H3 Test Postscript and River Musings

Well I mentioned in a previous post about the H3D testing at Orvis and that I thought I could do 120 feet with it.  Last week at a meeting at Orvis I checked out an 8 weight to cast.  Other club casters got out on the lawn with me to cast it and as things go, members started trying to see how far they could cast it.   After all the casters were finished I pulled off approximately ten or more feet of backing and and made a cast that not only sent the backing out but the backing slammed tight against the reel.  In other words, there was more in the tank.  The flyline was a 100 foot Orvis saltwater, 33.5 foot head, (short) with at least 7 feet of leader.  It was a nice straight cast with good leader layout.

I didn’t have a tape and the meeting was about to begin so that’s all I have to report.  I would love to have measured that cast, I am sure it would have been a new personal best.  I think I can safely say, my new best is within the H3D and its 120+.  Especially with a clean line that has a long head.  And hopefully without an overhand knot in the belly like the Orvis line had!

I don’t think it was just the rod though.  My distance casts have recently improved as I’ve been tweaking my cast.  Just practicing in the yard yesterday with my broken tip Signature Series TFO 6wt with a bent guide I made two pretty casts back to back in the 111 foot range that looked like twins.

On another note, I was watching the forecast of the MS River.  I haven’t had a good trip there in a long time but I just can’t leave the river alone.  I have fun out there and I expect the river to be hit and miss anyway.  Mostly miss.

Excellent outdoor adventures, whether hunting or fishing all rely on an index of some kind.  It’s all about being in the right place at the right time.  I keep thinkiing that maybe I just haven’t figured it out.  My trip a couple of weeks ago was the first opportunity the jetties were fishable.   The rocks had just come out of the water.  From experience I know that the longer the jetties are out of the water and the water is somewhat stable, the better the fishing is.  Ideally there are gulls working the roil, numerous gar are chilling against the rocks and there will be small splashes from baitfish if the white bass and stripers are going to be there in any numbers.  There was none of that on my last trip.

Looking at the gauge the water will have come down from a small  rise and will have been almost flat for a few days by Saturday.  Also a rise begins late Friday afternoon and I was hoping that might turn on a bite.  In Arkansas tailwaters I could always tell when the gates were opened for the generators about thirty minutes before the water arrived because the fish would start biting really well.  The fish feel it and for whatever reason, they begin feeding.  Of course all of that is anecdotal but intuitively, valid.  I keep trying to use the web-connected gauges, historical experience and intuitive thought to find a valid index.  I call it the “Zen of When”.  If nothing else, it’s part of the fun, and the payoff could be a big MS River striper or a 50 white bass morning.  Worst case is, I have several hundred acres of beautiful wilderness to enjoy with the roar of the river in my ears and the vibration of tugboats in my chest.

The river will look something like this but water will be running through the jetty starting only about twenty feet from the bank.



So the above chart shows the prediction, flat through mid-day Friday and then a rise begins that will bring it up by 7/10’s of a foot by Saturday morning.   I would really like to be there when the rise begins sometime Friday morning, but I will be at work.

These are the conditions  I experienced in 2017 at approximately the same depth as the forecast when I caught some white bass and a few small stripers.  The depth will require a kayak to slide in the river to ease in at various places on the jetty to cast.  Knowing to avoid the notch is important because if you get caught in that current the next stop is Vicksburg.

When studying the jetty for likely places to find fish, I look for three things:

  • A water brake with an eddy.  On a jetty that means a big rock that’s taking the brunt of the current.  The stripey fish like to lay below and ambush minnows coming through the rocks.  Of course I try everything but the best thing that seems to work is using two clousers, one about a foot or more apart and casting them above the rocks and kind of high sticking and letting them swim into the roil.  Apparently the stripey fish lay just below and they are watching for minnows to swim through.  Casting into the roil where you can’t high stick does work but usually only the casts right against the rocks work.
  • A current underneath the roil.  I am not sure what to call it but in certain situations there will be  a current running parallel to the rocks and perpendicular to the top current where the roil is.  I would love to be a scuba diver and go observe, but with a visibility of only a few feet I am not sure what could be seen.  Basically there is apparently some attractive conditions underneath the roil that attracts the stripey fish.   It’s almost always indicated by a large circular eddy nearby.   To fish it, you cast a lot of slack into the eddy and let the fly circle around to follow the current.  You have to feed plenty of slack because any pull will pull the fly out of the undercurrent and it will go downstream.  If the fly finds the undercurrent the fly line will begin pulling and I just keep feeding and feeding until finally it starts heading downstream.   We often do the same thing at the lowhead dams.  The undercurrent is unpredictable though, its not always present, but if one is present, you can almost count on a fish.
  • A seam to work.  The seams are usually not as productive but sometimes the fish are there.  Usually the skipjacks are at the far end of the seam and I just think the big striper of my dreams could be there looking for a meal.  I have hooked some big gar at the end of the seam so why not a big striper?

Well, look for a postscript around Monday.

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