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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 January 6, 2014 at 6:28pm

Just let me know if you ever get over this way.....we'll go try to catch a fish.....bring some baits though Carl.....I don't have that many! LOL

Comment by carl hendrix on January 6, 2014 at 6:24pm

buddy you had a great year!!  if I ever get a chance- we got to go fishing!

Comment by Jeffrey D. Abney on January 6, 2014 at 6:15pm

And just two days later I couldn't resist the urge to hit the river we call the "Perq" and man what an afternoon.....I had not fished it since early May and that rest period made this trip special......I took a few photos and here's how it went on the 18th of July......

Got started early and this was just a small glimpse of things to come.......

It was getting exciting right off the bat......

These fish were very active in 85 degree water temperatures......

Very exciting back in Bagley's swamp on this afternoon.......

The chartreuse bro bug from Northland was rocking.....

I knew the bite was good but I didn't know I was heading for the century mark on this day.....

I couldn't believe the sustained quality of these fish.....many plucked from an old abandoned duck blind......

I wondered how a red jig would do.....that was answered pretty quick......

Red  is actually many folks favorite color.......

Rage with the red......made me happy.......

My fun continued for hours back in the swamp with notta' soul in sight......

It was a lot of fun but winding down as the shadows got longer.......

Well over a 100 gills in any afternoon is great.....add a few trophy gills and release them for another day....priceless.......

Comment by Jeffrey D. Abney on January 6, 2014 at 4:58pm

After work on the 16th I was excited to get back out and I was greeted on the water with rain cooled temperatures in the lower 80s and lots of fish activity.........This is what it looked like in pictures......

The lower Pasquotank river was looking very inviting on this afternoon......

Broke the ice right away with a decent gill......

It was getting exciting living the "Carolina Life"........

I was knocking down some good fish right away and what a blast to catch.....

Paint was getting beat off this ball jig......

A little warm but so was the bite.......

Only fishing a foot deep on this day in the shallows.....

You just can't go wrong wetting a line in July......

I had 25 gills in the first 45 minutes.......easy to lose track of time when the bite is this good......

Just pounding the jigs tipped with live crickets......

The Pink Splash jig continued to produce......fish striking all around me.....

And I fished the chartreuse for a few nice ones...........

Wound up catching and releasing 56 solid gills in just a couple hours on the water.......July is unmatched around these parts.......

Comment by Jeffrey D. Abney on January 5, 2014 at 4:56pm

Well my friend Eric and his wife Arlene decided to join me in Carolina on the 14th and I selected Fork Creek North and we had a wonderful morning in the heat and humidity....here's how it went....

It was a pretty morning as we got started.....

Fish were breaking early and often.....

I broke the ice and Eric's wife was getting excited about the day.....

There were active white perch in the area and we wound up catching 8 of these.....

Eric displays one of ten bass on the day up to 16"......

A nice copper kept things rolling....

Another quality gill.....

The chartreuse ball jig 1/32 inch was hot on this day.....

We caught about 115 gills and they kept 50 for a nice fish fry......fun with friends......

Comment by Jeffrey D. Abney on January 5, 2014 at 4:35pm

After being chased home by storms on the morning of the 13th.....it cleared out after lunch and it was time to give it a whirl in the heat..........turned out to be a fantastic trip and here's a few shots to show you how it went.....

The afternoon looked great after the storms......

A beautiful banded fish to break things open......

What a beast...a close-up before release......

It was apparent early that the bite was going to be a good one......

The heat was on after the sun came out......brutal heat......

Another big male.....

This is why I love the month of July.....

I caught fish number 30 in just over 30 minutes......

Heavy cover in the dark tannic waters....

Solid fish continued to come one after another....

This is why Copppernose are my favorite.....

Had fish up to 11" on this trip.......just a crazy bite after the rains....

I wish somebody else would have been with me on this trip.....too fun!

One of my favorite places to fish......

I never complain with hand sized gills....as long as it's my hand.....LOL

A couple nice fliers were in the mix too.....

This old downed oak always holds a fish or two.....one of those places you can always count on a bite....

A closeup of the tree as it sits in ten feet of water.....

And what do you know....right out of the tree top......

Just a beauty with a face full of copper.....

This was my 100th gill on just three hours on the water.......

The Pasquotank River is just a quality bluegill fishery......

I'm nearing the end of the day when fish number 105 comes aboard.....

And a couple minutes later the last fish of the day......time to put it in the wind....

So this afternoon is in the books with 106 sunfish, several bass and a couple Yellow Perch.......You just cannot beat July on the estuary......quality, quality, quality........

Comment by Jeffrey D. Abney on January 4, 2014 at 5:03pm

We had bad weather in the region on the morning of the 13th but I can't sit at home in July unless it's a hurricane so away I went but that turned out to be the wrong choice......Here's how it went....

A couple thunderstorms passed and I splashed at 7:00 a.m.....didn't look too bad at the launch as I prepare to get underway....

And I was feeling pretty good after my first strike.....

Another good fish but I was getting an alarm on the weather radio.....

I had 11 gills at the time and barely got the boat picked up before the bottom dropped out.....

And man did it come down.....

It got even worse and we had a little hail too so I decided after an hour waiting to head home for some lunch and to dry out for a little while.......This was suppose to get out of here....so maybe I can get out after lunch....

Comment by dick tabbert on January 4, 2014 at 5:00pm

Great stuff Jeffrey. Here you have memories forever and taking the folks fishing is something I know is appreciated and memories forever for all.

Comment by Jeffrey D. Abney on January 4, 2014 at 4:54pm

It's been fun Tooty...Thanks......got five more days to document and it'll be complete.......it's a great representation of what we have here in coastal North Carolina.....both in numbers and quality......as well as multiple places to fish......

Comment by DAVID L EITUTIS on January 4, 2014 at 4:51pm

GREAT PICS BUDDY ONE AND ALL !!!!!! THANKS FOR GOING TO ALL THIS TROUBLE TO BENEFIT THE REST OF US......

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