Thursday, October 14, 2004
Bill Cochran's Field Reports: Selling out Sweet Springs Creek
Bill Cochran's Outdoors
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- The good and bad of the 2012 saltwater fishing season
- Column archive
Bill's Field Reports
- Virginia General Assembly goes soft on outdoor issues
- Quail Unlimited calls it quits
- Field reports archive
When Barry and Kathleen Goodwin owned a section of Sweet Springs Creek in Alleghany County, they opened it to fly-fishing for trout, charging a modest $25 per angler. It was worth more than that just to see this tributary of Dunlap Creek with its three magnificent waterfalls. The Goodwins generally let people who simply wanted to view the falls come in free. They called their operation Spring Creek Fishing at Beaver Dam Falls. It included a fly shop and trout that measured more than 20 inches, factors that attracted some of the top fly anglers in the state.
Then came Gary Hock, who bought the Goodwin property and put a stop to the public fishing. He built a 6,000 to 7,000-square-foot mansion within a cast of the most beautiful set of falls. It was a sad occurrence for those who had fished and loved the stream and its falls.
Now the property, the 40-foot falls, the mansion is scheduled to be auctioned on Oct. 21. It is doubtful that anyone who can muster the kind of money needed to buy the property will share it with anglers, but let’s hope so.
The auction company has been surprised at how little interest has been expressed in the sale. Some people will tell you that’s because Hock messed up a good thing.
OCTOBER DUCK SEASON
A quick report on the early duck season. I took to the James River between Springwood and Buchanan with a friend and my trusty canoe, all dressed up for the occasion with a blind.
We put in and didn't go 50 yards when we heard a shot. Two johnboats with pairs of hunters had staked out either side of the river and were in a good spot for the early flight. They had neither camouflage nor decoys, but being up against the bank this time a year will yield some shooting.
Unfortunately, when a flock of wood ducks --12- to-15 birds at least -- came up the river, they let go with a barrage of fire that did little more than poke holes in the fog.
From where we were, we could see that they were blasting away at birds that were at least 60-to 70-yards away. Needless to say, none fell.
My buddy and I quickly paddled down stream and were able to get in some good shots on a pair that came in low. The johnboats then decided to pull anchor and suddenly we had a fleet of gunboats heading downstream.
We had a cordial exchange with one group who was kind enough to pick up one of our birds on their way. We allowed them to pass as we decided to put out some decoys near a sandbar and wait awhile.
After an hour, three woodies that drifted down to us were suddenly spooked and we did not get a shot. That was it for the day.
From the sound of things, the other boats had no more shooting either. A few fishermen were taking advantage of the gorgeous day and were picking up a few smallmouths.
The recent flooding really did a great job of scouring the river and even changed the
geography of the Mill Creek outlet.
Overall, it was a great day to be out.
Just a word to anyone who would like to try duck hunting. Learn to judge range and pattern your shotgun so you will know how it handles steel shot, which is chosen by most duck hunters on a budget.
I have learned that by limiting my shots to the ones I know I can make -- most at 30 yards or less -- I not only take more birds with fewer shells but notice that ducks become less decoy shy as the season progresses.
Don't be afraid to pass up those "iffy" shots. Learning to use a duck call is worthwhile and you can have some laughs while doing so. A few decoys thrown out add to the enjoyment and success.
One of the greatest things about duck hunting is being out there with a good friend and just taking the time to soak up the outdoors. Duck hunting is an amazing outdoor experience.
LITTLE FISH; BIG DEBATE
The Coastal Conservation Association of Virginia has kicked off its campaign calling for better management of menhaden by sending more than 2,000 emails to anglers asking them to support the cause.
Menhaden are an important forage fish in the Chesapeake Bay, providing food for many sport fish, including striped bass. They also help keep the Bay clean through a natural filtering system.
CCA is urging its supporters to lobby their legislators for better protection of menhaden. These fish are sought by an armada of commercial ships and spotter airplanes because of their value in producing a variety of products, from pet food to cosmetics.
During the past General Assembly, legislation failed that would have provided management for menhaden. In defeat, CCA officials vowed they would return to take up the battle more forcefully during the 2005 General Assembly.
WILL WEEKEND TOURNAMENTS HURT BASS FEDERATION
In last week’s field reports, I covered the new ESPN Outdoor Bassmaster Weekend Series, and said I would report this week on what impact it might have on BASS Federation tournaments.
Research on this subject has been going slowly, so give me a chance to look into the matter more before I do the report.
LATE SEASON SALTWATER SPORT
Fishing for striped bass in the Chesapeake Bay has been decent -- not excellent -- since the fall season opened Oct. 4. The action in the mid-Bay is better than it is around the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, said Claude Bain, director of the Virginia Saltwater Fishing tournament. Water temperatures have been 4-to 5-degrees warmer than normal and this could have a bearing on the striper fishing, Bain said.
Getting the most attention near the bridge-tunnel is a brisk run of flounder, Bain said. Many of the catches are coming east of the Third and Fourth Islands of the bridge-tunnel. Limit catches of big fish have not been uncommon.
Excellent founder fishing near the mouth of the Bay has been an October tradition the first 15 to 20 days of the month. Except last year, when weather conditions kept this fishery from developing
Spot remain plentiful. Some of these panfish are well up the Bay, meaning “We still have a lot more coming,” Bain said. More than 1,300 citations have been issued for sport and that number should increase rapidly the next couple of weeks.
Red drum are being caught in the Bay and by casters working the beaches of the barrier islands, which is what Bain was doing earlier this week.
The billfishing season is ending, but there should be some wahoo for a couple more weeks and yellowfin and tuna should hit into the first of November, Bain said.
>While driving through Highland County, a trucker pulling a 24-foot flatbed trailer noted the vehicle behind him flashing its lights. The trucker pulled over to find a 10-point buck on his trailer. The driver of the other vehicle said the buck had tried to jump the trailer and apparently broke its neck, ending up on the trailer.
>FLW Outdoors, well known for its bass tournaments, has announced that it will move into professional saltwater tournaments. The televised Wal-Mart FLW Redfish and Kingfish tours will begin next year, paying $3.6 million. That’s just a start, FLW says.
>Interior Secretary Gale Norton signed the 2004 update of the North American Waterfowl Management Plan, reaffirming the commitment of the United States to the continental conservation plan with Canada and Mexico. Ducks Unlimited President, John Tomke, was invited to speak at the ceremony.
>Wildlife artist Mark Anderson, from Sioux Falls, S.D. is the winner in the Federal Duck Stamp Art Contest, which attracted 224 entries. His work featured a pair of hooded merganser drakes resting on sun-lit water.
>ESPN has announced plans to air a new program titled “BassCenter” on Jan. 1. The show will highlight bass fishing but will cover other outdoor sports as well. It is set for Saturday’s at 7 a.m. on ESPN2 and will be replayed the same day at 11 a.m.
VIRGINIA SALTWATER FISHING TOURNAMENT
There are no changes this week in the standings of the Virginia Saltwater Fishing Tournament:
BLACK DRUM: 95 pounds, Joseph Roub, Baltimore, Md., Hog Island Bay.
COBIA: 103 pounds, 8 ounces, Vince Ainsley, Aylett, lower-western Chesapeake Bay.
CROAKER: 5 pounds, Jarvis Taylor, Richmond, lower York River.
DOLPHIN: 50 pounds, Jereme Wilson, Chesapeake, off Virginia Beach.
FLOUNDER: 14 pounds, 4 ounces, Betty Smith, Chesapeake, lower-eastern Chesapeake Bay.
GRAY TRIGGERFISH: 4 pounds, 12 ounce, Justin Hurst, Suffolk, lower-western Chesapeake Bay.
GRAY TROUT: 12 pounds, 12 ounces, Greg Thayer, Gloucester, upper-eastern Chesapeake Bay.
KING MACKEREL: 52 pounds, Cecil Smith, Virginia Beach, off Virginia Beach.
KINGFISH: 1 pound, 14 ounce, Bobby Smith, Portsmouth, lower-western Chesapeake Bay.
POMPANO: 3 pounds, 6 ounces, Arlon Stith, Petersburg, lower James River.
SEA BASS: 6 pounds, 14 ounces, Mark Fueller, Rio Grande, N.J., off Virginia Beach.
SHEEPHEAD: 19 pounds, 3 ounces state record, Jeff Hutton, Virginia Beach, lower eastern Chesapeake Bay.
SPADEFISH: 13 pounds, 10 ounces, Jake Mapp, Franktown, upper-eastern Chesapeake Bay.
SPANISH MACKEREL: 6 pounds, 6 ounces, Patrick Quisenberry, Mechanicsville, upper-western Chesapeake Bay.
SPECKLED TROUT: 13 pounds, 12 ounces, Walter Kellum, Hayes, Mobajack Bay.
SPOT: 1 pound, 10 ounces, Wilson Haynes, Wake, lower Rappahannock River.
STRIPED BASS: 63 pound state record, Carolyn Brown, Virginia Beach, off the Virginia Coast.
TAUTOG: 22 pounds, 9 ounces, Julie Ball, Virginia Beach, off Virginia Beach.
TUNA (BLUEFIN): 180 pounds, 4 ounces, Okey Bolling, Pasadena, Md. off Eastern Shore.
TUNA (OTHER): 241 pounds, Mike Wolf, Sterling, off Virginia Beach.
WAHOO: 107 pounds, Chris Miles, Virginia Beach, off Virginia Beach.
CITGO Bassmaster Open tournament, Oct. 14-16, Smith Mountain Lake.
Chesterfield Ducks Unlimited 25th Anniversary dinner and auction, Oct. 14, 5 p.m., Holiday Inn Select, Kroger Center South, Midlothian Turnpike, $65 single; $85 couple, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Author Leonard Adkins will be signing copies of “The Best of the Appalachian Trail Day Hikes” and “The Best of the Appalachian Trail Overnight Hikes” at the following Roanoke locations: Oct. 15, Barnes and Noble, 1-3 p.m.; Oct. 16, Ram’s Head Book Store, 1-3 p.m. Both books are out in new second editions.
Roanoke Valley Friends of NRA Banquet, 5:30 p.m., Oct. 16, Salem Civic Center, $30 single, $50 couple, mail ticket requests to Roanoke Valley FNRA, P.O. Box 463, Daleville, VA 24083, information from Dennis Mizack, 540-774-2289.
Board meeting of Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, 9 a.m. Oct. 21, Armada/Hoffler Town Center, (222 Central Park Ave.) Virginia Beach. Emphasis to be on planning and goals.
Grouse season Oct. 25-Feb. 12
H.C. Edwards Chapter of Ruffed Grouse Society Banquet, 6 p.m., Oct. 29, Augusta Expoland, Fisherville, info and tickets from Matt Smith, 540-459-3559 or 540-432-7732.
Muzzleloading deer season east of Blue Ridge, Oct. 30.
Rabbit season Nov. 1-Feb. 14.
Muzzleloading deer season west of Blue Ridge, Nov. 6.
Quail season Nov. 8-Jan. 31.
Firearms deer season Nov. 13.
Virginia Ducks Unlimited Rockfish Tournament, Dec. 4, Bluewater Yacht Sales on Sunset Creek in Hampton, rules and other information from vadurockfishshootout.site-101.com.
Eastern Sports and Outdoor Show, 50th anniversary, Feb. 5-13, State Farm Show Complex, Harrisburg, Pa., features Jimmy Houston, reported to be the largest consumer show of its kind.
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