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Strange, strange day

Awfully foggy at still-dark-thirty when I left to pick up Jimfish for the ride up to East Twin Lake yesterday morning. As in very tough driving foggy.

Foggy most of the way up there, and on the water, too. When we launch just after 7, we are the only boat on the lake.

Heavy fog, summer-into-fall transition, Twin Lakes, early morning. That’s an old-time, classic recipe for a big-numbers catch with a white spinnerbait on shallow bars with scattered vegetation. So that’s where we started, and that’s what I was throwing. Evidently, Twin’s bass don’t appreciate the classics any more.

4.5" Lunker City Ribster (Motor Oil Pepper) #1 VGB DS Hook 1/4 oz Bakudan DS weight 6# Sufix braid 6# Seaguar Invizix main line.

4.5″ Lunker City Ribster (Motor Oil Pepper)
#1 VGB DS Hook
1/4 oz Bakudan DS weight
6# Sufix braid
6# Seaguar Invizix main line.

Moved to the next bar, and hit it deeper. Jim threw his Jumbo Jig. I picked up my standard drop shot rod. Ten minutes later, my first bite came with the lure straight down under my rod tip in 27 feet of water, as I worked the lure down the drop-off at the edge of the bar.

The fish weighed 6 pounds on Jim’s digital scale.

Pretty good start to the day!

Caught two 5# class pickerel on the same presentation before we left that spot for a similar bar not too far away. Jim catches a big pickerel there.

Don’t want pickerel. Where are the big bass?

It’s now about 8:30, the fog is lifting a bit, and finally another boat ventures out from the marina. Naturally, he needs to fish right next to us. My drop shot catches me a couple trout, a rock bass and a couple more big pickerel.

But no bass.

As we work our way down a long stretch of water that’s historically been very productive for us, the remaining fog burns off pretty quickly. The long stretch of water produces one small pickerel for Jim.  Finally, I get a small pickerel — the first bite I’ve had from less than 25 feet of water! As I bring the skinny little pickerel to the boat, I can see another fish swimming along with it. A 2 pound-ish bass!

What kind of evil is going on here?

With the fog gone, the fishing quickly deteriorates from bad to awful. As in barely a bite between us for the next couple hours, awful. It’s way too late now for a change of venue, so we soldier on.  Somewhere in there, Jim finally caught a small bass!

We try the pads. Nada.

Oh, look! A surprisingly thick bed of mixed milfoil and cabbage in shallow water. Zilch.

We haven’t seen that one other boat that was out fishing in a long time. But a bass boat does come out around noon, so we aren’t alone out there in our misery. Still, it was a gorgeous weather day, and we had to keep reminding ourselves that it was a weekend. Where is everybody?

We head back to the spot of our one good catch of this long day. Yeah, you guessed it. Nothing.

It’s now around 1 in the afternoon. The air is still, the sun is blazingly bright, and it has gone from warm to very hot. The fishing stinks. And other than us and that one bass boat, the lake is almost empty.

Finally, another boat or two comes out from the marina. Then another. And another. Within about 15 minutes, the lake goes from nearly empty to bustling with boating activity. Row boats. Pontoon boats. Ski boats. A boat that would look way less out of place in the ocean than it does on a 500 acre lake. Sail boats. Everybody suddenly joined the party.

We decide to spend the last hour or so of our day working the outside edge of the shallow bar on which we’d started the morning. Soon, a few clouds move in to give us a break from the relentless bright sunshine, so at least it’s a little more comfortable. We work the length of the bar, and are just about done with it when Jim’s Jumbo Jig gets bit and he hooks a 2½ pound bass from about 18 feet of water. Five minutes later, my drop shot gets me one just like it, but from closer to 30 feet.

Now we’re in for another couple passes. A couple more pickerel and a bite off later, the clouds drift off, and the bite — such as it was — ceases. We give it another quick, but fruitless pass and head for the trailer.

Had it not been for that one big bass that I caught early on, today would easily have gone down as our worst bass fishing day of the summer. But any day with a toad can’t be all bad.

Can it?

 

 


Team Geezer reunion on the CTR

One of the original members of Team Geezer — Chris King — is visiting family in Connecticut this week, and took the opportunity to join me for a little striper action on the Connecticut River on Friday.

The stripers weren’t very cooperative, but early on, the bluefish were.

Once the fog burnt off and the tide started to get down, even the choppers seemed to call it quits, so we called an audible, and went chasing albies, out Niantic way.

We saw lots of birds and lots of bait being blown out of the water, but no footballs. Following the surface action just resulted in lots of schoolie stripers and tailor blues, the latter of which resulted in lost lures, too. After a while, rather than chasing the schools of anything but albies, we settled in on catching schoolies that seemed to be set up on every rock pile that faced into the incoming tide, while keeping one eye on the birds and surface activity, looking for footballs.

Evidently, the word was out to check the area we chose about an hour into the incoming, because boats started to appear in numbers right around then. And after about a half-hour, they were all gone again, headed for the next site plugged in the day-old reports.

In the end, we got no albies, and settled for way too many schoolies to even think about counting.


Bluefish — It’s a love-hate thing.

Yellow Eyed Devil

Yellow Eyed Devil

Some days, I hate the yellow eyed devils.

But when they are biting on top, it’s easy to love the beasts, too.

Sure, they shred your plastics. Bite you off. Blow up on a lure a half dozen times and bite it down to a nub without making contact with the hook.

But they jump so much, and pull so hard!

And when they are on feed, it’s like they refuse to let you have your lure back, chasing it across the surface and smashing at it until they either get hooked or bite it off. They don’t care that half the lure is already missing. Once it’s a target, it remains a target.

Tuesday did not start out as a bluefish day for Carl Lovisolo and I. We caught stripers to start with. Nice ones, too.

But then the choppers invaded, and dominated the rest of the day.

We caught most of our fish on unweighted soft plastics (Slug-Gos and Fin-S Fish), but we each got one on a topwater plug, and Carl had an interesting bluefish encounter throwing a Livingston Lures School Master, which is advertised as a lipless jerk bait, but it fishes more like a glide bait as far as I can see. He hooked what was likely the biggest fish of the day on the little 4″ subsurface lure, and battled it long and hard. Then suddenly, it was gone.

Bite off?

No, the plug was still there.

But the hardware wasn’t.

Both trebles and their associated split rings had been pulled off the lure.

 


Looking ahead for the Housatonic

The last couple weeks have seen adult sized bluefish and stripers begin to invade the mouth of the Connecticut River for their annual early fall feeding binge. The action seems to have started a bit earlier than normal.

I enjoy the action there, especially because it always seems that for whatever reason, the CTR fish seem particularly tuned in to feeding on top. But the Housatonic is a lot closer for me. Plus, most years we get a run of false albacore into the mouth of the river some time in early October. So naturally, I’m kind of anxious for the quality fish to move into the Housy.

Toward that end, I decided to spend a few hours on Friday checking out the Housy. Sure, I did some fishing, but mostly I was riding and looking. Looking at the water for signs of baitfish breaking or dimpling the surface. Saw lots of bunker and peanut bunker, but most of them didn’t appear to be doing anything to try to avoid getting eaten.  Checking out the birds. Saw an inordinate number of heron and night heron along the shorelines in the upper half of the tidal stretch, which was surprising.  Below that, plenty of gulls and osprey, and the osprey were busy.

But there’s only so much you can tell looking at and above the surface. So mostly, I just cruised and watched the depth sounder screen, looking for bait. And for predators.

The big schools of adult bunker we had all the way up the river last year at this time don’t seem to be there this year. And the hickory shad don’t seem to have moved in from the Sound yet. But there are small pods of bunker and larger groups — including one immense school I ran across — of peanut bunker.

Marked what appeared to be decent stripers, too. Not a lot by any means, and they didn’t appear to be feeding, despite being in close proximity to prey.

But they will.

They will.

I did do some fishing while I was out. Never caught a fish north of 95, even though I saw plenty there. But I did find a couple groups of catchable schoolies, and a school of 4 to 7 pound bluefish that would hit on top. Had a debacle when one of those blues managed to get my line into the boat propeller. I was sitting on spot lock in heavy current, which had the propellor spinning, which wound about 30 feet of line around the prop. Had to cut the line and land the fish by hand so I could get it unhooked and clear the line from the motor.


Mixed doubles

On Saturday, my son-in-law, Jim Jaffe joined me for a morning on the lower Connecticut River for a mixed topwater bag of blues and stripers.

We wasted most of the first hour, as I misjudged both the height and the speed of the tide and how quickly it and the strong north wind were pushing me down river, and tried to fish my way across a shallow sand bar that I’ve crossed a dozen times without incident in the past two weeks.

At this point, I think my son-in-law was wondering what he'd gotten himself into.

At this point, I think my son-in-law was wondering what he’d gotten himself into.

As I electric-motored across the flat while the wind and river pushed me downstream much faster and farther than I’d anticipated, I managed to get the boat stuck in water that was soon to be ankle deep. We were left with no choice but to wait for the tide to turn so we could continue. I didn’t know that rookie mistakes could still plague you at my age. At least it was a nice, smooth, sandy bottom and not jagged rocks.

It turned out to be worth the wait, as once the tide lifted us enough to move off the bar, we found the fish were chewing big time. Despite often very bumpy conditions from the stiff northeast wind bucking the incoming tide, we stuck with topwater, and enjoyed pretty consistent action for the next several hours.

While we didn’t land anything really huge, we had bass up to 38 inches and blues into the low teens, and never caught a short striper or a smaller bluefish. For most of the morning, there were only a couple boats fishing within sight of us.

Despite 60# test leaders, we had more than our share of bluefish bite-offs, and we had more than a few throw the hook or simply pull of for no apparent reason, too. But we still managed to boat a few, and Jim got his first taste of big blues on top.

Eventually the bite slowed as the sun got higher and the wind got stronger. Before too long, an unending parade of big-ass cabin cruisers, along with Donzis, Cigarettes and other assorted wakemakers reminded me why I don’t often fish the lower river on sunny, weekend days, and we called it a day and packed up before noon.