[Over the next few days I will be migrating some notes from earlier in 2008 to the journal. I will do my best to put a date of reference on these. Let me know what you think.]
So I am driving by Ward pond on Memorial Day and I see one single lonely beat up pickup truck in the parking lot. I had the belly boat and the rods ready to go from the other day. I didn’t have a reload on some essential gear items (like the pliers that I dropped in the water…DOH!) but it was 9AM under mild cloud cover. Hardly any wind was present. The water was warm even though the air temp was dropping slightly hour by hour it seemed.
“Matt, you would be stupid if you did not fish this place RIGHT NOW!” as the words echoed in my brain my heart started pumping and without even realizing it, my hands were turning the wheel and I was flipping a U-turn on Ward Rd.
After the gear up and walk down the staircase walled with olive tree branches, I looked for signs of nesting fish or pressure. I found neither save for one shore banger on the northeast end. Rather than brave the perilous entry closest to the parking lot, I decided to walk over and port in on the southwest corner. Note: People still try to use the northwest corner for entry and it can be pretty tough. Funny story to follow in a bit.
The tactic choice for me has always been hit or miss here but I am working on it. Sometimes I find myself switching up far too much. This day I just stayed put with what I had been throwing all week: jigs and fantastic plastics. The only thing I was missing was the grubs.
See those trees in the background? That is where this guy was hanging in less than a foot of water. Pitched close to shore and the fish clobbered the plastic stickbait.
Shallow water just down a few hundred feet from the first one. These guys were hitting the stickbait-junebug color from Maniac Lures…(gotta use up this surplus before the ban is lifted. Non-scented but seem to work ok. I don’t even notice a difference most of the time.
Now for the funny story…the northwest cover is overgrown and perilous, as I had mentioned before. Canoes are especially prone to a piece of hidden structure just off the shoreline. It’s not really a safety hazard as the water is fairly shallow but I imagine it could be quite disheartening to carry a canoe down here only to tip over on the way out. It happens time and time again. They shove off a bit too hard, hit the structure and “plop!” right on the side. So when I saw the trio carry the beige canoe down the stairway, battle the trees to get her at the water’s edge…well then I wish that I was a lot closer. Then I could have warned them. Shouted out something like, “Easy in! There are rocks in front of you.” At the very least I could have gotten some video footage.
They had life jackets and even matching gear. Even after facing wave after wave of thorny tree branches, they still looked very excited to get in the water. The guy even seemed to check the path in front of them by pushing the boat ahead and bringing it back.
“Oh…this guy has been here before.” My lips muttered and I went back to fishing.
Out of the corner of my eye I saw them shove off, hit the structure and tip right over. Everyone went in the water and you could see them get right out and onto shore quickly. Then they took a minute to rethink things. It was a while before they made it back out and they hugged the shoreline as they went along.
“That’s a good first trip out.” I thought to myself. Better learn a hard lesson now and walk away than learn to one that you can’t. It was hard for me not to chuckle a bit…and then went right back to fishing.
From here I worked my way to the northeastern cove. My game plan was to finish up the coves and bail from the water victoriously. Switching from the plastics to the jig, I started working the rock structure under the trees. I tossed out a total “flub cast”. The line caught my finger sending the jig off at an angle and smack into a nearby tree trunk. My fingers were getting cold and I was struggling quite a bit. It was one “goof-cast” of many that day I assure you. Somehow the lure bounced off the tree and onto a flat chunk of concrete that is pretty common material out here. The jig just sat there on the concrete like a frog waiting to jump in the water. I cleared the line from a small overhanging twig with a quick snap of the rod, which sent the jig into the shallow water with a small “plop”. A few inches of retrieve and WHAM! The battle was on.
This fish was not huge by most standards but good sized and all fight. He ran twice on me and tried to go deep! It was a few hard fought moments until I could turn his head back at me. Then he ran right at me. This pretty much closed the deal for Mr. Bucket.
Ever catch a fish and have to sit there for a minute to catch your breath? I love it when a fish is worth every inch of the battle. This was a good fish.
Once the wind started up, the temperature started dropping. I could literally feel my core body temp dropping one degree at a time. I hit my pinky finger on the bail a bit too hard and it went completely numb. I could still bend it and there was no color change but the light damage and the cold made it something to be concerned about. The weather didn’t help either and seemed to get drearier by the second.
“Get out while you are still alive.” I chuckled talking myself out of several more hours of wet, cold and rainy fishing. I wouldn’t die but it made it sound better.