Trip/Event Report

We held the Shenandoah One Lure Challenge on Saturday the 2nd of June.

The event was in Bentonville, Virginia, but some folks from Pennsylvania who are seeing their mighty Susquehanna troubled by causes other than those troubling the Shenandoah came and lent support. Some of them came down Friday night and camped out in the yard of the guy hosting the after-party. Fortunately, we had planned on beer delivery Friday night to get it cold for Saturday because those Pennsyltuckians put a hurting on it early. I arrived about 10PM after ShenandoahRiverRat delivered the beer. Another friend from Ohio on her way to Philly stopped in Friday night and set up camp. About midnight, I crawled into a cot in the bed of my pickup using my canoe for cover. And had a terrible night’s sleep. Bright full moon right in my eyes all night.

Saturday, the Pennsyltuckians whipped up a three course breakfast that couldn’t be beat. Breakfast burritos, hash browns, and coffee strong enough to be its own course. ShenandoahRiverRat showed up about 7:30AM and we sort of meandered down to the meet-up spot.

Roughly fifteen human and one canine participants had the reading of the rules, given suggestions that the rules were going to be loosely interpreted and even more loosely enforced, and then dispersed. Three floats were selected, which gave us data from roughly thirty miles of river.

Most fish caught was 34, taken by a real honest-to-goodness fish biologist from Pennsyltucky. Some of those were the dinkiest of dinks. The other real category was most inches - which was somewhere in the 250" range but I can’t remember exactly. He had fewer fish, most of which were also dinks but less dinky than the other guy. Also by a Pennsyltuckian. Another fisher caught 25, but he was one of the sponsors so we didn’t make up a category for him to win.

Most other folks caught 4 to 6 fish. A shame for a river that used to regularly produce 50 and 100 fish days.

Many of the fish caught had lesions and will likely be dead by the end of the summer.

The Shenandoah Riverkeeper came for the after-party and talked about their progress. Looks like he needs some support because they’ve done a lot of data collection but the state says they can’t come up with the money to assess it. I’ll ask about how to get funding re-arranged to do the assessing and pass along any information I get so Virginia residents from this forum can help push their legislators to approve the funds. It’s slow, but they are making progress. There’ve been some successful lawsuits against industry illegally dumping that have forced them into compliance with existing laws.

My most memorable moment came with a spinnerbait. I hadn’t fished spinnerbaits in a long, long time. However, CountryBoy had one on and had his rod bent double. He called out for me and shouted what he had tied on. I got up there lickety split and took his advice. On my first cast with it, I must have cast it into the fish’s mouth because my rod bent hard as soon as the lure hit the water. I had an 18" and fat largemouth. I also caught an 11" smallmouth and a 14" channel cat with the same spinnerbait. I think CountryBoy had a musky on because he lost his big fish. He was using braided line and it was cut clean as a whistle. Whatever it was, it had sharp teeth. Knowing the species for the Shenandoah, it was likely a musky. Highly unlikely to have been a pike or walleye, which are the only other toothy critters in this river. The walleye’ve never really been in the part we were fishing and aren’t likely to move in with more pollution. The pike are only in the deepest pools, and this was a relatively shallow section. Plus they’re the little chain pickerel and wouldn’t have put a bend in his stout rod like he had.

By the way, I showed what I consider to be the five basic strokes for recreational paddling, plus a rudder (which I don’t consider a stroke, but some do). We did a little ground school, and that was it. CountryBoy was following my lines. There’s one rapid that’s maybe a class 2 where I ran it that requires some tight maneuvering. I took the hardest line because I need the practice with oars. Well, CountryBoy in only his second outing in his canoe ran the same line and looked as cool and comfortable as a seasoned pro. He did GREAT! It wasn’t my training, because I didn’t go into much detail about reading water. I figured this is a low consequence trip - let him swim and learn. Faster that way. Anyway, he didn’t swim, but he did read the water well, and paddled it well too. And he taught me a thing or two about fishing that I appreciate.

We’ve still got pledges and matching funds to collect, but we got close to $500 in cash for the day in donations.

  • Big D

Sounds lie a good time for all.
Sad about the river. In this day and age, there’s no reason for them to continue to be dumping grounds.


– Last Updated: Jun-04-07 4:56 PM EST –

we had high old time. Way too much late night rabble-rousing and consumption of barley pop...but we had a great time, big fish or no big fish.

"Grand Master 'Biggie'- D" did a bang up job awarding our Faux prizes (how about an old 6 volt latern in a metal case with the "headlight mounted on the handle?...been at the bottom of the river for Lord knows how long) and even more faux-awards ceremony. But we had lots of good food, good company, and good weather...

It don't get no better than that.

If ya wanna see pictures of the a search on webshots for ShenandoahRiverRat. They'll be in the 07 album and have 'One Lure Challenge' or OLC attached to them.

Was the money to pay expense or
does it go to a cause? Reading comprehension is down, you may have said…spent 9 hours fishing in a very bright sun, even with good sunglasses, I’m nearly blinded the day after.

The money goes to…
support the efforts of Jeff Kelbe, our Shenandoah RiverKeeper.

Good cause. I’ve seen the upper river,
it was pretty, but a long time ago, like in the very early 70’s.

Update on the money
We’ve now collected all our money and raised just shy of a grand AFTER covering expenses. We kept the expenses low intentionally, so that there would be more to go Shenandoah Riverkeeper.

All of the sponsors covered a portion of the expenses from our own pockets rather than recover all of them from the ‘kitty.’ Also, donation money and “expenses” money was kept separate and participants were clearly informed which was which and how to make sure their money went where they wanted it to.

  • Big D

Great Time
I had an awesome time for actually my FIRST time in the canoe. Glad Big_D was there to show me the ropes, helped immensely for the 8+ hours we spent paddling. He gives me too much credit, the river was low and slow. But he taught me well and correctly from the word go.

Sad that my first time out is under such circumstances. Seeing dead fish and catching fish with lesions is not how I wanted to take my first boat trip on the Doah. I remember bank fishing it as a kid with family and having no trouble catching fish. The river is surely in bad shape and any and all help is appreciated by all of us Virginians.

Sorry I couldnt stay longer but 8 hours in a canoe for the first time, plus wicked sunburn (knees are still red today but dont hurt!) and 3 big labs in the house at home led me to get going when we hit land. Glad I got to briefly meet some of you and I look forward to more trips on the water. Hopefully the rain we got the past few days helped bring river levels up. Though I must admit I’m worried about what it washed down in to the river too. :frowning:

Great day but also sad at the same time.

You need to come back
countryboy…and stay longer. We had a great time that evening back at J’s house (just down the road from where we started) But were sure glad you came out and helped support the effort. Pleasure to meet ya.

I’ll come back
Just tell me when the next float is. I had a blast and wish I had more time. My wife was out of the country during that so there was no one to let the dogs out of the house. 2 Labradors and one half lab/half australian blue heeler can mess up a floor good if you don’t let them out to use the restroom. :wink: