Monday, May 21, 2012

Swinging for the Fences

On Thursday May 16, I loaded up my Ride 135 and headed off to a small neighborhood lake.  The day prior I was shore fishing and had lots of luck with a spro frog, and Thursday would be no different.  I launched the kayak and began fishing mats right next to the launch.  First cast I hook up, nothing big, but starting the day with a 14in bass would set the tone right!
I worked the entire bank fishing every mat I came across with my frog.  Almost every spot I pulled up to I pulled off a half dozen 12-15in bass, and although they were nothing huge, I had fun with the topwater bite.  There are very few places where I can fish for three hours and have over a hundred fish blow up on a frog!  I then had a fish "slurp" my frog.  I reeled down and swung for the fences.  It was on, I had a giant fish, for this lake, on the end of my line.  She jumped twice and my heart was racing.  A little less than a year ago I landed my PB which was over 8lbs; today I found myself with a new PB on the end of my line.  I managed to keep her down for the rest of the fight and got her yakside and was trying to be fancy and get fishgrips into her mouth (I should've just grabbed a fistful of fish) when she decided to make another run.  Deep into the weeds she went and got a split second of slack line; that was it.  I lost my new PB.  My best guesses put the fish between 23-25in and FAT!
After getting tired standing in the yak frogging, I decided to switch techniques.  I started throwing pieces of senko from 2-4in that I had used the week before smallmouth fishing on the new.  Although they were not full length, the fish did not care one bit.  I had four leftover senko pieces and managed to pull out 15-20 bass on a wacky rig.  It was a great way to use the torn senkos (They cost too much to not get every penny out of them!)
After running out of senkos I switched back to my frog and continued to have amazing luck.  Cast after cast was producing fish; I missed a lot of fish while attempting to set the hook, but that's how topwater goes.  Towards the end of the day I had something sneakily take my frog; there was no blowup or "slurp."  Instead, my frog just disappeared.  I reeled down and felt something entirely different than anything I had caught.  It seemed to squirm around more than fight.  I got it yakside and was surprised to see a 30in eel slithering around with a spro frog dangling from its toothed mouth!
I had a great time and managed to catch well over 100bass 10-15in, a slab crappie, and an ugly eel.  I can't wait to get back out there and chase my PB that got away.  All frogging was done with a St. Croix MH Mojo and Abu Garcia Revo S with 30lb braid.  The wack rigging was done on a St. Croix M Triumph and Shimano Sedona with 20lb braid and 8lb Flurocarbon leader.

Ready to Launch


Perfect Hookset!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

A Couple Firsts

Well on Friday afternoon, I had finished two out of my three exams, and turned in my final English paper.  My plans for the weekend prior had been cancelled due to high river levels and unsafe conditions, and the forecast for my trip Saturday was not looking any better.  Lilly and I decided early on in the week that we would fish the Whitethorne area of the New River on Saturday afternoon no matter what the weather was like.

Well all morning long showers and storms were keeping us off of the water, but we were determined to get out and hook into some fish.  We had heard rumors of fish on beds, but with the rain, it made sight casting nearly impossible.  After thirty minutes, without so much as a nibble, I decided to switch tactics and go big or go home.  I switched over to my Alabama Rig to try and get lucky with another musky, but I couldn't even manage to get a follow by one.

With Lilly getting bored without any fish sighted, we decided to call it a day.  I was fortunate enough that when we returned to the house she still had enough energy to make some delicious peanut butter cookies with chocolate chips.  They were absolutely delicious!  Before I left her house, I confirmed my Sunday trip with a buddy of mine, Evan, and decided to leave the kayak out and ready to go.

I discussed options of where to fish with Evan, and after debating between Whitethorne, Belspring, and Big Falls, we decided to head to the furthest place, Big Falls.  Big Falls is an area loaded with swimmers, sunbathers, and whitewater kayakers playing in the rapids, and today would be no different.  When we pulled up, around one, there were cars lining the banks and people all up and down the bank.  We got lucky with a parking spot close to one of the beaches; we quickly unloaded the kayaks and hit the water.

On one of the first casts Evan got a nice hit, but failed to get a hookset on it.  I wasn't having any luck in the tailwaters we were fishing so I told Evan I was going to try and paddle up as far as I could to the rapid and see if I can't find any fish hiding in the eddies; he decided he would do the same.  As we were paddling up I heard a snap, I looked over and saw Evan checking on his kayak paddle.  Not thinking anything of it I kept going.  I then saw him with only half of his paddle, using it like a canoe paddle, trying to get up the rapid; his other paddle hit a rock and the connecting piece between the blade and handle were busted.

We both realized that going upstream any further wasn't going to happen so we began to drift our way back downstream fishing the side opposite of all the swimmers/sunbathers.  We were floating a lily pad line when I had my first glimpse of a smallie.  I was throwing a white/silver spinnerbait about a foot into the pads and pulling it out.  When I was about halfway down the stretch of lily pads I had a feisty smallmouth chase down my spinnerbait, but  I got excited and set the hook too early.

We continued floating downstream and came upon a set of islands; we got down to the very last island, and I had to "relieve" myself.  While I was on the island taking a leak Evan saw two nice smallies cruising a ledge right next to us.

We both started throwing spinnerbaits in the general area, but couldn't entice anything to hit.  I then remembered reading a report by a fellow KBF member about his experience in Belspring the day prior.  He was having luck on a senko, so I turned to Evan told him my plans and he followed suit.  I had switched to a 5in senko and he had a 3in senko.  I personally have never thrown a true senko, but I had a few in my bag begging to be thrown.

The two of us were throwing in the same area and it didn't take long before I hooked up.  I was dead sticking the senko; I threw it out and let it sit, then I slowly raised the rod, then lowered it while reeling in the slack, and then repeated.  I was raising the rod and felt a bump.  I set the hook; FISH ON!

I seldom have smallmouth pull drag hard, but this one didn't want anything to do with me.  It was pumping hard and made several dashes for the current.  I managed to turn it away from the current and bring it into slackwater.  Nothing giant, but a decent smallmouth would be the start to our day.  I threw it up on my Hawg Trough and it measured 17-17.5in.  Evan and I both continued having hits, but couldn't seem to get into another one.  I got another good hit and set the hook.

This fish wasn't as big as the other one, but it had much more spunk.  Immediately after setting the hook it leaped from the water trying to shake the hook.  It went aerial a few more times before landing it.  I quickly placed on the board and snapped a quick picture, 14in.  We stayed a bit longer, but couldn't pull any more out despite having numerous hits.

We then switched tactics and started wading the falls.  I soon found a killer pattern for the red eye in there.  I was throwing a Tied Up Tackle spinnerbait across the current, reeling it into the current, letting the current take it down a little ways, then reeling it back slowly on the edge of the current.  Almost every cast I would have a hit, but most were 4-10in.  After catching our fair share we jumped into the river and floated/swam across the river to the truck before heading back to finish studying for finals.

It was the first fish I ever caught on a true Senko, and the first time I threw a Tied Up Tackle spinnerbait which will be added to the site very soon!  Overall it was a great and successful day with about 20-25fish landed between the two of us and a great sunburn to go along with it!