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Fish Pondering in Buckhannon: Learn how to land trout, carp and bass like an old-school expert!

Updated: May 28, 2022

May 16, 2022 | Segment #1

Mountaineer News | The Editors 'The Outdoors Specialists' - Fishing Tips

Where to Fish Around These Parts

The Buckhannon River is formed at the community of Alexander in southern Upshur County by the confluence of the Left Fork Buckhannon River and the Right Fork Buckhannon River, both of which rise in southwestern Randolph County at elevations of 3,658 feet and 3,401 feet, respectively, and flow generally north-northwestwardly into southern Upshur County.

The Right Fork flows through the communities of Pickens and Selbyville and collects tributaries known as the Middle Fork Right Fork Buckhannon River and the Left Fork Right Fork Buckhannon River; the Left Fork of the Right Fork flows through the community of Helvetia.

From Alexander the Buckhannon River flows generally northwardly, past Sago, to our city of Buckhannon, then northeastwardly into southwestern Barbour County, past Boulder (Rangoon Post Office) and Carrollton, where it is crossed by the Carrollton Covered Bridge. It joins the Tygart Valley River just downstream of Carrollton, approximately 4 miles southwest of Philippi.

Catch Your Trout With Live Bait

When I was a kid, there was a box of inline spinners in one pocket of my vest, and jars of salmon eggs, mealworms, and PowerBait in the other on opening day of the trout season.

The idea was to throw spinners in the fast stuff, and hunker down with bait in the slower, deeper runs. These days, it seems like I see more people on the move “power fishing” a trout stream than those who are carefully drifting baits.

If you think bait dunking is an old man’s game, you’re missing out on some big trout.

Scoring reaction bites on lures is great when trout want to move, but 90 percent of all their feeding happens close to the bottom. Just as in nymphing with a fly rod, the trick is a natural presentation, whether you’re drifting worms or cheesy dough.

I learned from a locally-based trout guru that scaling down to 2-pound line is the first step in getting a natural drift. You should only use BB-size split shot, adding one at a time until there is just enough weight to lightly tick the bottom.

To reduce weight even further, you can try using a size 12 scud fly hook with your worms, but I've found that hook to be just as effective with eggs and dough.

Lose the Fight---With Dignity

Before I share some tips on how to dupe bass and catch carp like a pro, here's a little background on why I love fishing so much.

I was fortunate to start my angling career on stingy water, which instilled in me the twin blessings of humility and low expectations.

A summer camp I once attended had a small lake almost devoid of fish. What few there were got pounded by us, each armed with a push-button reel, a hooked nightcrawler and a red-and-white bobber the size of a tennis ball. We baited up, cast, and tried to make the bobber go under from sheer will alone.

Looking back, I’m struck by how stubborn I was. There was a ninety-minute break during those hot afternoons and I nearly always spent that time fishing and working on my sunburn.

I maybe caught one fish in four days, but I never thought about not fishing. There simply wasn’t anything else at camp I wanted to do as badly. My catch was a bluegill. One day, when a boy at camp caught a small largemouth, he instantly rose to the level of king of our little group. A bass was a grown-up fish, a very serious thing!

From this experience, I learned nothing—or... I learned to expect nothing. Otherwise, I knew instinctively that I’d have gone mad from frustration. This lesson wasn’t conscious, by the way. It was just a reaction to reality as it was structured at the time.

Maybe the appeal of fishing was the act itself. I had an unusually busy mind for a 12-year-old, and what I liked about fishing was how it drowned out conscious thought. I couldn’t really think about anything else while I watched my bobber. I was just there. I was in a trance. I was fishing.

The essence of all fishing and hunting—what makes the sports so compelling to certain people—is the uncertainty, the mystery. It has always been this way.

Anthropologists widely credit this mystery as the source of religion. Early man’s existence depended on finding and killing game animals, and to have his survival depend on something that he could neither control nor predict required the intercession of divine forces. Before long, this led to Baptists, Presbyterians, and Methodists—not to mention people who skip church to go fishing.

If you have to catch something to have a good day fishing, you ought to take up grocery shopping. Nobody whiffs at the supermarket. Imagine what it would be like to go fishing knowing you were going to succeed each time. It sounds fun, right? Think about it, though...

Having the success of your outing assured would kill all the mystery. As well as the fun. An old friend used to tell a joke about the man who died and woke up on a trout stream where every cast he hooked into another 10-inch trout.

“Wow!” the guy said to another angler twenty-yards away. “This must be heaven!”

The other fellow just smiled at him and said, “You’re new, aren’t you?”

Dupe a Bass on a Bluegill Rig

When I was in middle school, my buddies and I used to fish strip-mine lakes that were crystal clear and full of bass that were easy to see as they cruised the banks. I lost count of the number of casts we made at those fish with plastic worms and lizards, spinnerbaits, and jigs. Mostly, our efforts were ignored, and it caused us a lot of despair.

One day when I was complaining about having never caught a trophy citation bass, so my neighbor told me:

“Son, get your daddy’s baitcaster, some heavy line and a big worm hook. Thread you a little bluegill on that hook, toss him out there in front of that bass and hang on.”

Following his advice, I went to one of our favorite pits—we called it the 'Basshole'. I’d brought with me a spinning rod rigged up for bluegills and Dad’s round Ambassador reel on a pistol-grip casting rod. It was spooled with 20-pound line, to which I’d tied on a 3/0 wide-shank hook. Rigs don’t get simpler. I caught a couple of bream, threw them in a bucket and started sneaking down the bank. I soon spotted a bass backed into a shadow near the mouth of a beaver lodge. I hooked one of the bluegills under the dorsal fin, thumbed the spool and made a lobbing, 10-foot cast. The sunfish slapped the water and sank slowly. I watched the bass ease toward it, then its monstrous gill plates flared in a flash of white. The rod doubled, and I yanked, reeled and ran up the shoreline. Five minutes later, I was walking home carrying a 7-pound bass in a Walmart sack. I still have the skin mount.

Sometimes, like when I’m in someone’s $50,000 bass boat staring at a $3,000 depth finder, I think about that fish. I ­haven’t caught many since that were bigger.

Use Bread to Catch Carp

White bread. For many of us, it held a rightful place next to garden worms in our earliest days of fishing. One slice created enough dough balls to catch a mess of bluegills, channel cats, and even stocked trout.

But like worms and bobbers, bread usually falls by the wayside when we graduate to spinnerbaits and rubber worms. It didn’t for me, though. I may not be using it for bream anymore, but if you want to tangle with carp and don’t need to be elitist about it, a bag of Wonder Bread or Great Value loafs equals hours of fun.

It’s particularly deadly in the suburbs, where carp in ponds and lakes with high traffic (think parks) snatch their share of bread intended for ducks and geese. All you have to do is wing out a few full slices and wait. Carp cued up on bread will keep circling and nipping at the floating slices. When they do, mold a piece of bread around your hook, working it into the shape of a flat football. You need the bait to be wider so it floats, but you also need to keep it compact so it has enough weight to cast without flying off. Drop it right on the perimeter of the chum slices and be ready.

Be sure to tune in next week as we share some more pro tips! We'll be talking about some another species of fish that can be located in the Buckhannon River. Don't miss 'The Outdoor Specialists' segments right here, every Monday at Mountaineer News!

Always be sure to follow local and state laws as It is required to procure a license(s) for fishing activities in the State of West Virginia. CLICK HERE for more information.

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