This past Saturday I headed north to float with my good buddy, Jim. We had the Coosa kayaks in the water by 7:30 AM. Weather was great and the river was in great shape….........plenty of current, but clear. The first two hours we had no fish. We were puzzled? All signs pointed to a great day to be out in search of bronze. Finally, we came upon a fast water chute with a large eddy on the side. We had caught fish here on many other trips. I fished the spot first and blanked (this would be a theme for me all day). Jim came in after me and cracked two nice fish on a tube:
Now we felt we had our mojo going (at least Jim did). We floated just a couple of hundred yards downstream and Jim cracked another nice fish:
We continued on downstream as I was looking for my first fish. Jim caught another nice one on his tube by fishing another eddy near faster water. We continued on downstream and hit another spot that contained a large eddy next to fast water. I fished it first with a couple of different presentations (including a tube) with nothing to show for my efforts. Jim came in behind me and cracked another fish on a tube.
Now I am all messed up. I must be doing something wrong. Jim is fishing behind me and just “schooling” me. Finally, on a spinnerbait I catch my first smallmouth of the day. It is small and does not measure up to Jim’s beauties. Then I catch a largemouth on the spinnerbait in the same spot…..............didn’t need a little, river largemouth messing up my already messed up mojo.
We continue on and I continue to struggle. We had one more spot that I truly believe is one of the neatest spots on the whole river. We have caught fish in the past there, but I figure today will be perfect as the water levels should be just right for that spot. It should hold a bunch of fish. Once again, I fish it first and come up empty, while Jim fishes the other side of the river. Jim catches a fish immediately on my swim jig across the river. Then I tell him he might as well come over to my spot and show me how to catch them. He comes over to my side of the river and, of course, cracks a nice smallie:
Now I am totally resigned to the fact that today is just not my day. It happens sometimes when Jim and I fish together. Some days I have the hot stick, and other days Jim has the hot hand. And, of course, some days we both are hot (those are the best days). I was able to pull one smallmouth from our final spot (small…......of course).
We ended our float around noon. I am not sure exactly how many fish Jim caught, but it was definitely a lot more than me. I ended up with two juvenile smallies and one under-sized largemouth. As I headed back toward home, my desire to catch some fish had not been extinguished. Fortunately, the day was still young so I decided to hit some spots closer to home.
I stopped by the Vermilion and talked with an elderly couple that allow me great private access on their property. It was the first time I had talked with them since last fall. They were both doing great and we talked about the past long, cold winter. I asked if it was ok to drive on down to the river. They said no problem. The Vermilion is still a little high, but water clarity is ok. I hit two great eddies next to fast water that I routinely catch fish out of ever spring…...............no dice. My rough day continues.
Next, I hit a small tributary of the Vermilion and found it to be in perfect shape with very clear water (especially for spring time). I hit two prime spring areas and was able to muster one little smallmouth and one little largemouth on a spinnerbait (yes, I tried the tube as I knew I had to, but came up empty). Next, I hopped back in the truck and wanted to hit one more trib. just miles from my house.
I arrived at this very little creek and found the water to be in perfect shape. This creek normally stops flowing by July. But in the spring always holds a few smallies. I hit my usual spots with the spinnerbait and the swim jig….................nothing. I went back to the truck and grabbed my tube rod and retraced my steps. I kept telling myself that I knew the fish were there. Sure enough, armed with the soft plastic, I caught three smallmouths in the exact same spots I had struck out with the spinnerbait and swim jig.
I headed for home around 5:00. I had put in a full day. I had awoke at around 5:00 AM and got home around 5:00 PM. Not the greatest day for me when it comes to catching fish, but I did enjoy myself. The moral of the day for me was two-fold. First, you can do everything right sometimes and still not catch fish like your buddy. Secondly, while Saturday saw 80 degree highs and you would think the fish would just be blasting fast moving baits, what you think is not what the fish are always thinking. Always stay versatile and be willing to slow down and fish baits near the bottom. The baits that were successful on the previous trip may not produce the next trip…............even if conditions warrant their effectiveness. All of these things make fishing so interesting…........and challenging.
AS ALWAYS….............HAIL TO THE SMALLIE
Got an email from Mike Quigley this morning. He hit some great strip mine bass using my Bucketmouth Delight swim jig. Here are a couple of pics….......
And then he caught this one….............a shade over 6 pounds:
This is the jig that did the damage:
As you might expect, Mike is purchasing some more….............................
AS ALWAYS….........HAIL TO THE SMALLIE
Last week was my annual spring break. What a piece of crap…...............cold, windy, and a little bit of rain. Not what I envisioned. I ended up spending most of the week at home with the kids and finishing some swim jig orders and made up a few flies. Finally, on Thursday, I was able to get out.
Headed to Spring Lake with fellow fly angler, Dustin Hinds. Muskies were on the agenda. Cloudy day, fairly warm and lighter winds than were predicted. Water was clear and we figured we were in business. Unfortunately, the Muskies did not hold up their part of the deal. We fished hard for six hours and came up with nothing. No follows…......no nothing. Two other boats were out and they reported the same thing…..........nothing. Spring Lake has my number. I have been over there many times and have not put a muskie in the boat. I have had follows and one fish hooked a few years back, but no proven capture. I feel I am due!!
Then this past Sunday was going to be the day to catch some fish. Temps. were going to hit sixty. Loaded up the new Coosa kayak and headed up to the ‘burbs to fish with Jim. My plan was a two-pronged attack. Jim and I would both fish his lake in the kayaks until around noon and then Jim would set me up for a solo float on the river in the afternoon.
We hit the lake around 7:00 AM and the temps were still below freezing. The sun was out and the winds were non-existent, which made it more than comfortable. The previous night’s cold created a little skim ice in a few spots on the lake, which we were able to break up by paddling right through it. Kinda cool to break through ice with a kayak. We started in a shallow area where we had done well the previous spring. I hit two largies fairly quickly on a Super Shad swim jig. Both bass around a pound and a half. We switched areas and I tied on a jerkbait and hit this bass on the first cast:
We made a large move out into the main lake and figured we would keep the bite going. We hit some great points and islands and totally blanked. Not sure why, but we could not scratch out a fish on the main lake??
We finished around noon and then it was time to get the new Coosa on the river for the first time…...........I was psyched. I fished a stretch of river that was probably around 2-3 miles. I concentrated on deeper water areas with little or no current. Within the first mile, I nailed my first smallie of 2014 on a Twinn Spinn spinnerbait from Bob Park over at Raptor Premium Spinnerbaits:
Not huge…...........but boy it felt good!!
I continued to travel downstream with no luck until I reached an area that has long been a fairly good spot. I spied a deep water eddy smack dab in the middle of the river with fast water on both sides of the eddy. It was kinda tricky to get the kayak into position in the fairly fast water in order to make a cast. I got the boat where I wanted it and on the first cast this bad boy just blasted the spinnerbait:
18.5 inches of pure bronze fury!! Not only long but incredibly girthy…..........definitely a female. My blood was really pumping now….......... I had a few more good spots to go before my trip was over, but those last few spots produced nothing. I finished up around 5:00 and headed for home.
Gotta say, it sure was nice get the kayak out and actually catch some fish. I did not catch a ton of fish (3 largemouth and 2 smallies), but it was something to build on. That big smallie kept a big smile on my face all the way home…...........
AS ALWAYS….................HAIL TO THE SMALLIE