Sunday, August 14, 2011

Smallmouth Bass, Walleye Fishing: Annual Barryville, NY, Delaware River Float Trip

Ever since my friend Steve Slota introduced us to this area of the Delaware Wild & Scenic Rivers designation in 2004, we've been coming up to Barryville, NY, at least once annually to float trip by rented raft. Yesterday we actually went from Staircase to Matamoras (across from Port Jervis), but afterwards drove on up to Barryville for ice cream and one more crack at walleyes at a spot I know is good from shore. The best I've done on any of these trips by numbers is 16 smallmouths, and the largest of them 17 inches. One of us usually gets one close to 16 inches. My largest yesterday of six caught was a little over 14, maybe nearing 15. My son decided to just relax, read, and explore a cave.

Surprised at off-color water yesterday, it didn't phase me since walleyes typically hit better. I hooked one on a Rat-L-Trap in the typical 18-inch range, but lost it alongside the raft just as I had grabbed the net. Later, near dinnertime, I tried a section of current that cuts close to the bank in Barryville where, with similar water conditions, I caught four walleyes within an hour a few years ago on Rat-L-Traps. Not a hit yesterday, even with clouds and rain beginning to fall.

While float tripping, a lot seems random. We do use an anchor to give us some control. But typically close to half of our bass and walleyes get caught rather blindly, though out in mid-river where we can't see whatever rocks or boulders might have held the fish underneath. The best we do is keep the lure close to bottom, and doing that is inexact with spinnerbaits, Rat-L-Traps, and Rapala Countdowns. When using diving crankbaits, if I don't feel an occasional click of the lip hitting a rock, I change to something else I know will get deeper. I lose a lot of Rat-L-Traps because I do let them sink. Often as soon as the line slacks when the lure hits bottom, it's too late, it's snagged.

Jigs get lost plenty. Even the snagless jigs--snag. Nonetheless, my favorite water condition is fairly low and clear. I love to toss an 1/8th-ounce jig and try to dance it so that it keeps touching bottom, but doesn't snag. But the best number I scored, those 16 smallmouths, all came on a #9 Rapala floater. Water conditions low and clear, I caught most of these bass in very shallow pockets isolated in fast moving water.

I almost forgot to mention that my wife, Patricia, and black lab Sadie were along, I'm so used to either solo accounts, or those with my son. Last we visited Point Pleasant at the shore, Patricia got hit by a large wave and tore three ligaments in her right knee, so she's still using the brace until well after the surgery. Point Pleasant at high tide usually seems visited by those high rollers that break right onto the beach and pull back towards a sharp drop-off. The entire coastline is a narrative of current, depth and sand, but the waves can be treacherous. Since Patricia's injury, we've heard many stories, including one of a mid-30's phys-ed teacher who is now paralyzed from the neck down from body surfing.

On a lighter note--winged--we saw two juvenile bald eagles, which are common in this region of river and another specimen of lobelia, a flower.

It's fun, but I keep dreaming of a real good-size bass, and walleye. 

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