Norfork Round 3 3/28/16.

 Fish Catching Travel

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

Weather

66/38   Monday 0 % precip  Plentiful sunshine. High 66F. Winds light and variable.

Solunar  Times

  • Best Times:   2:21A – 4:21A
  •                          2:44P – 4:44P
  • Good Time:    8:32A – 10:32A   (There may be a light morning bite but neither boat has found one yet)

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Well there is only one word to describe today’s fishing, SUCKED.  After yesterdays cold front the water cooled even further.  Then we had no wind, I mean not a hint.  Hard for me to complain when the wind does not blow living in Texas, but here it is a problem. Unlike the last couple of days there was little surface activity.  These deep clear highland impoundments can really get tough, and it did today.

We could see stuff on the locator at 20 – 30 feet, and they were not coming up.  It clearly moved the rest of the fish out of the pockets and flat coves, and try as we might we could not get them going.  We did catch fish, Shoedog maybe 4 or 5, me about a dozen.  Strung together they were almost a fish stick, no where near a fish fry.  And so no pictures.

He stuck with his swim bait and A rig, I threw mostly grub and road runner.   Most of the bass I caught were small, and I mean small, though I did catch one keeper crappie and a small walleye.  After catching so many small bass on the road runner I put it down, it was to depressing.  We caught nothing on the A rig, in fact we could not buy a bite on it.  We went back up lake where Clyde and I whacked them the other day and there was not a white bass or striper to be seen.  And the area we caught 25 plus largemouth the other day did not yield even a bite.  When I say tough, that does not do justice to how slow it was.  But we soldiered on, expecting the bite to happen in the afternoon like it has each day, but no luck.  So there was only one thing left to do, go eat some Tai food.  Now that was a success.

What happens tomorrow is any buddies guess.  As I type this Shoedog and Clyde are playing the guitar and singing and I am laying in bed covered up, guess I am finally a Texan, 60 degrees is cold!   But everything aside we are not deterred, and first thing in the morning we will be back at it.  Clyde’s wife the lovely Maria just got home from work and was telling us about the Bassmasters who will be here next month.  Looks like they will fish Norfork a day, then Bull Shoals, then back to Norfork and the final day on Bull Shoals.  It is always interesting to see how well the pros do here, and they are hitting it just about perfect.

The weather looks good, warming with a 10 – 15 mph winds and maybe a few clouds.  Hope springs eternal.  So keep stopping in and thanks for reading my stuff.

Good Luck and Tight Lines 

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Norfork Lake 3/27/16.

FISH CATCHING TRAVEL

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Weather

To bad we did not check it this morning.  It was about 60 when we hit the lake at 8, and by noon the wind started blowing out of the NW and it did, 20mph+ and it was cold.  By time we got to the ramp when we quit it was 48 and ugly.  Oh well.

Solunar Times

  • Best Times     2:00A – 4:00A
  •                          2:23P – 4:23P
  • Good Time     8:12A – 10:12A

Day 2

To bad we did not check the weather.  We thought it would be similar to yesterday, and we could not have been any more wrong.  When we got to the lake it was beautiful, calm and warm.  We even had our coats off by 10.  Like yesterday the fishing was slow, real slow, all morning.  I do not think we boated a fish before about noon.

Around noon the wind started to blow some, and then blow some more, and if felt cold.  Shoedog called and his family hit the road so we headed out to pick him up.  When we hit the mail lake to cross it was white capping and fairly rough.  We headed back into the creek and they finally began to bite some.

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A nice hybrid smoked that A rig.

Clyde caught the nice hybrid above on a flat bank, and then the others started to bite.  There was only one problem, they were small.  By now the front was in full blossom and it was rough, cold, and ugly.  We caught a lot of fish most of the afternoon, lots of smallmouth, with small being the operative word.

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A small walleye, but a bigger one is in our future, I hope.

We did catch a few whites, but only this one walleye.  The fish were in the pockets, though the falling water temp clearly drove then out of the back ends of the spawning coves.  They moved to the rockier places out of the back ends.  And though it was easy to identify those places, the fish were small and we never did catch a really good fish.

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A nice crappie, to bad it was the size of it.

This crappie is a perfect example.  A really nice crappie but there were no more there, or anywhere else.  Most of the fish came on 4″  white paddle tail swim baits, and a few were on the A rig, though the front shut them down enough that they were no where near as aggressive as they were yesterday.

It was a long cold day, not in the plan.  But as usual when you travel, you can expect a few days of crappy weather, hopefully the days to come will improve.  But like all fishermen, we are just glad to be out there.  I mean we caught around 20, but the big fish just seemed to disappear.  So tomorrow it won’t be such an early start.  As Shoedog has been here this week the he has a pretty good handle on them.  One thing is abundantly clear, it is no morning bite so no need to hurry.

We have seen lots of deer and a few turkey, but the front really has them laid up too.  Hope springs eternal in spite of the weather.  So keep stopping in and thanks for reading my stuff.

Good Luck and Tight Lines

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Lake Norfork 3/26/16.

 Fish Catching Travel

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Weather

34/70   Wind South 12mph  0% chance rain  (They just had a major cold front with a north wind that howled for 3 days.  The water temp dropped from a high of 65 in some places to  55)

Solunar Times

  • Best Times:
  • Good Time:
  • Best Times   12:41A – 2:41A
  •                         1:03P – 3:03P
  • Good Tim      6:52A – 8:52A

It Is Good To Be Back

Sometimes the solunar tables are right, and today they were spot on.  If I had to guess we fished from 8:30 until 1:00 and maybe boated 2 or 3 bass.  We were working way up Norfork Lake near the Arkansas/Missouri line.

Intially we kept working the backs of pockets and spawning coves with Alabama rigs, jerk baits, and grubs.  It was cold this morning and the water temp had dropped another 5 degrees to the low 50’s, down around 10 degrees from the high last week.  The few we did catch were near main lake channel swings, which in that area of the lake are 30 – 40 foot deep range.

Though it was slow we kept at it and then right on schedule it happened.  There were shad breaking at the mouth of a big cove, and the catching began with the A rig, and continued for 3 hours in one area.

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My first white on the A Rig.

Clyde was throwing the Flash Mob A rig and I was throwing the smaller A rig with twister tails.  As soon as we hit that point Clyde went 3 or 4 consecutive, and the catch was on.  We basically fished about 150 yards of bank and they were crushing it.  We could see shad flippin and saw several bass hit as we would toss at boils.  Just for fun I tossed both a white Swim Jig and a Bluegill color and caught one on each.  We only caught a couple of whites there, but at least 25 bass came over the side.  We finally moved as the action slowed, even though we caught 6 on the last pass.   As we worked our way down lake we stopped on flat point with the wind pounding on it, and here we go again.  Clyde stuck a nice bass and then we saw the birds diving farther down the same bank.

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No telling how many of these we caught.  Talk about a solid hook up!

We eased down there and we could see fish busting, some huge boils, and a huge, and I mean huge, school of shad.  They did not want the A rig so Clyde got out 1/4 ounce chrome jigs and we put small clear twisters on, and from then on it was ugly.  It was definitely matching the hatch as the shad were only about an inch long.  We worked that bluff, letting the jig fall around 5 – 10 foot deep down the face of the bluff, give it hop, and thump, good fish on.  At times it was bite after bite after bite.  Occasional we could see some big boils and Clyde finally hooked up to a big striper.  Catching big stripers on light line and spinning tackle is fun, and he expertly got the job done.  A minute later I hooked up to another big one but with my superior skill I managed to lose him.

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Talk about a healthy striper, this was a pig!

Clyde caught a great striper, a hybrid, we caught a tons of nice white bass, and probably another 10 bass.  It was everything Lake Norfork can be in the spring.  We stayed there for well over an hour and finally called it a day as the sun set behind the bluff.  As soon as the sun went of the water the shad disappeared and the fish went with them.

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Huge white bass and nice hybrids, what a day!

So we learned that the water temp dropped enough to move the fish out of the back ends of places, and put them near the mouth of coves and on the main lake.  The pattern was clearly shad schools, find the shad and find the fish.  If I had to guess it was probably at least 50 or more for the day.  And it was right on the prime time.  With the temp rising this week it should get nothing but better, if that is possible.  It was the kind of day that keeps us all fishing.  I can not wait for tomorrow.

It is funny how your memory works.  The lake seemed way bigger than it was when I lived and guided on it.  I guess that big Black Max on the Champion made the lake seem small, though if memory serves me Norfork has 35,000 surface acres and around 500 miles of shoreline, a big pond.  It is so beautiful here, and the water seems clearer than I remember it.  And after a couple of really high water years there are tons of bass in the lake, and in the next few years expect an explosion of big bass, it is coming and you can bet I will make it every year.

Today I think we will stay in the mid to down lake area.  The smallmouth have really exploded here as have the walleyes.  We used to catch the occasional walleye when I guided here, now they are prevalent.  The Shoedog had family here and they are leaving today so we will hook up with him later in the day.  This is what a fishing trip is supposed to be like!

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My buddy Aaron is working in the Texoma area, and they are getting after it also.

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Aaron with a big Texoma striper.

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Look at the gut on that thing.

Nice job boys.  The fishing is getting hot all over, and it looks like Texoma is getting with the program.   I need to get there.  Oh so much fishing, so many places, so little time!

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I got this from my buddy Voe out in Vegas.

Hello Doug,
Just got back from an outing on Lake Mead and it was a beautiful day.
Fishing was pretty good but the exceptional thing that happened to me today is that I caught my first ever Carp about 7 lbs or so on a 1.5 KVD Square Bill in a sexy shad.
He ate the whole thing in his mouth, so much for vegetarian. Couldn’t get a picture because he was bleeding on the new boat carpet. Had to get him overboard pronto,
If you know what I mean. Hope you have a great trip. We accepted an offer on the house. See you in the near future, I hope.

Hope to see you when you come back for the closing.  Your carp story reminds me of the last time I was here in Arkansas.  I caught 2 big ones on grub last trip.  It is always something when you catch a carp on lures.  Excitement followed by let down.  Darn bugle mouths!

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Before I close for the day, and get Clyde up and going, I wanted to share my favorite comment I get around once a month.  It must be a standard online deal, because I get it from different folks.  But I love it – in fact it kinda sounds like what my wife tells me!

The next time I read a blog, I hope that it doesnt disappoint me as much as this one. I mean, I know it was my choice to read, but I actually thought youd have something interesting to say. All I hear is a bunch of whining about something that you could fix if you werent too busy looking for attention.

Really.  What more could be said about the state of affairs around here?  God I love the internet!

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I have said it before and I will say it again, Mtn. Home and the Twin Lakes area is a great place to fish and vacation.  When I came here around 40 years ago as a 21 y/o knucklehead I had an AMC Gremlin, $125, and my tent.  I did not know a soul, nor did I have a real plan, I just knew I wanted to be a fishing guide.  And I got it done.  The town has changed, and so have we.  In the mid 70’s you could not get anything to eat after 6, and there were few stores.  Now it is a bustling community with all the amenities.  It is cracking daylight, time to quit waxing poetic, get Clyde up, times is a wastin’.  Keep stopping in, the saga continues, and thanks for reading my stuff.

Good Luck and Tight Lines

(No time to edit or proofread, what you see is what you get!)

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Arkansas 3/23/16.

 Fish Catching Travel

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Shoedog and Nolan on Norfork

The Shoedog has been in North Arkansas spending the week with his grandson Nolan and dropped me this report.

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Lake Norfork 3/2316

I am spending this week with my grandson Nolan on Lake Norfork in Arkansas. He is 9 and  is on spring break.  We had spent the first two days fishing off the dock where we are staying and checking out a couple areas of the lake. We have caught a couple small crappies and an Ozark bass of the dock, but not mush else. 

We tried to go up to an area that usually has crappies yesterday, but no luck, just a couple small bass. We had caught about 10 small bass in the Buzzards Roost area on the first day out, so today we went back there. Also, the wind has been a factor the last 2 days And I knew we could probably fish there and have easy and safe access to  the boat ramp. 

We got out about 10:30 and I caught a small bass on a Rogue. Our pal Clyde kept recommending using small swim baits, so I tied Nolan on a 4 inch white/pearl Berkeley Havoc Grass Pig. I use them trout fishing in Texas. It was fairly easy for him to fish with a steady retrieve. He caught a small bass right off. It was pretty tough casting in the strong wind, so I had him on the front deck with me and would cast and hand him the rod and he would reel. It worked pretty well.

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He caught a couple more and one almost made the 15 inch limit. We had 6 or 7 in the next couple hours. Then he ran the trolling motor for me! I caught 3 nice ones in the next while. A 15, 16 and 17 incher. 

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Nolan catches a nice one.  And he named it Dinner!

We ended up with 13 bass in 6 hours- not bad for the conditions and a grandpa and a 9 year old! 

The water was between 50-53 degrees. The fish seemed to be on a little steeper banks and points close to the main creek channel – exactly where you expect them to be pre-spawn. I did catch one of the larger fish way in the back of one cove. A good sign for the coming week of fishing with the big boys! 2 more days with Nolan and then a week of hitting it hard. 

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We are having fun now!

I have been coming here for over 40 years and have never been able to slow down and spend more than a few days on the run. This week has been very enjoyable with my grandson and we have spent time on the bank looking for rocks and shells, hiked a few trails and fished. Good times. I am a lucky fellow. 

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Looks like the boys are having a big time.  I am at my parents in Fayetteville (Go Hogs) and will be heading over to Mtn. Home today to meet up with them and my buddy Clyde.  A fairly large cold front has moved through here and the wind howled out of the north the last couple of days, including 20 – 30 right in my face the whole drive up here.  But there is good news, a nice warming trend for the week and it should put those fish in the spawning mood.  Channel turns leading into spawning coves, and secondary points in those coves should be the ticket.  Getting excited just thinking about it.

So today I head to Springdale to Cabela’s before I leave town, there must be something I need to buy, and tomorrow it begins.  I can’t wait to put some walleyes and stripers in the boat, big change from our South Texas fishing.  I spent many years on these lakes chasing anything that swims, and I am really looking forward to puttin’ the hurt on them.  Reports will come as often as I can, hopefully every day.  So keep stopping in and thanks for reading my stuff.

Good Luck and Tight Lines.

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Bang O Lure Follow-up. 3/21/16.

 Fish Catching Travel

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Weather

Low 46  High 78  Wind out of SE 5 – 10  Increasing mid morning to 20 – 30 mph  (It blew every bit of that.)  Partly cloudy.

Solunar Times

  • Best Times:  10:34A – 12:34P
  •                         10:55P – 12:55A
  • Good Time:   4:23A – 6:23A

Tide

High   4:48 AM     0.4       (The tide I like – falling all morning.)
Low  12:18 PM     0.2
High   7:49 PM     0.4
Low  11:59 PM     0.3

Coleto – The Towater Bite Continues

I took yesterday off to be with the Boss after she finished an 8 day stretch of 12 hour days, and of course it was fairly calm.  Today not so much.  Knowing that the winds were forecast to hit up to 30 mph it was definitely a lake day.

On arriving at the lake it there was a little wind, and the wind did not wait that long to really start blowing.  The lake is still coming up and there is more cover with a little more color in most places.  I wanted to keep the topwater thing going, so I mainly concentrated on that.   It took a little while to find some, buy I finally did.  After I put the first one in the boat I managed to lose the next 4.  Even though I changed the 3 smaller hooks on the Rapala to 2 bigger ones, they were still tearing off.

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As the day warmed so did the bite.  The second one was a good fish.

The one that hurt the most was one an easy 6, maybe 7, who hopped out of a bush and smoked it, and then pulled off.  I really do need a Bang O Lure, more on that later.  I kept hunting and pecking.  Many places had some run off so they were a little murky, so I stuck to anywhere with at least some clearer water.  Even with good polarized glasses they were awfully hard to see when they roll over on it while it is under water.

Remember folks,  I am just twitching it along with short jerks, barely pulling it under.  It is so critical that you keep visual contact with the bait, and my fit over Cocoons were mandatory today.  It seemed they were just a little tentative with this cold front.  And it really did not help that the water temp was down almost 10 degrees from what it was last week, in fact it was 65 – 67 in most places, down from 75+.

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The best bite was in the middle of the day.

I stuck with coves that were as least a little out of the wind.  Besides messing up half the lake the wind makes it real tough to throw that light Rapala, another reason I want the Bang O Lure.  It is heavier and casts well, and having 3 perfectly matched hooks would have increased landed fish today for sure.

I did not completely stick with topwater, but I did not have a bite on buzzbait, Swim Jig, and only lost one on the watermelon stick worm.  But other than that it was definitely topwater.  And once I kind of figured out how they wanted it thing started looking up.  Incidentally the bite really was during a best time today.

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These were caught back to back.  To bad both of the bigger fish I had on today got off.  I need my Bang O Lure.

Of the 10 or so I caught today, and I missed at least that many,  about half took it off the top.  A couple even blew up on it, and I saw every stinkin’ one of them, hooked up or not.  It really does hurt to have them pull off like that, I went to a real soft rod and looked like one of those big shot tourney guys as I played them way out before I tried to land them.

So it was definitely a win today, given the howling wind and a bait that is almost right, but not quite what I needed.  I think that little bigger bulk, and definitely the bigger hooks, on the Bang O Lure really make a difference landing fish out of bushes.  It sure would have helped the casting with all that wind.  Almost all of the fish came from cover, in maybe 3 foot, and I did see several that rolled on it who did not eat.  Coves were the ticket, and if the water was clear enough it was a guaranteed fish or two.   And when I got a bite another one soon followed.  Isolated cover off the bank was the ticket.  And do not give up on it, work it all the way out as several hit it close to the boat.  You can never tell when one will come out of the depths and eat it.  With around 20 taking at least a pass at it today it was not to bad for a 6 hour trip.

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Update on the Bang O Lure Search

The Mighty Bang O Lure

I want to thanks those of you who either texted or emailed me a couple of places I might find the Bang O Lure.  One of the comments I got I wanted to share with you, and maybe share a little more information to go along with it.

Well kind sir – THANK YOU!

I read your post while shopping in Academy…… for new fishing baits….

I’m glad that Strike King sponsors you (in whatever capacity) and you share the baits that work best for you. I’m really glad you don’t stop there.
I just spent $24.40 on two Bang O Lures (with free Amazon Prime shipping, of course). Like with most lures I haven’t tried, I’m quite excited to give these a shot. But I’ll have to exercise patience. You made it very clear about the waters of NW Arkansas. What about SW Missouri? Every other year our family takes a week long vacation to Table Rock Lake for some slightly competitive fishing. I won’t go into detail about my love of Table Rock Lake – because I could….. Its just so awesome.

I did happen to pick up a couple of my favorite artificial baits – Strike King Red Eye Shad lipless crankbait. I needed another silent crank as well stocking up on a couple colors I’ve found most effective.

Its March and I cannot wait for our trip in June. Especially now that I have a bait recommended by a seasoned fishing veteran.

Thanks for sharing valuable information.

Evan

Thanks for the compliment and there are a couple of things I wanted to comment on.   As far a seasoned veteran, ripe old timer might be a better description.  Strike King has given me a small lure sponsorship but it has been a policy around here to tell you like it is as far as baits go.  I hope you know that when I talk about where, how, and with what I am fishing it is what it is, good or bad.  Of course I play favorites, as I said before, the Lunker Lure, the Redfish Magic, the Swim Jig, and the Bang O lure are favorites, no matter who made them or whether I buy them off the shelf.  I play favorites with lures that catch fish, otherwise why throw a particular bait?

When I referred to NW Arkansas it is because I had almost 30 years of fishing on the highland lakes every spring with the Bang O Lure.  But that is not the only place it works.  I went back and looked at some old Florida trips from the 90’s and I have a couple of pictures of trout, a shark, and several snook, all caught on Bang O Lure years ago.  And Snook really like the one with the spinner tail.  We would also add a suspend dot to the Bang O Lure and catch lots of speckled trout using it like a classic jerkbait.  It did not dive as deep as regular jerk bait and you could work it over the top of submerged grass and potholes.  Good clear water is the ticket, and there are few game fish that won’t eat a Bang O Lure, but the toothy critters are just a little to hard on them.

And when you are at Table Rock rest assured you are in the right place.  How effective it will be this trip will depend on how late the spawn was and what the weather is like.  Get a nice cloudy day and you will be in business.  And don’t forget they will hit that thing on Coleto for a couple of months yet.  As a side note, Table Rock is part of the White River chain of lakes.  First is Beaver, in NW Arkansas, where I practiced law and fished for 10 years, then Table Rock, in Missouri, then Taneycomo, then Bull Shoals, and finally my home lake, Norfork Lake, coming off the North Fork of the White River.   They are peas in a pod, and fish basically the same give or take a little.

Hope that added a little more to what I wrote the other day.  Good luck on your trip and we will be looking forward to hearing how it goes.  And of course thanks for keeping up with the blog.

Stop the Presses!

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I dropped a note and link to Bagley on the post I wrote about the Bang O Lure and they have come to my aid.  A few are on the way, just in time for when I get back from Arkansas.  One thing I did after contacting them was to look over their catalog and there are some additional baits that I know will work like a charm.  One I am particularly interested in is the Minnow B.  Made of durable ABS resin it has the same Bang O Lure action, and should be tougher and great for those saltwater fish.  And I have been using the 1/32 jig head on the trout since last summer.  They also shared some information that I will pass on to you next time I blog.  There is lots more to come about the Bagley Bait Company.  A big thanks to Bagley President Don Hultstrand for his help and consideration, I really appreciate it.

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When I first started the blog I watched the readership numbers all the time, now I check occasionally, it is not the priority it was.  It was kind of like watching a pot boil.  Now as long as there is one or two of you out there reading I will keep writing.  But I did check the other day and we just topped 475,000 visits since we started.  In the next couple of months we will hit 500,000 visits.  The numbers keep in the 10,000 visits a month, and I can not thank you regular readers enough.  That is crazy!  The day I top 500,00 I just might tip a cold one to all of you.  Thanks.

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Today is last call day.  Time to get everything I need for Arkansas out, put line on stuff, grab some spare everything, the usual.  With the possibility of catching everything from crappie, rainbow trout, bass, walleye, to stripers, there is no such thing as to much stuff.  Kind of like dressing for winter fishing, if you have it on you can take it off, but if you don’t have you don’t have it.  The fishing will start in earnest on Saturday and will go on a week or so.  It will definitely be fish on!  I have a few more things to get to in the next couple of days so keep stopping in and thanks for reading my stuff.

Good Luck and Tight Lines

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This and that. 3/19/16.

 Fish Catching Travel

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

It was over 35 years ago that I was watching Saturday morning fishing, what a guide does when he isn’t fishing, when the Bill Dance show came on.  Now this was the old days when Bill was not fishing in ponds that are so full of 4lb bass that a bait can’t make it to the bottom.  He was fishing Lake Seminole in the spring, and the water was super high.  He was wading in the back end of a place and catching monster bass on topwater.  That was my first introduction to the Bagley Bang O Lure.   I was hooked immediately.

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They love that Bang O Lure.  (2013)

Living about 2 hours from the original Bass Pro I found some in Springfield Missouri and it became a real staple in my spring fishing and guiding.  It was so effective in the clear waters of NW Arkansas.  A balsa bait, it has a tighter, more subtle, wobble when jerked, and the foil version gives out a tremendous amount of flash.  I really believe that the foil gives off a more natural flash than other coloring.  In clear water it will draw fish from a long way, and it is one of the coolest, most visual, ways to catch bass.

Help!

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The Bagley Bang O Lure.  The greatest topwater minnow ever!

Over the years they have been hard to find.  Whenever I saw them in stores I usually bought all they had.  Looking at the ones above you can see what happens when they take a beating, which they do.  To get looking like these last 2 functioning ones I had, it was simply a matter of tossing it and twitching it and watching it get eaten.  I have always considered this a finesse technique, you can fool them with this bait and it is a thing of beauty when it does.

Now this is not a criticism of other folks topwater minnows, in fact since I can not find the Bang O Lure, I am currently throwing the Rapala right now, and it just does not put them in the boat like the Bang O Lure.  And over the years I have used them all, but facts are facts, the 5″ Bang O Lure in silver foil and black back is the best topwater minnow ever made.  The two above are the last of 8 I found on a dusty shelf in an old time tackle store in Fort Worth about 6 years ago.  They were still marked $5, the steal of a lifetime.  I have treated them as good as possible, but when the bite is on they eat them up.  One thing that hastened their demise is that Coleto has about a 6 month plus topwater season and I have caught a bunch on them, including losing the biggest bass I have ever seen.

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My Bill Dance Moment.  I know it is blurry, but they were sucking that Bang O Lure down that day like fish candy.  (2013)

So here is what I need from you, this is almost a fishing emergency, the topwater bite is on.  I checked on their website and they are not in stock.  If any of you see them in some store around these parts drop me a quick note.  A half dozen would be about right.  I see some on Amazon but would prefer seeing them before I buy them.  The ones I bought those years ago in Fort Worth had dried and shrunk just a little, happens when you are probably 100 years old in bait years.  You know how I can get about some baits: the Redfish Magic is the best redfish bait ever, of course the Strike King Swim Jig, and nothing beats the old Lunker Lure buzzbait, they all have earned a place.  Over the years, in spite of my fishing deficiencies, certain baits have proven themselves over and over, and the Bagley Bang O Lure is one of the best.

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And it was good to get this fresh Coleto report from Jeramie.

I went yesterday in the drizzle and had 2 fish just over 5 pounds, 1 over 4 pounds, 1 just over 3 pounds , several 1& 2 pounders! I caught most of my fish in the evening with a buzz bait , I did have to add a trailer hook due to the short strikes. Caught a few of the smaller fish on crank baits. You are right the tilapia are everywhere . Thanks for all your tips they really help me the few times I make it to the lake.

I appreciate your kind comments and the report.  I know I may harp about the drizzle and spring time, but it really is the time on Coleto.  And from your report what I have seen the last week, you can catch them on other stuff, but if you want big fish toss the buzzbait.  And I would have boated a few more with a trailer hook, and with no real grass yet to speak of it is the thing to do right now.  So nice job and keep those reports coming.

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I was at Academy this morning, imagine that, searching for some tackle that I just could not live without.  While waiting to check out I met Travis who reads the blog.  I always appreciate folks introducing themselves, it lets me know there are real people out there.  He is going to rent a cabin on Coleto at the end of the month, and they should hit it right on the head.  He also had some friends who limited on trout with shrimp in one of the mid-bay passes on Monday.  The fishing is on and it is a good time to live in South Texas.  So thanks for introducing yourself and drop us a note when you get done with your Coleto trip.

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The one the other day was this ones momma!

I got this comment on yesterdays report from Rusty, the resident Fayette and Bastrop pro.

Learn something everyday!!! Cool alligator info. Been seeing them all my life and never saw that. Fish are biting at Bastrop and Fayette but spring breakers are out in force!
Rusty

Good to hear you are catching them, and just like here on Coleto the spring breakers are hard at it.  And I really was lucky to see that monster do his thing.  Left me with visions of him after me, which would be one scaring thing.  And on that same note I heard from Clyde in Arkansas.

Did you fish the bank with the gator? Well did ya “punk”?

To tell you the truth I actually gave that area a wide berth.  I know they can not reach out and pluck you out of the boat, but this guy was big enough and worked up enough there was no way I was going to give him the chance to make me his girlfriend!  See you in a week and you better have them cornered, or I will end up  having to guide you like I have for the last 40 years!

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If you live in our neck of the woods you know it is blowing like a freight train out side, straight out of the north.  It may last for 3 or 4 more days, typical March weather.  Besides writing this it is time to get some stuff ready for the Arkansas trip.  Traveling like I do the packing is actually half the fun.  Spare equipment and tackle, line, reel oil, and plenty of stuff that will probably not see the light of day, are making the pile.  You can speculate all you want, get the fresh info, but nothing means a thing until you fish, and it always seems there still has to be a trip to the tackle store once you get there.  But until then I will be hitting the water, and maybe the weather Gods will give us a break with this wind.  A few trout frying in the pan is sounding better every day.  So keep stopping in and thanks for reading my stuff.

Good Luck and Tight Lines

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Coleto Creek 3/17/16.

 Fish Catching Travel

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

Weather

76/60  Wind SE 5 – 15  Cloudy with a 60% chance of rain  (They got the forecast dead right.)

Tides

Th  17      Low   8:10 AM    -0.2
High   8:22 PM     0.5

Solunar Times

  • Best Times     7:00A – 9:00A
  •                          7:26P – 9:26P
  • Good Times   12:48A – 2:48A

Sorry you salt addicts, but with  perfect weather (drizzling rain) it was back to Coleto.  Now before we get to the fishing something happened today that I have never seen.  Whether it was walking up on 2 cheetas taking a nap under a tree on the African plain, having a whitetail fawn try to get in my boat, or the gobble fest that was happening around me as I fished, nothing made a bigger impression on me that what happened today.

I headed down the windy side of a big cove near the dam and when I got near the back end there was a big alligator laying right next to the bank on the other shore.  As I got even with him he raised up on all fours and roared.  I mean bellowed full throat twice.  His body was pumped full and he looked as big as a 50 gallon drum.  The water was foaming around him as he roared.  Wow.

That thing was fierce, primeval, and as big as any I have ever seen.  He did not seem to notice me and then his head swiveled around and he looked right at me.  Folks trust me, he was worked up.  Being around them for years they do not scare me, I just have a healthy respect, but this one had menace in his eyes and it was one impressive display of male hormones run amok.  The great outdoors is just that, great, and I got to witness something that will stick in my memory for a life time.

(I wanted to know about the water frothing on his back so I read this, very interesting.     http://www.wired.com/2011/05/alligator-mating-physics/)

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The Beat Goes On

As conditions stayed perfect for a bass assault I could not help myself.  When you love the visual bite as much as I do I wait all year for this, the time is now.  And as the bite has been in the middle of the day there was no hurry so it was 9:30 before I backed the boat in.  It was lightly drizzling with the wind out of the SE at about 10 mph depending on where you were.  First stop was the cove where I put the smack down on them.  Primarily it was to check and see if they were biting there earlier.  I started on the point with the Strike King Bleeding Buzzbait and had a one about 5 crash it and immediately in a pile of stuff he went.

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Bigger fish?  Fish the buzzbait.

Unfortunately he pulled off before I could get to him.  That was a sign of things to come in there as I proceeded to miss 4, or they missed me, it was a group effort.  With them being somewhat tentative I threw the Swim Jig and of course caught one right off the bat.  But with my love of the visual bite I either wanted to keep force feeding them the buzzbait or give the topwater a go, and with a light wind topwater seemed logical.

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Without boring you there is a big punch line here, almost the back end of anything midlake down has bass in the back end.  Twitching that balsa minnow on top produced tons of bites in those back ends.  Now most of those were small fish, but plenty were keepers.  I am noticing one thing, you have those that are just going on beds with full bellies, and those that are done and look like they have been in a knife fight at their local drive bar.

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As I worked any clear water it was throw the buzzbait anywhere there was wind, especially on points.  The best place for the topwater was anywhere there was brush off the bank.  And if you could find bushes in deeper than 2 foot those fish are there.  One problem I experienced with the small Rapala balsa minnow is the hooks are so small and I had a problem with a few pulling off.  In the best cove I fished I think I went 3 for 10 or so.  And polarized glasses are mandatory.  With the heavy cloud cover the yellow Cocoons lightened it up enough to see those fish roll, without them my hook up percentage would have been in the dumpster.

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Twitiching it just under and letting it pop up, and then twitching it under again, you could see them roll over on it.  So the plan is next time to take the 3 hooks off and put 2 bigger ones back on trying to keep the weight the same.  In the 7 hours I fished I had lots of bites, and while I caught fish, it is hard to estimate the number who were on for a second and then off.  Basically a simple problem easily rectified.

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Fishing is consistent, almost great, right now.  There are lots of folks at the lake due to spring break but the rain kept lots of them inside.  Plus, the balsa minnow technique is a great bait to use when it is busy.  Subtle, it will pull those fish out of cover when other baits won’t.   How do I know for sure?  I fished a cove completely with the buzzbait and had one bite, so I just turned around and re-fished it with the topwater.  That was the place I then went 3 for 10.  The fish were exactly where I knew they were, isolated deeper bushes, but they were  not interested in chasing anything.  But twitch that bait next to the deep brush and out they came.  Another lesson learned.

And beds, oh the beds.  If you are a bed fisherman, not my thing, you should be in heaven on Coleto right now.  Besides the bass, the tilapia are at it full swing and I saw them in most every cove I fished today.  Guess I need to get my buddy Jeffish and do a little bow fishing for them.  They are literally everywhere.

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I got this comment from my buddy Voe, who fished with me Monday before he left town.

It figures, your next time out you wack em.
They look nice.

Life is not fair, especially when it is lived with a fishing rod in your hand.  The old should have been here yesterday, last week, last month.  But as usual we had a good time anyway, so let me know when you will be back and we will give it another go.

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I am starting to get excited about Arkansas.  The final plans are close to made, just a questions of when I decide to go, but it is in the next week or less.  The Shoedog is already up there with his grandson and by time I get there he should have a pretty good idea on what we need to be doing.  Normally when we go it is not a real meat hunt, but in this case some crappie, walleyes, and stripers in the freezer will be a good thing.  Before that I hope to make it to the Gulf a few days.  I have not forgot about you salt guys, but it is hard to stop chasing nice bass on the buzzbait.  What a bite.  So keep stopping in and thanks for reading my stuff.

Good Luck and Tight Lines

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Coleto Creek 3/16/16.

Fish Catching Travel

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Weather

75H/L65   Wind 10 – 20 SE   Cloudy  Chance Rain 20%

Tides

W   16      Low   6:48 AM    -0.2
16     High   7:39 PM     0.6

Solunar Times

  • Best Times:
  • Good Time:
  • Best Times    6:10A – 8:10A
  •                         6:37P – 8:37P
  • Good Times  11:57A – 1:57P  (Very close today)

Buzzbait Time

If you read my stuff regularly you know I look forward to days like today.  This set of conditions is perfect for Coleto in the spring.  Warm all night, warm day, wind not to bad, and drizzle.  And this time of year one thing that is nice is the bite is usually sometime during the day as opposed to first light.

So I started about 9:00 and caught the one below in the first cove I fished.  He smoked that buzzbait and I was thinking here it comes.  Well a few hours later I was wondering what I was thinking.  I fished from coves near the dam all the way up lake and did not have a fish.  Of course part of that was the choice I made, to go way up and see if it was clearing.

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 First bite.

I basically threw the book at them as I worked my way up with no luck.  Finally when I was way up, almost to Shrader Bridge I caught a couple of one place throwing the watermelon red senko style plastic. It seemed like the water up there  is finally clearing some, but it is way up.  After not catching anything for a while I thought it was time to pitch it into cover, and though I got these 2 it never did happen.

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Before 2:00.

The water up lake is still really a funny color, and just did not feel right.  But they had to bite, it was the right day and the right time.  So with that motivating me I ran all the way back down to a cove right near the dam and grabbed the buzzbait, and the bite was on.

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After 2 – The bite begins.

I started on the point and before I made it all the way around the cove I caught 7.  So I kept going, hitting coves and points.  Basically I was searching for clear water and finding it gave me confidence, and the fish sure liked it.  When one hit it they blasted it.  And wind on the bank did not hurt anything, in fact the best place had the wind blowing right in it.

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They were flat out smashing that Strike King Buzzbait!

From about 1:30 until I quit at 4 they bit, and I left them biting.  It was the kind of buzzbait day I wait for all year.  They were really shallow and you had to throw it way back in the stuff and have it moving when it hit the water.  While I never hit another real jackpot like the first place, I caught fish or two everywhere I fished after that.

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For 2 hours it was crazy good.

I was reeling it moderately slow keeping the rod pointed right at the bait.  When combined with the braid it really lets you get a hook in them when they blow up on it.  My personal preference is a heavy action rod, seems like if you get the hook in them they are going nowhere.  There really wasn’t a defined locational pattern to them, it was just keep it in the water.  Casting and winding, every once in a while one would commit in a big way.  It definitely was one of those days where making a perfect cast resulted in a bite.

Amazing what a difference a couple of days make.  Monday it was hot and sunny, and they were not having it.  Today they were on the move.  I have a feeling if I had stayed in the clearer water in the lower end all day I would have boated a lot more, and started catching them a lot earlier.  But no complaints.  Whether it a bass, trout, muskie, or redfish, when they are hitting topwater I am all about it.  And if you do not take the time to check stuff out, and keep trying different areas, you will end up knowing nothing.  We really can learn almost as much not catching them.  But who knows what I missed fishing up the river all morning.

Now the big question is whether I am going to do it one more day.  I often say do the thing you need to be doing when you need to do it.  I have a feeling staying with it all day should produce a big fish if a person keeps after it.  Besides, the lake came up just a tiny bit more and we have lots of cover in the lake.  As it clears it will only get better.  And I have to get to the Gulf, there should be a pretty good bite there too, depending on the wind.  I really appreciate your comments so feel free drop one anytime.  So keep stopping in and thanks for reading my stuff.

Good Luck and Tight Lines

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Coleto Creek 3/15/16.

Fish Catching Travel

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Weather

Mainly sunny. High 91F. Winds SSW at 10 to 20 mph   0% Chance precip/.0 inches

Solunar Times

  • Best Times    4:10A – 6:10A
  •                         4:38P – 6:38P
  • Good Times  10:24A – 12:24P

Tides

M   14      Low   4:12 AM
14     High   6:17 PM     0.5

Water

Up a couple of feet since last trip.  Temp 72 – 76 over most of the lake.  From real murky up both arms to fairly clear near the dam.

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There really is not much to say about fishing Coleto.  Voe was able to fish a day before he headed back to Las Vegas so we hit the lake right after day break.  It was fairly foggy and it did not clear until about 9.

We started mid lake and fished a couple of coves and points on both sides going in.  I caught a small one in the back end of the first one we fished, and then it was about an hour before Voe finally caught one on a buzzbait.  In fact, I went almost all morning without another bite, and that was his only bite on the buzzbait.

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The only one worth a hoot all day.

We ended up fishing both arms, a couple of main lake coves, a creek, and a big flat cove, all with about the same success.  It did seem the farther up lake you went in either arm the slower the fishing got.  The only place we actually had more than a couple of bites was in a creek, and they were all small.  It seems the water raise and the color combined to slow them down, but it may just not be me adapting to the changes.  Only time will tell.  I do know that there is a ton more cover in the water and that can only help as  conditions stabilize.

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The ones we did catch came half came on Swim Jigs, and 1 or 2 on buzzbait, blade bait, and I think one on a worm.  Just guessing we caught 9, and until we fished the last pocket right by the dam, maybe 3 of them measured.  The one above came on a KVD 4 1/2″ pearl swim bait.  It came out of a shallow bush and ate it, the only one we actually saw eat it, unlike the last couple of trips.  We fished hard and just never did have a run, just a bite here and a bite there.  We needed the rain but a big raise during the spawn is usually not a good thing.

One thing going on, the tilapia are starting to be everywhere.  As the water clears they will be easy to find in the back of flat coves, their spawning beds look like a small tire in the water.  And trust me, if you find a bunch of beds they are in the hole, no matter what your eyes tell you.  So if you ever wanted so shoot one with a bow and arrow, now is the time.  And they are a lot better to eat out of the lake than the ones you buy in the store.

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Johnny sent a report on Coleto and a comment on the Fiskars scissors.

The Fiskar Scissors cut the braided line like a hot knife through butter!

Caught most of the fish today on soft plastics in 4′-5′ of water. There were a few in the coves but most were on points. Hope the good luck hangs around next weekend for the tournament.

Thanks for tip about the trailer on the spinnerbait.

Caught most of the fish today on soft plastics in 4′-5′ of water. There were a few in the coves but most were on points. Hope the good luck hangs around next weekend for the tournament.

Thanks for tip about the trailer on the spinnerbait.

Thanks for the report and the tip on the scissors.  Looks like the fish may have backed off just a little with the rain.  So good luck in the tourney, let us know how you do, win, lose, or draw.

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And I got this from Chuck who fished in the kayak tournament on Coleto last weekend.

KATS Tournament 03/12 with 107 Kayak entered. Water wasn’t too bad. Tough day of fishing for most. The rise pushed the shallow fish up further and the big ones were tough to get to for most folks. Two lucky anglers found a small cove that had 20″ fish in (kayak tournaments use length instead of weight. We CPR Catch, Photo and Release the fish) Plenty of zeros got posted by some darn fine anglers. I caught 3 fish off one stump but could never find another stump the fish were holding on. I’m going to keep my lucky bait under my hat for now, but the most successful plastics were all dark as in black/blue. Seems like smaller fish liked the pink and chartreuse. A few guys caught em on swimbaits and spinner baits. Winning length total for 5 fish was 96″.

Wow!  I know kayak fishing is gaining popularity, but I had no idea that many folks would be fishing.  Of course whether fishing a kayak tourney or a boat tourney, it seems conditions always conspire to turn things on their ear.   Not a bad string for the winner, I would be happy with 5 that measure 20″ most any day and most anywhere.

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Mark sent along this comment on the needle fish I caught on Coleto.

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The photo of the weird fish caught on your March 8 trip to Coleto Creek is an Atlantic Needlefish. Scientific name “Strongylura marina”.
They are quite common in the bays in the spring and summer. Apparently this fish migrated up the Guadalupe River and was pumped into the reservoir by GBRA pumps.

Thanks.  I thought they looked like what we catch at the gulf occasionally, just surprised they can live in fresh water.  And I wondered how they might have gotten into Coleto.  So great comment, thanks for reading.

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That about catches us up for the day.  I am just waiting to hear from Shoedog on tomorrows plan, but it will be on the water.  So next it is outside to work on trailer lights.  Funny how both trailers were fine, now both are acting up.  Love those trailer lights.  So keep stopping in and thanks for reading my stuff.

Good Luck and Tight Lines

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Back in Action. 3/13/16.

Fish Catching Travel

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I might not have fished last week, but a few folks got out the last couple of days and managed to catch a few.  Looking at the week to come it has winds up to 20mph every day.  That is the thing about March, you get some and you lose some.  Water is warming and most of the gamefish we chase are stirring around and thinking about making some babies.  Unfortunately along with that is the winds which either roar out of the north or the southeast, then all day from both directions, and then it will really blow.  But the end is near as we approach the middle of the month and our best fishing of the year both fresh and salt is coming.

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Got a great report from my buddy Jeffish who is on Lake Dunlap with family and the future Bass Master Champion of 2030, Korbin, but bass were not on the agenda this weekend.

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That thing is as big as you are Korbin!  Jeffish said he about wet his pants on this one.  Just kidding Korbin.

Korbin and I set some limb lines out on Lake Dunlap and caught 2 channels and a yellow on small perch. Then Korbin caught another yellow on road and reel. Good fight on light pole. 16 lbs or so total. Frying em up for a Sunday feast.

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Jeffish and Korbin with a heavy string.

Nice job boys.  Looks like a pretty productive weekend.  Korbin keeps putting them in the boat no matter where he fishes.  So have a good fish fry, makes my mouth water to think about it.

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Shoedog and Fayette County

(Shoedog and I just love that lake.  We have time and time again smacked the living crap out of them there on jerkbait.  Whether winter, summer, spring, or fall the jerkbait will catch them!)

I waited Friday until it looked like the rain had mostly cleared and headed out to Fayette Co. Lake.  Got there about 12:30 and fishing by 12:45.  Guy at the ramp said he was disappointed with his day and asked if I had been there much lately.  Told him not since the first of the year.  I put in at Oak Thicket Park and went out and started on the same long bank we always do on the left going down lake. The weather was changing hourly- Sun, drizzle, partly cloudy, calm, windy- whatever.

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Johnny sent along this tip and a note on Coleto’s current water condition.

Hi Douglas. My wife found these snips at Walmart in the Fabric Department for my tackle box.  They are sharp and easy to use. Don’t have to fight the little holes in small scissors with my big fingers. Thought you might want to try them out.

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I was at Coleto today and the water from the housing addition to the plant is real dirty. The main lake up to the first bridge is still clear up to a foot deep. Caught a few on white spinnerbait and the old style white swim jig.

Have a safe trip home.

Thanks for the tip on the scissors, will be interested in how they work on braid.  Fiskars make good products so for all you guys with the big hands here is a good alternative.  And I wondered how the lake was, sounds like it got a lot of off color water after all that rain.  Since I plan on fishing there in the morning I will be able to update conditions.  And if any of you have had chance to fish it the last couple of days drop us a line, love to get a new report.

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Speaking of getting home safely it was an interesting trip.  Las Vegas changes each and every time we go, and it has been almost 30 years since we first went.  Probably the most memorable moments of the trip were at Bush International before we even took off.

First, you know how TSA is always running that thing over the speakers about unattended bags?  Well there was a ratty back pack left leaning against the  counter as we waited for the plane.  After a while I finally said something.  10 minutes later a woman with a plastic vest strolls over, and then leaves.  Then about 10 more minutes later here comes the cops.  So that thing sat there for well over a half hour at least and nobody really cared.  Your tax dollars at work.

Second. the plane was 3 hours late, and on boarding there were 6 or so dudes acting a fool.  Apparently on the way to this guys bachelor party, his brother decided that he could be a real idiot.  So he disregards the flight attendant’s orders twice, and was disrespectful.  She did not get in to it with him, and then here comes security, and there goes the fool off the plane.  His brother is going but I already paid for the trip, to bad.  Could not have happened to a better guy.  Other than that the trip was uneventful and we missed the rain.

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It does feel weird when I haven’t fished all week, but from what I hear the weather and rain this week was plenty tough and I did not miss anything.  But all this writing about fishing and looking at pictures has me cranked up to go.  First will be Coleto, and from there who knows.  The first day this week the wind is not expected to top 20 I will be on my way to the Gulf.  So pray for calm, the topwater bite has to be on so maybe it will just boil down to which direction the wind is blowing where I can get to the trout.  So keep stopping in and thanks for reading my stuff.

Good Luck and Tight Lines

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