Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Go West Young Man, Go West


I haven't caught a bass since Veteran's Day of last year.  It's not that I don't want to, they're my favorite thing to fish for.  It's just been really freaking cold this spring.  We finally had several warm days in a row, and I decided to see if the bass had finally awoken from their winter slumber.  I was also anxious to try out my float tube rod holder.  I knew their was only one place to start my bass fishing season, so I packed up my car, grabbed my Idaho license, and headed north.  It was a warm and sunny day with calm winds.  Calm until I got there anyway.  By the time I got all my gear stowed away in my tube and lugged it down to the water, it was already 11:00, and small waves were beginning to form.  At first it looked like my rod holder was going to lean the rods away from the tube out over the water.  I wasn't too thrilled with this, but when I sat down in the tube, they flopped the other way and were right in my face.  This definitely wasn't going to work.  Once again the strap from my landing net came to the rescue, and I was able to lash down the bottom of the rod holder and keep it tight against the tube.  It worked like a charm.  Now that that was taken care of, I set about getting into some bass.  The water was 56 degrees, which was pretty encouraging.
I decided to start with my new casting rod as I really need to practice casting with it, and because I haven't had the chance to fish it much.  I tied on a River2Sea deep diving crank and had at it.  The wind was making casting and tube control difficult, but despite this, I soon had a hit.  I quickly brought in a small rainbow.  A couple of casts later, it finally happened, the first bass of the year.

He wasn't a large fish, but a bass, nonetheless.  The wind was bringing me more and more backlashes, so I switched over to a spinning rod rigged up with a deep suspending jerkbait, also made by River2Sea (Those Australians are on to something).  It cast like a bullet, and the first cast brought me another small bass.  The next cast brought another, and another, and so on.  I had over ten bass in my first 15 minutes of fishing.  The problem was that they were all little males, and I wanted to find the big females.  I tried fishing out just a few feet deeper with a dropshot rig, but with the wind it was nearly impossible to feel a strike.  I managed one little guy on a watermelon reaper, and that was it.  
I felt it was time to try a steep bluff on the other shore that has always been kind to me.  I paddled across the straight, trolling a couple of flies as I went.  Something smacked one in about 20 feet of water, but I missed it.  I soon found myself at the other shore on a shallow flat.  The water was only 54 over here, but I went for it anyway.  I fished a lipless crankbait over the flat as I paddled toward the bluff, but nothing payed it any notice.  I arrived at a nice steep bank that dropped into 10-13 feet of water.  I worked the jerkbait over it, but still nothing.  This spot had brought me a lot of nice fish last spring, but I guess each year is different.  I kept fishing my way up toward the bluff with nothing to show for my efforts.  Finally I was within casting distance of my target.  I hurled the jerkbait against the wind, landing it about a foot from shore. Twitch, twitch, bam!  Finally a good fish had found it's way to the end of my line.

I worked my way up the bluff and soon connected with another good fish.  My lure just stopped, like I'd snagged a log, and then the end of my line came to life.  Soon I was holding a nice chunky female. 

I caught a few more good bass off the bluff, and then I realized I was running out of time.  I quickly paddled back to the other shore, the wind finally doing something good as it caught me like a sail and helped drag me there.  I arrived to find 57 degree water and a strong mud line that had been whipped up by the wind.  I tossed the jerkbait up against the bank and hooked into a good fish.  About 10 feet from the tube it pulled free.  I kept working the line, and hooked into another fish.  This one was even stronger, and when it came up to the surface and rolled, I could see it was a good three and a half to four pound fish, the largest I'd ever seen at this reservoir.  No sooner had I muttered, "Wow that's a nice fish," then it dove down and snapped my 8lb test like nothing, taking my new favorite lure with it.  I sulked for a moment, and then rummaged through my jerkbait box to find a decent replacement.  I settled on a deep diving x-rap in a goby pattern.  I know there aren't any gobies around here, but it actually looks a lot like a bass pattern to me.  I quickly scored another fish and released it.  I was getting a lot of moss on the bill, and seeing as the fish had moved in shallow, I ditched the deep diver for a shallow jerkbait.  I found a Lucky Craft Pointer knockoff in a baby bass color and started throwing that.  For a two dollar lure, I have to say I'm rather impressed.  That lure does some crazy stuff.  From underwater walking the dog, to flipping around 180 degrees on the pause, to gently wobbling in place when the retrieve has stopped, it does it all.  I caught another bass pretty quickly on it, and then it was time to go.  As I pulled out, I noticed the water was up to 59 in the back of the bay.  It's hard to believe it was snowing with lows in the mid 20s a week and a half ago.

Overall, I did better than expected.  I'm still thinking about that big fish that broke me off.  I keep thinking, "If I'd only checked my line more recently, if only my drag had been a bit looser, if only I'd changed my line before heading out this season."  Oh well, I will definitely be heading back next week.

Final Tally:  20 Largemouth Bass, 1 Rainbow Trout

Year Tally:  218 Fish

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