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Monday, October 14, 2013
Sam Rorrer is a river rat.
He spends lots of days on the New River, especially, chasing smallmouths and muskies.
When people ask him his favorite time of year to fish, the answer is easy.
"I reply, without hesitation, ‘During hunting season!' " Rorrer wrote to me in a recent email reporting yet another outstanding day of autumn smallmouth action.
While the woods are busy this time of year - and who's to blame hunters for loving this time of year? - fishermen can find great action on lakes, streams and along the coast.
The mid-Atlantic has been getting pounded by wind the past week or so. Before the blow, fishing for big red drum was outstanding. Even during the tough conditions that have kept boats at the dock, surf and pier anglers are scoring.
Trout stocking season is back in full swing, too. Last week hatchery trucks hit 26 streams and small lakes across the state.
Wild trout streams, such as the Jackson and Smith river tailwaters are fishing well, with anglers tossing streamer flies or shiny hardware such as spoons and spinners connecting with some nice rainbows and browns. (The Jackson tailwater won't be fishable today due to a scheduled high-water release from Gathright Dam.)
Fans of native brook trout will find those fish wearing their spectacular spawning season colors, and eager to gobble small flies, lures or pieces of bait.
Rorrer, who has guiding experience on the New, is partial to what he likes to call October bronze, those fat footballs that are gorging this time of year.
During the trip that prompted his email report, Rorrer pulled about two dozen smallies into the boat.
Now, compared to a summertime day when it's not uncommon to battle 50 or more feisty smallmouths on a float, two dozen fish might not sound like a lot.
But most of those fish were in the 14-inch neighborhood, according to Rorrer, and the catch of the day was a stout 20-incher. (Check out my Wild Life blog on roanoke.com for a picture of the trophy.)
It was what was missing from the day that had Rorrer most thrilled.
He enjoyed the fishing "without seeing so much as another human being," he reported. "Man, I love hunting season!"
On the coast, bull red drum were thick around the third and fourth islands of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel last week.
The fish had been massing there as they prepare for their southerly migration along the coast.
My friends Brian Burke, David Brugh and Earl Blanchard took a break for some fishing during a work-related trip to the coast to go after drum, and they enjoyed fantastic fishing.
Brian reported that the team boated five drum from 40 to 50 inches, including two that hit the 50-pound mark. They also had 14 smaller drum in the 25- to 26-inch range.
On Monday, Josh Anderson at the Princess Anne Distributing tackle shop in Virginia Beach reported that anglers have been working the surf around Virginia Beach and Sandbridge while the wind has been blowing.
Using cut mullet or menhanden, the surf and pier anglers have been tangling with lots of good drum.
"Drum love it rough," Anderson said of the tendency for the powerful fish to go on feeding binges in roiling surf.
When the wind finally calms, which should happen this week, it will be interesting to see if the drum fishing is still good or has cooled off in the lower Chesapeake Bay.
If the drum action has eased, which seems likely, bay fishermen will have another good option as the striper action should keep improving as fall progresses.
So far this fall, smaller resident stripers have been accounting for the bulk of the action in the lower bay.
As water temperatures fall, larger fish will be migrating down the coast from their summering grounds off the Northeast coast.
Although the heaviest shot of the really big stripers, those topping 40 pounds, is probably at least a month distant, the fishery should continue to improve.
Saturday brings the 27th annual Bank of Fincastle Fall 5K and 10K in Fincastle.
The race, which is expected to draw somewhere in the neighborhood of 1,000 participants, starts promptly at 9 a.m. at Central Academy Middle School.
Day-of-race registration runs from 7:30-8:30 a.m., and the entry fee is just $20.
A few spots remain for the popular Into the Darkness trail race Saturday evening at Explore Park.
The 4-mile race starts at 7 p.m., with packet pickup and day-of-race registration (if still available) from 5:15-6:40 p.m.
More information on the race is available at www.mountainjunkies.net.
Weather JournalMix on Sat AM; coming blog changes