I ended up pulling a really late shift at work and this wrecked my preparation for the trip. This can really set an angler back on their heels. Rather than prepping the battery and loading the motor the night before, I ended up pulling a dead battery out of storage. With no time to recharge it I face a good deal of rowing.
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.