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

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Back from 'Bama

I got back yesterday from my Annual (although I missed one year) bass fishing trip to Alabama. This year was especially enjoyable since my Dad and son both accompanied me. For the newer readers who aren't familiar with this little jaunt, I have the opportunity to fish some private ponds / lakes (45 - 70 acres) owned by a Business Associate of mine. These are not pay-to-fish lakes - they are strictly private property that get fished an average of less than once per week per lake. And they have World-Class bass fishing in them. I like to make full disclosure that these are not public waters, but I make absolutely no apologies for being able to fish there. On the contrary - I love it here! I've caught my biggest bass by far here, and usually a lot of fish as well.

I'll post a full, detailed post this week, but, in a nutshell - it was windy and cool for over half the time we fished. Tough to control the boat. Since I had caught 2 over 10 pounds last year, I sort of expected to do the same, or better, this year. Our best was 7-1/2 pounds. But we got a LOT of fish from 3-1/2 to 5 pounds, and all of us went over 7.

It was a GREAT trip again. Here's one teaser pic. And , no, it's not my cat. (But she'll probably show up on the recap!)

My Dad and Son wth one of Dad's bass

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Making the Best of a bad situation

A while back, the OBN issued a Writing Prompt asking for stories from the Outdoors that revolved around "Damaged Goods". While I try to limit the amount of actual damage I do to my gear, it does happen every once in a while. My most memorable one wasn't because of anything spectacular , but rather the resourcefulness in not letting the misfortune ruin the day.

Back in the late-90's, I was in northern PA for a couple of days of fly fishing with my small stream buddy, Dave Messics. Dave is the one guy I fish with who can go with me for wild brookies, and we fish together perfectly on tiny streams, leapfrogging each other the whole way up a drainage. Those of you who fish these tiny streams know how rare it is to find someone like that.

This particular day, we were fishing the Right Branch of Young Woman's Creek in Clinton County. We took his truck, parked at the point we wanted to take out, and walked the dirt road back downstream for a solid 2-3 miles. We would spend the afternoon working the water back upstream to the truck. I had my favorite small -medium stream trout rod along - a Winston 8', 4 wt. TMF (Tom Morgan Favorite). We trudged through the woods to get to ur starting point and rigged up. I gave Dave the first run and started going upstream. When I got to the spot I wanted to fish, I needed to step down of a small rise to get to the stream. I stepped onto what I thought was the ground. It was not. I went into a dry wash filled with leaves and fell forward onto my face. Even then, I held the rod out to avoid smacking it on something (I heal - the rod doesn't) Well thought out strategy, but poor implementation. The rod broke in 2, about 6" above the cork grip.


Now what do I do? I have 2+ miles of beautiful water in front of me that I have to walk past to get the car. My day was shot. Or was it?? I still had a little over 7' of fly rod at my disposal. I put the reel and broken seat / grip in my pocket, and proceeded to fish the rest of the day. I would strip the necessary length of line off of the reel in my pocket. I couldn't shoot much line, but found that I could do pretty well with a fixed length of line. (In retrospect, this may have been my own personal introduction to Tenkara fishing!) And - I caught trout! Wild brookies. Probably not as many as I would have with a functioning fly rod, but I caught fish nonetheless. And I 'll never forget these fish due to the extenuating circumstances. It ended up being a pretty cool day on the water.

Btw - the rod got repaired by Winston and is still my favorite fly rod

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Winner of the Fly Fishing Giveaway Extravaganza!!

It's my favorite time - like Christmas, almost. I subscribe to the theory that it is better to give than to receive. And it is time to consult with the mighty RNG to determine the winner of the Fly fish stuff.

But first, I needed to do a little "housecleaning". Since the thread brought 23 comments, but only 15 of them were from people who actually entered the contest, I went through the comments of only those entering and numbered them. They are:

1 - Bill
2 - Owl
3 - Nontypical Pursuit
4 - River Damsel
5 - Brook Trout
6 - Shoreman
7 - Justin
8 - Chris S
9 - Leigh
10 - Bigerrfish
11 - Fontinalis Rising
12 - Ivan
13 - Coyote Luke
14 - Passin Thru
15 - Ben Fishing

So - a 1 in 15 chance to win a package with a retail value of around $100 - not bad odds.

There was only one thing left to do:

The soon-to-be World Famous cat pushed the key to generate the Random Number.

NUMBER 3 - Nontypical Pursuit.

Send me your address.

The cat has spoken.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Time for a FLY FISHING giveaway on Flowing Waters

All right- I know Spring has to emerge sooner or later, so, I was doing what I normally do when I can't go fishing - messing around with my fishing gear. Those of you who actually read this blog will recollect that, on occasions, I have alluded to the fact that i have an inordinate amount of fishing gear. My wife tells me that I am a shoe-in for a future episode of "Hoarders". I can see it now - "OK, just step over that box of reels. Don't put your hand there - those lures have exposed hooks. Don't open that door - the closet is full of guns" But - I digress. I believe the comment from my wife this afternoon was "You couldn't use all this if you fly fished every day for the rest of your life" She may be right - I don't think she is, but she may be. The problem, of course, is that I fly fish for trout about 1-3 days per year. At that rate, I figure I'm good until about 2167.

Now, in my mind, there is nothing worse than good stuff that goes un-used. To remedy that situation - at least a little bit - I am having a Spring Fly Fishing Giveaway.

So, Joe - how's this going to work? Pretty simple, actually.

1) If you don't already FOLLOW this blog - sign up as a Follower
2) Post a comment telling me the size of your biggest trout caught on a fly, and what you caught it on. If you've NEVER caught a trout on a fly, but want to - state just that in the post!
3) Finally - what exactly can you, the blog follower, win? Pictures are below. Items in the Giveaway are:

SA Supra WF 5 F fly line
A Fog Eliminator anti-fogging cloth for glasses / sunglasses
SA Fly Floatant
3 leaders
A Catch & Release sticker
A flybox with 42 flies. Flies are as shown, and contain the standard stuff I use - Muddlers, Adams, Caddis, Pheasant Tails, Princes,...

It's that simple. Could it be any easier to enter to win this pack??

I will use the famous RNG (Random Number Generator) on Sunday, March 18 at 7 PM Central time and announce the winner that night.

Now, at first glance, this may appear to be a cheap, sordid attempt to lure people into reading and actually following this pathetic blog. It is. Why else would anyone ever follow this nonsense if they didn't feel like they had a chance to win some swag? Almost seems like bribery. Actually, it's JUST LIKE bribery!!

Here's my cat.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Shamed into writing a post

Every year in February and March, my blogging slows to a crawl. Unless I get a chance to ice fish - like this year - I just don't have anything interesting to write about. Even so, I know that the demise of many blogs is a lack of posting frequency. (As a matter of fact, I just noticed this evening that I LOST a Follower! The nerve!!) So, in the back of my mind, I've been planning a post.

And then, it happened. From the most unlikely of sources. A virtual beat-down from a well respected and admired blogger. She ripped at the very soul of this pathetic little blog, stating unequivocally that I was not worthy of following, or even reading, due to my lack of writing. I was devastated. When you get called out by a legend, and you have no comeback, there is nothing to do but curl up quietly in a ball, close your eyes, and hope that, when you wake up, it will all be just a dream. No such luck. Kari Murray - the famed Huntress Extraordinaire author of I Don't Wear Pink Camo in the Woods - had cut my blogging ego to the core with her vicious attack.

[OK,OK - the actual comment was: "Oh and Mr. Wolfy. I notice you don't post on your blog... get with it you!!!!" But I know that she's just too nice to say what she really means. Oh, wait a minute - she ALWAYS says what she really means. Oh well)

Looking back over the past few years, I usually get out for panfish in March, so I will have something to write about. Actually, I have PLENTY to write about. I'm taking my Dad and Son to Alabama in 3 weeks fishing for bass. This is the same place my son gt an 8#, 4 oz. bass 2 years ago, and last year I got a couple over 10. The ponds keep getting better, and I can't wait to see what happens this year. My Dad has only ever caught 1 bass over 3 pounds - he got a 6# in Okeechobee about 6 years ago. Nice fish, but pretty uneventful. He was fishing a spinnerbait when the fish hit, and it dove into the weeds. He pulled in about 40 pounds of weeds, we peeled them away, and - voila - a nice bass. So - I will be doing some trip planning posts and an extensive recap in the next month.

In the meantime - THANK YOU, Kari Murray, for shaming me into posting on my blog!

Since I don't have any fish pictures to show, I'll do the next best thing. Here is our cat: