Monday, March 28, 2011

The trip in review - Bass in Dixie

My Dad, son and I met in Birmingham at 9:30 AM on Thursday. This in and of itself was no small accomplishment - Joey and I were flying down from Chicago while Dad came from Baltimore with a connection through Nashville. I figured the odds of all the flights landing on time were somewhere between zero and 10 percent. So - it was a good way to start our trip. After a 2 hour drive we pulled into the property where we would spend the next couple of days. We unpacked, ate a quick bite, and got a boat down to the lake. This particular lake is about 40 acres. It is the same one I fished last year with Joey and his broken arm. The lake died in July 2006 - it oxygen depleted and all the fish died. My friend drained it, put in a bunch of subsurface improvements (humps, spawning flats filled with pea gravel, ditches)and restocked the ponds with F1/ Northern hybrid largemouth bass and brim. He added shad and crawfish, and let it do what ponds (and their bass) do. Which is grow. My son caught a bass just over 8 pounds there 2 years ago. That fish was not yet 3 years old. Last year I caught 2 that I estimated at 9 and 10 pounds (digital scale crapped out) So, this year I was thinking about 10-12 pound fish, and had reason to do so. The owner got an 11-5 here the weekend before I got here.

Our day started out windy, and a bit cool for Alabama this time of year. Tough boat control, and the wind made it very hard to fish worms. The best baits on these bodies of water have historically been 10" worms rigged Texas -style, 5" and 7" Senko-style worms rigged whacky style, spinnerbaits, and Rattle-type baits - Rattltraps, LVR's, Red Eye Shad. With the wind blowing, we opted for the LVR's and some rattling crankbaits (Rapala Clackn Crank). Dad started the action by hooking, and losing, a BIG bass. I estimated it at around 8 pounds. We found a good pod of fish and would catch a bunch, then loose them. Move around until we found them again. We hoped for the wind to lay down, but it never did. The low temp on Thursday nite was 39 - cold for this area. Our tally for Thursday afternoon / evening was around 60 fish. Instead of the digital scale - which failed last year - I went with a boga grip this year. Not accurate to the ounce, but very good to the quarter pound. My best this day went 7-1/2 pounds, Dad's was around 6-1/2, and Joey around 5. Nice fish by any standards. I was really hoping that the wind would lay down for Day 2. Friday was our whole day on the water - Thursday evening was just a warmup.

Dad's first good bass of the trip

Dad unhooking one of Joey's bass

Dad's best fish from Day 1 - 6-1/2 pounds

Joey's best of Day 1 - around 5 pounds

My best of the day, and the trip - 7-1/2 pounds

Day 2 dawned with the wind still ripping. We waited a little longer than usual to get out on the water - I wanted to let the water warm up little from the overnite lows. The wind stayed strong until about 11 AM, when it finally laid down and stayed calm.

This is a perfect opportunity to rave about a product that made fishing in the wind not only do-able, but productive and enjoyable. The boat we used had a Minnkota Terranova trolling motor equipped with an i-Pilot. You can see the remote device I have hanging from the lanyard around my neck on the pictures. This remote plots courses, controls the speed, and, best of all, has a 1-touch option known as Spot-Lock. When you press this button, the unit locks onto the GPS coordinate at that spot, and keeps the trolling motor within a 5' area of that spot, compensating for current and wind to keep the boat in that spot. It is a lifesaver in the wind. I can STRONGLY recommend this product!

Joey taking a morning nap on the boat

A few nice fish from Friday morning

Friday produced a lot of fish, but the fishing was sporadic. And we weren't able to find the really big fish. Please don't take that comment as an indication that the fishing wasn't good - I unhooked so many fish my thumb was bleeding! That's a good indication of good fishing. Dad boated a bass around 7 pounds, and Joey went on a half hour tear, taking 3 big bass from 4:30 - 5:00. Dad took almost all of his fish on the same lure - a 1/2 oz. Strike King Red Eye Shad in bluegill color. Joey got most of his on a Lucky Craft LVR in chartreuse. I fish everything in my bag. The most fun I had was when I got a buzzbait bite working around the timber on the islands. Nothing huge, but topwater is great no matter how big. Got a few on spinnerbaits, a bunch on a Rapala Clack 'n Crank, and a bunch on worms after the wind subsided. The sunset was a beautiful way to end the day.

Joey got these 3 within a half hour late Friday Afternoon

My best Friday bass

Dad's best Friday bass

Sunning turtles

A great sunset to end the day

One final note on the second day - in addition to fishing so hard that my tendinitis flared up in my left elbow (trust me - there is NO sympathy from home when I tell my wife I have tendinitis from too much fishing) I did manage to hook, and lose, the biggest bass I hooked on this trip - probably the biggest I've ever hooked. At the end of the day on Friday, we were coming back to the launch. There is a long dock and a small boat "house" at the end. One side of the boathouse has a sheet of corrugated metal on it to protect a boat from the wind and waves. I picked up a spinning rod that had a 7" Strike King Ocho on it and cast into the corner of the metal and the wooden dock. A bass hit it like a freight train and just tore under the metal. I could feel the line scraping the metal and knew I was in trouble. There was absolutely no way I could stop that fish with the MH rod I was using. After an all-too-brief encounter, the line parted on the leader. This fish was way out of the league of the fish we had been catching. I'd give it an honest estimate of 12 pounds and wouldn't be surprised if it was bigger. Tough fish to lose, but I was never in the game with this one. And - I was fishing 30# braid with a 17# flourocarbon leader.

We woke up Saturday - our last 1/2 day to fish - to an approaching storm front. Dark clouds, high winds (a few hours after we left, there were tornado warnings just to the North of where we fished) We decided to fish a different lake this day. I have taken 2 of my three biggest bass ever from this particular lake. It is loaded with bass and has a healthy population of big brim. The only problem I've ever had on this lake is working through the small (2-3 pound) bass to try to stick a big one. Saturday was pretty much like that.

We started off catching fish right away. All "cookie-cutter" sized - 2-3# - but lots of them. They were tight to the banks and hit anything thrown at them. Including topwaters. We caught fish pretty much at will, and lost count of how many we got. We also got some big brim - the ones that hit bass-sized crankbaits. I got a chance to throw a bait I had never thrown before - a Quad-bladed Strike King spinnerbait. The fish tore it up - they actually mauled and bent the arm so badly I had to replace it. Even with the wind, it was a great way to end the trip.

Here is a sampling of the fish from Saturday

Another great trip for bass, and I really needed to get away from the stress of the job. Now I can't wait for things to break loose on the area ponds and the local season to open up in a big way. I'm sure you'll be seeing more from me in the coming months as I key in on the local bass and panfish bites.

Oh yeah - the Cat part! My wife called Joey's cell phone and, in her best "cat voice", left him the following message: "Joey, this is Meow. I heard you were going fishing, and I want you to bring home some fish for me. Don't come home without my fish." When he listened to the message that evening, I asked him who it was. "Meow called me - she wants us to bring home fish" Never batted an eye.

And, as always - thanks for reading


Casey said...

You HAD to get tired of catching bass... Right?(hehehehhe)Anyway, looks like you had another great trip south. I'll bet you're looking forward to next year already!

Take care, Joe!


Anonymous said...

Wolfy, bass fishing that good would cause me to have "fish dreams" at nights for weeks on end. Wow! Great photo series and thanks for sharing. BTW, looking sharp in that Salmon colored shirt.

nimrod243 said...

That's the kind of bass fishing we only dream about over here in Oregon. I do think we have one thing in common however-- my wife wouldn't have any pity on me for any fish induced tendonitis either. LOL!

Wolfy said...

Casey - you never get tired of catching bass. Although - I do admit that I went to much larger lures and fished deeper - looking for a REALLY big bass - after I had caught a pile of fish.

Mel - about 10 years ago a fishing buddy of mine told me that the brighter colored shirts show up better on photos and generally make the fish look clearer in pictures. I tried it, believe it is true, and now own a closet-full of brightly colored fishing shirts

Nimrod - you guys have some SERIOUS smallmouth fishing on your rivers. A John Day float is on my short list!


Great bass pics...makes me want to try for these guys real soon!!! Gotta get off the trout train... ;)

Wolfy said...

Gotta be versatile, RD. You have some GREAT smallmouth fishing on the reservoirs on the Provo. Deer Creek and Jordanelle hold a lot of bass

Cofisher said...

Looks like a great Manday outing captured so well in photos. Nice job Wolfy!

EcoRover said...

Nice fish! Hope the pond does better this time around. What killed it--weed, nutrients, and eutrophication, or?

Kirk said...

That looks like it was a great trip! I love seeing fathers and sons fishing together. It brings tears to my eyes knowing my son never got to fish with my dad. Great post as always!

Owl said...

What a trip! What some bass! What a bluegill! What some bass! ( did i say that already? )

Great post! We should let you into OBN for that one...oh wait. :)

Cindy said...

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