Thursday, June 18, 2009

Riding the storm out

The weather can change in a hurry and these evening thunderstorm patterns are not to be taken lightly. Fishing trips after work should be done with one eye on the weather. Case in point:

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.

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