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Sipping the bounty of the lower Robinson

With the pending launch of the Rappahannock River Exchange this coming December, I tell myself that it is essential to pull myself away from the office to viscerally experience the waters of the basin through the drudgery of fishing the lower Robinson. Hey, it’s a tough job but somebody’s got to do it.

I’m crazy for writing about this because in 10 years of fishing this part of the river, I’ve never seen another one of my species. I find the lower Robinson to be magical. It’s just a perfect-sized piedmont river—no more than 100′ wide, with good vegetation on both banks, leading to consistent cover down on the water. The water quality appears to be good, although I’ve never checked macroinvertebrates. Every fish I catch looks strong and healthy—I’ve never seen one lesion.

My preferred way to fish this river is to walk it, usually in the company of Tess, my neurotic German Shepherd. The dog has probably destroyed 10 grand worth of doors and windows in my house, but man never had a better fishing buddy. That dog stays right by my side and will patiently watch every cast for that splash and flurry while I land a monster smallmouth or hard-chargin’ sunfish. Then, all she wants out of the deal is to smell each fish and swim around deep pools (after I’m done). She does expect me to keep moving, otherwise, she gets impatient and gives me this look—the same one my kids used to provide, fortunately without the words “Dad, can we please go now?”.

On this particular afternoon in late August, the sunfish were going crazy on a Worden’s Spin e Miny lure I picked up at Gas-n-Stuff. After several hours, dozens of landed Lepomis auritus, and with darkness coming on, I was beginning to wonder if our usual luck had failed us. We moved upstream into a new area, with good depth and fabulous cover. Within a second of the first cast hitting the water, it felt like a log had hit my line and then a massive tug, followed by jumpin’ and splashin’. Then, again and again, within 20 minutes, Tess and I had the pleasure of being in the intimate company of 12-14″ smallies, before sending them back to enjoy another day.

After an easy climb up the bank and a 10 minute walk down the road, we were back to the car, with the Natural Light still cold, a few Ruffles still in the bag, and some flowers for my honey back home. Another great day in western Orange County.

- Michael Collins

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