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Willin’ and Vibin’

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I kept having “yes” and “no” moments during this outing, which is probably the mental oscillation that every angler goes through during a session. We silently nod or sometimes loudly shout “yes” to every excellent cast, every catch, and the moments in between that add up to success. We curse the heavens and scream “no” when we snag, cut our finger, or god-knows-what-else can go wrong. This trip had a bit of both to be sure, but it was also an exercise in preparation, charting new waters, and tinkering with what species to target. Was I targeting snakehead? No, not exactly. Was I hoping to catch one? Yes. Did I? No. Was I targeting pickerel? Yes, I guess so after all. Did I catch them? Yes.

Was I using a lure I thought could trigger either? Absolutely. And did I run into both species? Well, that remains a mystery. Let’s dive in.

The plan for this trip was to make way in the little tin can (the jon boat) to a piece of river that I’ve never fished. It’s a tucked away cove that I’ve passed on many other outings, but never ventured into. No particular reason. But today…today was the day that I’d dedicate to seclusion and exploration. To get into this cove–which is darn near a salt pond–required steady navigation through a 6-foot wide channel not more than 3 feet deep; a tiny cut that does allow larger vessels to pass (as evidenced by several docks/boats in the cove) during a high tide. I mean, I really can’t imagine a couple of the boats I saw making it through there, but they must somehow. On to the fishing.

En route in the jon boat to a backwoods cove. This setup can put me through and to super skinny water if need be.

Plan was simple. Explore the perimeter of the cove–targeting shoreline structure and maybe make a few casts through the deeper middle (up to 14 feet deep). Most of the shoreline was riddled with laydowns and broken timber that stretched well into 9–10 feet of water. So, you have structure from 0 to 10 feet along a high percentage of the shoreline. An angler’s dream? Yes. Also a nightmare? Yes. I knew I’d catch fish. I knew I’d snag. So what was I throwing?

A 1/4oz Zman Willowvibe jighead tipped with a 4″ Zoom fluke in white ice color. I had this tied to a 3-foot, 20# Seaguar flouro leader that, in turn, was tied (shinknot) to 15# powerpro main line. All on a 6′ medium St. Croix Triumph spin stick paired with a Penn Battle IIIDX 2500. This was my primary setup. I won’t even bother mentioning the other three sticks, because I rarely picked them up.

Working the willowvibe in and around cover, some docks, and even in the shallowest water at the far end of the cove picked up 5 pickerel on the day. The largest stretched about 21″. Not a monster, but good pullage.

The willowvibe worked around tree laydown that dropped into 5-plus foot depths was the ticket for catching pickerel today.

Of note was the beastly blowup I witnessed as I was casting around a stretch of laydowns. About 120 degrees to the right from where I was casting, I huge, aggressive, loud, obnoxious blowup darn near scared me. It had to either be (1) a huge pickerel or (2) a snakehead. I thought snakehead. And man did I try casting in and around that blowup to no avail. Oh well. There’s got to be snakehead in the Severn right? Well, until I catch one, I’m left hoping.

After spending about an hour and half in the cove, it was time to leave. Mission accomplished. I found fish in water I hadn’t touched before. I like the spot. I love the structure in there. I’m thinking white perch haven come summer. We’ll see. I’ll be back. See y’all on the water again, real soon!

A number of 20–24″ pickerel roam the Severn’s numerous backcreeks.