05-23-2020
New pond found in Durham
New Hope Creek from Hollow Rock Nature Preserve and Duke Forest

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Yet another day that didn't go quite the way I had it drawn up in my head, but turned out OK in the end.

For starters, the initial plan was to run to Durham, scout out a new pond I'd found on Google Maps, and - anticipating finding it off limits, dried up, or otherwise unfishable for some reason - head to one of the ponds in Chapel Hill and spend a few hours there.

As it turns out, this new pond was mondo righteous. I mean, like, totally bodacious. There's convenient access and plenty of room to park, including places where I'm pretty sure you can park with no legal issues, and you can walk right up to the pond. No fence, no "no fishing" signs, nothing. It's decent size - a few acres at least. If there are any bass in this pond, it could turn out to be a really nice place to fish.

The downside, of course, to being easily accessible and all that, is fishing pressure. I saw one previous angler's lost bobber floating in the water, and there was at least one guy fishing on the other bank opposite where I initially set up shop. Still, nothing even close to the pressure you see at the truly "public" ponds like the one at Henry Anderson III Park or something.

I went ahead and fished here for a while. Decided to test the waters with hook/bobber and some Berkley Powerbait crappie nuggets. No takers on that, interestingly enough. Probably I was fishing in the wrong area. I was at the end near the spillway, which is presumably some of the deeper water. I'm guessing most of the fish were up closer to the shallow end.

After messing with the Powerbait stuff, I went to a chartreuse/white skirted chatterbait, then then a Booyah Pond Magic black/yellow spinnerbait. Nothing happening with either of those either. Then I thought I saw a fish hovering around near the surface, so I decided to give the topwater game a try. I don't do a lot of topwater fishing, and actually have a pretty limited selection of topwater baits, but I had just picked up a couple of new plastic frogs recently, so I put on a LunkerHunt frog and went to work with that. In hindsight, I think the "fish" I saw was a piece of trash floating in the water - or a Zeta Reticulan shape shifter. In either case, I didn't catch anything.

By this point the heat was starting to get to me, and I didn't want to do a lot of walking around this pond, checking out other spots.There will be time enough for that another day.

Packed up my stuff, chugged a bottle of ice water back at the truck, and headed out planning to visit a smaller pond where I can work the entire pond by walking probably less than half a mile total. But... the Fish God was not smiling on me today. Sitting at a stop light on the way, I noticed the temperature gauge on my truck creeping up. Not a HUGE issue, because I know I have a very slow coolant leak, and during the summer months, on hot days, when the coolant level starts to slip, this truck will oveheat a little when sitting idle in traffic. Topping off the coolant takes care of it, but with the engine hot I would have had to wait a bit to open the coolant tank, etc. Plus I wasn't 100% sure I had a jug of Dexcool in the back.

So, rather than risk engine damage by driving to that other pond, which entails going through a bunch of stop and go traffic, I decided to turn around, go back to Erwin Road, and go to Hollow Rock and fish NHC. I figured by the time I finished, the engine would be more than cool enough to drop some coolant in. And if I turned out to not have a jug of actual coolant, I could just dump some plain water in for the interim, and I have plenty of that in the truck.

Before going over there though, I stopped at Lowes and picked up a pole saw. One more addition to my gallery of handy tools for clearing access around fishing spots. Muwahahahahahaha.

Anyway, at Hollow Rock, I walked down to the creek expecting the water levels to be WAY to high and the current WAY too strong to fish. New Hope at Stagecoach Road is flowing something like 4000 cfm right now, with a gage height of 11.10 feet, where the median values for this date for those two measurements are more like 450 cfm and 4.5 feet, respectively. But this far upstream things weren't too bad. There was a definitely a noticeable current, and the water was a little higher than I've seen it here before. But it was possible to fish.

Tried around the bridge for a while with a few different Beetle Spins, and landed nothing. Moved upstream and threw some Berkley Powerbait stuff around in that little side channel off to the right when you go under the Erwin Road bridge. Caught one tiny bluegill there. Kept moving upstream and fished that side channel more, by the old stone wall / dam / whatever it was, and the main channel on the other side of that thing. Caught nothing in the side channel, but on the main channel side there, there's a major bend, with a riffle right at the beginning of the bend (coming from upstream), and the bend is wide enough, and weirdly shaped enough, that the outside "shoulder' of the bend was seeing a backcurrent that wasn't very strong at all, and there were a few eddies here and there. Worked that whole area over with a Beetle Spin, and found nothing. Put some Berkley Powerbait stuff under a bobber and cast around that outside shoulder with the backcurrent and caught one chubby little Green Sunfish. Not sure if this fish was just fat, or if this is Green Sunfish spawning season and it was a spawning female. But it had a belly on it. Not a huge fish overall, but somewhat unique compared to the other ones I've seen.

After all this walking around I was again starting to feel run down from the exertion and heat, and decided it was time to head back to the truck. I'd already gone through my entire bottle of Gatorade, so the siren song of the cooler full of ice and drinks in the truck was too strong to ignore.

Got back to the truck, broke open a bottle of Gatorade, found a jug of Dexcool in the back floorboard, filled the coolant tank, and headed home. Mission more or less accomplished.