Thursday, June 10, 2010

Diamonds in the Rough


I hadn't planned on fishing Memorial Day weekend, but my sister was visiting and made a comment about how nice it would be if I caught some perch to make fish tacos.  I couldn't really argue with that, so Sunday afternoon I packed up my stuff and took off for my favorite perch pond.  I was hoping it wouldn't be too crowded as it didn't have any camping facilities, but as I arrived to a packed parking lot and glutted pull offs, I was kind of wishing I'd stayed home.  I parked at my usual spot, and while I was packing my tube Fish and Game came and chatted with me for a bit.  He remembered me from last year, I guess I fish this reservoir a lot.  I lugged my tube down the hill to a shallow bay where I could easily climb into my tube.  As I paddled to the mouth of the bay, I discovered I was flanked by detritus.  Shirtless, obscenity spewing, drunkard, troglodytes on one side, and lawn chair sitting, play-doh huckers on the other.  I quickly caught a bass on an X-Rap and missed another, but I decided I'd better head across the lake to freedom.  Shortly after getting there I caught another small bass on a swimbait.  I noticed there were some weeds in about 10 feet of water off a small point here. This seemed like a good spot to look for perch.  I lowered a small pink jig  down and felt hits almost immediately.  They didn't seem like perch pecks though.  10,000 trout were stocked in the reservoir over the past month, and that's what I'd found.  I finally landed one of the little buggers.  I got tired of it and decided to move down toward the bluffs where I always catch fish.  I was nearly there when I realized my lanyard was missing.  I had gotten out to adjust my rod holder when I was fishing for perch earlier.  It must have fallen out then.  I paddled all the way over, and there it was, floating off the bottom in a couple of feet of water.  While I was on shore I figured I'd head down into a shallow cove on foot to look for bass moving up to spawn.  I saw a silt plume where a bass had been, and soon spotted another fish of about 15".  I got back in my tube and worked a Slug-Go over the area, but they must have been off from my earlier intrusion.  I decided to make my way back to the bluffs.  I reached a bank just down from the bluffs where I did well for bass last spring, and began working a green pumpkin Slug-Go up against the bank.  I placed the jerkbait by some brush, letting it sink on a slack line, when I saw my line jump.  I set the hook and soon brought in a decent bass.

The fish were biting lightly, and I missed a few more.  I was nearly to the bluff when a group of bank tanglers descended upon my destination.  I tossed out an olive crystal bugger on my fly rod and began trolling back across the bay.  About half way across I hooked into a nice rainbow that cleared the water by several feet seven or eight times.  The fish was a good 16-17" and shaped like an overstuffed football.  He was a squirmy little nugget, and this is the only photo I got of him.

I remembered there was a beaver lodge up in the cove I was near and I thought I might find some bass there.  I scored a couple smaller trout on the fly rod as I trolled my way in.  When I arrived I switched to a bubble gum pink Slug-Go and tossed it around the lodge.  Nothing happened, but about twenty feet down from the lodge I missed a fish.  A short time later I hooked a really nice bass, but it threw the bait when it jumped.  Now that I knew there were some fish moving up against the bank, I decided to head back over to the perch spot.  That bank has a lot of rocks and brush, a rarity on this body of water, along a steep drop off.  Within a moment I scored a nice bass.  I began drifting down the bank, pulling fish out pretty regularly.  They were all pretty decent sized and hard fighters.

Eventually my pink Slug-Go was obliterated and I decided to try a small perch colored Fluke.  Most of the fish had taken it on the initial fall, but as I twitched it back, a nice bass shot from the depths and broadsided it half way to the tube.  I love clear water.  I caught several more fish, but eventually the rocks ran out, and so did the fish.  The sun was getting low and I decided I needed to head back soon.  I kicked back across and trolled my fly parallel to the shore.  I scored several trout, and when I reached the bay where I started I began getting hits on every cast.  Eventually they destroyed my fly so I switched to an X-Rap and scored several smaller bass before I left.

I may not have found any perch, but what began as a frustrating trip turned out really well.  Good thing there was some tilapia in the freezer.

Final Tally:  21 Largemouth Bass, 7 Rainbow Trout

Year Tally:  294 Fish

Monday, June 7, 2010

Battle in the Not So Promised Land


I had been hoping to hit a private section of The Bear, and I had finally gotten the go ahead for Friday.  I had all sorts of images of giant prespawn smallmouth dancing through my head the night before I was to set foot on this glorious stretch of water.  I awoke to a beautiful sunny day, and I quickly loaded up my car.  After I arrived I loaded about 30lbs of gear into my vest and set out across the farmland and river bottoms.  I made my way down to the water, tanagers flitting through the trees as I walked, and popped out at a small offshoot from the river.  As I waded into the water, a rather perturbed crane came stumbling out of the bushes, cursing me all the way.  I still had a 1/4 ounce chartreuse and orange curly tail jig on my jigging rod from my adventures downstream a couple of days earlier.  I figured I'd toss it out and give it a try before re-tying.  I placed it at the head of a gentle riffle, ticking it along the rocks, when something thumped it.  I set the hook into a solid fish that bent my rod nicely.  The bass went airborne a couple of times before calming down so I could lip her.

I was pretty excited to have caught a nice bass so quickly.  I worked up to the main river and fished a likely run, but nothing happened.  About this time a wall of dark clouds appeared to the south, and the wind began to kick up.  I moved upstream to an area where I'd done well before, spotting an elusive wood duck along the way.  I threw an X-Rap for a while, but I only caught weeds.  By now it was completely cloudy and the wind was howling.  I moved up above a nice shelf and fished the area with the jig.  Still nothing, so I switched to a small tube.  I wasn't having any better success until I drifted the tube straight down and crawled it back up to the shelf.  A fish grabbed it but quickly pulled free.  I went back to the chartreuse curly tail and tried the same trick.  I quickly caught about a ten inch smallmouth.  I worked my way across the shelf, and eventually hooked into another decent fish.  It leaped clear of the water several times before I landed it.

I fished the area a while longer with no more fish.  It was beginning to sprinkle now, and I had a decision to make.  I could bag it, the water was still apparently on the cold side, or I could hike about a half mile upstream to a really nice looking run.  I ended up going with the latter, the rain intensifying as I traversed the river banks and barbed wire.  I arrived at my destination and worked my way across the river.  I began working my jig down a shelf when I noticed two giant carp holding just below me.  I presented my jig to them, and one appeared to go for it.  I set the hook, and that was the beginning of the battle of the year.  I stood there at the head of the run, watching my line retreat downstream.  When the mongrel had pulled out roughly 100 feet of line I felt that it was time I go chase her.  With my rod held high I labored back across The Mighty Bear until I hit some slack water on the opposite bank.  I began trying to take in line and hike downstream.  I would bring in five feet, and the fish would pull off ten.  After about five minutes we found ourselves in some waste deep, but sluggish water. I could see that I had actually foul hooked the fish in the side, giving an already strong fish more leverage.  I began putting a little more pressure on the carp, but whenever I grabbed my net, the fish would pull off ten or twenty feet of line and we'd start again.  My hand was beginning to cramp and I was afraid my rod was going to be shattered on a scungey old carpon.  After a good ten minutes I found myself about 100 yards downstream from where I'd started with a very heavy fish in my net.  I could barely lift the thing with the stubby little handle on my landing net.  I lay the beast down on the grass and taped it at 26 1/2".

I didn't get the girth, but it was substantial.  I decided that any fish that could make my hand hurt and take me that far downstream deserved my respect.  So I resisted the urge to have catfish bait for the rest of the year, and turned her loose.  It was a steady soaking rain now, but I fished on.  I snagged another carp, but it pulled loose after a mere moment of struggle.  I covered the run extensively , but no smallmouth ever showed themselves.  I hiked back downstream, visiting the areas where I'd caught bass previously, but to no avail.  I tromped back to my car feeling pretty disappointed.  A few smallmouth and a carp were not what I'd had in mind, but I guess Mother Nature just wasn't ready for summer yet. 

Final Tally:  3 Smallmouth Bass, 1 Carp

Year Tally:  266 Fish

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Carp Chunks and Dimwits


I ran down to Cutler for a bit to see if the catfish had become active again.  I tried the oxbow, and had a bunch of taps on my line, but no hookups.  I got fed up with it and moved down to the marina.  The water was down, and although it was muddy, I was able to get out to the spot where I had caught the big cats a month ago.  I caught a couple of small bullhead on crawlers, but just wasn't finding any channel cats.  I moved further down and had some taps, but no hookups.  There were some really loud and obnoxious rednecks by the marina that said lots of entertainingly stupid things, but it got old after a while.  I had a couple of hard thumps on the carp meat, but somehow they didn't hookup.  Some storms blew in with high winds, scaring off the white trash.  It also turned the fish on and I caught a few more bullhead before I had to go to work.  Not really worth going to work with stinky hands for, but what can you do?

Final Tally:  6 Bullhead Catfish

Year Tally:  262 Fish

Wandering in the West Again


I went back to Idaho to see if the bass were still active.  There was only one other person at the reservoir when I arrived, and they were alone and on shore.  Unfortunately, as I was getting my gear together, a van load of snooty old men arrived and descended upon my favorite area.  They were the kind of guys that think trout are the only good fish, and that fly fishing is the only way to catch fish.  When I got down to the water they were spread across the area I had planned on fishing.  I launched between them and quickly caught a small bow on a deep jerk bait.  I decided I would have to paddle around them and head west.  I trolled some leech patterns on the fly rod on my journey, picking up another small rainbow as I passed the intruders.  I could overhear one telling the other that he'd caught a bunch of perch up to 14 inches.  That's a really big perch.  Turns out the dingbat didn't know the difference between a bass and a perch.  I continued along the bank when I felt a little tap on the end of my line, I hesitated, then tightened up the line, and then it took off.  For the next five minutes I battled an unseen fish.  I figured I must foul hooked a good trout with the way it was peeling off line. When it finally came into view there was a fat trout of about 18", hooked perfectly in the mouth.  Finally I was able to net the bruiser.  I love Kamloops, they're even tougher than the bass.

I soon came across a rocky drop off and decided to try for bass.  I quickly hooked a nice largemouth on the replacement River2Sea jerkbait.

Now that I knew they were in the area, I thought I would practice casting the baitcaster with a River2Sea deep diving crank.  The new lighter line I spooled on was working much better.  I made several long casts without a backlash, but I got a little too confident and lobbed my lure into the wind.  Of course I got a backlash, though thankfully a small one.  A moment later I had it worked out.  I took about half a turn of the reel when a bass blew up on it on the surface.  I finally had a decent fish on the casting rod.  Definitely a different feel to the fight. 

Now that I'd caught a fish on that rod, I figured it was about time I caught something on my new light spinning rod.  I tied on a size six X-Rap in purple gold.  It's such a cool looking color.  I threw it tight to the bank and after a couple of twitches I had another fish on.  They definitely fight hard on this little rod, but that just makes it all the more fun.  That was quite the little fatty.

I caught a couple more bass when another float tuber came down and cut me off on the west side.  I had no choice but to kick across to the other side, there were some more rocks over there that looked inviting anyway.  I deployed the fly rod, and about halfway across the channel I hooked into a good rainbow.  This one wasn't quite as big as the last, but it spun me around five times clockwise, and then two more times counterclockwise.  I finally got the fish in my net, but it still managed to soak my camera while trying to snap a pic.

I scored a few more bass on the X-Rap along the shoreline when I noticed that the other fisherman had moved a few hundred yards to the west.  I worked my way back to the rocks where I'd started catching bass and quickly caught another good fish on a tube snapped erratically off the bottom.  Things were quiet for a bit, so I ditched the X-Rap for a River2Sea V-Joint Minnow.  I quickly caught another bass and a trout.  It was nearly time to leave, so I began trolling my way back to the car.  I picked up a few more small rainbows, and then I hooked into something big.  Or so I thought.  Eventually the fish came into view, and it was another smaller fish.  Then I noticed a flash underneath the fish and I realized I had a fish on each fly.  Somehow I was able to land both of them.

The old guys were gone now and I managed a few more small bass and trout on the V-Joint from the bay they'd been fishing before I had to leave.

Final Tally:  13 Rainbow Trout, 10 Largemouth Bass

Year Tally:  256 Fish