Friday, February 28, 2014

2014 Outdoor Goal Update

Well, we are 2 months into the new year, and I've yet to land a fish. My goal to catch a fish in every month of the year will go unfulfilled. Perhaps for this year, I'll have to modify that goal to be that I want to go fishing in every month of the year.

Winter fishing is always tough, and for me, the best bets are either trout or walleye. I'm not an ice fisherman, so I need open water, which has been tough to find this year so far. Even the Mon was mostly iced up during mid-late January, which is pretty rare. Many trout streams were locked up tight.

I missed my best opportunity in early January before the super deep freeze set in. I finally got out on the final day of January when some slightly warmer temperatures allowed some of the ice on the Mon to retreat just far enough that I was able to wet a line one evening to try for a walleye below the Morgantown locks. With water temperatures hovering just above the freezing mark, I knew most fish would be deep and lethargic, and wasn't able to draw a strike.
Mon River Temperatures for 2014, brrrrr!
February has been more of the same, except with more snow. Honestly, this month the problems with finding good water to fish has been more related to snowmelt than ice cover. The Mon has been pretty high and muddy, so last Saturday, I opted to head to western MD for some trout fishing action with Evan and Roger. Garrett County was under a blanket of snow that was measured in feet, and 2 days before my anticipated trip, we got a burst of 50 degree temperatures and rain. This obviously raised most free-flowing streams to unfishable levels with ice-cold snowmelt runoff.
Snowcover Feb. 20 before the rain. Dark purples are in the 20-30" range.
My plan though was to fish the Savage River tailwaters, which are below Savage River Dam. Here, the water temperatures from bottom water release from the lake keep temperatures more stable compared to free-flowing streams where snowmelt drops water temps drastically. Evan and I checked the flows before leaving Morgantown, and despite the runoff above the lake, they were still only releasing 250 cfs, a fishable flow. We arrived and fished for several hours through water that seemed much stronger than a typical 250 flow. Evan was able to land 2 browns, and when Roger met us, he hooked and lost a brown. I had much less luck and ended up getting skunked. When we finished fishing for the day, we realized that while en route to the stream, they opened the dam up more, and raised the flow to 450. Oh well, there will be skunks when fishing water temperatures in the 30's in January and February.

Evan's Savage River Brown Trout

On a positive note, even though I haven't had any luck actually catching fish, I can say its been nice to meet and fish some new folks. When I fished the Mon in January, I it was a pleasure to meet and fish with Senoy from the wvangler.com message board (his real name was Lawrence). This was also the first time I had ever fished with Evan. We shared the hour or two we fished sharing fishing and hunting tales, which made the fishless not such a big deal.

So here's to March. This especially cold winter will start to break soon enough. Water temps have already started slowly inching away from the freezing mark (although the 3 degree air temps this morning have certainly halted that temporarily). Here's to pre-spawn March walleye. Here's to the start of the spring hatches on our trout streams. Here's to hopefully catching a fish in March!

Tight lines!

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