Monday, August 10, 2009

Half Day Fish Fest (Part Two)


I think it’s easier for folks to read the short blog post as opposed to my four page endless rants. In situations where it makes sense to break a long post into segments, I will go through the extra work to make two or more quality posts rather than one long drawn out one. This day was a half-day fish fest with several lakes involved. What it really boiled down to was a story of two water types; stained and clear.

Rolling off Plan A

Desperation was clinging on my shoulder like a silent taunting buzzard. The early morning hours had been wasted on a lake with stained water. One quality fish wasn’t going to satisfy me. The only thing to do was to pull out and go to another lake. The advantage a belly boat has over other craft is that you can be mobile in mere minutes as opposed to trailering up or breaking stuff down.

Off we went to a nearby lake. This lake was smaller, more secluded and would hopefully have some clear water to fish. I had also hoped to see panfish. Instead we saw weed choked water and zero fish at all. They were neither spawning nor suspending. One look and you knew it would be tough going at this location.

“Find the clear water and you will find the best fishing”

With that in mind we didn’t even bother getting the gear out. We were on Plan C and driving out at 8:30. The 45-minute drive was grueling but at least the traffic was light. The 6-dollar charge was another slight setback. But at least the water was clear. One look at crystal blue water and being able to see the bottom was pure bliss compared to fishing the “soup”. Don has the tuner ready to go and gets in. I decided to go with the pontoon for Plan C. (Yep…I just so happen to be carrying around a one-man pontoon boat with oars in case something like this came up.)

Port in and start working around the island. Don gets into a nice fish right away. The fish was close to the edge hiding up against some flooded trees. The fish fought extremely tough in the open water. The beast breached the water surface once and then twice before trying to dig itself deep into the weed matte. Don hoisted the fish up before its head could reach the matte. He lands it and brings it up for a quick shot.

(Above: This is the first and only shot I was able to get. Don doesn’t care much for pictures, master angler awards or even other anglers most of the time.)

Time goes by and I start to get discouraged. Two dink fish wasn’t going to make the drive worthwhile. Cast, cast, cast some more. Working the shoreline structure, the shelf and anything else that looked like there might be a bass. The wind was pushing me all over the place. Then I look at how the wind is sheltering the south side of the lake. The flat water made a tempting target. My focus moved over to that area and the fish started hitting.

(Above: Watch out for these wannabe bruisers. They will hit lures half their size and mob your bait if traveling in “packs”. This fish hit the plastics. It seemed like the plastics were only getting fish from tiny town.)

A lot of experts tell anglers to focus on the side of the lake where wind is pushing everything to one side. I believe the opposite to be true most of the time and more fish tend to congregate where the water is sheltered from the wind. This isn’t absolute and there are other advantages to fishing in wind but when things get blustery out there I prefer to hang in coves or the side with flat water and less turbulence. Most of the time the fish do to.

But these fish were small. After two or three dinks I moved further away from shore and started working the bottom of the shelf. It was roughly 15 to 20 feet deep in spots. I couldn’t see the fish but I knew they were down there. My casts became long and deep. At times I was hammering the bottom of the lake with spinnerbait and other rigs. WHAM! The lure stopped and I thought my lure had found a stump or rock. Then the line started to pull and drag started to sing.

I love fighting fish in deep open water. There is no better opportunity to really test a fish’s strength. In fresh or salt water a fish with no cover or heavy current has only its own wits and stamina to rely on. I can take my time rather than horsing the fish in. It is almost a dance of sorts to bring the fish in carefully in open water as opposed to the rough and tumble battle of fighting a fish in heavy cover. Just glide the fish in for the land, grab and shameless photo op.

(Above: Clear water bucket. Check out the dark color pattern. These fish are #$%^^&* amazing! Don’t eat these fabulous sport fish. Catch and Release.)

As the sun rose to the middle of the sky I knew my time was fading. One big fish and a handful of dinks would have to suffice. Don had a few more keepers so his total catch would easily beat mine by a pound or two. With more time who knows what we would have caught. Truth be told this place holds some pretty nice fish.
Pattern of the day could not be determined. One fish does make the pattern and smaller fish tend to be so aggressive that they will hit anything the see. This fish hit a similar spinnerbait combo that you see in the previous blog post “Here comes August”.

My name is Matt and I’m a fishaholic.

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