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Wednesday, June 5, 2013
On a weekend visit to Central Virginia, with stops at the homes of President James Monroe and President Thomas Jefferson, two distinct sounds caught my attention, one subtle the other raucous.
While walking a portion of Monroe's 535-acre Ash Lawn estate, I heard the call of a quail. It was beautiful and distinctly rural, and it made my heart leap. We simply no longer hear quail where we live in Southwest Virginia. They are all but gone, their calls almost as rare as a lion's roar; an elephant's bugle.
At both Ash Lawn and Jefferson's neighboring Monticello, we also heard the offensive and shrill sound of swarms of cicadas. Someone said the noise they create is like Tinnitus magnified 100 times, but I am not one to whine about their whining.
The sound of cicadas, for me, is the invitation to some great fishing. Find a stream, lake or pond where a hatch is underway in shoreline foliage and you are onto some great surface fishing with a fly rod or lightweight spinning outfit. Even carp and catfish give up their muckraking ways to become surface feeders when cicadas-sometimes called locust-are around. Every bug provides a mouthful of protein for fish.
I regret that I have not heard the loud, synchronized mating calls of cicadas this year in the area where I live. Last year I fished a modest hatch at Carvins Cove, a Roanoke Valley water supply impoundment.
Central Virginia is a place to be this year if you want to fish a cicada hatch. I am told this gang of pests is part of the 17-year Brood II, which is stretching from North Carolina through Southside, Central and Northern Virginia all the way to Connecticut.
So if you hear them, grab your fishing rod. Cruse the shoreline looking for carp sucking insects off the surface, like a poor-man's bonefish. Stalk them carefully. Cast an imitation to the dimples or to the yellow mouth of the carp. The fly/lure doesn't have to closely match the hatch. I do like a bit or bright orange or red on my offerings, to match the bug's brilliant red eyes and reddish-orange wings. You can use paint to get the pattern you want.
Popping bugs work great on a fly rod. I especially like sponge-bodied spiders with rubber-ban legs. A productive spinning rod lure is the Arbogast Hocus Locust.
Go have some fun. I hope to see you on the water. This is the kind of fishing you can share.
You say you wouldn't be caught dead fishing for carp? That's because you've never hooked one of the wide-bodied jobs on lightweight tackle.
I have been fishing cicada hatches for years, thinking each one is my last, since they are supposed to occur only every 13 or 17 years. That is a long time when you reach my age. But they keep on coming and I keep on fishing.
Now if I could just hear more quail.
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