August 22nd – The Traffic Begins
My girlfriend, Alex, and I had decided to travel down to Virginia for a short 4-day trip as a way to cap off the summer and celebrate finishing our summer jobs. There were many species on my wish list in the area and Alex wanted to cross Delaware off her list as well as go to the beach. Day 1 was basically a driving day, Google Maps told us 11hrs to our furthest point. I had planned to stop at a Longear Sunfish spot that Pat had given me on the way but the insane traffic around DC prevented us from making it there in time. Instead, we stopped at a creek where he said there should be Swallowtail Shiners, Satinfin Shiners, and River Chub present. Unfortunately, when we got to the creek I saw that it was high and muddy: unfishable.
And so we continued on our way down past the city and to an area in the Mattaponi River drainage. We arrived well after dark but I was desperate to add something to my lifelist so I got out my tenkara gear and walked down to the creek. At first I saw some shiners that looked like they had glowing fins in my headlamp; I needed one! It didn’t take long before I had landed my H&L Satinfin Shiner lifer.
Afterwards I continued walking upstream and noticed some fish moving around in a puddle that had formed just to the side of the creek itself and I went to investigate. To my delight, they were Pirate-Perch! I was very lucky to have found them in an area with no cover where they could hide themselves, a so-called “Pirate-Perch Puddle”. It took a little convincing but I succeeded in getting one to take the tanago hook. As far as I know, I am one of 2 people to successfully land one of these.
The final fish I would catch with my micro gear that night was a Pickerel, I thought it was a Grass Pickerel so was very excited. Little did I know it would turn out to simply be a juvenile Chain Pickerel (thanks guys).
I also managed a few species with my dipnet that night: Banded Sunfish, Comely Shiner, Shield Darter, Flier, Swallowtail Shiner, and Eastern Mosquitofish. By the time I returned to the car to go to sleep, it was well after midnight.