Friday, November 29, 2013

Black Friday Indecision

I can't decide if I should fish today. It's been cold with lows in the teens the last few nights. Highs above freezing in middle 30's. Today calls for high of 37 and sunny. Water is low for this time of year. When this happens eddies freeze up quicker. Running water in motion freezes much slower than the slow moving water we have now. I fear I might do a 45 minute drive to have ice flows covering my fish.

So, I have to decide whether it's worth going out with a low probablility of pigs.

In any case, this time of year is perfect for a kayak. The fish aren't in the fast stuff so that's where I travel as not to spook them. Passing the hole and anchoring downstream.

Who am kidding? Just describing it makes me want to go. 

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

There's a Good Girl 11/23/13

I was fishing a cold, crisp, sunny, November afternoon, the kind where you stay in and do chores around the house.

I had made my way to a choke point in the river where it splits and an island provides a couple extra eddies. On one side, a cliff of rock and limbs, impassable. Therefore, I fished from the wooded side, not wanting to get wet in the cold. Always better to stay out of the water completely, if you can. I had two slow leaks in my waders just above the knees and meant to not let the water in. I carried an 8'6" light action rod for crappie and light tackle. The reel meant for gamefish was packed with 8# flurocarbon. The lure, a jig, typically of three colors, lightest to darkest from bottom to top, white, lime green, black. A strip of flashabou down the "lateral line" and two 3D holo eyes to complete the illusion of a live fish in cold water.

To the right of the main push of current was a couple of boulders which created a long eddy line on the wrong side of the river from me. Just about too far to cast to. If you landed the cast too close to the shore, a 3' leader dragged bottom. Land the cast too far into the current and the jig would be carried too fast for a proper presentation. Add the cross wind blowing line at 20+MPH. I had finally figured out the current speed that should hold a smallmouth bass and how to keep it there. And so it was, I fell asleep daydreaming of what might happen the rest of the day, my plan of attack for hopping holes. I mentally juggled the order I'd fish them and return to them when to fish them again, when my float was just gone. Missing! The one inch weighted float was under the tree branches and now gone! I lifted the rod, and sure enough a bass was connected to the line. A nice fight for such a small fish on that wobbly rod through the fast current with my float half under, now half out of the water.

Often in cold Winter or Fall river fishing, one fish reveals another. I lengthened my leader and threw again going for the maximum chuck and hope of coming closer to the opposite bank. After five wind gusts knocked down each cast in turn, I finally managed the other side. The jig slowed the downstream drift by ticking bottom and lifting over rocks. The float mosied into the depths. A smile lit my face. On the lift, all I felt was heavy throb, throb. The smile widened, impossibly large now. The noodle rod bent nearly double, the fish exploded deep in the current trying to reach the close eddy on my side. Then in turned and burned downstream. Someone had forgotten to tell her she doesn't fight well in the cold. The the real danger began, the headshaking. The body mostly gave up, giving way to a rapid side to side jerking motion intended to twang the hook out. Freedom would not happen so soon for this fish today.




There was more success, I found fish on the closest eddy as well as a couple other places, but that was the highlight. Went home early at 3 just because.

13 SMB (19.5" 4-14") 1 Green Sunfish 3.5 hours

Monday, November 25, 2013

11/22 and 11/24/13 Fall Kayak Floats

11/22 Fished Friday too. Air temp dropped from 42 Friday to 32 Saturday to 25 Sunday. I said what the hell and fished them all. ;)

Fished large water in the kayak on Friday. First time I've been out there in the cold, so it would be a challenge. I tried all the places where bass were concentrated on our wades, or the next logical place for the bass to travel. Caught one bass early on a lucky strike jerkbait that imitates the famous Megabass one-ten. The last rain had removed leaves from the water column. Eddies still had them, but you could work a suspending jerkbait. Probably too much water to fish by myself, so I relied on the jerk. No additional jerkbait success. I did nail another channel catfish in one large pool, about 16-17" long on float and fly. So just when I'm thinking the fish aren't biting, I come upon a shallow cleft nestled in between two riffles. The correct deflection for high current was there. Just not the depth I'd have liked. Mike and I had spooked fish in this spot a month ago on a wade.

First cast- bass. This continued for 30 minutes and 9 smallies, 4 of which were in the 14.5-15" range and fought like crazy.

Pushed on quickly to my large pool target, where I'd caught a couple of high 18-19.5" bass in the early Fall late Summer period. I found one fish. A nice 17.5", who hit a hair jig.


Headed back in, the current in the side eddies was all right for paddling so I made better time than I thought. Really just that one spot I nailed them. So much potential. Really didn't feel like I learned anything fresh on WInter hole location. Water faster, but still to low to pack them tight.

11SMB 17.5", 3-15" 1 Channel Catfish, 1 Northern Hogsucker

11/24 Sunday- Cold (25F) and sunny. Brown tannic meant it was hard to see much down in the water until I was on top of it in the kayak. Again tried a couple large pools. 3 fish quick at the first spot, all 14-15.5". Floated down to a spot where a pig eyeballed my kayak anchor then swam away. Pulled another 14" in an eddy next to an ice flow. A 12" at the original spot on the way back up. Bummer. Only wanted a drift, fights less energetic, in contrast with the previous two days. Still I could have done better without the kayak and walked the high bank for visual clues.

As it got colder, I could only get bit on hair jig by dead drifting it under the float. Total change from Friday, where they were after that jig on the bottom, or Saturday, where they wanted the jig hopped or drifted.

5 SMB in 5 hours.


Monday, November 18, 2013

11/16-11/17 First Float of the Fall

Water has been really low and fish are scattered amoungst the pools. Making it hard to find the big girls. Floated down through a couple holes Saturday. Had to meet friends at 6, so I didn't go far. Brought baitcaster to chuck spinnerbaits, fnf rod. I tried jerkbaits and crankbaits, there really wasn't anywhere you could retrieve them without catching a leaf. Basically, where they were supposed to be, water too low to concentrate the bass for easy catching. Had to work the huge pool methodically, then they mostly turned up right at the front. Picked a 15"er early floating down with another 12". Next couple hours, worked one pool, lost a couple fish and consistently caught a smallmouth between 12-15" until I felt it was getting close to time to go.

Headed back up and nabbed a couple more to 15". Went 10/12, mostly on the long rod.

10 SMB (3-15", 2-14") 4 hours

Sunday got a later start than I'd hoped 12. Should have gotten out early considering warm overnight temps. Same presentations, but I brought a spinning rod instead. Kayak was in the car in case I wanted to try a float. Ended up walking the high bank trying to spot the structure to cast to in a huge pool 300-400 yards long. Spotted several nice smallmouth in the shallows along one bank. They spooked from my slow movement. Surprising, but not.

At the top of a pool, I pulled a nice 17.25" smallmouth off a boulder. Bass went airborne twice. A dink not long after. I walked one side of the pool form 10-12' above everything I saw spooked, by the time I got to the end and turned around, I could guess where I might need to fish. On the slow wade back I picked 6 more to 14". It started to rain hard at that point, when the lightning started I headed towards the car and hell was unleashed. Put on a raincoat and headed to a second spot got a dink there. The wind was kicking so much fishing was useless. Packed it in at 3PM after being drenched
through my "raincoat".

Both days it was hard to present properly, hitting leaves throwing off the cadence and bottom feel, but when you found a fish, they were willing. Unfortunately, they weren't stacked up, so no easy fish standing in the same spot. I stayed right in that one pool, worked methodically.

White out conditions on the way home from the rain. I stopped the car at one point, as the rain was coming down horizontal and near zero visibility. Semis were overturned on the highway. Back in Indy, a double rainbow!

9 SMB- (17.25", 14") 3 hours

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Spinnerbait Delight

Was delighted to get back to Indiana this weekend to see we had been hit by enough rain to fill some streams up a bit. Headed out Sunday with FnF rod. Ice on the car in the AM, maybe 45 F when I started fishing. Wasn't really excited because it looked like crud. The FnF rod ended up dropped back in the car, as I discovered a spinnerbait bite. Two rods is too much for me when clambering over slick rock all day trying to make speed. If they were going to hit a spinnerbait, that was for the best.

Water was dark brown, visibility in the 1' range. First time wearing waders in a long time. I noticed holes in the breathable waders, but they mostly held up today. Headed up above the bridge and tried some FnF, but when I clipped on a spinnerbait and brought it towards myself along a cliff wall and nice bass was suddenly on there. 17.5". A couple casts later, after congrats smoke left over from Mike, a 17"er to hand. :) Dis changes things.




I headed downstream, spied out what I thought would be the wintering hole side of another giant pool. Making short tosses of the spinnerbait, as I headed down. Slow seemed to work. Soon, I had a 16" and a 15" to hand. It took a long while until the next fish, truth be told, today's fishing was like looking for a needle in the proverbial haystack. Fast current, but not fast enough, or cold enough yet to rule out areas. Leaves in the water everywhere. Even the SB would foul on them every other cast, or slide down the snap. Kind of hate them, but, hey, the water was brown, and it was working. At this point, I should have driven to the next bridge and hole hopped. I opted for a wade down, with only one late Fall wade to indicate where bass might be. I did know to skip a couple shallower large pools, this saved some time, but struck out on a couple I know hold some really nice fish.

There really was too much water in the many wide pools I hit to bounce a tube, and too many leaves for a crankbait. I walked down until I found can't miss spots. A 15" came to hand in a side channel, then a dink LMB. Remembered a log I wanted to hit from the Mike wade and made that my destination. At that point, I put a white chatterbait on. It proved to be the ticket, yanked a chunk 17.99" smallmouth from in front of the log and giant boulder. Picked another 13" on the CB and began the long walk back. Just a tiny LMB after that.



Shadows fell. It got colder quick. Thought of heading back up to the first spot to get double digits, instead headed back up my near vertical climb back to the car.

Ok, a lot less maneuverable in waders. Yick!

Found a couple places that will be good wintering holes for sure. If we add more water, I'll hit them in the kayak next. Need to get those bass out of the middle before I come back with FnF. Pools are too big, more cold water will bunch them up and out of their hidey spots.

Nice change of pace today to fish dirty, cold water with vibrating baits after 3 weeks off from fishing.

9 Bass 7-SMB (17.99", 17.5", 17",16", 2-15") 2 dink LMB