Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Down goes Mac, down goes Mac

The first fish I caught on the Monongahela River in West Virginia was my best one of the weekend.
MAHFS photo by Mac Arnold

By Mac Arnold
MAHFS Editor

I survived the ragin' waters of the Cheat River in Preston County, W.Va., but I lost the fish off against the in-laws once again.

Really, the Cheat was quite tame. The water level was down but I'm not naive because I know from others' stories, catch it at the right time -- fall and spring -- and you will be takin' on some fast river action.

The last set of rapids, known as the "Dead Man's Rapids," did get quite interesting though, and I heard frequently during the overnight expedition of how one couple in the party was dunked by that monster on a previous trip.

What makes it wicked is that at the end of the Seven Islands Road-to-Rowlesburg run the water forces your canoe to take a hard left under small bridge directly into the path of huge blocks of concrete loaded with rebar sticking out in every direction.

It was this hazard that did them in on that fateful day.

Luckily for us, two pals of Mike McCauley's -- my brother-law -- were stationed in their boat in front of the Doc Oct rock and we gently bounced off of their boat, which eased us enough to squeak by without disaster.

I was told later we were very, very close to hitting the rock, which is kind of freaky because I don't remember that part at all.

Wisely, I opted to not video this part of the trip but I did take video while we went through a couple of the milder runs.

Now, back to the fishing.

But wait, one more thing, and that's why I have more fun fishing this way -- by canoe on fast, moving rivers -- than any other because of the mixture of water adventure with smallmouth bass action. Just can't beat it.

Sometimes in the calmer water it's kind of like bow hunting -- up close and personal. You have to ease in slowly to the cover along the river's edge and slip a perfect cast under stumps and rocks without spooking the fish.

Unfortunately for me, there weren't enough perfect casts over the weekend in the Mountain State.

The best fish I caught was the first one (seems like this happens a lot) I drilled on a buzz bait near a stump along the other river we fished on two other separate days, the mighty Monongahela in Monongalia County, W.Va.

This bass likely topped the 2-pound mark, but not by much and that was how it was over the weekend, mostly small ones. Heat seemed to keep the big boys at bay during the times we were out.

But this fish wouldn't keep me ahead of Mike for long.

The day-two ride on the Cheat he had me on volume and just before the Dead Man's Rapids approach he nailed a real nice fish that I had no answer for as I was dealing with a nasty bird's nest.

My father-in-law Fred McCauley of Morgantown, W.Va., landed the best fish of the weekend on July 4 on the Monongahela River in West Virginia.
MAHFS photo by Mac Arnold

But the best surprise of the weekend was how the old man, my father-in-law, Fred McCauley of Morgantown, beat both our butts when he hooked one nearly 3 pounds early in the run on the third day back on the Monongahela.

Another thing that foiled my action was again not having the right color of worm, which Mike had and I didn't -- go figure.

Usually I have a bag of the Yum smokey pearl worms, which would have been made to order over this weekend, and Mike was reeling 'em in left and right with that color.

And at the end of the trip I came to a couple of conclusions: one being, the worms that outperform the others are the Gary Yamamoto senkos and the Yum dingers. All the other ones just don't seem to connect with fish.

The other one is I'm done with gigs that get into the late afternoon from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. in the heat of the day. All you do is roast and snag your line.

After the second day on the Cheat, which was arduous in itself, and the near 10 hours on the Mon on the last day, I was beat.

And now, after looking at a big old gouge in the pinky knuckle of my right hand, I have another conclusion: if we're going to fish like that in the future, then I'm getting a glove to wear.

The weekend was a blur of good fun and laughs.

I can't wait to go back in August.


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