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82 Days on the Albemarle.........a view from the Bluegill Chariot

I decided on a recent trip that I would look back and reflect on a few of the memories of the 2013 season to date....If you have followed me at all on BBG you know that I traditionally count down to Good Friday as this usually marks the end of Winter and our water temperatures begin their slow crawl toward the 60s as we wait impatiently for our beloved Coppernose gills to become active..........Within 75 miles of my residence I have 12 river systems and over 50 creeks that regularly produce quality bluegills which I label as 10" or greater....When It's time to tear April off my calendar I get the chills knowing that May has arrived again and my three best months of the year are finally here.......I have checked every pole twice, retied again and again, put the battery tester on a half dozen times and written list after list to prepare for this moment, as the next 82 days will be a blur on the Albemarle........I have settled down in recent years so that I can really enjoy these moments with friends, family and gills.......I read in a local study that the grass shrimp hatch is one of the best ever and many may think, "well I'll never get a bite with all that forage in the rivers", but I think just the opposite.....it's very important to match the hatch and to fish with live grass shrimp and baits that resemble them.......Of course Doug has nothing to worry about at the local bait store as I have still been responsible for the purchase of 86 tubes of crickets since the first of May....A few local ponds near my neighborhood are producing quality grass shrimp and I go every couple days to fill up my aerated buckets with new specimens.....It would be abnormal to not hear the hum of dueling aerators in my garage this time of year.......I have big plans this season as several new anglers will join me on the Bluegill Chariot including friends from BBG.com and my grandsons also join me for the first trips for us together from a boat.....Twelve anglers fish with me during this 82 day period and 11 of them catch at least one personal best...It's both exciting and rewarding to provide friends and family with this great opportunity that is fishing........Folks from as far away as Louisiana join me in coastal North Carolina to pursue the big gills of the Albemarle.........During this period we experience three full moons and all are very productive and predictable........We have been unseasonably mild through April and the forecast is for more of the same in May.....But I have so many bugs and jigs to try and so little time to get it done......testing is fun and you never want to tell a guy or a gal that their  bait doesn't catch fish!  But when great imaginations are coupled with my bluegill addiction, big things can happen and in the days ahead I will document 82 days on the Albemarle Estuary between the first of May and the 21st of July..........2013 has been special as I have already topped 1,200 Crappie and 4,100 Sunfish.........If you get one thing from this blog, just remember how important it is to enjoy fishing for what it is and indulge in the memories as they happen....it creates bonds that are not easily broken if ever! Thanks to all the guys and gals that have got out with me this season and allowed me to share my addiction to the beloved Bluegill......I'm too old to change so you can rest assured that I'll be somewhere chasing gills or preparing a feast of those mouth watering fillets........

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Comment by Jeffrey D. Abney on March 14, 2016 at 8:50am

All I can hope for in 2016 is great results like recent years........2013 Summer Full moons were captured in this blog........

Comment by Jeffrey D. Abney on February 6, 2015 at 8:02pm

I plan to document this same journey in 2015........looking forward to starting it on 5/1/2015 and going through 7/21/2015.......should be fun......

Comment by dick tabbert on September 17, 2014 at 8:01pm

Great stuff Jeffrey. Lots of information with great pictures helps to keep the attentions span going can't wait till the next one. Congrats on a banner year.

Comment by Jeffrey D. Abney on September 17, 2014 at 5:19pm

This was fun to put together......I plan on doing a similar profile for 2014.........

Comment by Jeffrey D. Abney on January 7, 2014 at 7:33pm

Thanks Tooty.....I'll be interested to see how 2014 goes too.....with no tropical weather to speak of in 2013 that's another up check for the Albemarle......I have a couple productive spots that I didn't fish last season but I will pick some to rest  this year too......so that could make a difference........and there is always the bucket list which could be a flop or something special........it'll be fun regardless......

Comment by Jeffrey D. Abney on January 7, 2014 at 6:26pm

And as the old saying goes......"time waits on no man" and I woke up and the 21st day of July was upon us....historically the longest day of the year and the 82nd day of another peak season on the Albemarle of North Carolina.....I snuck in one final trip for this period and decided to throw an old favorite of mine to show the versatility....a mini crank bait.....Here's a few shots to show you how this trip went.....

One of my favorite colors to throw on the Albemarle is the combination of blue/chartreuse.......

They were responding well in a falling wind tide......

Many were hooked by both treble hooks.....

A work out for the rhino.......

Strike King's Bitsy Minnow.....

The fish continued to pound this bait....

After 40 gills on this color I wanted to try a white shad pattern....

Not as productive as the other.....

I put a Tennessee Shad on and all that hit were the bass......Think I'll put a jig on for a few casts...

Quickly proved how reliable the jigs are here.....

And they were smacking this thing.....

And after an afternoon of CPRing 68 gills....I closed the books on another chapter of the best bluegill fishing in America...... 82 days on 8 different rivers and more than 4,000 gills.....

Comment by DAVID L EITUTIS on January 7, 2014 at 6:10pm

JUST GREAT TUTORIAL JEFFREY AND CAN'T WAIT TO SEE WHAT 2014 BRINGS US ......

Comment by Jeffrey D. Abney on January 7, 2014 at 6:04pm

Finally the most important day of the year was here.......full moon in July commonly referred to as a "thunder moon" , the peak of Bluegill fishing on the Albemarle......a good friend and fellow lifetime submariner Don was up for the trip and what a day we had......Let me show you a little taste of the season.....

I highly recommend fishing flooded cypress whenever you can......

Coppernose gills love these places in my region.....

It don't hurt to have a Gronaw Grass shrimp tied on either.....

Facial features aren't bad....especially on the gills....LOL

Don was getting a little restless but I told him to keep throwing and jigging......

It was getting busy,,,,,,,

We were entering some of my favorite water when Don suddenly joined the fight......

What a nice gill Don.....

I quickly added another......

We were busting some nice gills.....

Don lands another good one......

I'm working another solid gill back to the chariot.....

He turned out to be a nice one.....

Another shot of a great fish......

Love these flats on the marsh grasses.......

We caught more than 40 gills off this submerged cypress.......

We had landed over 125 gills by 11:00 and settled for a nice 60 fish limit of good eaters......

One thing's for sure ....North Carolina represents........

Comment by Jeffrey D. Abney on January 7, 2014 at 4:49pm

Thanks Rick......in essence I just keep a hand written journal of everyday I go out as a ready reference....Things repeat themselves in nature and more than once my notes have swayed me in the right direction.....Nothing special.....the most important factors are location, water temperature, wind speed and direction......water level as living on tidal waters this will fluxuate......also record baits....method used.....tip.....etc.......Full moon is important to my fishing......so a week either side can be a factor.......Weather Underground is a great resource for these specifics including barometric pressure........This all started for me as a science project in school when I recorded all the details of my family's quail and woodcock hunting adventures from opening day to the last....Good luck and I hope you have a great season up on the UP and surrounding area......

Comment by Rick King on January 7, 2014 at 10:34am

Jeffrey - that is quite a journey and one that im sure most on bbg are envious of or have their own story to tell. I wish I was close enought go visit you on the Ablemarle and just watch and learn from you. This will be my first full season of fishing in the UP and look forward to keeping some sort of record of my travels on the Menomonnie River and the lakes and reservoirs , also getting a Wisconson fish licence because  there are allot of lakes just accross and off of the Menomonnie River that runs between Mi and Wi.. Even planning on a hot spot for Tooty this coming spring if it ever arrives. If you do anything special the way you keep your records let me know. Always looking for better ways to document my fishing. Your right so much to do and so little time to (get er done)

 

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