Saturday, April 14, 2018

Van Syckel's Road Largemouths and Pike Recalled

We bought extra-large shiners at Zach Merchant's Round Valley Bait and Tackle when it opened for the very first time at 6:00 a.m. this morning, arriving at Van Syckel's Road and the mouth of Spruce Run Creek, where it becomes reservoir, well before sunup, beginning our northern pike fishing along the jetty. I haven't done this in what seems a very long time, though only five years ago my son and I came on a cold April evening and tried. Since 2005, we had come at least once a year, catching a number of pike as large as nine pounds, some largemouths as long as 20 1/8 inches, and crappies weighing as much as 2 1/4 pounds. There was a real life to the fishing here, thanks to my son who motivated me to get started, though the fishing took care of itself after that.

When Jorge Hildago and I began fishing this morning, I couldn't catch the feeling, but by the end of three hours on the water, I recognized where I had left off with this form of live-lining shiners and my expecting attention on the fishes' end of the line, feeling returning to me as our outing's end neared, though no fish hit my offerings. But that expectation of eventually hooking up transforms what would be an empty throw-the-bait-out-there and sort-of-reel-it-painfully-slow-back sling-along into a meditative habit that actually had sustained interested focus for years. Dependable on the first try every early spring. Usually we fished a couple of hours or so at most, sometimes longer, always with a line that mattered, despite how meaningless this kind of activity can seem without the vital feel you can really only know from within, although outward graces one may observe of an angler can offer a clue.

It does depend on catching some fish.  And perhaps this begs a question. Could anyone catch fish forever and not get bored with the activity? I was definitely interested in hooking up this morning, but I fished nearly every day during my teens, and then gave up the pursuit. Not entirely, but enough to quit keeping my handwritten fishing log for nine years. And when I began keeping it again, I didn't fish nearly as many days to keep note of over the course of any given year. Above all, it took my four-year-old son's intervention to really get me interested again.

Jorge got his first bass before sunup. I didn't give up when intense light began playing on the water, temperature rising above 70, but I had my doubts anything else would hit. We've never fished pike early in the morning before today. It was always an afternoon and evening affair, and usually, we caught the fish from the time the sun went behind the hill, to dark. But Jorge switched to a Senko plastic worm and caught another bass. So hats off to him. This is his fourth try at Spruce and his first fish here.


  1. Now I know how the munchkins felt when the wicked witch died--the skunk is dead! Although we didn't catch any pike we did manage to catch up ourselves. Great time as always. JH

    1. Thanks Jorge. I'm looking ahead. Don't see anything yet, but will let you know.


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