Sunday, July 19, 2009

Super Pans!

I have been silly slammin’ these panfish lately. This year has been exceptional for quality panfish and I have been able to get quite a few good-sized samples. There is no limit to my obsession for panfish and when beauty gills like this are swimming around…well my sanity and fishing focus goes right goes over board.

The bigger pans seem to be rolling out of spawn mode but still hanging around the nesting area. The shallows are still packed with breeding bluegills but numbers are starting to thin out. This is due to a combination of predation and the fish spawning themselves out.

(Above: This is a “Super Panfish in regards to size and color. Bluegill and Green Sunfish are often referred to as “panfish”)

This day was another trip to the M Ponds instead this time I decided to lug my pontooner all the way back to the furthest pond. The trek is somewhat of a distance but easy going…unless you are hauling a one-wheeled pontoon boat loaded with gear. It was far more of a work out to the arms, legs and back than I expected.

“Haven’t even made a single cast yet…phew…Man!” I puffed and panted on the trail a few yards from the water. “Better be worth all this.”

There are some decent bass in here but it has been a while since I have hooked into anything over 18-inches. Most of the fish are 12 to 14-inches and very eager. There is a bounty of fish this size here and smaller. So finding the fish in this pond is not so much the test as finding BIG fish. This is one of those places where an angler has to thin out the smaller fish to get at the bigger ones. Even when I oversize the bait, I still have to weed through a few dinkers to find some quality fish.

(Above: New recruit looking to make his way up in the ranks of hawginess. These small guys gave me the business all day long.)

The weed growth was very manageable for July. Usually I expect this stuff to be choking this pond by now. Aquatic weeds are still a mystery of sorts to me. Far more complex than anglers give them credit and come in a few forms. The vegetation in this pond is in die off mode as opposed to exploding. Most of the ponds here are doing the same thing. 10 miles down the road…everything is CHOKED!

Right about now I see another school of beauty gills. Now just for the record, there is a mix of green sunfish and gills here. The bigger fish you see posted are the sunfish. “Gills” is just easier to say and kinda sounds cooler in my opinion. Plink, plink, plink. I hammer a few more of panfish. I just can’t help it.

“Wow! Look at this guy!” I exclaim. “He’s downright slabby!”

(above: Slabby refers to the term “slab” as these fish were very stocky. A bit like a crappie. “Me loves me some slabs!”)

“Alright, Matt. Shake off the panfish.” The voice in my head pulls me away from the school. “Otherwise we will never leave.”

The search for big fish continues. Now I am more focused than ever on catching the bigger bass. I had covered most of the lake already with ho-hum results. My “numbers philosophy” falls apart as we roll into the late summer-too many small fish scenario. My lure size tends to get bigger and bigger as we move closer to fall. Anglers need to constantly transition their game to match the conditions. I find tremendous success when I start compensating ahead of time.

A full lap of the lake had nearly been completed. The cattail structure to the north had been missed when I shot gunned to the back section. Now I had covered everything else except that area. Cattail structure is always prime time fishing areas this time of year for both oxygen and ambush points.

The boat is positioned. I throw out and Wham! Feels like a heavy fish. The line runs right and the fish busts the surface of the water.

“There we go!” I grit my teeth and try to steer the fish in. “Stay up. Stay up.” My voice seems to try to coax things as if I was bowling or something. “Hold on, baby!” The fish was landed and one of the biggest of the day.

(Above: Sometimes it’s a lot like work to get the big fish but always worth the extra effort.)

The last section of the lake was finished and the boat was rowed back to the port out area. Humidity and bugs seemed to swarm me immediately as I stepped onto the shoreline. A mix of mosquitoes and small gnats started forming up in squadrons around the aura of my body heat. This didn’t make getting the boat out any easier. It was a scramble to get the gear out from the tree line and tall grass to the dirt/sand trail. It was an even greater struggle getting the boat back to the truck. But that is what you do sometimes to get away from the pressure and away from the masses.

My name is Matt and I’m a fishaholic.

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