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The beauty of small places


casts_by_fly

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I had an afternoon/evening to myself last night so of course you go fishing.  But we're in the weird phase of the season here during a weird season.  We had 72 degree water at the start of May.  We have 65-75 degree water here depending on which lake you're on.  There were largemouth on beds on May 6th.  There were largemouth on beds June 6th.  Even in a normal year this mid June time period has always been my toughest.  Bass have pulled back after the spawn and should be in summer patterns, but haven't turned on to the hotwater/weather patterns i like to fish.  The grass is thick in some places, but not in others and the bass are variable in how they relate to it.  This is the time of year where I often pick a new place to explore or do something a little different (all plastics outing for instance).  Last night I decided to check in on a little lake I found last March.  I was heading for a bigger lake last spring but when I got to the parking lot there was a tournament.  At the parking lot for the next lake up the road, I remember it was trout stocked and off limits that time of year.  I passed a tiny lake with a boat ramp sign so I backtracked to it.  I didn't have any better options, so I explored and managed to catch a few chunky 14-16" bass in mid-40 degree water on a new lake.  I went back there in August and found that the lake turns into a grass fest- Anything less than 20' and the grass is on the surface.  10' visibility.  Big blobs of algae floating mid-lake.  I caught a few, but it wasn't nice fishing.

 

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But the beauty of this lake isn't in the fish, its the surroundings.  This lake is 30 acres nestled in against the mountain in a state park.  There is nothing developed visible from the water and a 1.5 lane road off in the distance.  You can drive a gravel path to launch the boat at the water side, but you can't launch anything on a trailer.  Last spring a pair of bald eagles were fishing with me.  In the summer there were deer keeping me company.  Since its nestled into the mountain, when the wind blows and other lakes have whitecaps, this one just has a light swirling breeze.  The redwing blackbirds fill all of the rushes, red ear sliders all the logs.  If you're not looking to catch your biggest bag of fish, its a great place to spend an evening and that's why I went last night.

 

I figured a frog might be a plan.  I kept a Texas beaver at the ready.  With the wind rippling the surface maybe a spinnerbait would be a good choice.  I wanted to try some new lil'man jigs and small trailers from Siebert.  Of course I had a swim jig since I have one tied on every trip for the rest of the year.  I started with a swim jig and had a couple hard hits quickly.  After the second I knew what kind of night it was going to be on a swim jig. 

 

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I swapped to a more durable trailer and while I had a few more hits (pickerel), the 8' water clarity and complete lack of anything in the shallows said that wasn't the bag for bass.  I worked my way down a grass line with a frog and picked one small bass.  I saw another little one cruising and threw the lil' man at him.  He followed it to the bottom and inhaled it when it hit. 

 

 

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Both were more of a fluke than a pattern and neither was over 12".  Since I know there to be bigger bass here, I cruised up through the shallows for a bit to look around and didn't see a single bass squirt out.  With the clarity, the sunshine, and the weeds, I figured they must have moved to the deeper weed lines.  I shared some pictures in the electronics forum on another thread, but the grass is up off the bottom at 23'.  At that depth its only 4' off the bottom, but shallower its about 8' off the bottom now.  I didn't want to drag things through it, so I decided to go over the top and grabbed a DT16.  Of course I didn't bring a good rod to fish it on but you make due.  Turns out a DT16 on 30 lb 832 will hit 17' on a long cast.  A dt-14 goes 15-16', and a DT10 will bottom out almost at 12'.  It also turns out that this tiny little pond has a bunch of shad in it.  I couldn't tell the type, but at dusk they were all over the surface and I could see they were ~4" and shad colored. 
 

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With mega live you could see the bait balls all evening under the water.  I tried cranks, jerkbaits, and swimbaits all around the balls, but the fish weren't feeding on them.  I found some suspended fish that would follow or look at lures, but I think they were crappie based on size.  However, I did pick a couple on the DT16 ticking it across the top of the grass.  My best guess is that the bass are holding in the grass during all of the sunshine and waiting for the shad to pass by where they pick off stragglers.  To go back and fish it again tonight, I would take a dropshot rig and fish the edges.  I hate working like that, but I think that's the ticket.  Dragging a carolina rigged fluke would probably do it as well.

 

I learned a few more things today.  1- Mega live is great once you dial it in.  I've been working on it since march when I installed it.  A few things I decided were right back then, were just me compensating for other things.  Last night was the first time I really had some flat water to really tweak and play.  Being in a kayak and standing to fish plus any wind means you're rocking a lot more than standing on the front of a boat.  Its more than pitch and roll can handle, though that does help.  Every trip I'm getting it a little better each time and by the end of the year I think it's going to be great.  Still the problem of spot lock and the back end of the boat swinging around mid-cast while the mega live is on a separate pole (and thus changing direction).  If there is no wind or if there is steady firm wind then the boat doesn't swing much and the pole mounted transducer doesn't need to move.  Gusts or swirling wind means I have to bump the pole.  Target lock would be perfect, but another $1500.  Maybe if it goes on sale this winter.  2- The Sieberts lil man jig looks great in the water.  I put a SK Rage ned bug on the back.  Its the perfect crayfish size and falls at the exact same rate as a crayfish that you throw in.  This was the 1/4 oz and the trailer is very light.  I didn't have the right rod for them.  If I were fishing them a lot, I'd do it on a spinning rod, but a medium baitcaster and lighter line will do it.  I need to fish them more.  3- I need to keep crankbaits in my summer lineup.  Most lakes here are too grassy to fish them, but now seeing how the grasslines are set up here, I suspect there are more places I can do the same.  I hadn't been able to find the lines so clearly before so this will be something new.

 

And I saw a bear.

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  • Super User

@casts_by_fly, great trip report! That looks like one of my ponds. How cool that you saw a bear. Once again, at the pond I fished this morning, I saw a bald eagle try to kill an osprey. Thank goodness, the osprey escaped. I'd fish your pond in a New York nanosecond.

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  • Super User

Nice write up.  Sometimes the smaller lakes don't see the fishing pressure like the larger lakes, and they can hold some big bass.

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