Cody and I decided for our New Year's fly fishing trip we would do a staycation. We have some potentially big trips in the works for later this year, so we wanted to stay closer to home. I also wanted to target a new-for-me species, so we chose to camp four days at Daingerfield State Park and chased Chain Pickerel!
COLD and OVERCAST and RAINY! Two of those make for excellent conditions to chase Chain Pickerel; unfortunately, the rain delayed our leaving for Daingerfield and kept us off the water our first day. No matter; we had fun ringing in the New Year in our little warm and toasty RV playing board games and listening to the fireworks (and gun play) of others.
In choosing Daingerfield SP, I searched for how to fish for Chain Pickerel in Texas and discovered only one article. However, it is by Rob Woodruff
, so there aren't many others that can compare. We brought our paddle boat to scoot around the lake and headed to a spot near our campground. Cody had caught the toothy critters in this area years previously, so armed with 3 and 4 weight rods with floating lines and poppers, we set out to see what the waters held this New Year's day. It didn't take long for Cody Bell to have Chain Pickerel On! either. Cody used an orange, chartreuse, and yellow popper that just delighted the fish. I had a couple of hits but no catches. My popper was chartreuse and black, and I think that not having that flash of orange and/or yellow made most of the difference. Weed guards are a must, which is something I don't often say. We fished the lily pads and downed trees close to the shoreline. Sometimes those Pickerel were a hair too early or late in their hits, but watching them miss was a treat. While we were cold at 39°F, the Chain Pickerel were aggressive in their takes and misses (for a brief video
Due to even colder temperatures on Wednesday, we drove around East Texas visiting Atlanta and Caddo Lake State Parks for future fishing ideas. We did fish the Lake O' The Pines tailrace for Yellow Bass, and while they were hitting topwater, neither Cody nor I could get a fish to take whatever fly we threw at them.
One of the niceties about camping at a Texas State Park, guests don't have to check out until 2:00 p.m. Therefore, Cody and I enjoyed another morning of fishing. Today, however, the sun shone gloriously without a cloud in the sky. Nice for humans; bad for Pickerels. Their aversion to warmth and light reminds me of the 1984 Gremlins--bright light, bright light. Following Rob's advice, we headed for the dam because it was deep and shaded. We chose sinking lines for our 4 and 5 weight rods, and Bam! Cody had FishOn! a really nice Chain Pickerel, too. Something was wrong with one of its gills, but that didn't seem to deter this fish. It even jumped once! I love their markings, especially that eye stripe.
Sadly, it was time to go, but knowing that the Pickerel's spawning season is around February, I think we might be back. I really want to catch this species. We detoured by Lake Bob Sandlin State Park and visited their recently stocked Trout Pond. I needed to catch a fish. It has been over 10 years since I had not caught a fish on New Year's day, and not only did I not catch one New Year's, I didn't catch a rather easy fish at Lake O' The Pines the second day of the year! So, on the third day of the year, I finally caught some Rainbow Trout. I had never been to the Trout Pond at Lake Bob Sandlin SP before now, and it is a really nice one, with plenty of area for fly fishers to cast. We are looking forward to the last event of our "staycation"--attending the 2013 Cotton Bowl! It has been a good break!