? When Maryland Governor Hogan banned fishing and boating last spring and social distancing and limited gatherings stopped bass tournament anglers in their tracks, many thought that would be the end of anti-fishing pressure. Now two areas are extending Government control of navigable Virginia and DC waters. Just over a decade ago Quantico Marine Base set a precedent, laying claim to a sizable portion of the Virginia shoreline adjacent to its base and navigable Chopawamsic Creek entering the base. In the name of national security, the off limits extends over 300 yards into the Potomac River. In DC’s Washington Channel, Fort McNair is in the process of closing off its perimeter out to 300 yards, citing security measures specifically due to the 2001 9/11 terrorist attacks and 2013 Navy Yard shootings. McNair’s Officer housing, Officers club and golf course are among the sensitive targets. Surrounded by water, the perimeter is monitored with security cameras, lighting, and a road frequently patrolled by Military Police. A restricted area (RA) would provide a false sense of security or at least be ineffective should an attack be launched. In the past, there’s been an unofficial off-limits area, arbitrarily enforced. Congress passed DC Cong. Eleanor Holmes Norton’s bill to redevelop the Southwest Waterfront and the Wharf, the sites most affected by the proposed rule. A reinvigorated Wharf has brought the DC community together and generated tax revenue. She says the rule is unnecessarily restrictive. “…and even when given the opportunity, military officials have not addressed the question of whether less restrictive measures could provide the same security.” Echoing the call for security common sense is DC Mayor Muriel Bowser. “Residents and visitors alike are discovering for the first time the bounty that our Anacostia and Potomac Rivers offer in terms of…

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