Sunday, June 28, 2009
Reach the lake an hour behind schedule. Check in, rent the boat and head out. Wind was already building and I knew this would be a force to be reckoned with. Once off the dock I toss out the senko and then reposition the boat with the oars. I reel in and feel a steady tug.
“It feels like a nice fish.” I say cranking down. The line goes limp. “Missed him.”
Move down a little ways further and this time I cast out the jig combo. BAM! Another solid strike and this time I land a solid hookset. The fish makes a run to deeper water. Big mistake. He’s running right at me. I crank the reel quickly to manage the slack. That is when the fish sees me and turns the other direction. Two short bursts of energy as the fish tries to escape and then the grab.
(Above: Brute bucket photo with the rig in his face. Quick photo op and release.)
It was a brute of a fish with an ugly mug. A lot of fish show signs of abuse. Even my shameless photo ops take their toll. Some quick photo and video work and release.
This spot coughed up two more fish. A largemouth in the 14’er range and a smallmouth that was about 11-inches. These are not keeper-sized fish by any means but they help me figure out what is working and what is not. Here the fish were telling me that black and blue combos were the ticket.
(Above: Here’s the smallmouth. He’s just about to graduate from snack size and into the ranks of respectable fish. Good luck little buddy!)
Looking for shelter from the wind I tuck into a secluded cove with a tall tree line of cottonwood. Cottonwood trees are releasing sheets of cotton-like material right now. It can be a real pain to fish through but fish through it is all you can do.
The cove was a bit shallow and the weed matte was very thick. The jig wouldn’t last five seconds in this muck and would work more like an anchor than a fishing lure. A few search casts with the senko in the secluded cove and Wham! I feel the thump on the line like a jolt of electricity. My forearm swings back on my elbow and sets the hook solid. The fish comes up out of the water in a brilliant display of water acrobatics. It lands with a splash and goes right into the muck on the bottom of the lake and stayed put.
A shorebanger might have tried to force the fish out and easily broke the fish off. With a boat you have the advantage of getting right on to of the fish and reversing the direction. This is exactly what I did and the fish popped right out. I had closed the gap giving the fish very little area to maneuver. A few short bursts and the fish was in my hand. Another sturdy bucket.
(Above: Not the best angle but you get the idea. Another nice keeper size bucket. Catch and release!)
The boat was rowed along this side of the lake and I missed another fish that might have been 15 or 16-inches. A few guys are still clinging to nests but most of the fish seem to be trying to brush off that post spawn slugginess. The fish seem to be a bit more active than just a few days ago. Thank goodness!
By now the clock has been ticking for a while and time is running out. This day was setup with a time limit. But those of you that know me understand I have an addiction to panfish and I will seek to abuse these little morsels regardless of my primary target for the day. Near the island structure, hundreds if not thousands of perch will congregate. They do this all over the lake but the island is an easy geographic point to relate too. I spend a few minutes here just hammering the little perch. The senko would get tossed out and the fish would follow it in a small cloud. I would then toss out the panfish rig and pick them off by the bushel. These fish are pretty lean looking unless in spawn form. Check out the quality of the pictures from the camera that I borrowed. Some of the functions are a bit different but man…superb quality.
(Above: Perch may be my least favorite species as they displace bluegill and other panfish that I find far more desirable. But even these fish can rock the panfish party.)
1PM was the cut off time. Not just for the fishing trip but because they charge you by the hour to rent the boat. Pulling back into the dock I had counted 8 bass, 5 of which were respectable/keeper size. I didn’t bother taking weights and scaling the fish as it takes time. The fish put up with a lot from me already so a fish has to be completely OMG before they get the full extent of my wrath. The total for the 5 would have easily been between 13 and 15lbs. Not too shabby. Being able to do this consistently here in the same three to four hour time frame is the overall goal.
The Q is a good sized lake with a lot of different structure types and varying conditions. An angler doesn’t dial this place in on the first or second trip. Each time out here puts a few more pieces to the puzzle.
My name is Matt and I’m a fishaholic.
Friday, June 26, 2009
My obsession with panfish continues and often reaches its peak this time of year. When I stumble onto a school of decent sized panfish for some reason I have to drop everything and hammer them. Most of these fish are small and not worth a lot of effort. Some of these panfish however are fantastic specimens of what could arguably be the most brilliantly colored fish in Colorado. Normally these fish fill a void in action when I am bass fishing. Today I decided to go on a mission almost specifically for bluegill.
A lot of hard-core bassers or trout aficionados may not take the bluegill class seriously. They consider it strictly fish forage and folly in regards to angling. They may be right in regards to the big game fish but they are definitely missing out in some quality fishing…even if it is pint-sized.
(Above: This color pattern has a bright orange/red tint that is more brilliant during the spawning cycle)
(Above: Other color patterns are much darker with amazing blue and green markings. This one looked really cool even if the picture doesn’t fully do it justice.)
(Above: Then you get ones like this. A quality 10” maybe 11” gill with some of the most beautiful fin markings that I have ever seen.)
I have a few different tactics for attacking panfish and they vary from flies, small grubs to small minnow presentations such as the “panfish assassins”…the same ones I use for crappie. Below is a quick product shot and how I rig them with a drop shot hook.
(Above: I will try to get more presentation and rig setups like this going forward. For panfish it doesn’t really matter what you throw as they will hammer anything they can get their mouths around this time of year.)
Conservation note: Panfish such as bluegill and sunfish are prolific breeders and will reproduce in multitude under most conditions. This means that this species can tolerate some periodic harvesting. Selective harvest actually helps some species of fish from overcrowding. However what happens most often is that people deplete the school of as many fish as they can catch rather than focus on what would make the fishery truly thrive. Selective harvest means you take out the most common sized slot. Selective harvest does not mean that you remove as many big fish as you can. The same goes for panfish. The larger fish are needed to actively breed more fish. Larger brood fish are less likely to be eaten by predators and a crucial niche to the system overall as they provide the base layer of forage for larger fish. If anglers wipe out that layer (and it does happen) the whole system suffers greatly.
Of course I am a “release-aholic” when it comes 99% of the fish I catch. But that is my preference. What is absolutely crucial to the quality of fishing in Colorado is the release of big fish. For the sake of fishing as a sport today, tomorrow and years to come…release more big fish!
Good luck and good fishing.
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
West of I-25 on Harmony Rd is a natural area called Arapaho Bend. There are four ponds total with public access and every one of them has fish. With a bit of walking you can guarantee yourself a wide-open spot on any given day.
This is another area that I have never seen and knew almost nothing about. Instead of taking the pontooner or belly boat, I decided to shorebang it and cover as much ground as possible. And with this much ground to cover, Stick and Move would be my allies out here today. Sure the place looks fairly easy to handle when you Google Earth it but software technology gives little appreciation to dense summer grass, swarms of mosquitoes and Russian olive thorns. To find the fish, an angler is going to do some walking out here.
(Above: Top view map with locations where the best fish were pulled. The yellow X is for the one sunfish that I pulled out of that pond. The other two ponds were larger and would require more time to locate fish.)
Note: Hand propelled craft are allowed on all of these ponds. The trail is wide enough for vehicles but the gated fences are very narrow. Distance can be far depending on the lake and where you park. Belly boats and small kayak style craft are probably best suited fro this area. Shorebangers will do well on some of the smaller ponds.
The first pond is substantial in size and has some pretty cool island structure. Hitting this lake with some belly boats may come up on the calendar at some point. But the water has that stained color that always puts me off for some reason. I scouted the edge and then moved on to the back. On a lake such as this I would have to search cast a lot of water to find the productive areas. If the water was clear, I might have a chance to sight fish or look for baitfish activity. Instead I would have to do a lot of work. Figuring this lake out would be very time consuming.
By the time I reached the second lake things were looking pretty grim. I had done a lot of walking already and scratched the largest body of water off of my list. Hopefully the back ponds would fair a lot better. The second pond shimmered in the distance through some trees. There were three other anglers fishing this lake. That was a good and a bad sign. Angling pressure is not my friend but at least it provided clues that this water was viable. I walked past the first two anglers and tucked into a small hole between the trees.
(Above: This is called “Snapper Pond” and one of the better ones for bass fishing in my opinion)
The water quality on the second pond is better than the first and almost clear. Cotton is building up on the water and requires constant patience and maintenance of the line. I was pulling wads of white material from lure about every five casts or so.
The baitfish were numerous and adorably snack-sized. Then I saw two bass take surging strikes into the shallows attacking the swarm of bluegill. One cast and WHAM! The biggest of the two hammered the 5” black and blue senko. Technically this had been my second cast but to the guys just a few hundred feet down it looked like my first. Fish was landed and then a quick photo-op.
(Above: Post spawn bass looking to put the gut back on. If anyone asks…I caught this fish on the FIRST cast. Ha ha)
The lake has a lot of structure both in and out of the water. The trees provide a lot of shoreline cover and limb structure dots the shallows. I would cast along one edge and then the other. If nothing hit I would start sectioning the water with search casts. Sometimes I would throw the senko, sometimes I would throw a spinnerbait. I lugged three rods out here and was working all of them in rotation. The jig was impossible to throw out here so I switched that to the grub. One shot out into the cattails and WHAM! Bass number two. This guy wasn’t as hearty as the first but helps keep the numbers adding up.
(Above: I nailed two fish right here in this same spot.)
Baitfish are everywhere in large numbers. Nothing size from what I could see but hundreds upon hundreds of snack-sized morsels. With so much ground to cover and time slipping away, there was no time to play with these guys. My panfish addiction would have to be appeased some other time. The other problem was that I could not cover all of the structure on this pond and scout the rest of the area.
“Stick and move. Stick and move…” the voice in my head echoed.
The wind was picking up now and I took a moment to look over the pond. There were a few prime structure points with good wind cover. Rather than poking every nook and cranny, I decided to hit one or two spots and move on. The other side of the lake had one spot that seemed very well protected from wind, sun and pressure. Tucking through the brush on what looked like more of a rabbit trail, I found myself in a wooded cove of sorts. Baitfish were practically infesting the shallows and even though I couldn’t see bass cruising in the distance…I just felt like they would be there. Two casts with the yellow and green spinnerbait and I knew for sure.
(Above: Now I am starting to add some numbers on the board.)
The next pond is called Cormorant Pond. I know…it seems like a common name in Colorado and I dare say we may have a hundred ponds in Colorado named this, Regardless, this pond has some quality issues on many levels. The structure is weird wild fabulous though. Maybe early spring or fall would have some better water quality, less moss and provide some quality opportunity for a belly boat to assault some mondo bucket bass.
(Above: Island structure on lake #3 Comorant Pond.)
The lake does contain a substantial number of green sunfish. They seem abnormally small which leads me to believe that the lake has some issues in the natural balance somewhere.
(Above: Here is one of the little panfish. I hit a few of these hoping some larger ones would show themselves or some larger predator fish would investigate. Unfortunately I think this pond may be void of bass altogether.)
The last lake looks like two separate lakes on Google Earth but is actually one body of water with a small channel that flows between the two parts. By this time I had pretty much run out of steam. My mind was losing its sharpness my rations of water had run out. Then I made a wrong turn on the trail that led me to a dead end rather than circle all the way around the lake. This error pretty much took the wind out of my sails and I decided to take the trail leading back to the parking lot as opposed to backtracking and completed the full scout. There were some fly guys ripping bluegill out of the back pond about every cast. Nothing of size but it looked pretty constant.
(Above: The long trail out. The area is covered with dense foliage. The grass is very thick and thistles are a problem. The parking lot is off in the distance to the left.)
By the time I reached the truck my legs were exhausted and tingled a bit when I sat down. After a moment of swiping sweat off my face, the truck was started and rolled back to Denver. Will I make this trip again someday? The answer is maybe. Arapaho Bend is a decent place to fish and I recommend it for locals. But there are a lot better places to fish if I am going to invest the 1-hour drive in my opinion.
Being able to chalk both Prospect and Arapaho Bend off of my scout list goes a long way towards filling out some holes in my overall northern territory experience. My name is Matt and I’m a fishaholic.
Sunday, June 21, 2009
(Above: Boat geared up and ready to hit lake 2. Not knowing what to expect, I brought the kitchen sink. )
(Above: Photo of the first lake. This lake was experiencing some water quality issues and I didn’t bother casting. The second lake was a bit better quality wise so my focus was spent there.)
Prospect Ponds contains two lakes that are accessible by the public and both have fish. The first lake was brown in color. Very stained. The second lake seems to be the better of the two and the one I chose to spend my focus on. Water quality was not what I would like but much better than Lake One. Cotton is starting to build up and a bit of a problem at this time of year. Just another element you have to fish through.
(Above: Park Map with trails and parking lots marked. There are no bathroom facilities, which eliminate this as a kid’s fishing spot. The closest restroom would be the CSU Environmental Center and a good distance away. Just saying.)
I put in on the southern most edge. The paved trail rolls pretty smooth and there are a few launch spots that don’t require much effort. This lake is better suited for belly boaters than other hand propelled craft due to the heavy foliage and tree line that guard the section closest to the parking lot.
(Above: Decent numbers of decent fish pretty much sums up my day out here.)
Action on the second lake was consistent but fairly ho-hum. The fish size was not very large and I suspect that baiters take out the larger fish during the precious spawn cycle. This is a problem that a lot of Colorado anglers don’t fully recognize. I’ll spare you the usual rant and simply say more education needs to be done. The numbers of fish were decent for a lake this size. I was able to pull 5 or 6 fish total in a mere three hours.
Tree structure around the lake’s edge congregate the fish and the main area to focus on from boat or from shore. Lure choice should match the forage base, which appears to be a steady diet of bluegill. Originally I started running a combination of senkos and spinnerbaits after running into a few snags with the jigs. The first two fish were caught on the senko so I just stayed with that most of the time.
One of my larger strikes came on a black and white spinnerbait. A large green flash was seen under the water’s surface and I felt the heavy thump on the line. I dug into the hookset but there was nothing there. The fish hit the blade and didn’t even graze the hook. A few more casts to the same spot…nothing.
The wood structure on the west side can get pretty intense. There are a series of fallen trees laying in the water and this provides some of my favorite type of fishing. I thought the fish would be stacked up in here as it would be virtually impossible for any shore pressure to reach this area. Cast, cast, cast, switch rods, cast, cast, cast, switch…
“Dammit!” I curse to myself. “Where are the big guys?”
(Above: Map of Lake Two and where the best action of the day was found. This lake has a lot of structure and fish location could vary greatly on any given day.
All in all it was decent. Not great, not really good or even what I classify as “good” in the sense that it was worth the trip to Ft. Collins. The best way to describe this trip and Prospect Ponds is with one word…Decent.
Good luck and Good fishing.
Thursday, June 18, 2009
Once again these are lures that didn’t make the cut…
Sex Offender Shad: Our design team was looking for a devious lure with predator action. Instead we found ourselves with a lure that had to be instantly locked down and registered in some waters. The crossbar design was unique but the handcuffed trebles were a big disappointment. The biggest problem we found with this lure is that it got into trouble whenever we ran it near schools.
Slacker Shad: There are some great lazy action lures out there and we thought we had a few ideas of our own for a super slow rolling crankbait. What we ended up with was an always come late lure with a no-show attitude. This lure seemed to just sluff off bites from fish with only one treble. Instead of being weedless…this lure was worthless. The slacker shad was a no go.
Chuck Norris Shad: The design team thought they had created the most killin’est lure ever with this one. But you can always take things too far. This lure was kicking ass right out of the box and quite frankly was too much to handle. It took on even the baddest of fish with no problem but it would leave decent fish alone. We couldn’t control the action and once it took care of the bad fish, our prototype broke itself free of the line and swam off into the sunset. My guess is that even Ninjas would be helpless against this thing.
Shmackity-Shmackity Wa Wa Lures wants to assure its faithful and even new customers that all of our products are put through rigorous paces in both the design and testing phase before it ever has a chance to reach your tackle box. Don’t just take our word for it. Hear what our customers say…
“I’m not the kind of guy that cashes in my kid’s college fund for a brand new spanking bass boat and then throws a cheap ass crankbait! I’m throwing a Wa Wa!” Billy Donker Bob Jr, Spillwad Kentucky.
“This is the best damn lure ever! What the heck is it called again?” Jed Nickles, no address listed
“I bought them for my uncle as a gag gift. Not sure if he has tried them or not.” Sally McGustus, Spokane Washington.
The MADshow decided to hit PX for an after work fish. This was more of a warm up than a production day and all we really wanted to do is hit a few fish. It was exactly as I expected…good numbers of post spawners. Nothing super huge but the lake treated us well most of the evening with a few bass here and there. The lake was in post spawn condition so the fish were on the skinny side and far less impressive compared to just a month ago. Nesting activity is nonexistent. Search casting required.
(Respectable PX bucket with storm clouds building in the background)
When the bass didn’t want to seem to hit, I would shift over to bluegill with my panfish setup. I just drop it in and they nail it. The problem isn’t so much getting them to hit as much as finding the sunfish and gills with any relative size to them.
(Above: Most of the panfish are little “snackers” like this guy and can number in the hundreds or even thousands depending on the lake and season.)
(Above: This bluegill is a bit larger and sporting fantastic color. Really…this species of fish is super cool in my opinion. We are lucky to have such an amazing slice of fish diversity here in Colorado with these bluegill and sunfish.)
(Above: This is probably the largest panfish of the day and a beauty specimen. My obsession with these fish is well documented. How cool are those fin markings?)
Then the bank of dark clouds that we had been watching rolled right on top of us. First came the wind. Then came the thunder and lightning. By the time I reached the shoreline for cover, a deluge of rain opened up.
(Above: We were lucky for the most part and the majority of the storms missed us. Then this cloud showed up. We chose a good spot to hunker down in case of lightning, hail and even tornado action.)
Don carries a sturdy raincoat with his belly boat and my pontooner is outfitted with an umbrella (the rod and frame work is plastic). While everyone else pulled off the water completely, The MADshow hunkered down right there on the shoreline. We chose a bank of brush cover that sheltered some of the wind but clear of any large trees. We stayed clear of anything metal or conductive say a fence or power lines as well. The rain was heavy and coming down in sheets. All we could do was hunker down and wait it out. My pontooner and tackle bag were soaked. But the path of blue sky behind the dark wall of rain clouds was giving us hope.
“Once this rain stops…I bet the fish go nuts!” Don said staring through the rain at the lake in front of us.
That is exactly what happened. The rain let up and we shook ourselves off like a couple of wet dogs. First cast out and WHAM! Nailed a bass in the “Bucket Class”.
(Above: Sweet Bucket! This time of year I tend to look more for numbers of fish as opposed to targeting big fish exclusively. If you add up the double digit numbers of bass along with the multitude of panfish…I dare say that I easily caught one hundred fish. Not bad for 5 hours. That is a fish every 3 minutes.)
The water lit up after that and was virtually boiling with action. The panfish were popping bugs off the water surface nearly everywhere. Occasionally you would see a large boil from a larger predator fish. The action was peaking and we threw lures like it was the last day on earth to fish. Bam! Don hits a decent bass. Wham! I land decent bucket. Then another and then another. Holy cow I couldn’t seem to NOT get bites. Don launches a hail-Mary cast over to a large boil that opened up in the distance in front of him. A few cranks of the reel and his rod bent over.
“Good fish…” He muttered through gritted teeth as he slowly worked the fish in. The fish stayed low and we couldn’t see the actual size until Don had the fish pretty much landed.
The weather held for the rest of the evening and more anglers returned to the lake. By hunkering down instead of rolling off to the vehicles, we were able to jump right back in and cover quite a bit of water with the whole place to ourselves. In hindsight I should have brought one of the small tarps I keep in the truck. Then I could have spared some of my gear. Now I am looking at a full wipe down of bag, boat and rods after this trip. I learn something from every trip and this trip was definitely a reminder to get better rain gear ON HAND and not just in the vehicle. The umbrella was a lifesaver for sure but the tarp would have been better.
But that’s fishing. My name is Matt and I’m a fishaholic.
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
(Above: Here’s a little 13’er chunk that hammered the black and blue senko.)
The wildflowers are busting out all over the place. I don’t remember a time where Sawhill has had this level of early summer foliage. The variety of wildflowers is in full swing right now and a visual feast requiring only a small stroll along the dirt trails. Even a fishaholic like myself can appreciate the lushness of these rainy conditions.
(Above: I have identified most of the flowers that were photographed except this one.)
A few of the trail sections are becoming overgrown or flooded. One of my shortcut trails had completely over grown with foliage. And one low-lying trail had completely flooded over. The amount of humidity, the thick matte of bugs in the air and the heavy amount of bird species that dwell in this area combined to give this run a “Tropical Thunder” motif.
(Above: This is another plant I am not sure of. It looks like wild rose mingled with a tree but that is probably not the accurate identification. If you can answer these questuions for me...please shoot me a mesage or comment on this article.)
Fish action gets tougher by the day at Sawhill and other places as we move out of spawn mode. The bass will get more selective with a bounty of food sources becoming more plentiful. The weed growth will get thicker by the day as well. Algae moss accumulates in heavy amounts and all of this together makes fishing all that much more of a struggle. This is part of the challenge for a lot of ponds and lakes in Colorado.
The moss and weedbed is an ally and a nemesis when fishing. The muck is hard to fish through but creates habitat for baitfish which turn into ambush points for predator fish. Out of the corner of my eye I spot a 14'er bass looking for a snack. A cast with the senko a few feet away from the fish...swim the bait slowly towards the weed line and BAM! Decent fish...not keeper class but raises spirits.
(Above: It seemed like the smaller bass were clobbering the lure and the big bass were sleepy. )
More foliage...It seemed that I could not take a step without being knee deep in amazing plant life. Some of which was more hospitable than others.
(Above: This is the invasive species “Bull Thistle” Not the friendliest plant that I have ever stumbled into.)
(Above: Wild rose…these flowers resemble the domestic variety somewhat and abundant in a lot of Colorado wildlife areas.)
Now what I have not mentioned yet is the mosquitoes. Most of the time there were swarms of blood sucking little vampires constantly buzzing me while I fished. The sun would occasionally open up and help keep them from massing, but most of the time these bugs were in random squad formation in an attempt to drain me dry. Not the worst case of mosquitoes that I have ever seen but definatelty something worth mention. They laughed at my first coating of Off spray after mere minutes. Next trip that spray bottle will go in the tackle bag for repeat doses as needed. Not a big fan of bug sprays so I only use them in situations where I know these micro-vampires exist in large numbers.
I started taking pictures of the foliage at the start of the trip just for the heck of it. As the walking continued the trip turned into a botany experiment of sorts. Usually you get one or two species of foliage in bloom. Right now everything is in "exploding" mode.
(Above: Western Blue Flax, this flower often grows in patches in areas that have decent shade or moisture.)
(Above: Bonus angle shot of the wild rose in bud form.
Not all plants are beautiful and harmless. Poison nettle and many thorned varieties are in abundance out here at Sawhill and other Colorado wildlife areas. In drier times a person could bushwack pretty much anywhere. Now an angler will struggle on the single file trail areas on the side and back sections. Caution with nearly every step is prudent.
(Above: Scarlet Globemellow, from a distance this looks a bit like the Indian Paintbrush but on closer inspection it is just as cool.)
You would walk into areas with so many flowers of aromatic types that the air smelled very sweet. You couldn't re-create this nasal sensation even with a natural perfume shop run by hippies. Seriously...it was that awesome. A pleasure for all of the senses
(Above: Yellow Salsify)
(Above: More Scarlet Gobemellow)
There were some more foliage pictures that didn’t turn out or I felt weren’t worth mention in the post. I run out of steam after a few hours of this stuff so this will just have to suffice. My obsession with fishing is severe but there is still enough time to stop and smell the roses or wildflowers as the case may be.
My name is Matt and I’m a fishaholic.
Sunday, June 14, 2009
(Above: Drift fishing bass on a solid 15mph breeze. Too windy to fish? Maybe you should stay home. Watch some fishing on TV maybe. I’ll keep the fish busy. Ha Ha)
Fishing a “hand propelled boats only” lake with the pontooner and getting into decent numbers using a method called “drift fishing”. This is not ground a breaking tactic by any means and is simply the act of fishing while the wind pushes your boat. It sounds easy and it is. Just gauge the wind direction to pick a line that you want to travel. Position the boat at the front of that imaginary line and then adjust course as needed while you drift slowly along.
I see this method only being used by a few people at a few places. Maybe this is one of those old school tactics that has been placed on the shelf after the introduction of electric trolling motors. What about those lakes that are HPO (hand propelled only)? You don’t want to row all damn day do you? Get some of this drift action!
Select a lure that you can troll slow with as well as sight-fish. Spinnerbaits, jerkbaits and stickbaits are just a few of my favorites. But the ability to go from a slow troll to the quick cast is key. When you don’t see fish that are active an angler can search cast or simply go with the flow and let the lure swim through the water to find the fish. The speed is often slower than what you would normally reel and very natural looking. Heck, I even catch fish while doing nothing but holding the rod and drift fishing with my finger on the line poised to set the hook. We are talking one cast every few minutes or so. It’s downright lazy but it works.
Drift fishing with the wind is not always perfect and there are some drawbacks. Boat positioning is one of them. Do your best to compensate using your oars or trolling motor but don’t bother trying to keep your boat perfectly lined up. Set the boat to cast and then focus mostly on the lure. The boat will go where it wants for the most part. You waste energy fighting it and flounder when fishing at the same time. Do one step. Then do the other. This allows perfect focus for each step.
A rod holder can be an essential item for drift fishing as it lends an extra hand when you need to grab the oars or even drop anchor to hammer a sweet spot. Just be ready to grab that rod when it bends over. I tend to miss a few fish if I am not holding that rod to instantly nail the bite. But then again I pick up a fish or two when my hands are locked on the oars. So the rod holder is more of a “helper” than a mainstay but it does come in handy.
Before I even get my boat on the water I am checking wind direction. Boaters usually check wind for safety concerns and then curse it the rest of the time. Getting the wind to work with you instead of against you is smart fishing from many angles.
Case in point: Postspawn conditions with an air temp of 65 and water temp about the same. Wind was fluctuating: 5mph to 15mph to the southwest. The bass were not timid but they weren’t boiling the surface or making obvious gestures to give up their location. This is perfect for the drift fishing. I started rowing to the east side of the lake and then picked my line. There were some adjustments needed for the shoreline but you get the idea.
(Above: This is as close as I could get to decent top view illustration. Not to scale.)
I was able to slow troll when I didn’t see fish and then able cast out to the fish when I did see them. As you see from the illustration above I had to make a few course corrections. The wind rarely blows the way you want. Hopefully you can get by with only a few adjustments here and there. After two good passes about 20-feet apart and this section was pretty much worked. Two big fish and a number of smaller guys were popped out of the same area on just those two passes. Once I got the boat lined up and started to drift…BAM! I was reeling in fish.
Important boating notes:
1. Invasive species are everywhere. Check all your gear especially your boat, oars and anything else that goes with you for dirt, algae and clinging debris. Clean your gear every trip and it will last longer, perform better…heck you might even fish better.
2. Wind conditions change dramatically. Don’t go onto water when weather and wind is too foul for boating. My pontooner can take waves better than canoes and some V-hull boats but still push my luck out there sometimes. I should throw out a box of disclaimers freeing me of any liability to those fishaholics that read this blog now.
3. Take your life vest every trip. Most places require that you have it. Don’t risk getting booted off the lake. Take your PFD. Wearing it just may save your life. Me? I take mine every trip whether BB’ing it or on the pontooner. I may not wear it all of the time but I have it in case someone tells me to put it on. Nobody’s perfect.
4. Check the boating regs and even follow them occasionally. Don’t be that guy who gets pulled off of Chatfield for drinking way too much or the jerk who nearly pulls right up to the shore guy and fishes right on top of him. So many more to mention here…just realize that everyone is looking at those bungwads and saying, “What a @#$%^& moron!” Now not all regs are posted and man o man are there some gray areas. I am not saying that you have to be all goodie-goodie two-shoes out there. What I am really trying to say is…don’t be a @#$%^& moron!
Good Luck and Good Drift Fishing!
Saturday, June 6, 2009
Move over Sexy Shad and other disco-trendy lures. Now there’s a new lineup of crankbaits that are breaking all the rules. If you are tired of running the 9 to 5 standard cranks…check out some of the troublemaker cranks looking to shake things up.
Shmackity-Shmackity Wa Wa Lures brings you three new crankbaits that are so ridiculously amazing that they are downright offensive! They catch so many fish that you just might get arrested.
BadAss Shad: This crankbait is tattooed and fired up. Run this lure through the toughest of neighborhoods and it will always come out on top!
Scruffy Shad: Sometimes you need a lure that can run late at night and come stumbling home early in morning. When conditions get scruffy…this is your go to crank!
Clown Shad: After fishing so many places that look more like a three ring circus rather than a peaceful fishery, we decided to make a lure that fit those specific conditions. When fishing gets just plain silly…throw out a Clown Shad!
Run! Don’t walk, to your local Supermegaconglomo tackle store and buy a whole truckload of these things! Load your tackle box, your toolbox, even your mailbox with these fantastically amazingly out of control crankbaits!!! Holy cow! Why are you still reading this? You need to get out there and FISH!
The message brought to you by Shmackity-Shmackity Wa Wa Lures and Supermegaconglomo Tackle Stores everywhere!