Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Stick the landing

Early morning gear up delayed by a few morning errands and two extra cups of coffee. Rush to the tooner storage and do the quick load up and double-check. Roll out and get halfway through Boulder before realizing that I have left the handcart behind. This is the trailer that is used for carrying the tooner to the water. With a few hundred yards from the parking area to the back lake I would have to divide the gear into several trips. Anxious to reach the water the trips were cut down to three as opposed to the usual four or even five. And there I was carrying the boards, the oars and crate of miscellaneous parts on the last trip. My fingers were in agony. They started to cramp and a few times the gear had to be readjusted in my grasp. Put it all together at the water’s edges and my arms are exhausted before even taking a cast.

Push off late in the morning and start looking for fish. This lake has several areas of identifiable structure in submerged trees, islands and the occasional shelf or two. Fearing afternoon wind, the attack was set to key points first and then search casting later in the day. Pull up to the first structure point and on the second or third cast get a heavy clobber on the jig\grub setup. The fish is heavy and gives several two really good tugs on the drag before submitting to the lip grab.

Move to the other side of the structure and I start throwing a fantastic plastics and swimbaits in search cast mode. At first I am getting nothing but weeds but then feel a small sturdy tap on the tube jig. The tap wasn’t enough to set the hook and a lift of the rod tip whispered that the fish had only thumped the bait but not picked it up. A second bump followed and my left arm stuck the landing on a good solid hookset for a change. In the shimmering water a flash of bronze caught my eye. The sporadic fight giving no quarter or slack mixed with the bronze meant one thing.

“Smallie. Hot damn.”

The area was worked for another hour and then I moved on with another largemouth in the fourteen-inch range. It was time to move to the east side of the lake and work the submerged trees and then the shelf before letting the wind push me back to the landing. Must have thrown for hours. Saw a few fish, missed a strike here and there along with dragging up a lot of weeds. I felt lost on the wrong side of town. My arms stopped and for several minutes I scanned the water.

The morning bite had faded several hours ago and I simply missed the shift change. Water temp was checking in at 56-57 degrees Fahrenheit. Air temp was mid 70’s and by now the wind was averaging 5-15mph. Water surface wore a mild chop and a light but steady current was present. I had positioned myself on the far side of the lake, pulled up the anchor and let the boat push me for some drift fishing. I had switched to a green\yellow spinnerbait and started fishing in search cast mode. Casting to the structure or running through open water, the bites didn’t want to happen. My mind started second-guessing everything.

“Am I running too fast or too slow? Is the bait too big? Do I smell bad?” The questions endlessly ran through my mind.

Just when the self doubt started to take over and I was nearly going to change back to the plastics, a faint bump is felt through the slack forming on the line. The lack of action made me a bit sloppy. I nearly missed this fish completely. Thankfully I was able to sneak in a hookset at the last minute and land another solid bass to finish the day.

Landing the fish and photo op cost me some time and the wind pushed me well past the island and nearly to the other side. Not wanting to give any ground up I had to fight the wind for nearly twenty minutes before reaching the spot where the fish had hit. Starting the run once again I threw a handful of casts in all directions. Each cast got harder to control as wind velocity increased. My arms were getting heavy from fatigue. Then one of my casts went haywire leaving me a small snarl of line near the reel face.

“Ahhhh there it is.” My lips babble conceding warning signs of breakdown.

Not only was my body starting to fail but so was the gear. The left side of the tooner was getting a bit saggy-sally from the leak I am still unable to fix. Rod number 2 was snarled with not enough time to fix. This was as good of time as any to bag the day and head out. Slowly drifting to shore my tired arms began lamenting the several trip gear haul without the handcart.

“Mudder Ducker!!!” I blurt out. “Starting the season out really rough with these trips. Always forgetting something.”

Water temps were hovering around 57-degrees. Fish are still deep and clinging to the bottom of the inclines.

My name is Matt and I’m a fishaholic.


e.m.b. said...

Those are some damn nice bass...good on you!

Steve Zakur said...

Nice report Matt! I was at a small stream last weekend and this guy pulls up and curses. He forgot his vest but he soldiered on anyway with only the Wooley Bugger he had tied on his line.

SweetiePea said...

Um . . . I think perhaps you need some sort of Check List before you head out. But those are some gorgeous April Bass. I'm sure there will be more where they came from .

bluecollarguy said...

Looks like you had a pretty good day even if things got a bit mixed up!

Perhaps you do need that quick checklist :)