Friday, April 9, 2010

Small Ponds on the Shorebang

For the last few days the wind has been gusty and formidable. The forecasts were predicted at a mere 10-15mph that felt more like hurricane “Hugo” when exposed out on the open water. The next day was foretold to be even worse. Rather than battle the whitecaps and the wind onslaught on prime water by boat, I decided to give my arms a rest from rowing and go for some bass in shorebang mode.

My water of choice was a large grouping of small ponds in Boulder. Small metro ponds can offer some big fish opportunity from shore. This area has several ponds that vary greatly in water clarity, shape and overall size. Generally the bigger ponds all have fish in a mixture of bluegill, bass and carp. My goal is to get in early and cover as much water as I could before the winds picked up.

“The last few days of wind may have already congregated fish.” I thought to myself. “Just have to check it out.”

I get to the ponds and the water is like glass. Not so much as a blade of grass is twitching. This was by far the least wind that I had faced for the previous three days. Now that I had the pontoon boat safely stowed away the winds were content to take the day off it seemed. Another thing I did not fully take into account was the fact panfish such as bluegill would be active so early in the year. I was able to pick off a handful or so of these finned-forage morsels just about every cove or tasty pool that I went to. A few had brilliant coloring and fin quality. Panfish are a bit of a compulsion of mine to put it mildly.

(Above: Two-point deduction for not cleaning the muck off this fish before taking the picture. Dirt, sand, and even moss debris can take a lot away from fish shots in my opinion. Instead of noticing the amazing color of the fish, viewers will be drawn to the negative aspects even if it is just a few specs on the tail.)

The water temps are still clinging to the 50-55 degree range on most ponds but my guess is a few of these smaller ponds are climbing towards 57-58 during a warm spell. Maybe these smaller gills are moving in to feed and even spawn. Bass were tough to come by while scouting most of the water thus far so I would pick off a few of these guys here and there.

(Above: Bluegill with fins on full display. I may have to start calling these fish “potato chips” as I can’t ever seem to stop at just one.)

Shaking off the panfish addiction I went back to my pursuit for bass. “These winds will kick up in no time. Then I will have to adjust accordingly.”

Being able to adjust is key as Colorado is always changing. Wind is not necessarily a bad thing for anglers. In fact wind can be a good thing if you use it to your advantage. However the irony of having absolutely no wind on the one day wind mattered the very least did not go unnoticed.

“Guess I should be happy it’s not @##%^& snowing!”

Fishing by shore presents advantages and disadvantages. One of the major disadvantages is that you are greatly subject to the terrain. Fish love rough terrain and heavy cover where available. Fishing this heavy cover can be much more difficult from shore than by boat. Often I am met with the quandary of “to cast or not to cast”. Some places require finesse as where areas like this spot are absolutely treacherous.

(Above: Sight-fishing opportunity in Rough Cover. Do I jump down and spook the fish or try to cast through the cover?)

Casting would be folly. Instead I retreat taking the sloping trail at the bottom of the picture. Slide down and nearly break my @##. Perfect cast, drop…nothing. On the slope I could see the fish but the lower angle reflected light directly into my polarized lenses. I was blind of sorts. I halt the retrieve and give the bait a few pops of subtle movement. Nothing. Cast. Cast. Switch rods, cast and cast again. Nothing. I go back up to the top of the slope. The fish had moved off. Sight-fishing in spring. Not always easy.

Then I move to the wooded spot and see a dark shadow cruising slowly. It was as if he was trying to sneak up on a school of bluegill nearby in the shallows. I cast ahead of the fish and run the lure in the shallows near the fleeing baitfish. The shadow lurches forward.

Now I see it more clearly, a decent sized bass. It leans forward and opens it’s mouth. As soon as the jaw shuts I set the hook. Here is where it gets a bit dicey. You see, I hadn’t actually moved down to the shoreline from the top of the hill before casting. There was a good ten or fifteen drop to the water’s edge. Two things were going to happen for sure…one; I would lose the fish and two; I would fall right into the water. Instead my feet miraculously stayed underneath me and my reel maintained the slack. With one good tug the fish was steered towards shore and my hand reached for the lip. As I grabbed the fish the lure literally fell out of the fish’s mouth. Had I offered any slack whatsoever surely the fish would have been lost.

(Above: Ugly Mug Bass that could actually pass as part “frog” in my book. Man, how @##%^ old is this fish?!?”)

The wind did not show up until later in the afternoon. By the time my truck pulled into the house; dogs, cats and garbage cans were whipping through the neighborhood at about 40mph. Some anglers can plan fishing trips and the fishing gods will have the turbulent weather lay down right in front of them like a good dog. They will experience perfect weather and conditions the whole time. That is not usually my case. I could pencil in a trip with clear blue skies and then the weather will turn south faster than bad cafeteria food. What makes this day a bit bizarre is that the weather defied all the worrisome forecasts and was rather pleasant…on the one day I planned for it to be terrible. That is just fishing. All of the fish in this shameless fish bragging post were released.

My name is Matt and I’m a fishaholic.


Anonymous said...

Hi Matt - Been busy catching up my reading of all your recent posts and fishing excursions. Good to see you have been persistent with our finned friends. Keep up the good blog work!

Bill said...

Pond fishing can be pretty fun. Looks like you had a good day.