Monday, May 25, 2009

Times they are a-changing (with apologies to Bob Dylan)

Last week, the fishing at the ponds peaked. Bass were ultra-aggressive, attacking almost anything they saw. I took numerous "rookies" out there and, if they could hit the water with a cast, they could catch a fish. We threw pink Sluggos and watch the bass attack them. It was awesome.

Joanna with a nice pond bass
A happy Megan with another nice bass from the ponds

Yesterday(Sunday) I went to the same spot. Fished hard, first with reaction baits (spinnerbaits, buzzbaits), then more subtle baits (flukes, Senkos). I got one hit on a spinnerbait. I saw the swirls where bass were chasing bluegils away from their beds. The fish are now on beds, and the bountiful season that is the springtime warmup is now over. I'll still be able to catch fish here, but I'll have to work harder for them and employ different techniques. The day before - Saturday - I spent 2 hours with a co-worker working the larger pond hard to see what we could come up with. Jesse fishes bass tournaments and has fished hard for ANYTHING for years. He got on a pretty consistent bite with smallish square-lipped crankbaits. The bass were holding out from shore, and were spawned out. Still nice fish, but much lighter in weight. I played around with different baits, getting a few on spinnerbaits and other stuff, before I finally relented and put on a crankbait. (I'm pretty pig-headed about immediately going to the "hot bait" that the other guy in the boat is throwing). We caught fish, but it was obvious that in the past week, everything had changed.

Jesse with a crankbait bass. No eggs in this bass!

Times they are a-changing. Just like they do every year.

My wife just shakes her head every year wen I continue to be amazed by the greening of the landscape in springtime. Same for the leaves changing color, or the first snowfalls. I always react like I am amazed (because I am) even though I love the outdoors and have witnessed these changes for my entire life. I am just as amazed at the changes in the fishing patterns due to seasonal movement. Now that the bass have spawned, I'll key into the bluegills as they set up shallow. Out will come the flyrods. Then, in the midst of the summer doldrums, the channel cats will get really active.
Something is always changing, and I'm always amazed (Some would say easily amused!)
I hope I never lose that awe of the changes of nature. I'm pretty sure I won't.

Even though the bass were not going crazy on my ponds, I did manage to catch some other fish. I got 5 walleyes, a few crappie, a bunch of bluegills, and one un-common resident of the ponds - a green sunfish. Take a look at the size of the mouth on the picture. It is noticeably bigger than the usual sunfish, with the exception of the warmouth. Nice coloration on these panfish.
Green Sunfish

Keep following for the progression through the seasons and more fishing. I'll try to get some fly fishing in for trout in the near future.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

A Royal Slam at the pond - sort of

Made it out to my favorite ponds this evening. I know they get a little crowded over the Memorial Day weekend, so this might be my last chance for a while. The weather wasn't what I like, but you fish when you can. Last night we had a scattered frost warning - didn't make it quite that low, but it was cold. It was a cool, windy, clear sky weekend - exactly what I DON'T like to fish in. It rained alot last week - almost 3 inches. Ponds were either muddy or stained. I tried the upper pond, which was muddy, first. Fish should be crowded into the shallows and set up to spawn. Tough to tell in these conditions. Anyway, I got one largemouth to bite a buzzbait, and 3 more to hit a spinnerbait. Decent, chunky largemouth. Now the evening wouldn't be a total blank. On to the lower pond to see what might bite.

(My son Joey with our buzzbait bass. He decided he was too cold to fish tonight, and just "modeled " by posing with my fish. Still good to spend time with your kids, whether they're fishing or just talking)

On to the lower pond. The first thing that was apparent was that there was a lot of bug activity, and the trout were slashing into something on the surface. Of course, my fly rods were back home.. I picked up a few nice 'gills on the old reliable Cubby jig. Then, on a shallow edge of the pond, I got another hit on the Cubby. Definitely bigger than a gill, but didn't fight like a bass. A big walleye maybe? Nope - first catfish of the year. It was a yellowish cat. I've only ever caught channel cats here, and all have been the standard grey / silver colors. I assume this was just an off-color channel. Anyway - 3 species tonight. Now I need 3 more to catch them all - I needed crappie, walleye, and rainbow trout.

First, while the sun is still out, I try to fill in the trout. I pulled out another UL spin outfit and tied on a Mepps spinner that has been deadly in the past on these pond trout. Fished it hard for about a half hour. missed 2 that hit near the dock, and had one other short strike. Usually this spinner is death on these trout. Oh well - tonite's not the night for trout for me. So I move down the bank with my Cubby / weighted bobber. About 5 casts into it, right along the bank, I hook up with a BIG trout. It's on for a about 30 seconds, and it straightens the size 12 gold hook on the Cubby. Tough break. Naturally, that's the only trout I hook up with tonite. I re-tie and put on a 2" white Lindy Munchie grub on a 1/16 oz. jighead. Sun drops below the trees, and its like the light switch gets turned on for the crappie. 7 nice crappie in 10 casts. Almost time to go. Another light hit - a little walleye. That's all of them - all the species found in the pond. Hooked and lost the trout, landed the rest. Even though it was getting colder outside - 54 when we left - it was fun. It's always fun when you fish though. At least it should be.

A final note - this was my first time out with my newest rod. I picked up a 4'6" UL St. Croix Avid spinning rod. I put a Quantum Energy UL reel on it, 8# Fireline, and it's about as sweet an ultralite outfit as you can find. (The bass caught tonite were on a baitcast outfit for the buzzbait / spinnerbaits) The 8# test on a UL might sound a little strange, but if you follow my posts, you know I fish some ponds that have some pretty big fish in them. I can usually wear them down with the rod, but using the usual 4# mono gets me in too much trouble with cats, big bass, or sticks and logs in the water. The 8# Fireline is 3# diameter, feels great on the setup, and will land anything I hook in the ponds. Give it a try on your UL - I think you'll like it.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Introducing co-workers to the great sport of fishing

I've been waiting for the ponds to heat up, both water temps and the fish's spawning movements. It's been very erratic here from a temperature standpoint - a few days of warming temps usually seem to be followed by unseasonably cold weather, delaying the bass's push into the shallows to set up to spawn. Friday the variables all seemed to come together - gradually increasing temps, storms forecast for the evening and overnite, west winds. And I had one of the enthusiastic newcomers to the sport from work to go to the pond with me over lunch. I hoped it would be the right timing, more for her than for me.

Over the years, a lot of people at work have expressed interest in gong fishing with me. This inevitably ends up like most casual social commentary - you know the type - "Hey, we'll have to get together some time", and that's the end of that. And that's fine - it's just the way things are. But I always tell people "All you need to do is ask, and I'll take you". Well, Megan took me up on my offer.

This young lady is one of our talented Marketing people, and she has fished a few times with her Dad and brother, but she says they rarely catch anything. I really hoped it would be good . It was.

When we got to the pond, I walked up to the edge and a bass spooked from the shallows. GOOD - they were in tight. It was a little mossier than I would have preferred for a newcomer, but I figured a buzzbait would get her some fish. What could be better than buzzbait explosions from big bass?? We had 1/2 hour before we had to head back into work. She got used to the rod and lure, made some nice casts, and had 5 hits. She landed 3 bass and had a big one shake loose at the bank. All the bass she landed were bigger than anything she had ever caught before. She was ecstatic, and her enthusiasm was certainly contagious. It is such a pleasure to take someone on a successful trip and see their face light up when they catch fish, whether its a child or an adult. I have another trip planned with a co-worker, his 2 daughters, and his wife. Can't wait

These are Megan's 2 larger bass. She's hooked!

We've all heard the message to TAKE A KID FISHING. Now we can start another chapter to that directive - Take a Co-worker Fishing!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

More pond notes, and a new visitor emerges

Joey with one of our Pond Bass

My ponds continue to produce, frustrate, try my patience, and make me smile - sometimes all in the same day. I sometimes get a little too cocky on these small waters, and think I have them all figured out. Then a front blows through, the pressure drops, the bass get lockjaw, and the 'gills move offshore. Or, the pond that has the rainbow trout will have the trout rising to something, and I can't buy a hit! Oh well - that's what keeps us coming back.

Joey with a Pond Walleye

I did get a good afternoon in with some nice bass, including one of my best from the smaller pond - a pre-spawn female that had to be a little north of 5 pounds. Some good 'gills from areas that usually only have smaller ones. the crappies seem to be a little more common, too, but that concerns me. For the past 10 years, crappies in the ponds were pretty uncommon, but big. Now they seem to have taken hold, but the bigger ones seem harder to find. I don't want to let them overpopulate the pond, which they are known to do. Time for a bunch of crappie dinners! One of the unusual species for the pond, along with the trout, are walleyes. These have been stocked a little at a time over the past 10 years or so. I catch smallish ones (8' - 10") pretty frequently, and have caught them up to 17". A nice distraction when they feel like biting.

We have new companions on the ponds, too - the water snakes have come out. These are common Northern Water Snakes, and there are a lot of them in these ponds. Some pretty big ones, too, as evidenced by the picture from Monday.

With our local river near flood level from the excessive rains we've had, the ponds have saved my spring!