School is Almost Out!

Yep. It’s getting to be that time of year. The bass have spawned out, the bream and sacalait are just about spent, but the speckled trout fishing is about to get good in the surf. I’ve made some poppers that I hope will be the ticket in the murky green water down in the Grand Isle/Forcheon area.

Meanwhile, I was able to get a couple of hours of bass fishing in my neighborhood lake. I like fishing the post spawn here mostly because the fishing pressure has backed off. However, this time of year also offers some special fishing if one gets there right at first light when the shad do their summer spawning rituals.

This Saturday proved to be one of those special mornings. I put my kayak on the cart and walked a couple blocks to where I put in. Right when I got there I knew that the action had already started because there were about 8 or so white and grey herons battling for position along a bank where the shad were boiling. As I launched my kayak, I heard the sound of bass feeding. Some were just boils while others were splashes that sounded like someone’s dog had just jumped into the lake. Anyway, while the thought of tossing a popper into a school of hungry bass might seem like child’s play, it really isn’t as easy as it sounds. With such an abundance of fresh, live bait in the area, it can be a challenge to get a bass to eat a fly. Luckily, I have an answer for that. It’s my crease fly! (see prior post).

I had my first hookup around 6 AM, but it jumped and I lost it. Bass – 1. Doc – 0.  I have found that some bass follow the schools of shad around the bank as they move, picking off unsuspecting ones as they are more interested in procreating than watching their backs for predators. Those are harder to fool on the fly. It’s a numbers game…too many options for the bass to chose. I have, however, found that it is easier to fool a bass once the fast excitement has died down. The numbers then favor me. AND, if I put my fly real close to the bank, near the grass where some of the shad have decided to stay and hide, I’ll spook them from their hiding place and the scurrying of 5 or six stragglers will prompt a strike from a lurking bass. You see, my crease fly just doesn’t see to scurry as fast as the real thing, thus making my offering look like an easy meal. At about 6:15, I was able to land my first bass of the morning. It was a nice post-spawn bass that measured 19 inches. She probably weighed 4 pounds or more when she was full of eggs. GOPR3643.jpg
Just look at how big her mouth was! She actually stripped line off my reel and I had to fight her like a redfish. I can’t recall having a bass strip line off my reel like that in years 🙂

My next two bass were 12 and 15 inches, which were nice fish by any means on the fly.  I began fishing for bream around 7:30 and I managed a few small ones that wanted to play. Before heading back home, I decided to try an area that is lined with big Louisiana Irises. I have found that baitfish hide in the leaves of these plants and the bass hangout nearby to pick off any stragglers. Right at that moment, two guys in a small bass hunter boat passed near me and said hi. Before I could answer their, “Having any luck?” question, I had another big bass explode on my crease fly. I was determined to land this one (especially with my audience) but it was a jumper. I was lucky enough to land her though, even after 5 or 6 big jumps. She measured 17 inches.GOPR3645.jpg
You can actually see the line of lilies in the background of this picture where I caught her.

Anyway, it’s been raining for two days so the water will be dirty the next few days. However, the water will be flowing over the dam in the morning so I expect I’ll head over there for a half hour before school starts to see if I can get any fish to play before coffee and exams. 🙂

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A Bad Case of Bass Thumb!

You know that feeling when your thumb is scraped raw and feels like sandpaper? Well, I have a bad case of it right now…and it feels awesome!

One of my students invited me to fish a lake in St. Gabriel with him this morning. While the lake was dug out mainly as a water ski lake, it has been stocked with bass, bluegill, and striped bass. The weather man (not my favorite guy/gal this year) had forecast a cold start to a day that was supposed to warmup considerably. We got on the water early, a little before 7 AM and the thermometer on my truck said it was 45 degrees. I was hoping to catch some bass on the fly rods, as I hadn’t caught one yet this year and it’s nearly mid February!  It didn’t take long for me to realize that the fish were not going to be looking up so I ditched the poppers and went with what is probably the most fish-catching fly ever tied, the Clouser minnow.

It didn’t take long for me to find some hungry chunks and I had my first bass of the morning shortly after 7. Actually, my first bass of 2016!

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So, repeat and repeat all morning long and, well, you get the picture.
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The wind picked up considerably and I decided not to fight it. I took a break and fished off the bank.
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And it started getting warmer. I lost the coat and I’m in my turtle neck with a long sleeve t-shirt under that.

 

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Now I assume the temperature is around 70 and things were getting downright warm. I picked up my largest of the morning at 16 inches. It weighed 2.25 lbs.
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It was getting close to 11 AM and I was thinking about packing it in when I hooked a monster that broke my tippet. I retied quickly, thinking that it may have been a striped bass. Ten minutes later, I was battling my very first striped bass. I fought it like a champ and got it right up to the kayak. (I had gotten back in the yak). But…like an idiot, I tried to lip it and swing it in the boat. BAD DECISION!! It slashed back and forth in the water and broke my 6 lb tippet. Nooooo!!! I’m 56 and have never caught a striped bass in my life! Here I find one that wants to eat a clouser minnow and I try to lip it like Bill Dance.

Oh well. There will be other trips to this lake. No, but I have until noon. By now the wind is howling and I decided to fish my way back in. Bam! Another bass (number 15). Then 16. Now 17. I found a bunch schooling up right near a drop-off near some grass. Then it happens again. Something hits my fly and snaps my tippet like it was a piece of sewing thread. On a hunch that it was another striped bass, I take the time to tie another three feet of tippet material on my leader. Boy, did it take some time too. The wind was blowing probably 15 mph with higher gusts. It’s hard to tie a double surgeon’s knot when the wind isn’t blowing, much less in those conditions. After what seemed like 15 minutes, I was back in fishing form and had just had a ferocious strike and a miss. I cast back out to the same spot and BAM!  Fish on!!  My buddy commented immediately that it was a striper. After about 10 seconds, I concurred. It dug in and was stripping off line. I wasn’t going to make my same mistake twice, so I played this one out perfectly and landed my first striped bass. It was 19 inches and weighed 3.18 lbs.
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Notice that by now I had gotten rid of my coat, my turtle-neck, and my hat. 🙂 What a fun morning. I went through my stock of freshwater closures. I actually had three break-offs. You know I’ll be back at my vice tying some more and looking forward to another morning out there!
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