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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 John Sheehan on July 23, 2013 at 6:31am

Your living the dream as they say Jeffrey!! And it's great that you share the dream! Very nice blog!

Comment by David, aka, "McScruff" on July 22, 2013 at 8:09pm

Great stuff, Mr. Abney.

Comment by Jeffrey D. Abney on July 22, 2013 at 7:44pm

Brian and Dave have one more day so they join me on the 5th of May for a trip to the scenic Bagley's Swamp but we are again greeted in the IHOP parking lot with 20 knot winds and it just got worse hour by hour....But we set out anyway.....

Brian snags a nice swamp shellcracker....

The Crappie were still shallow as well....

Dave studies his first Bowfin.....keep the fingers out of his mouth!

We discover a few gills transitioning to the shallows.....

We wind up with a nice mixed bag....18 gills, 1 Crappie, 2 Bowfin, 2 Shellcracker and a Pumpkinseed....I made two friends during this weekend and we'll get together again soon....The bad weather has been the story the first week of May 2013.......

Comment by Jeffrey D. Abney on July 22, 2013 at 7:33pm

Thanks Bob....I'm going to take it all the way from 5/1/2013 to 7/21/2013........see how good my hand written diary is....LOL...hope you enjoy!

Comment by Jeffrey D. Abney on July 22, 2013 at 7:30pm

The morning of May the fourth brings more of the same as the winds are sustained at 20 knots out of the northeast and we are facing the lowest water levels of 2013......air temps are chilly and the water is hovering around 67 degrees......My friend Doc joins me as we share the river with friends Brian and Dave........

Despite the rough conditions we muster eight gills over 10" and one over 11".........

Dave catches his first Flier sunfish on this day....

These fish were a surprise in terrible conditions but it proves if you wet a line you have a chance.....

A great indication of the season ahead........

My friend Doc shows off a great early May Copper.......We end up taking a 60 gill limit, 2 Largemouth and 5 Crappie......Dave and Brian also have a decent morning on the Pasquotank.....

The friendships made this weekend were better than the fishing and conditions....but we hope to fish together again soon and I know we'll enjoy some good fishing soon

Comment by Bob Garner on July 22, 2013 at 7:26pm

Great story and blog Jeffrey

Comment by Jeffrey D. Abney on July 22, 2013 at 7:17pm

The first weekend of May arrives and so does some of the worst weather in months......BBG member Brian Behe and friend Dave are determined to get down here from Maryland and they come despite very adverse conditions.....We set out on the afternoon of the 3rd as 30 mph northeast winds bend the cypress on the Upper Pasquotank river and dump two feet of the river into the sound...........

Not many places to hide on this afternoon but we find a few Coppernose........

A highlight on this afternoon was a solid Flier on a jig under a float.....

A really tough outing and I muster 13 gills and 5 crappie.....wasn't meant to be......LOL

We trade in the rough conditions for a great meal at Cypress Creek restaurant on Elizabeth City's waterfront.....The river looked like the ocean on the way back to the launch.........

Comment by Jeffrey D. Abney on July 22, 2013 at 7:06pm

Well May comes into coastal North Carolina with air temperatures in the 60s with heavy overcast and drizzle...water temps have risen to the lower 60s but continue to fall back every night with continued chilly nights in the fifties.......Crappie out number the gills on the Little River the first of May but It's the first time out on the boat with my two grandsons Owen and Cody.....we have a great time and land a few fish to boot.....

Owen admires some nice Black Crappie....

Cody also enjoys getting out on the boat.......

Some Solid Black Crappie were still shallow in Early May.......

The transition from Crappie Shallow to Bluegill hasn't quite taken place yet as of the first of May and we settle for 18 Crappie, 14 Gills and 5 Largemouth Bass.......This was a break out day as my grandsons now think the boat should never leave without them.....that's pretty cool.......May 2013 is officially underway!

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