The alarm sounded at 5:02am, 'Dead Man Shoes' by virginmarys blasted from my phone.
I have one alarm setting for work and another for fishing. I always get up on time for the fishing alarm.
Bob from Powerteam Lures was set to arrive at my house by 5:45am, and we were headed to Scottsville to put in on the James River. He had been having a great string of adventures, catching a citation or near citation size smallie, every trip on the river. I wanted in on that action!
The morning was peaceful and we set off down the river with hopes of big smallies. Dave paddled his Wilderness Systems Tarpon 120 kayak from ARC. Bob paddled his Wilderness Systems Ride 115 kayak from ARC. And I paddled a Jackson Kayak Coosa.
I hooked one, and then lost it, about 3 feet from me. After some success , we headed on down the river. Bob and I came across a large catfish and decided to try and noodle it. We missed our chance when we slipped the GoPro too close to his big face. There is a video featuring the large catfish at the end of the post.
We all caught a lot of little dinks. The big girls were hiding from us. The bite was slow all day. Though we saw a ton of catfish and gar as we cruised through the crystal clear water of the James River.
Here is one of the little bronze backs I caught. I caught most of my fish on the Green Pumpkin Purple Flake 5" Sick Stick and one on the Susky Slayer w/ Purple Flake 3.5" Food Chain Tube. Both are awesome plastic baits from Powerteam Lures.
As we neared the end of our trip, I felt a little discouraged. We hadn't seen any decent sized smallies the whole float. We started passing the various islands at the backend of the paddle. I took a middle path, Dave drifted left and Bob went right. I caught another little smallie and tossed him back. Then I heard Bob calling me in a hushed tone from about 40 yards away. I looked over and he started waving me in.
I paddled up and he explained that he'd caught a few fish in this shaded ripple and was pretty certain his Susky Slayer Food Chain Tube had just been hit and dropped by a solid sized fish. I slipped out, waded over and started casting.
We spent about 10 hours on the James River last Sunday. It started with a sunrise and ended with a big smallmouth bass pulled from the rapids of the river. In between, we enjoyed the casual camaraderie, floating on the water, that gives memories to solid friendships.
Today, on this anniversary, I thought a lot about getting outside with good people. I thought about friendship and kindness. I thought about this grand country we love and why we hold so fervently to it's ideals and aspirations. How do you honor the sacrifices of so many good men and women, like those on 9-11, like my dad?
I'll keep on adventuring. I'll keep smiling into this life, sharing it with family and friends. I'll keep soaking up the beauty of this great place and the great people I come across while exploring it and I'll keep living free. It seems a fitting tribute to those who have fallen and to those who still fight.
See ya on the water.