Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Leave the Creel, Take the Cannoli

In my last trip - a scouting trip -  to Highway Ponds WMA Haunted Bridge WMA, I saw beaucoup big, dumb fish.  I went back this week with my UL fishing tackle and my creel. I planned to catch a few bass and then fill the creel with delicious panfish, that I already was planning to fry. Oh, such plans....

Of course, this was a stupid idea.  It had stormed all day (look at that spooky sky in the picture!), and a tornado touched down the day before, literally down the street. 

Hispanic fishermen have been seen at the WMA seine-netting for spawning largemouth bass (totally illegal and probably not worth the effort), and on top of that, the vegetation has doubled in area over the last 10 days, and the algae bloom has started.

I haven't even started talking about the fishing yet!  I got out to the "rear ponds" and was let down and simultaneously excited that three teenagers (including a girl!) were all fly casting at the exact spot I planned to fish.  They were catching fish - though not many, and small.  Regardless of whatever activities they are into most of the time, I was pretty excited to see them out fishing on a sunny April afternoon, when everything in popular culture tells them to be doing something else. 

Since I wanted to catch fish worthy of prepping and eating, I did not throw tiny lures out, instead focusing on topwater lures with some umph to them.  I got very few strikes and eventually found a tight spot to cast into, between some water lilies, where I hooked into a 14" largemouth.  In my excitement to bring it to shore, I somehow let it get out of the water, still on the hook, where it bounced the hook and escaped before I could take a picture.  HUGE bummer. 

I ended up spending a lot of time cleaning water lily parts and algae off of my lures, and the bite just wasn't happening.  A few fish were feeding on topwater.  I started to see fish beds and realized.....the fish are on their nests now. The spawn.  I honestly think that this spot may be done for fish production for awhile.  The illegal seine netting is impacting the habitat and obviously the population of lunkers, and the vegetation and algae are just overpowering the water surface.  I will return to the WMA's wooded pond after the spawn, and if it's not productive, I probably won't come back until October.

You know, there's a reason why I usually leave the creel in the truck.  I'll leave it in the truck again next time I go fishing. Or even better, not go fishing during the spawn, after a tornado.


Map Monkey said...

Great photo of the ominous sky!

Anonymous said...

Sometimes fishing is all about "timing" it right. Doesn't sound like the timing was right, and, a wise choice made to wait for another time to chase those bruiser Bass.

Kirk Mantay said...

You're right.

Sometimes it's just not happening. As I get older, I tend to force it less and hope that the conditions (barometer, spawn, water clarity, poaching, whatever) adjust themselves and that I'm there for it. It's a big reason that I don't fish much at all in July and August.

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