Port O’Connor TX 4/14/16.

FISH CATCHING TRAVEL

Weather

Thursday 10 % Precip. / 0 in  Mainly sunny. High 83F. Winds N at 10 to 15 mph.

Tides

Th  14      Low   6:12 AM     0.2
14     High   5:18 PM     0.8

Solunar Times

  • Best Times     5:43A – 7:43A
  •                          6:09P – 8:09P
  • Good TImes   11:31A – 1:31P (pretty dang close – when the moon was coming up)

 

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Boat Decal

The Best Balsa Bait on the Planet.  And that ain’t all!  Check out their website.

The Bagley Knocker B  –  Not just for freshwater.

Ok all you old salts.  I know it might have seemed like I had deserted the Gulf, but not true.  Just waiting for the right weather and for the topwater bite to get serious, and today was it.  Now do not get me wrong it was not fast by any means, but when it was on it was one of those really cool deals.

We hit the water about 8 and with the N wind the protected bank was the west side of Barroom Bay.  We burned about a 1/2 gallon of gas before we jumped over the side.  And just to make a long story short, it is late and I am tired, we just hopped over each other and moved the boat the rest of the day.  You can burn all the gas you want, but it is all about keeping the bait in the water.

I did not have a bite for 2 wades and meanwhile Shoedog found them.  He caught 5 reds before he found the trout.  They were in about 2 foot initially, but then they moved out to 4 or 5 foot of water.  They were just blowing up on the topwater.  I finally moved in on him when I could not get a bite.  We stood side by side and when I say they were having it, they were just exploding on it.  He actually had a real monster, mouth open, plowing water that missed it, and folks it was a real one.

So time to talk about the Bagley Knocker B.  Last fall I found some in OKC and they looked great.  So of course I bought one, long before I started dealing with them.  I have been catching them on it since fall, and today it saved my day.  It has a small tail, and I put a new feather tail on it after they ate it off this fall.  Suffice to say I love that thing, it has put some real nice trout in the boat for me the past, and today it put a couple of real nice ones on my stringer.  Try it some time, you will be happy with the result, I am.

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They were smoking that Knocker B by Bagley.  One of 3 nice ones I boated on the Knocker B.

When I moved over by him this is what he had on his stringer.

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He had it going on!

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Now that is nice trout.

We ended up catching on plastics and topwater.  By time we finally went to catch a few redfish we had 8 nice big trout.  We moved to the old standby, Big Bayou, and caught several small trout and then I caught a nice founder.  The tide was high and ripping in the afternoon and it was a little tougher but if you could make a good cast with the wind and tide you could get a bite.  And just for you info, we are using the 1/16th Bagley Shaky head on our plastics, and the more we use it the more we like it.  And remember, use the super glue, it really helps save on plastics.

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I wanted to add a keeper red to the stringer, and this was number 6 in nothing flat on spinnerbait.

We finally made one half pass in Big Bayou and the redfish were on the really shallow banks on the outside edge of the grass.  We just slow rolled the spinnerbait and after catching 5 or 6 rats Shoedog topped off his day with this hoss.

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A nice flounder – everybody always shows the other side.

To put a finishing note on things, the topwater fishing lasted until about 1 and then quit.  We switched to plastics and caught a few, and then finished it off with spinnerbait.  For the day it was 8 keeper trout, and I keeper red and founder.  We caught at least twice that many over all so it was just a dandy day.  And Shoedog actually lost a couple of 18 – 20″ at the net, so it was a good day for big trout.  Anytime you can boat fish this size is a good day.  And I wish I could adequately described how explosive the bites were on top.  I had one knock that Knocker B 2 feet in the air.  Awesome!

We will be back at it in the morning first thing.  Our buddy Chris is going to join us and it will be a wading extravaganza!

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First I would like to thank Bagley one more time.  They put a link on their facebook page to my blog and I really appreciate that.  And we are discussing other baits in their line that we can use both in freshwater and the coast.  So look for more stories using their baits.  Funny how after using then since 1974, yikes 40 years, and now working with them.  Funny how life works out.  They have a great story that we will explore more in the future.

Second, I would really like to thank one of my regular readers Billy.  We have emailed a time or two but we actually met today and had a great chat.  He is, and has been a hard core Gulf fisherman most of his life.  A couple of things stuck out from our conversation.  He has fished with the Blacks who guide on Baffin for the better part of 13 years.  What makes it interesting is they are the folks who got me fishing the super light jig head, one of them the Bagley 1/32, a true light weight head with a big enough hook.  But even when he fishes with them while they are throwing it he will not put down that topwater.  He fishes it 95% of the time year around.  Now that is man committed to his topwater.

But the reason we met was he found a couple of the original foil Bang O Lures.  Where he did not say, but when he gave them to me it was a really kind gesture.  They have gotten so hard to find and it is rare to find some so they are good as gold.  I can promise you they will not see any water that has any kind of toothy critters.  So thanks Billy.  The baits are great but it was even better to meet and talk fishing.  Hopefully we can end up in the boat together soon.

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As I am writing this part Wednesday before we hit POC the next couple of days it will be real interesting to see how we do tomorrow.  I read lots of reports and they are all over the place.  Some fairly good, some not so hot.  Of course the wind is the major complaint, and I really appreciate that.

The reports that are consistent are from the guides (duh – never seen a bad one from a guide), Baffin is giving up large trout on top.  Not sure if I can make it down there next week, but it sounds like time to get there while the getting is good.  Our last trip was stellar and a repeat of that sure would be nice.  So let us see how tomorrow/today goes/went.

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Sorry about the disjointed writing and possible poor editing but I wanted to get this up before I nod off.  It is good to be back on the Gulf and today is motivation to keep after it.  I am not sure of the real reason the fish are getting bigger but I have a sneaking suspicion that the 5 fish limit is really starting to take hold.  If this is a sign of things to come it makes me all gooey just thinking about it.  So keep stopping in and thanks for reading my stuff.

Good Luck and Tight Lines

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Coleto Creek 4/12/16.

FISH CATCHING TRAVEL

Weather

76/65  Cloudy with a 20% of showers.  Wind 20 – 30 out of the SE.

Tides

M   11      Low   2:44 AM     0.0
11     High   2:20 PM     0.9

Solunar Times

  • Best Times    2:27A – 4:27A
  •                         2:56P – 4:56P  (They got this right on today!)
  • Good Time    8:41A – 10:41A

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The Bang O Lure Puts Them in the Boat. Boat DecalThe best balsa baits, period!

Since Don at Bagley Baits was kind enough to send me a couple Bang O Lures I have been itching to get back to Coleto after a week off, and today was it.  Cloudy and warm with the fish shallow, it was almost perfect.  To say the wind conditions were not very conducive to topwater is putting it mildly.  The wind was forecast at 20+SE and they were right on, except when it gusted higher.  It really restricts where you can efficiently throw the Bang O Lure, or many other baits for that matter, when it is that windy, so I basically fished coves facing NW which had at least some protection from the wind.

The plan was to fish the BOL around isolated deeper brush, and the first place I fished I missed one and then it got to windy as I got to the mouth of the cove so I picked up the buzzbait and promptly missed 2 that blew up on it.  The addition of a stinger hook cured that and the next 3 or 4 made it over the side.  But that was not the plan, it was throw the BOL so I stuck with it.  Fishing it is one of my favorite spring techniques and today it worked like a charm.

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She came up with it wedged sideways in her mouth, awesome.  Love it when one like this sucks it under.

The lake is still on the rise and quite off-color.  But there is tons of new cover with fish bedding everywhere, including about a million tilapia.  Even I might be able to shoot one with a bow, they are everywhere.  So after fishing several places the pattern was clear, just hop from the back ends of coves to back end, hoping for some clearer and calmer water.  And one important point, if one side of the cove was deeper with the other flatter with isolated grass, the grass was the ticket.  Some of the fish were in as little as a foot.  It also took a little while to get the cadence down but once I did the bite was on.

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It was awesome to watch them roll up out of nowhere and eat it.

Before I get to the punch line let me say this about the Bang O Lure.  Where it beats the Rapala balsa minnow all to hell is you can actually cast it fairly accurately in higher winds.  It is not so light and that contributes to much more accurate casts, which is necessary for this technique.  The other part of fishing the Bang O Lure is good optics.  Today with heavy cloud cover and off-color water the yellow Cocoons gave me the contrast absolutely necessary to see both the bait and the strike, in spite of the dark water and heavy ripple at times.  And for me it is best on a medium heavy rod with 12lb fluorocarbon line.

There is one thing about fishing the Bang O Lure when fish are shallow, you will get bites and you will see most of them, the question is whether you put the hook in them.  Today I only had one blow up on it while it was on top, the rest rolled over on it when I pulled it under.  After the cast you need to twitch it on top, the goal is to make that same sound you hear when a shad flips.  Then jerk it under with a little harder jerk and wait for them to roll up and eat it.  It requires absolute concentration.  It never ceases to amaze me that you can miss them even though you see them.

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There was probably 15 like this today.  A good solid topwater bite.

Today they wanted it twitched a little easier a couple of times then pulled under a couple of inches.  You want to twitch it under and take up enough slack to have a fairly tight line, but not enough to restrict if from floating up freely.  It is just plain awesome to see them roll up out of nowhere and eat it.  When I say it requires concentration I mean it.  Occasionally you will see what the Shoedog calls a “disturbance in the force”, which in the Bang O Lure’s case means a funny looking boil or swirl around the bait even though it does not look like a bite and you do not see the fish, but trust your eyes, he is there.  Often I jerk it under a little more aggressively after I see that.

And if one misses it throw it right back in there.  As long as he doesn’t feel the hooks they will often come back for it.  When I do miss one and throw it back in I like to leave it sitting just a minute longer, then jerk it under pretty aggressively, often provoking a pretty substantial bite.  It is hard for me to put in words all the scenarios that can and do happen fishing the Bang O Lure on top.  Now is the time, the best topwater fishing of the year is happening right now.  And you can use other baits and catch fish, but nothing beats the excitement or results of fishing the Bagley Bang O Lure balsa minnow.

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I got this question and comment from Johnny, a regular around here.

I have been having trouble keeping fish on rattle traps. Have tried changing hooks to bigger hooks but this hasn’t helped. Do you or any of your readers have any suggestions? Any help will be greatly appreciated!

By the way we are having our annual Invitational Tournament this Saturday, April 16th at Coleto Creek Reservoir. If anyone is interested, they can check out the Coleto BassMasters page on Facebook for further information.

Thank you!

First here is the link to the tournament information if any of you are interested.  Looks like fun to me.  https://www.facebook.com/Coleto-BassMasters-166315410059747/?fref=ts

I belonged to the Lake Norfork Bass Club for years.  A part of the Bass federation our club won the Arkansas Championship like 6 out of 7 consecutive years back in the 70’s.  One of the former members was Rayo Breckenridge, the second Bassmaster Champion.  One of my fishing buddies in the club was John Story, founder of Champion Boats and later Viper Boats.

It was a tough row to hoe to win even a monthly club tourney.  My sad luck story was John gave a Champion boat to the winner of the club several years.  It was the total weight for all 12 tournaments.  I led off and on for most of the year, actually losing it the last tournament of the year.  What really hurt was the guy who beat me was the local Champion dealer.  How screwed up was that?

Now to your second question.  To keep them from coming off you might look at 2 things.  First, mono is probably a better choice than braid, it is a lot more forgiving if you are having trouble with them pulling off.  And maybe more important, the rod.  I like either a medium or medium light in graphite or a soft glass rod.  When combined with the mono it should help your problem some.  And any of the rest of you that have suggestions on this one let us know.  And thanks for your comments and participation, it is appreciated and let us know how the tourney comes out.

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And Jim dropped the following comment and question.

Good to read a report about my favorite lake Fayette. I am planning on fishing there again this coming Friday with my brother who is flying in Thursday from northeastern Ohio to get a break from the cold weather. I already have jerk baits tied on and hope to show him a good time.

I do have a question regarding Coleto though. I have a club tournament on the lake in a couple weeks and have been studying the lake with Navionics free WebApp. If you have never used it you should check it out. It’s just like being on the lake and looking at your sonar while sitting in the comfort of your own home. It’s a great tool to use to develope a prefishing plan. My question is have you had much luck fishing deep, 15-20ft, points? I read all your posts and reports on Coleto but haven’t seen much on deeper water fishing with Carolina rigs or football jigs. Now don’t get me wrong, I LOVE shallow water fishing with top waters, swim jigs and spinner baits, but I have been working on fishing offshore deeper points and have had good success. I just want to know if you have done it there and if you feel it is a good pattern to explore on the lake?

Thanks in advance for your thoughts and advise on this technique.

Best regards

Jim

I know it is a good pattern on Coleto, and should be even better as we still are lacking much grass in that shallower water.  That is probably why over the last few years I have stuck with the shallower baits, the fish were reachable and holding in that 5 – 10 foot range year round with all that cover.  Plus I have always been a sucker for the visual spending all that time on the clear highland lakes of Arkansas.  But I will say I have fished deep in both summer and winter off those points and it works.  It would take to long to talk about all the possible places so watch your email, I do have a few suggestions.  And thanks for the heads up on the app.

And good luck on Fayette, we love that lake.  It may be one of the most consistent fisheries around.  Not being sure how accomplished your brother is, we have had great luck with folks by fishing the Rapala Shallow Running Shad Rap.  On light line it is easy to jerk, and with shad clearly the primary forage on Fayette it rarely fails us.  Hope you put him on some good fish and good luck in the tourney.  It should take some serious weight right now, probably 20lbs plus.

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I was real happy with yesterdays results.  The Bang O Lure did it’s job and for a 6 hour trip it was successful.  Anytime you can put 15 – 20 in the boat on top is a good day.  In fact, if I could have fished those places I really wanted to but could not due to the wind it would have been a real killing, especially on the bigger fish.  Unfortunately the weather here is going to suck for a couple of days so it will be next week before I get back there to do it again.

 And for all you salt guys who are itching for reports that is about to change.  The upside is Shoedog is coming in Wednesday night and it will be 2 days out of POC topwater fishing for trout Thursday and Friday.  We will stay down there Thursday night to keep from having to make the drive back and forth, and get an early start Friday without having to get up so dam early.  Hopefully I will be picking up the LTS today and load the saltwater stuff.  All I have to say is I love spring fishing, fresh or salt.  So keep stopping in and thanks for reading my stuff.

Good Luck and Tight Lines

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This and That 4/8/16.

FISH CATCHING TRAVEL

Boat Decal

The best balsa baits on the market.

Sorry there has not been any saltwater reports in a while, but that is about to change.  But today the wind is supposed to hit up to 30mph so will stay home today.  Topwater time is here and it has been awhile since I spent any time on the bay.  The stuff is ready, new line on all, and baits organized.  Time to do something about it.

The last couple of days was spent catching up on stuff.  Going through rods with a missing guide, or busted tips, and either got them ready for a future garage sale or stripped them.  There were actually 20 of them and the last 5 I just removed guides for replacements and then threw the rods away.  I also went through reels, where does this stuff come from.  Looks like I have about 20 of them that are old, messed up, missing parts, so I sorted them all out.  Same with a bunch of tackle I know I will not use.  I am not a real pack rat, but there is a time to get rid of stuff you are never going to use.  I look at some of that stuff and think, “What were you thinking when you bought that?”

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This guy has a real fishing problem.

My buddy Clyde posted this on Facebook so not sure where it came from.  From the looks of the fish, and what appears to be centimeters on his leg, this is probably not a US picture.

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I should not talk, I have a redfish on my calf, but this is something.  No matter what or where you can always be sure you have the ruler.

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Lake Mojave

It was good to hear from my buddy Voe who fishes those deep clear desert lakes in Nevada.

Went fishing on Lake Mojave Tuesday and had a very good day of fishing.  Caught a nice 4.5 lber smallmouth and another 17lb carp on grub.

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Nice smallmouth, beautiful color!

Nice one.  And congratulations on another carp.  You probably need to go on the professional carp circuit.  Hope to see you when you close on the house here in Victoria.  Keep in touch and keep those pictures coming.

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I always watch a little fishing on the weekends and this weekend I saw something that blew my mind.  There is a lake in California where the world record spotted bass had been broken 4x’s in the last year, Bullard’s Bar.  Located in the Tahoe National Forest in California it has about 60 miles of shoreline.  Mark Zona was fishing there and on the show they caught a 6 and an 8.55 spotted bass and topped it off with a 7lb smallmouth.  All I have to say – that is insane and if it was 8 hours closer the boat would be on the truck and I would be out of here.  These things happen here and there, take Falcon and Amistad as perfect examples.  When it happens if you can get there do it, it may be over.  My first bass over 7 in Texas came on Amistad when it was hot, then the 3 biggest of my life in 24 hours on Falcon.  And like Falcon and Amistad, Bullard’s Bar is one of those happenings that won’t last long.

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We don’t call Nolan “fish face” for nothing.

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Shoedog’s grandson with what is called an Ozark Bass.  I remember maybe catching a couple and they resemble what we called either  Warmouth or a Rock Bass.  Just one of the amazing variety of fish you can catch in the Ozarks.

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The fishing is going to begin tomorrow, somewhere.  The real news is Shoedog is wanting to hit the bay and he has read some good reports on the topwater fishing in Baffin.  The water temp is up enough and the trout are starting their spawn.  There is no better time to catch a big fish on top.  The wind reports look somewhat shaky and there is supposed to be thunderstorms off and on this week.  So not sure when that is going to happen, but it is going to happen somewhere.  So whether it is 3 days down there or out of POC time to get after it.  I hope the flats boat is back on Monday.  So keep stopping in and thanks for reading my stuff.

Good Luck and Tight Lines

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Fayette County 4/8/16.

FISH CATCHING TRAVEL

Shoedog Puts the Hurt on Them!

(Thanks to the Shoedog for keeping us informed while I am slacking.  Tough job but somebody has to do it.)

I took my business partner, Jim, a fellow refugee from the frozen Northlands, to Fayette Co.to show him some real Texas bass fishing today. We got to the lake at sunrise and there were quite a few boats/trailers at the ramp. The wind was more S/SW than what the weatherman had indicated, but what else is new? It was a little rough going out as it always is when the wind comes across that lake from the S/SW at is really blowing. So we started on the long bank coming out on the left as we seem to do.

I had on the jerk bait d’jour- a purple backed, chartreuse sided, white belly Excalibur that I had been throwing since I lost the same color in a Smithwick Rogue. I had Jim throwing a KVD 2.5 Square bill cranker.

We caught a couple on the first pass, nothing special, but he caught a small one and I had a decent fish. We went out past the first point and headed back in and I had a real one smack the snot out of the jerk bait! It was a nice fish, my best in a while.

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Jim caught another on the KVD, but it was not producing like it does sometimes and the wind was really blowing, having switched to the west like it was supposed to. I had him switch to a Rapala shallow running Shad Rap- the one with the square snout on it.  (Editor Note:  We have knocked them stupid on that several times.  Basically jerking it like a jerk bait. rl)  It is an easy bait for some one without quite as much experience to fish in winds and stays up out of the grass and weeds better than the crank bait.

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Jim gets in on the act.

We caught them fairly regularly and as the front passed with just a little mist and the wind calmed some, we headed down lake.

I had a BIG bass inhale my jerk bait and break me off right at the boat. I am proud to say I don’t break off many fish- at least not like Mr. Redfishlaw- the hook settingest son of a gun you ever saw!  But this fish hit so hard and with so little line out- oh well. I usually have 15 pound line when throwing jerk baits, but I had strung 10 pound on for the clear water lakes in Arkansas and had not gone back to 15. Guess I better go out to the garage and do that as soon as I get done! I put on a 2 hook KVD jerk bait in blue back/silver belly and they were all over it and I had less treble hooks to deal with!

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We keep telling ya, throw that jerkbait on Fayette, it works.

For a while, every fish we caught was on the back hook- they were a bit tentative and I lost 2 on 2 casts on one point. We got around the point and Jim caught 2 in a row- nice ones on the Shad Rap.

It was pretty steady then whole day- 2 or 3 fish here and there. A typical day at Fayette. We knocked off at 1:30 with just over 20 fish and one good one. I have a feeling that Jim will want me to take him back again! It is a good feeling when you reach the point that it doesn’t matter who is catching the fish in the boat- just being out there with friends and taking part in the doing is reward enough.

I was going to throw the umbrella rig some- I know it should work there with the shad forage base, but we were catching fish! I will go back on a day just for experimenting and do that. Fayette is a good place to experiment since we have confidence in the lake and the areas that hold fish and the overall population of bass.

Now it is time to get ready to hit the salt- it is topwater time of the year and I want to hit it hard.

(Nice report and it sure is nice to catch some fish who don’t get a chance to that often.  Thanks for the report.)

Travel Notes (No fishing or catching but travel is in our name.)

This is our last day out and the traffic reminded me what I did not like about living in Fort Worth, which as going over to Dallas for any reason.  Now where we lived allowed us to not have to do a lot of major travel while we were there.  We specifically moved near the Medical Center so the Boss did not have to drive much, and while I was still practicing law my drive was out in the morning and in in the afternoon, traffic was rarely a hassle.

Dallas is a whole other can of worms.  Traffic sucks here and a daily diet would drive me to drink, more.  But we had a great time at the game.  One thing that still drives me nuts is folks and their I Phones.  Why in the Sam Hell would you pay $75 for a ticket to a ball game and then spend the whole time on your phone?  What a waste.  I will always remember the small bar we came across in the jungle on an island in Panama.  No phones, not even the folks who worked there, no internet, no computers, nothing electronic specifically on purpose – just a place where folks actually talked to each other.  I know that is an old time thing and might date me, but we actually used to do that.

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At the Old Ball Game!

I watch the Gas Monkey Garage show so while we were here I wanted to stop in and eat at the Bar & Grill.  Let me tell you folks, they have it going on.  The place was packed and people kept pouring in the whole time we were there.  A band was about to play and the deck was full.  The place was bigger than I thought.

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Been there, done that, and bought the T-Shirt.

The food could best be described as adequate bar food with nothing particularly spectacular.  The shop inside the restaurant was selling crap as fast as they could ring it up.  And the hats or shirts were all $5 – 10 over priced, and that was stopping no one.  It was a feeding frenzy in the store.  Apparently lots of folks like us were there, tourists who just wanted to see the place.  They are marketing geniuses who are making money faster than they can spend it.  And there was not a hot rod in sight.  Come on dudes, can’t park at least a couple out front?

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So I am back and will try to catch up on a couple of things.  I hoped to get the boat back today, but have not heard from them.  I was hoping to get in some bay fishing this weekend but it looks like that is not happening, dang it.  So what specifically is coming next is up in the air, but I know the Shoedog is ready for come topwater trout so a couple of days of that is coming pretty soon.  So it will be good to be back to the fishing.  Thanks to Shoedog for the contribution this week.  Keep stopping in and thanks for reading mystuff.

Good Luck and Tight Lines

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Shoedog does Somerville 4/6/16.

FISH CATCHING TRAVEL

(While I am out sloughing off in the big city the Shoedog is totting the note.)

Not Quite Villanova – but I Pulled it Out!

 I planned on a trip to Fayette Co. on Wedesday, but I couldn’t wait to hit the water, so I headed to Somerville today. I wanted to see if I could continue to find the bass there. I was on the water just after sunup and headed toward the areas that we have been having some luck this year so far.

But, the water is down and off color. The coves I had been having bites in were way shallow and very stained. I was surprised to see it that way.
I also wanted to try my luck with the umbrella rigs that we have been having luck with on recent Arkansas trips.It seemed that it should work on the whites and hybrids as well ass the black bass.
I threw it exclusively for about 2 hours and nothing. i found some fish chasing bait up in the dead reeds but could not get any bites. Shad were popping and some topwater action was happening, but no bites. I finally caught this 13 or 14 incher on the umbrella rig on a point coming out of a cove. No more bites there either.
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We are liking that Alabama Rig.
I headed across the lake to the big shoal area out from the dam to see if I could catch any whites or hybrids. Some folks were drifting and trolling, but I saw no one catch any while I was out there. I tried throwing up on the shoal and I tried throwing in deeper water too. No luck.
I was getting a little frustrated and thought I would call it a day. I headed back towards the boat ramp.
Then I saw some gulls working, or I thought, back in the open flat area out past the boat dock in the overlook area. I putted over to check it out but they were just moving around in open water, so I turned and headed to the dock.
Then I saw 2 gulls working the point going back in to the marina area and could see the bait they were working, so I dropped the trolling motor and moved in. On the first pass I had one hit the umbrella rig and I lost it half way to the boat, so I turned around and went back through a second pass. I tried my jerk bait and caught a 2nd fish on it.
I went back a 3rd pass with a chartreuse spinner bait and whacked this big girl- a great bite and a great fish.
On the next pass I caught a 4th fish on the spinner bait and then it slowed down. i caught one more small one on the jerk bait and it was over.
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Good fish.  Nothing like pulling it out at the last place!
Like I said- it wasn’t quite like last nights Villanova buzzer beater, but I was done- or so I thought. Just goes to show you that it only takes one spot, one bank, one indicator- this time the birds- to change the entire outcome of a day on the water.

Now to get the lawn mowed and get ready for tomorrows trip to Fayette Co. I am taking my partner Jim and it will be his first real Texas bass fishing experience- hope I can put him on them! Stay tuned!

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And to top this report off he just sent me a text and they put the hurt on them on Fayette today, so a story and pictures are on the way for tomorrow.  Thanks for keeping us in fishing news.  We love some Fayette.  The Rangers had it won and let it get away in the 9th.  Fielder’s 3 run homer had them up by 2 but 3 consecutive pitchers did nothing, until the 9th when they walked a bunch and gave up a couple of crucial hits.  So they are now 1 – 2, if that is the team that is projected to win their division they better get cracking.

The good new is the Boss managed to make a nice withdrawal playing a game of chance and this trip is paid for.  Something new and difference and it sure is nice.  So it is off to Gas Monkey Bar & Grill for supper.  It could be a cool place or flat out hookey.  I do know he has opened one in Key West so someboby must like it.  From there that is the last of the plan.  And one last word to Billy, if I get the flats boat back we might hit the Gulf this weekend, should know something tomorrow so watch for an email.  The rest of you keep stopping, I will be back on the water soon, I promise, and thanks for reading my stuff.

(Sorry for the lousey editing the last month, it will get better, probably!)

Good Luck and Tight Lines

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This and That 4/5/16.

FISH CATCHING TRAVEL

Boat Decal

I need to show you something that is truly a thing of beauty.  When you grow up in Iowa, and then move to Arkansas, there is a magic time of year when food of the Gods appears.  Early spring, wet and damp, find the right place and you are in business.  These came from Arkansas and were found this week.  They will continue to pop up moving north with the spring rains.

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Nothing any better!

These are Morel Mushrooms.  If you have never seen or eaten them before you are missing out.  Places where they come up every year are more closely guarded than a hot fishing spot.  It happens fast and does not last long, but when it happens it is wonderful.  A true delicacy, I have been eating a few off and on most of my life.  Dipped in egg and flour then sautéed lightly in the fry pan, mmm good.  Add some fresh crappie filets and you have a dinner fit for a king.  I am not sure if they are ever found in Texas, but if they are folks sure do not talk about it.

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I got this comment and a couple of more on Strike King.

“All good things eventually come to an end. By this time of the year I have heard something from the Strike King representative I deal with. I have emailed him twice in the last month and have not received a response.”

So sad for Strike King , Have they dropped you from promoting the products they have??
So sad for them if they did.

First anybody who has a screen name of catfish is welcome here anytime.  We love all fish here, and I especially like catfish at those all you can eat joints.  Hurts me even thinking about it!  Thanks for your comment and I guess I could go on promoting them without compensation, and in reality there will be a little of that anyway, I use their stuff.  So I will obviously miss them more than they will miss me. Guess it is time to look for another company to promote.

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I got this comment from Trey on the new jig heads I scored in Arkansas.

I’m glad you brought home enough jig heads for all of us :) I’ll take 25, I have PayPal

I am afraid 100 jig heads won’t last me that long, much less the rest of you animals.  I did want to say that when I picked out the hooks I choose one with a smaller barb and fine wire, all to make setting the hook easier on longer casts with 8lb. fluoro.  So before I become the jig head king of the Coastal Bend lets see if I made the right hook choice.  I will try not to rub it in when I am smacking them around on the coast while the rest of you are working.  Sorry, just couldn’t resist.  Thanks for the comment.  And as a side note I read somewhere that the Blacks, the guides in the Baffin area, are coming out with a light jig head so watch for that.  They are the folks who got me fishing the 1/32.

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And last I got this from Billy, one of my loyal readers.  I just did not know how loyal.

Have a couple of those Bagley lures for you.
Let me know how I can get them to you.

An email is on the way to you.  You did not have to do that but it sure is appreciated.  So let’s see, if all 10,000 of the rest of you who visit here most months drop me a bait or two I should have enough to last at least until next year!  But seriously Billy, you have been a loyal reader and I appreciate that more than you know.  Looks like we need to get that trip together we have been talking about.  Thanks again.

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I have been taking it easy the last few days.  Since I had all my stuff out it was time to go through what is 3 tackle containing 15 boxes and multiple bags of assorted tackle.  Replacing trebles. tying feathers on the back of different topwaters (More on that to come.), putting things in the right places, making spinnerbaits, and getting the right reels on the right rods with the right line weight.  And with 7 dedicated freshwater rods and reels and 4 dedicated saltwater sets that I regularly use there is always something needing fixed.

One thing I see quite a bit is folks with 4 rods in the boat changing baits using the same rod.  Each one has a weight and a purpose, and keeping them organized with the right bait on that action and line weight reduces having to change baits.  And in the new BASS PRO catalog they now have a rod with a twist end to keep track of the line size you put on the reel.  Look for other companies to come out with this, which is sure nice if you have lots of different rods and reels.

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So what is next?  It is a Ranger game.  We like baseball live and have not been to a Ranger game in quite a while.  A little baseball, maybe a burger and brew at the Gas Monkey Bar and Grill, and who knows, maybe a small contribution to the Native American coffers.  Our return will coincide with the return of the flats boat from the shop.  Then let the fishing begin.  Topwater time is here and I may actually fish some this weekend.  Have to see if the boat makes it done before the weekend.  And any comments or reports you have let us know, and we will be waiting for Shoedog’s Fayette report in the next day or two.  So keep stopping in and thanks for reading my stuff.

Good Luck and Tight Lines

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Post Arkansas 4/3/16.

FISH CATCHING TRAVEL

Bagley

Boat Decal

The best balsa baits on the market.

I want to thank Don Hultstrand, President of Bagley Bait Company, for helping me out in the balsa minnow department.  I was in Arkansas when a few baits arrived here at the house and I can not wait to use them.  Looking at the weather for the week it looks like Wednesday will be a cloudy and not to breezy, a great topwater day.  And the hat will make me an even bigger fashion icon, just ask my wife.  She just really loves the fact I wear the same fishing stuff over and over.  And I promised to share some  more information of their company and their products soon, they have an interesting story.  So thanks again Don.

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Strike King

All good things eventually come to an end.  By this time of the year I have heard something from the Strike King representative I deal with.  I have emailed him twice in the last month and have not received a response.  It is safe to say I have been ex-communicated.  I do want to thank them for the support the last few years and I promoted them the best I could.  They make a great line of baits that I used 40 years ago, and will continue to use.  So now I am a free agent.

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In-Fisherman

In-Fisherman magazine is the top multi-species freshwater fishing magazine.  Not your typical outdoor magazine, they really do provide solid information on catching fish you will not find anywhere else.  I have read it off and on for years and this year Clyde sent me a subscription.  Thanks.  But here is the reason I bring it up.

They published a little burb on a study done in an Ontario lake on bass fishing.  To simplify – They took a bunch of intermediate level fisherman, gave them 6 different color senkos (2 bright and 4 natural/dark), had them all rotate colors during the day at specific times, and simply cast it out and let it sink, the reel it back.  There must have been a bunch of folks as they caught over 100 bass.

The punch line – Amost every single bass, like all but 1, hit it on the fall.  But the big point – There was almost no difference in the number of bass caught on any color!  The only real difference was the longer fish came on the 2 bright color lures, and they were bright.  So I may have missed a fact or 2 but you get the point.  So think about those brighter colors when you buy your next bag of plastics.  Of all things as I type this I am watching Jim Linder of the famous fishing Linders flipping a bright yellow senko under docks, it works.  And if you want real freshwater fishing information In-Fisherman is the best.

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Reflections on the Trip

As I recover from the drive yesterday, and the general effects of fishing hard for a week, there is a couple of points that kind of wrap up the trip.  Clyde has been extolling the virtues and effectiveness of the Alabama Rig and he was sure right.  Between the 3 of us we probably threw at least 6 different kinds and brands.  Small to big, one thing became real apparent –  The A Rigs that had the blades on the shafts were superior.

We also had one totally tear up, bending the wires sooner or later resulted in breakage.  Shoedog’s went from 5 arms to 3 as they broke off and then failed.  So we picked up a couple with titanium wire, and though it was jerkbait the last day, I threw it a little and it pulled a little harder due to the flex of the titanium wires.  I think a reel like an Ambassador 5500C3 would be perfect.  5.3 to 1 so you could grind it out, it would be a better choice than the little 10 bearing reels.  And as a rule a slower retrieve worked best.

One thing that seemed to make no difference, weird in that very clear water, was how you tied it on.  Clyde was throwing 50lb  grey braid and tied directly to the A rig.  I tied a fluorocarbon leader on my braid, and neither seemed to affect the fish.   You also need a little heavier rod.  If you fish anywhere there is not a lot of grass and cover try an Alabama Rig, it is a fun way to catch bass.

It sure was fun to catch 5 or 6 species a day.  The type of fishing this trip might be referred to as junk fishing.  Be it the A Rig or the jerkbait, they both catch most anything that swims.  We only specifically targeted a certain species a couple of times, basically we fished for anything that would bite in classic pre-spawn areas.  That plan actually worked out pretty well.  Nothing like a big striper on one bite, then a crappie, then a bass, it was just fun fishing this trip.

And last, I told you I was happy to find the spinnerbait bodies that I used for years and I can not wait to sit down and make them just the way I like it.  And I can guarantee that they will not see the Canada trip.  Those toothy critters make mince meat out of spinnerbaits.

But what I really liked was what Jerry had done to the store.  From the outside you would never know that it is one of the best tackle stores in the country.  He not only has anything you need to catch all the fish available in North Arkansas, he has a complete line of lure making stuff.  From molds to parts, hooks to feathers, his selection is one of the best, and I mean best I have ever seen.  And he pours tons of jig heads so I found the one I liked, then picked out the hook and had him pour me 100 in 1/32 ounce with a fine wire.  They will be awesome for wading and soft plastics.  And the best thing, 100 was $28, find that in a store anywhere!  Can’t wait to use them.

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That will do it for today.  I am still recovering from the trip and drive home.  It won’t be long before I drag my old butt back out on the water.  I finally got most of the tackle back in shape, and I am about to go out and see what shape the Carolina Skiff is in.  The Mako is in the shop for annual maintenance and should be done this week.  So hopefully it will be back on the hitch again and off to the Gulf.  The winds will finally begin to subside on the Gulf and my favorite topwater time of year is here.  So keep stopping in and thanks for reading my stuff.

Good Luck and Tight Lines

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Norfork – A Pretty Good Day 3/31/16.

FISH CATCHING TRAVEL

Boat Decal

The best balsa baits on the market.

Like I said yesterday, we have caught them every other day, so we should catch them today.  Well we did.  And just like every other day it sucked until noon, and then just like someone switched on the light it started.  Prior to noon Shoedog had put 4 or 5 in the boat, all on this purple back, chartreuse sided, white belly jerkbait.  I on the other hand could not catch a cold.  Now I may be slow but I ain’t stupid so I dug out a clown color jerkbait and it was game on.

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Nice smallmouth.

We ended up catching 10 or so out of the first place and it went on from there.  My second bite was a full scale smash, he knocked the crap out of it.  I finally caught a good striper after boating a bunch of small ones this week.  I did catch one other small one today.

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Finally got a real one!

It was just as I suspected, either the water running in was going to help or hurt, and it ended up helping.  The water temp really did not go up or down appreciably, but with the sun shining all day it slowly went up in the back of the pockets where the water was off-color and the fish went with it.  So our initial pattern of them holding on the deeper banks waiting to get with the spawn was correct, but as the water warmed today the fish moved into the back of  the  coves just like they are supposed to, and it was game on.  Until we quit around 6, every place we fished we caught some, and when the last back end did not produce we called it a day.

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Shoedog with a big Kentucky.  A real toad!

It was jerkbait all day, just working the warmer off-color water with a jerk- jerk/jerk – jerk.  They were not slamming it, but most of them hit it pretty good.  They would not hit grub or umbrella rigs at all, but we did catch 4 or 5 on spinnerbait, the first of the trip.  For the day we caught largemouth, smallmouth, kentucky, crappie, walleye, and stripers.  That is one of the great things about fishing North Arkansas, lots of cool fish.  You never know what is on the end of your line.

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Another nice Kentucky.

It really has been a good trip, and though the good catching has been every other day, it has been a great time.  We have caught an amazing amount of different fish.  And of course we have had a great time with Clyde and his family and it was good to be back on my old stomping grounds.   It took most of the week to get my bearings and put us in the right place at the right time, but it kept coming back to me and in the end it was a pretty successful trip.  It is hard to believe I have been gone for 20 years.

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A walleye headed to the fry pan.

We really did not crappie fish intentionally though we caught a couple every day, but if we had done that it would have been load the boat time.  And the walleye were post spawn and like the crappie we caught a couple most days and if we intentionally fished for them we could have caught a lot more than we did.  But the joy of throwing that jerkbait on these lakes is you never know.  And though they were not really interested in the A Rig, it was nice to finally get to catch some on it this week.  At least I got a feel for it, so look out Coleto.   For the day we probably boated an easy 25 or so, a real mix.

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Now that is a crappie.  You know they are big when they hit a jerk bait.

So what is next I am not sure.  I may fish tomorrow, but I am definitely going to hit the road later in the day.  Since I need to leave by 3 to make dinner with the parents it will be hard to get motivated when the fish don’t bite in the morning.  The weather looks like it may be a little sketchy, wind out of the north at 20mph+, which probably won’t slow it down tomorrow, but with the low expected to be in the mid 30’s tomorrow night it will slow down for a little while.  But their really good fishing is right around the corner.  And I will be watching to see how the Elite Series does here, it is their first time on Norfork.  It is time to call it a day I am really tired.  So this could be it for a couple of days, but who knows.  I have a couple of things to chat about so keep stopping in and thanks for reading my stuff.

Good Luck and Tight Lines

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Norfork – Rain 3/30/16.

Fish Catching Travel

sklogo

Click on the logo above and see all the cool stuff for 2016.

Boat Decal

The best balsa baits on the market.

Weather

55/68   Cloudy with scattered showers becoming severe in the afternoon.  Heavy rain possible – 100% chance.  Wind 10 -15mph.  (They were right on.)

Solunar Time

  •   Best Times  4:03A – 6:03A
  •                         4:28P – 6:28P
  •  Good Time   10:16A – 12:16P

We knew no matter what the rain was coming so we got out on the water right after daylight hoping to get in a half day.  And it was exactly that.

One thing that I really enjoy is trying to figure out when we are somewhere we do not usually fish is what to do, were to do it, and what to use, and what is often the most important question, in what to order to do it in.  The morning fishing is still slow, and we probably made a mistake by heading back in a creek to see if we could catch some whites and stripers.  They were there, but the bite was slow.  As usual we put 5 in the boat as it headed towards noon.  It was a small walleye, largemouth, Kentucky, white bass, and another whooper bluegill.

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One of several really big bluegills I have caught this week.

It was just as it has been, and we knew the big bite was coming as noon approached.  The question was would the rain hold off so we could get after them.  So a little before noon it was time to see if we  could put a few bass in the boat.  It was getting cloudier and windier, and it looked like it was going to be good, as long as there was no lightning we would fish rain or not.

As the water temp has dropped and the fish have backed off it finally sunk in my pea brain where we needed to concentrate.  So it was out of the back of the creek to coves near the main lake.  Normally we find small bass and crappies in the back of coves this time of year, but they are just not there.  So where to look?

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Talk about good eating, to bad this one went back.

With the bass and crappies fat, full of eggs, and ready to spawn, but not in the back ends, they had to be staging in those coves waiting for the water temps to edge towards 60 degrees to hit the beds.  So it was time to concentrate on the areas where the deeper water swings in by the bank and gives them a place to hold and wait for the warming to come.  So we hit a cove, using jerkbait, and Shoedog hooked and had a walleye pull off, then caught the one above.

He then missed another bite, and then caught a big fat Kentucky.  We were so excited we might have established the first semblance of a pattern this week that he threw it back before we got a picture, but it was a fatty and the biggest we have caught yet.  Then it happened, big ass lightning, and the storm was coming over the hill.  Our buddy Clyde texted us from work and said it was ugly in town so we headed to the ramp and we just got the boat on the trailer when it hit.

The rest of the day it poured.  Over the years rain like that has been the best, or the worst thing that ever happened.  The air temp was in the low 60’s so we will see tomorrow what effect it had.  That is one thing that is easy to ascertain, we will drive to the back of a couple of pockets and a creek and go to the runoff and check the water temp.  When the lake is in this state it will either suck them in to the runoff, or finish them off and the bite will really suck.  When they do migrate to the warmer water in the runoff it is nothing short of awesome.  We will see.

There was one really cool thing today, a turkey extravaganza.  A couple of turkeys were gobbling on a ridge and we saw 2 fly the back of the creek when a couple of big gobblers came out on the flat and started strutting.  A bunch of hens showed up and were running all over the place.  Really an awesome show.  I never have started hunting them because I need another outdoor hobby like I need another hole in my head.

When we left we stopped at a little tackle store about a mile from the tackle store I ran from 74 – 76 prior to guiding.  Jerry has owned that store off and on for over 50 years.  We were shooting the breeze about the tackle business when I mentioned I worked for Tad’s Fishin’ Machine Lure company  in the 70’s and we made tons of spinnerbaits.  My favorite spinnerbait of all time was the Buzz King.  We made it after Rick Garlough, one of our locals, won a major BASS tourney on Bull Shoals with it. When they folded I bought around a 100 poured heads and made my own baits until they were gone.  And then of all things he said I have some wires with painted and poured head in the back.  I almost fell over, and there they were, the Buzz Kings.  Those things were at least 40 years old and maybe older.  Who knows, I may have made them.  So I talked him out of a dozen and I am in lure heaven.  Now that is crazy.

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Aren’t you tired of fishing yet. We are tired of seeing all the pictures !!!!!  Had to give you a rash of stuff !!!!!!! I love those days of catching many fish.  Safe travels. Trying to make it to Coleto this year has been rough. I will make it.

joe

I am not tired of fishing, I will rest when I am dead!  This trip has been every other day, which means tomorrow we should kill them.  It keeps me fishing.  As usual thanks for your comments.

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Tomorrow we will be back at it.  It will be interesting to see what the rain has done, but it really does not matter, we are fishin’.  I will fish tomorrow and Friday, then Fayetteville to see the parents and home Saturday.  Funny how a week seems like a long time, and then it is almost over.  Like the passing of days in our lives a week seems like a long time, but it is the blink of an eye.  So tired or not it is time for the push to the end.  And I am sure on the way home Canada plans will be on my mind.  And I really will be needing a dose of salt.  So keep stopping in and thanks for reading my stuff.

Good Luck and Tight Lines

(Sorry if the editing and spelling is worse than usual, it is tough to get it done after fishing all day, but I am not complaining.)

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Norfork – A New Day 3/29/16.

 Fish Catching Travel

sklogo

Can’t wait to try KVD’s new Tournament Buzzbait.

Weather + Solunar Times  –  Not a clue today, to tired to look it up this morning, we just went fishing!

Boat Decal

The best balsa baits on the market.

Alabama Rig Heaven

As I said yesterday, hope springs eternal.  Well today it was not a matter of hope, it was making the right decisions at the right time.  The wind was supposed to blow 10 -15 out of the SE, and it got started right away and never really got below 15.  It was still cool, and the water temp has now dropped to around 50, approximately a 5 -7 degree drop since we got here.  The result of that is the fish have backed off somewhat from the springtime pre-spawn, and it has made it a little tougher than it might be.  But today worked out just fine.

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Nice chunky largemouth today.  Things are looking up!  The Alabama Rig is the ticket.

With the bite still being in the afternoon I made a decision that we should go back to Float Creek for the day.  There is a bank in there that Shoedog’s daughter caught a good one off so we hit it, and put a couple in the boat.  From there we kept hunting and pecking and around noon Shoedog had 6 or 7 in the boat and I think I had one.  Over the 20 years I guided here Float was one of the major creeks I knew every inch of, and as it warmed up I called on the years of experience.  So we went to do what I knew we should do, where we should do it, and it worked like a charm.

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A nice hybrid and one of a bunch of good white bass.  Great fighters.

In the early spring on these highland lakes the fish and the shad all head to the warmest water, which is usually the back end of flat creeks.   And to catch those early pre-spawn largemouth and post spawn whites, hybrids, and stripers go to the flattest banks with sun on them.  We pulled up on the first point and it was game on.  For the next 5 hours we fished the Alabama rigs in water from a couple of feet deep out to about 10 feet.  And excuse my French, but they were knocking the shit out of it.

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A small striper (notice no broken lines), one of 4 or 5 I caught today.  We just keep whackin’ em.

Reeling them at moderate speed they just kept coming.  Often 2 or 3 bites at a time, it was just plain awesome.  We did notice that the A Rig with the added blades was a little better than the plain wire.  And after catching all the above the bass started.  In one stretch we caught 7 or 8.   I caught whites, stripers, hybrids, largemouth, smallmouth, and Kentuckies, to almost complete a major Norfork slam.  Shoedog did not catch a Kentucky, but all the rest and a nice crappie.  It was just a fish catching travel good time.

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Broken lines tell you it is a hybrid and not a striper.  Shoedog with a smallmouth.

It is impossible to say how many we caught, but it was easily in the 30’s, most really nice solid fish.  Spring time in the Ozarks is such a good time to fish.  The weather plays a big role, but with a little thought and adaptation you can put fish in the boat.  The bass here are ready to hit the beds, a warming trend and this next moon and they will be hot at it.  The Bassmasters will be here in April and I promise you it will be a killing.

And this trip is a perfect example of why when we go we try to stay at least 4 days, and a week if possible.  I know everyone can not do that, but this trip we have had a tough day, then killed them, then tough, and then whacked them.  Staying as long as possible keeps you from being screwed by the weather.

I am starting to feel it now.  My hands are trashed, my back is tired, face wind burned, all the hazards of being outdoors in early spring weather.  And I could not be happier.  Tomorrow it may rain by early afternoon so we will try to get out real early in case.  So keep stopping in, we are not done yet, and thanks for reading my stuff.

Good Luck and Tight Lines

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