Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The Dog Days of Summer Again...Be Careful!

Friday my friend Mark and I set out to for something a little different, to chase some musky cousins.  I had frog fishing on my mind…no, not fishing for frogs, but using frog imitations worked across lily pads and other slop that we were bound to find on the pond.  We certainly found plenty of that.  Weedless lures logically seemed to be the ticket.  I spent quite a bit of time working the frog baits and Texas rigged plastic worms across the pads and slop during the early part of our trip without the results that I expected.    Although we caught a few fish early, the bite was a bit tough for a while.  I wasn’t sure if it was because the of the fish or because of our inability to cope with the heat.  I looked at my depthfinder to see that the surface temperatures were 96 degrees.
This was my first chainside on the day, measured twenty two inches long.  I had at least three others that flopped off my measuring board  and into the water before I could get a good measurement or photo that were bigger.   From now on, I'm getting pictures first, then measurements! This one fell for a chatterbait. You can tell it was earlier in the day as my shirt actually looks dry.
Rather than waste casts, time and well needed energy in that area, my theory was to move up to the creek where the water source should be cooler.  And, in doing so, maybe find some shady relief for us as well.  We managed to catch a few chain pickerel on the way up as water temperatures improved, from 90’s to 80’s, and eventually in the upper reaches we found temperatures in the upper 70’s.  You’d think that the fishing would be on fire up there, right?  And we saw some really nice sized bass way up in the creek, but they were spooky and just would not bite for some reason even though conditions appeared to be much improved!
Here’s Mark working the upper reaches of the lake where water temperatures were in the upper 70’s…conditions seemed right and the scenery was beautiful, but the fish weren’t all that willing as you might suspect.  There were monarch butterflies everywhere, making my breaks from fishing entertaining.  What a beautiful sight that was!
Well, after spending some time sweating to death in the skinny water, we decided to head back down where we were getting fish (at Mark’s suggestion).  Ironically, as we made our way back toward the ramp, the fishing actually improved.  There was a section of 90 plus degree water that was devoid of bites, but we managed to find that the fish were active where we found mid-80 degree water.

Let me tell you that it was sweltering hot.  We thought that moving up into the upper reaches of the lake would not only prove that the fish were more comfortable and motivated, and we’d find some shady relief for ourselves.  That actually made things worse, because even though the temperatures in the shade were a tad better, the trees blocked any chance of a breeze to help give us relief.  As we headed back, we noticed that where it was breezy, the fishing improved, and the breeze gave us some relief from the heat as well.

On our way back, we decided to fish the scum and slop that we bypassed earlier, working it with frog baits mostly.   I finally had some frog action, having four explosions, hooking and losing two decent bass before giving up on the frog.  I went to the plastic worm and landed a decent bass in the slop.

The worm might have produced more, but I was bitten off three times in a row.  I didn’t feel like tying on any more not only because of the prospect of losing tackle, but I was losing the energy and the will to do any more work than necessary.  So, I fished with heavier tackle the rest of the time.  In the pictures to follow, my shirt looks quite a bit different here, doesn’t it?  I had to reapply sunscreen several times, or I would have had “well done bacon neck syndrome” by days end.
We bypassed this section on the way up and hit the upper feeder stream first, then it on the way out and work it more thoroughly with frog baits.  This section just yells out for frog topwater action!  We gave it a good effort and had plans to fish some other spots, then come back to this spot for the evening bite.
I went to the plastic worm and landed this decent bass in the slop, using the worm to follow up on fish that missed the frog and wouldn't hit it again.  The tactic paid off with this chunky largemouth.
Here's Mark working the slop.  Looking at this picture, I think he must be an alien from outer space because given the fact that it was well over 90 degrees that day, he doesn't seem to be working up a sweat at all!  
The bite improved so much that I’d say that it was as hot as the temperature.  I managed to catch nine quality chain pickerel, all but two between 22 and 24 inches long, and four chunky bass between 15 and 19 ¼ inches long.  Toward the end of the day, for whatever reason, I lost seven fish in a row before landing my final fifth bass on the day, a chunky 15 incher before calling it quits.  And, the hot bait of the day turned out to not be weedless at all, but actually was the trusty Chatterbait, and man was it on fire!

Prior to this trip, Mark caught northern pike from his many Canada trips, but had never caught a chain pickerel before.  Well, he’s added a new species to his list, and caught several nice ones on the day.
Mark's first introduction to chain pickerel.  Here he is showing off his toothy grin (the fish, I mean)!
Here's another chatterbait victim!
Here's another nice chainside that chomped on Mark's chatterbait!
Even though the slop was tempting, we put plenty of time there with not much to show for it.  As we moved down toward more open water, using the chatterbait to cover water quickly around any cover that we could find, the fish really seemed to turn on as the temperature increased.
I must have guzzled a dozen bottles of Propel but it looks like I just poured it all over me.  Fortunately I had enough energy to land this 19 1/4 inch bucketmouth that hammered my trusty chatterbait!  This fish, ironically, hit in open water far from any cover that must have been near 90 degrees.  The purpose of that cast was to get a loop out of my baitcaster from the previous cast!

Not to be outdone, Mark tied into this largemouth that bested my biggest by 1/4 inch, measuring a nice 19 1/2 inches long!  Nice fish Mark!
OK, after reading this, you may be wondering what happened after that?  Well, the bite, like I said earlier, was hotter than the temperature.  We left the lake at about 3:30 PM right during the peak of the bite.  Why?  My muscle cramps were so bad that I couldn’t even lift a fishing rod or nearly work the trolling motor any longer.  I was fully hydrated, and heat usually helps my situation.  But for some reason, I was in a bad muscle cramping cycle and just couldn’t hack it any longer.  I wasted a lot of fishing time all day trying to medicate and recover from various cramps so I could fish.  I don’t know if it was my constant complaining about my camping problem or if Mark was feeling the heat, but he convinced me to stop fishing and call it a day.

I had a very hard time dealing with that decision, still making casts and cranking in my chatterbait on the way back to the ramp, but it was obvious that he was right.  I was pushing myself to limits that I had never done before.  And it was really hot out there.  And, I’ll admit, that there were times that I felt a little dizzy while in the upper end of the lake.  I took breaks and drank fluids, but it was really tough out there.   Mark may have been worn out from it too, and if he wasn’t, he was looking out for my health.  I appreciate that.  He was absolutely correct in his assessment.

It really hurt to come off the water knowing that we may have easily doubled our numbers had we fished through the evening bite, but he was the voice of reason.  As it turned out, my hands were cramped so bad and I was in such terrible pain that I had to pull over and let him drive the remaining ¾ of the trip home.

When I’m fishing, I’m like the goldfish in the fish bowl that doesn’t know when to quit eating that store bought fish food.  Like the goldfish eating, I don’t know when to quit fishing.  Quitting anything, whether it’s fishing or driving, just isn’t in my nature.  I guess that’s a fault though.

My heart wanted to fish, not only because the bite was so good, but because I brought my friend all the way out there to fish, and I didn’t want to let him down either.  Bottom line, we had a ton of hot fishing fun, and we made it home safely, and Mark caught his first ever chain pickerel!  I think he's hooked!

Since I haven't posted in a long time, I thought that I'd add some more pictures from my previous trip...we caught some fish that day, but nothing noteworthy.  It was a very scenic lake and a serene place to fish, Sleepy Creek Lake in West Virginia.

My buddy Bob workin' that plastic worm!
Bob's Son Carson with his best bass of the day.  Man can that boy catch fish!
And look what we saw cross the road as we pulled the boat off the ramp!  This timber rattlesnake was easily four and a half feet long, and as big around as Carson's thigh!  We got close enough for a picture but his rattle warned us to stay a safe distance, or else!
I want to apologize to everyone that has followed my blog for not posting more recently.  I've had many things happen in my life that I won't bore you with here that have kept me away from the keyboard.  But rest assured, I'm back!  My next post will be a little different twist on the outdoors experiences of mine, and include some pictures from my vacation to Spain a short time back.  Stay tuned!