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Kerr, 21 APR - 01 MAY 2021

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  • Kerr, 21 APR - 01 MAY 2021

    Lots to cover in this so it’s gonna be long. Had back-to-back FoM events on Kerr so I decided to make a vacation of it, booked my favorite cabin at OSP for 12 days. I did have to work a few days in between. The cabin and my mobile hot spot gave me everything I needed to make do.

    Practice for event #1: I got in early enough on WED to fish some but the wind was a little on the stiff side. That and I’d taken my second COVID shot on MON. Needless to say I wasn’t quite 100%. I used WED afternoon to rig, review journal entries, and study maps. Water temps were steady in the low 60s in the mornings, rose to the mid 60s by late afternoon. The cold nites didn’t affect the fish at all. I found them right away holding on secondary points and subtle irregularities along transition lanes. Specifically, if there was a natural chunk rock outcropping or a field of scattered boulders the fish were on it. Also, if there was any kind of indentation or protrusion along a transition lane it served as a point and held fish. My best fish came from these subtle ‘points’. I landed a fat 5.45 on THUR and several 3s over the course of THUR and FRI, all taken from structure most folks wouldn’t pay attention to or recognize. I also found a main lake point bite that proved to be the most productive for numbers. I don’t usually fish a lot on a FRI before a tournament but I did on this trip. There was something about the main lake bite that I wanted to develop a bit more, to just confirm it really was something I could count on as an option. This was the best and worst move I made – I confirmed the fish were there but the numbers I caught distracted me from the stuff I knew held better fish. The old ‘never leave fish to find fish’ rule got me. More on this in a minute.

    Event #1 (VA West FoM, 24 APR): Using what I learned on FRI, I made my first stop at a main lake point ~mid lake. This was one of those classic Kerr points – long, tapered, and rocky. I hooked up on my first fish on my third cast – a solid 15” fish. I managed to boat a limit in 28 minutes, all from this one point. All totaled, I caught 12 fish on this point (incl one cull). The number of bites was just staggering. I ain’t gonna lie, doods. This was fun. So much so that I spent the rest of the day bouncing from one rocky main lake point to the next, including a few return trips to my first stop. Caught fish everywhere I went. Managed a couple of small culls but never did find the better fish I’d seen during practice. I stopped counting at 25. Best guess, I caught around 40 fish. Lots of cookie cutter 14 and 15” fish. Never did find the better bites. A grand missed opportunity. I finished the day w/ 5 for just under 10 lbs.

    Practice for event #2: A new week and a new weather pattern. Just a few days ago it was freezing. Now I’m fishing in shorts and a tank top. Typical VA springtime. My lesson from the first event was to fully trust what I learned in practice. I did a good job of finding fish. I failed to exploit what I’d learned about where and how to target better fish. This became the focal point of this practice session. As the WTs crept up (saw 74 in the upper reaches of Rudd’s, Butcher’s on WED and THUR) and with the passing of another full moon I knew a good number of the fish that had been waiting to move up would finally have their go at spawning. It also opened up the potential for targeting post-spawners from the earlier cycles. Even with work I managed to get out for a few hours each day. I was able to further develop what I’d learned the previous week, narrowing down the more productive structure to specific shape and composition. The random natural chunk rock pattern remained strong – just about every vein of rock held fish. The subtle indentations and protrusions held fish. So long as I was on natural chunk rock and red clay I was in good shape. If I drifted off into a softer composition bottom I found an occasional fish but not of the quantity and quality the hard bottom was producing. I spent three days exploring new water - main lake stuff and stuff back in the creeks. During this period I used the chart function on my sonar to better understand the structure and how I might attack it. By zooming in, I was able to find all kinds of details on points, humps, and ledges I never knew existed. I went to a split screen w/ chart on one side, side scan on the other. As I studied the terrain I also developed a better feel for where and how the fish were relating to it. Then I went back to fish it.

    Event #2 (VA East FoM, 1 MAY): My partner and I mapped out a game plan for the day pretty much mirroring what I did the previous weekend – we had a list of areas we knew were holding fish w/ an occasional good fish mixed in. Once we got our limit we had a specific list of areas we had caught better fish off of or had marked better fish hanging out (the Lowrance Active Target is amazing). Stop #1 was maybe a 5 min ride from blast off. We caught four fish off our first area. Our fifth followed ~10 mins later off of the next area on the list. A solid limit of 15-16” fish in 32 mins. Keen not to repeat my mistake of the previous weekend, we stuck to our game plan and worked the better fish areas in order, one at a time. On a couple of occasions we called audibles and worked areas we hadn’t seen in practice (or ever) but set up like the water we had been fishing. Staying true to what we learned in practice about the kind of structure fish were holding on paid off. We culled maybe 10 or 12 times but they were small culls. We did manage one fish around 4 lbs but that was the only really good fish we bagged on the day. We fished hard right up to 10 minutes left, then called it a day. We weighed 5 for 12 lbs. A nice improvement and an even better job of sticking to the plan. While we did find better fish in our better fish areas, we didn’t find more of the quality we wanted.

    Observations: 1) WTs ranged from 61 on the morning of 24 APR to 65 that following SAT. Temps jumped up the following week as the warmer weather came in – upper reaches of creeks were above 70 (74 in Rudd’s). Main lake remained cooler by 4-6 degrees. 2) Water clarity was a mixed bag. Maybe 18-24” of viz around OSP; a little better around Goats Island - ~2-3’; 3’ on the lower end of the lake near North Bend; 18” of viz and this funky orange color in Palmer’s Point area. Water clarity improved gradually throughout the trip. 3) The chart function was the most important on my electronix. Marking fish and bait was helpful but it wasn’t as important as finding the right structure. Having a good map chip was key. If you don’t have a GPS/chart capability I strongly encourage you to add it. Also invest in a quality map chip. 4) Not all points are created equal. Some are long and tapered, like a cigar. Others are more rounded. Some have sharp breaks on one or both sides while others have a more gradual descent to deeper water. For us, the cigar shaped points were best. Having a sharp break on one side helped. Some of the cigar shaped points we fished had a crown (a slightly higher area) on the very end of them. Those crowns and the adjacent saddles were special places. 5) The wind blew pretty much the entire time. I could not discern a benefit from wind coming across or straight into structure. The lee side did produce more bites for us than the windward side. 6) Natural chunk rock points were best, followed by red clay points. Red clay transition lanes were better than sand or gravel. Red clay transition lanes w/ scattered chunk rock were money. 7) As all points are not created equal such is the case w/ rocky points. The jagged looking white rock (feldspar? quartz?) was better than sandstone for us. 8) Main lake stuff we fished was best when you had proximity to the channel. Those places where the channel butts right up against a point or a stretch of shoreline were special. If there’s a bend or turn in the main channel all the better. 9) Most of the fish we caught were post-spawn. Their tails were beat up and their bellies distended. We did catch a good number of staging fish. They were all using the same structure, movement channels. Just heading in different directions. 10) We had a dozen or so fish with small, circular lesions on their sides. Lamprey bites maybe? 11) I took a lesson away many years ago from an outing w/ an old friend who told me, “Never leave fish to find fish.” I’ve held true to that in my own fishing outings. I held on to that mantra especially well during event #1. When I got into that mess of fish on my first stop it was like finding Nirvana. I was so focused on the next bite I failed to take into consideration that all of the bites I was getting were ~the same size. Nope, I gotta stay. Don’t leave fish to find fish. In retrospect, I would’ve had a better chance of adding some better fish to my creel had I used what I learned in practice. With a solid limit on board, I had time and flexibility on my side. I failed to take advantage. The modification to the rule now reads, “It’s OK to leave fish if they’re not the right size.” The hard part for me is building in a mechanism that manages time a little better for pulling the trigger on the move. 12) Most of our fish came on a c-rig. Had quite a few on jigs. A few more on t-rigs and shaky heads. I had one bite on a moving bait the entire time and I’m pretty sure I snagged him. Natural colors – greens, browns, and a few on black/blue. 13) Almost all of our bites came in 4-8’, usually along a break or off of rock or wood. We did have some bites in deeper water but those fish probably had followed the bait out before taking it. We had lots of followers throughout the trip. 14) As WTs crept above 65 I looked for signs of the shad spawn. Had some surface activity early in the AMs in a couple places but it was short lived. Nothing doing for us. 15) The value of tungsten weights vs lead proved itself throughout this trip. My partner threw the same bait on the same length leader yet I out-caught him 5:1 on the c-rig. Where I could feel every rock, stick, and stump he struggled to capture the same level of detail w/ a lead weight. It’s a feel thing for me. No scientific evidence to support this but if it enhances my confidence it’s worth it. 16) Some notes on the c-rig: long leaders were better, buoyant baits were better, anything you could to add to buoyancy (fine wire hooks, lighter line leader) helped; bigger baits didn’t work for us – almost all of our fish (incl the biggest ones) came on 4-5” baits; a friendly reminder to check your main line and leader regularly, esp when you’re fishing in rock or heavy wooded cover. 17) The success we had over the 10 days we were at Kerr is mostly a function of TOW. Having time dedicated to exploring, verifying, and refining made a difference for us. The numbers we had were a function of time invested in finding the fish and tracking their movements. Only one way to do this - TOW.

    I’ve never had a trip to Kerr like this. Caught fish every day. Managed a few really good fish. Caught fish everywhere we went. Boated 40+ on event #1, another 40+ on event #2. Save for the circular lesions we saw, all of the fish were feisty and hard-fighting. Even the little doods acted like they were something bigger. From what we saw, the lake is in great shape. Catch-and-release is working! We caught many fish that had been caught, tagged previously.

    You can’t make a trip to Kerr without stopping in at some of the local hot spots. Made a couple trips to Bobcat’s. Really good to see them hanging in there, even with all of the on-line competition. Good people who are always happy to help out. Had my obligatory breakfast at Michelle’s. She is a hot mess. Always fun at her place. Also stopped by Cooper’s Landing for dinner. Nichol and the crew put on a great show, as always. If you haven’t eaten in Michelle’s or Cooper’s Landing put it on your agenda next time you’re down. You won’t be disappointed. The OSP staff were once again superb hosts. Not a better place to stay in this area. Safe, clean, and comfortable.



    Peace,

    B
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  • #2
    Sounds like a great trip!
    Make VAO Great again

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    • #3
      Great report!

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      • #4
        Nice job 31. All that time on SML has really paid off on Kerr.....
        cheers,
        Steve

        2011/2013 St Jude's Charity Tournament Champion
        Bass East Big Bass Challenge winner of 11-12 and 12-1 hours.

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        • #5
          Nice job and great report B.
          2013 Frog Only Tournament Winner
          2010 Tie for VA-Outdoors Angler of the Year
          2009 Caroline County Rotary Club Tournament Winner
          2007 Tuesday Night Classic Champions
          "Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after."
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