Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Ever have one of those days?

I guess that I've either been spoiled of late or blessed, because my fishing trips this year have all been pretty productive.  However, I was able to get out for a few hours on the morning of July 4th , and it turned out to be "one of those days", but not in a good way.  My buddy Howard and I arrived at our spot early in the morning, but not at the crack of dawn.  We were the first and only anglers at our fishing location.  The sky was overcast, air warm and muggy, and the scent of recent night time rains permeated the air.  Bull frogs belched and it sounded like they were calling their buddy's name as they bellowed with a deep voice, "Jerome", "Jerome".  Meanwhile, gray tree frogs screamed at each other in the background.  We were on foot today, and after every fifteen steps or so we were scaring frogs, causing them to leap into the water.  The water level was dropping and there was more current than usual.  It had a murky tinge because of the increased current.  The weed growth in July creates new holding areas for largemouth to ambush unsuspecting frogs leaping into their domain.  It was the perfect topwater scenario, or so you would think.

Conditions like these scream for a buzzbait in my brain!
Normally unproductive stretches of water looked extremely bassy because of the emerging weed growth combined with some new blow downs.  I worked my buzzbait thoroughly through the pockets and just above current breaks without a strike in this area.  Since we had limited time we relocated to a traditionally more productive stretch of shoreline.  In cooler months, the bass relate to wood here, but when the weeds get thick, they become the primary cover.  That was my focus.  With all of the frog activity, I just knew that the fish would relate to those weedy shorelines and current breaks and hammer my buzzer.  Big bass were on my brain and the buzzer was the key to getting 'em.

Guess what?  The bass had other ideas and it didn't work.  The fish for some reason were still relating to woody cover.  When I tossed my favorite in-line buzzbait close to the wood along the first productive log jam a bass exploded on the lure.  Rather than getting hooked, it rejected my offering by tossing my buzz bait three feet straight up in the air.  It wasn't the only time that this happened.  I had several more big bass attempt to anihilate the lure only to not get hooked.  I often go to the in-line style (that I assemble myself) because they seem to draw strikes when the traditional ones don't.  And, they are more weedless , more snag free than the other styles, they cast like bullets, they offer a bigger profile that big bass usually can't resist, and they come to the surface quickly.

Normally, when these bass explode on a buzzer you hook them, or they try again.  My mind set is to not set the hook until I feel weight, and that didn't happen.  My first attempt to adjust was to add a trailer hook.  But, since we were only going for a few hours due to family July 4th plans, I packed light this time and left them at home.  So, my next adjustment was to change buzzer styles to a more traditional buzzbait, hoping that the hook and skirt sitting lower in the water would aid in hook ups.  I just had to deal with catching a few weeds in between casts, but if the fish would hit and hold then that's a small price to pay.  But it wasn't to be as two more bass attacked the topwater bait without hooking up.  I varied retrieve speeds, casting angles, bumped the lures off fallen timber, just about everything.  The bass were interested, often seemingly excited to hit my lure, but no hook ups.

Usually, when I miss fish like that and don't hook up, I always follow up with another lure.  Most of the time I follow with a plastic worm rigged weedless Texas style, an unweighted Senko, or a Super Fluke tossed where the blow up occured  and that usually results in those fish being caught.  But today, these fish didn't want anything to do with soft plastics.  That's very unusual for this body of water. 

My next adjustment was to work a Strike King Rage Toad.  I like the look of this bait in the water.  The legs create quite a commotion and it looks like a bass should hit it.  How could a bass resist?  In fact, it looks so good in the water I'd be tempted to jump in after it!  Well, I had two more bass explosions without hook ups.  This bait sinks, so when that happens you have two choices.  One is to continue your retrieve and hope the fish chases it and hits again.  You can stop, then start the retrieve, and often they'll hit too.  Or, you can let the frog sink which works great when dropping off the edge of a patch of weeds.  But the bass didn't follow the plan this time.

I also worked a spinnerbait thoroughly with nary a strike.  My thought was that maybe a bit more subsurface the spinnerbait would still give me that reaction strike.  Nope.

Perhaps a popping style plug, a walking bait, or a jerk bait would work if you could deal with the weeds, but, like I said earlier, I packed light.  So those options were out.  Who would think that these bass would snub any soft plastic offering?  I can't think of any time in my history fishing this place that a plastic worm, Senko, Super Fluke, or a tube jig wouldn't get me at least a few keeper sized fish.  Usually, I bring enough tackle with me stuffed in vest pockets, my fanny pack, and pants pockets that make me look like some kind of tackle freak, weighing me down causing me to walk like Frankenstein.  But, not this time...I packed light.

I later found a spot and caught some undersized fish on plastic worms before leaving for the day, avoiding the dreaded "skunk monster".  But, no keepers, so that skunk monster was laughing at me all day long.

My fishin' buddy Howard with a keeper
Independence Day largemouth bass
My buddy Howard made an adjustment that resulted in catching a several keepers today by scaling down his buzzbait to a 1/4 oz. Strike King buzzer.  Maybe that more subtle sound allowed those fish to key on the bait a bit more.  He used it on light line too, so maybe that helped.  Whatever he was doing worked, and what I was doing didn't work.

OK, I know that's why they call it fishing and not catching.  And, I can have some satisfaction that I had some chances at big fish blowing up on my lure like that.  And I know that the odds are in my favor next time that happens.  That said, it's frustrating.  But I still had fun.

Lesson learned, bring the trailer hooks and be prepared.  They could have given me some big bass today.  I can leave certain tackle home.  I don't need to carry a hundred pounds of tackle with me.  But, when it comes to spinnerbaits and buzzbaits, don't go half way.  Bring all that you need.  I learned my lesson.  I know that there always is a certain amount of luck in this sport and usually that's on my side.  But I'm a firm believer that our actions create that luck, and the right combination results in getting more and bigger bass.  Today, I missed out on those adjustments.  Maybe I'll learn from it.

I plan on going again tomorrow evening after work.  I'm seeking revenge.  I will sore mouth some big largemouth!!!!  Well, that's the plan anyway.


Anonymous said...

Hey, great blog! Good intel for local anglers here. I belong to a facebook group, Northern Virginia Fishing Group, which has a lot of people who would really find your posts interesting. I'd be great if you could join the group and try to cross-post stuff....

Fat Boy said...

Thank you for your feedback! I don't have a Facebook account at the moment, but I will set one up and join your group!