Took an all out late morning gamble rolling into this spot on Saturday. Two cups of coffee and a gear load up puts me on the road at 9:15AM. My original destination was blown out of the water due to the late wake up. Some places are starting to get too crowded already for my liking and school isn’t even out yet.
“They’ll be mobbing the hot spot.” Echoes the sound of two marbles that roll around in my brain. “Better go with Plan B and a little extra driving.”
Reach the parking lot and there appears to be only a small handful of vehicles. Right off the bat my eyes scan bumper stickers looking for telltale signs of hobbyist markings on the parked cars.
“One NAFC sticker, a few bird watcher club markings and a ‘I love my dog’ license plate ring…not too shabby.” This means that potentially I have only one angler to contend with on a 50-60 surface acre lake.
The tooner, three rods, fish finder unit, fish finder unit clamp, anchor system, PFD, two oars, and the tackle bag are loaded onto the wagon before being hauled a very long ways to the launch point. Most of this lake is covered with rough terrain and the only suitable launch point has to be halfway around the pool. Finally get to the water, launch and get to work on the northern edge of the lake with the fantastic plastics with a sidearm cast. First cast and a heavy bite comes to the line. I hold my breath while the battle ensues. Once in the hand I decide to do a quick grab and go photo op hoping there is more fish nearby. A few dinks are landed and then I move on.
I work the entire northern edge with one quality bucket and a handful of dinks. Another fish comes along but it is merely average. After spending so much time in the ho-hum doldrums this year I decide to void the photo op on this one and focus on larger fish. Then my fish finder does something it hasn’t done in a long time. It actually signals a fish on the screen. Well not one fish mind you but a handful of smaller fish. For some people this may not be a surprise but even on sensitivity setting number 8, this fish finder unit doesn’t show me fish that I can clearly see in the water only a few feet away from the boat.
“Oh now you decide to start dialing stuff in. You are lucky I don’t toss you overboard right now.” Yes, the sun and water gets to me sometimes.
The sonar blips could be nothing more than large shad or even an anomaly of sorts showing up on the screen. Answering the question would require a presentation of a smaller size.
Trim the spinnerbait off the fast action rod and tie on a lightweight jig presentation. Miss a few tiny hits, readjust and then start pulling out crappie like I was the Hamburgler at McDonald’s. One after the other came to the hand but they were not really slabs…more like mini-slabs. I still dig crappie and consider them a major staple of the panfish category. Having an addiction to panfish I stay there nailing wannabe slabs for almost an hour.
The trick was getting the jig at the right depth and setting the hook right on top of the bite. As soon as they hit you had to spring back fast with the hookset elbow or miss the bite completely. Truth be told I was 50/50 on the hook up most of the time. Towards the end of my crappie slammage a slight feeling of lament started to overcome me.
“Man…I shouldn’t have trimmed the spinnerbait. That sexy white and black skirt and deliciously shiny blade might be the hot ticket right now.
And so I stopped and had to change everything up. Spinnerbait went back on the fast action rod, light jig trimmed off the second rod replaced by the fantastic plastic. Then that rod (heavy-medium action) was fixed with the heavier jig to work some sandy\mud sections. Rarely do I have the patience to do this most of the time by the way and usually adjust or deal with it. This year I need to be damn near perfect for some reason to get anything.
The day wears on and the fish are all over the place but the bass are moving from the bottom of the incline into the shallow water and then back to bottom of the incline. There are a few bass that are lingering in the shallow water but not nesting (some lakes I can’t tell if there was a bass spawn at all actually which troubles my already frazzled mind). One of the largemouth is chasing gills and nipping furiously at them.
“Oh that fish is hungry!” I say flipping the heavy jig onto the shoreline and then slip it into the water through a light barrier of moss, which I expected to foul the rig completely. The fish stops dead in its tracks and makes a dead run for the bait. The moss must have worked like camouflage because at first the fish looked as if it had lost its quarry. Give the rod a few bumps and the fish moves its head back to the bait location. One more bump and I see those massive bass lips explode. With a lightning fast inhale the fish tries to suck in the bait less than fifteen feet away from me. No brainer hook set and the fish goes nuts! Had it broke my line the thing would have landed itself on shore with the massive leap out of the water.
It is so good to see aggressive bass finally instead of the wary, no biter, timid-fish. I couldn’t tell you whether this lake was in prespawn, post-spawn, under-spawn or over-spawn. All I do know is that water was holding at 62 degrees on the shady side and 63 on the other. If you saw baitfish, start throwing. The big bass are close by and most of them are hungry.