A CowanGates Reunion

Blessed is a word we use far too little in today’s world of distractions. Whether it be paying bills, working overtime or bombardment with other home matters, there is little time to stop and reflect. Bass fishing has always been a distraction for me, a time to get away from it all and focus on the things that truly matter, like new experiences with friends and family.

For the past few years, I have been humbled to grow my relationship with the men of Cowan Gates Law. Fellow Hampden-Sydney College graduates, David and Heath Gates, along with Neil Cowan have invited me to travel to a lake practically untouched by the hands of man, that is except for stocking the beautiful fish that roam beneath the surface.

The Providence Forge Fishing and Hunting Club is a man-made lake that was flooded and even has a small dam system that feeds into the Chickahominy. The private club now produces some of the largest average sized fish in the state.

We began the adventure on a Thursday afternoon, a session that resulted in one of the best days I have had on the water in quite some time. In the single afternoon we boated a total of 49 largemouth, along with about 10 pickerel. We caught the fish a variety of ways, everything from plastic worms to creature baits, but one bait produced more than any other bait.

Relying on the knowledge from previous years, the lipless crankbait proved to score bites even when other baits left us scratching our heads. The lipless crankbait is a bait that covers water. Unlike a traditional crankbait that I often use when fishing around structure such as wood or a hard bottom like rock or shells, the lipless crankbait is best when fished around grass for the angler’s ability to fish at numerous depths. With each cast I learned the bottom substrate, pulling up various types of grasses. With this understanding, I found success ticking the top edge of the grass, and capitalizing on a yo-yo technique to achieve reaction strikes. Color proved important, and I focused on a Strike King Red-Eyed Shad in perch color, common forage in the fishery.

Despite a storm that moved through the area eliminating about an hour of fishing time, you can’t beat over 50 bites in half a day. After fishing, we reminisced over the day with some local Mexican food, a restaurant that has become a common stop on our trip since I started visiting the club. Discussions of tournament fishing and trips gone by remind you of the reasons we participate in the sport of bass fishing.

After good night‘s sleep and a breakfast from the local diner, we were right back where we left off. On Friday, David Gates started our day off with the heaviest largemouth of the week, a 25in pig he scored on the Culprit Fat Max worm. Remind me to send you some replacements in the mail David! (to be honest David showed me up in terms of size with the worm in Red Shad color). Funny how the same color that regularly produces on the Chickahominy River, a system that the dammed pond feeds into, scores bites on the Providence Forge pond.

The wind picked up on our second day of fishing, making sticking to one spot tough. Knowing time was limited, we decided to start focus on the North end and let the southerly wind blow us along the bank. The bites were not as frequent as just a day before, but the quality was still there. By the end of the day we still managed to catch upwards of 30 bass and between 10-15 pike.

The Hampden-Sydney-Sydney brotherhood is a lasting experience, far after leaving “the hill” as we call it. Whether you are looking for a small college liberal arts education, or a school deeply entrenched in America’s outdoor pastimes, the relationships I have made will be cherished for a lifetime. Fellow alumni like the Gates and Cowan families exemplify exactly what the school stands for: good men and good citizens that I am proud to call my friends.

As we packed up our gear and rolled down the gravel road towards civilization, I reiterate the experience in a single word, blessed. Regardless of your age, enjoy your time on the water. It’s a time to rekindle relationships, share some good laughs, and enjoy in some good ole fashion, friendly competition.

I’m please to announce that I have taken a pro-staff position with a growing weight terminal tackle manufacturer, WOO! Tungsten. A bass angler knows that tungsten steel provides fishermen with a denser alternative to lead, allowing for a smaller profile than traditional materials . Look outfor a tackle review in the near future, as well as a look into my most recent journey to ICAST, the largest sportfishing industry trade show in the world!

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