Sunday, August 28, 2016

Still Whoopin' Up on 'Em With the Whopper Plopper

That was the gist of the news from my friend, Ron, as he described the results of his fishing trips yesterday and this morning. However, yesterday's success for both Alex and him, like what we Dewey Mullins Memorial Bass Tourney anglers experienced, was very limited.

In Ron's words, "It was a beautiful morning that quickly became a bit too hot, but the bite wasn't. Alex scored the nice 2-lb. 5-oz bass pictured here with the Whopper." He also missed a few.

Meanwhile, Ron had a massive blow up but miss early on, also with the Whopper. Three hours later, he only had managed a 1 -5 on the same bait, along with the 3-13 bowfin, as seen in the picture at right. He caught it on a 10-inch worm. "That bowfin really made my day," said Ron.

This morning about 6 a.m. then, Ron launched his kayak at the end of Old Pungo Ferry Road and headed southward to the oxbow and Spitzle Creek where he lost a big bass (as always) and two dinks before a slow spell. "The action, as well as the wind, picked up about 8:30," said Ron. He subsequently caught a 1-0, 1-1, 1-4, 1-10, and a 1-11 bass, plus a favorite 2-14 bowfin. Everything went for the Whopper, even though he tried several other lures.   

Ron described today's bite as "much better," compared to what he encountered yesterday. He also told me he ran across a couple of our tournament competitors Saturday in Milldam. He recognized them from their picture in my tournament post. "They told me they were only finding small ones at the time," he said.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

How Many Ways Can I Say, "It Was a Tough Fishing Day"?

But the important thing to take note of here is that, for the very first time ever in its recorded history, we had a "grand marshal" leading our 32 anglers in 18 boats out the starting blocks for today's Dewey Mullins Memorial Bass Tourney. And a fine grand marshal Skip Schaible (on front of boat at right) doth make, wouldn't you say? I can't attest to its authenticity, but I also heard a rumor being circulated that part of the reason for Skip's umbrella today was that he was testing an all new formula of skin moisturizer for Olay--or more precisely, Oil of Olay, as Skip reminded me.

All kidding aside, we had no grand marshal, and Skip only used the umbrella to get a little relief from the incessant sun that beat down on us all day long. Truth be known, I might even have envied his ingenuity to a certain degree. However, I have no intentions of running out and getting one of my own. I'll just "borrow" Skip's when he isn't looking--again, I'm only kidding. That's not the way I treat any of my friends.

Getting down to the heart of the matter, here are those individuals and teams who "earned" (and I can't stress that word sufficiently) their way to a pay envelope in today's competition:

Claiming 1st Place was this team of (from left) Jared Allbritten and Chris Napier. Their limit of five bass weighed a total of 10.17 lbs. They had no big fish.

Walking away with 2nd Place was this team of (from left) Rob Peppers and Dave Anderson. Their limit of five bass weighed a total of 9.13 lbs., buoyed by a big fish that tipped the scales at 3.16 lbs.

Taking 3rd Place was the team of Paul Celentano and Hal Scott (not pictured). Their limit of five bass weighed 8.47 lbs., anchored by a big fish that tipped the scales at 2.55 lbs.

Finishing in 4th Place was this team of (from left) Eddie Sapp and Al Napier. Their limit of five bass weighed 7.57 lbs. They had no big fish.

Coming home in 5th Place was the team of Duane Kessel and Bobby Moore (not pictured). Their four bass weighed a total of 7.47 lbs., with a big fish that tipped the scales at 2.61 lbs. Incidentally, I erroneously reported in an Aug. 22nd blog post that Duane recently had caught a 7-lb. bass. As I learned today, however, the 22-inch citation-size bass actually only weighed 6-2, which still is a nice catch.

Capturing today's Lunker Award was Gary Coderre, who weighed a 3.32-lb. bass. Gary also is the current leader in the 2016 Angler of the Year competition. He and his partner, Nathan Gottsch, finished the day with a three-bass total weight of 5.80 lbs.

Rounding out today's winners was this team of (from left) Wayne Hayes and Sean Vitovich, who claimed the Mystery Weight Award with five bass weighing a total of 7.32 lbs. They had no big fish. Their total weight was closest to the drawn weight of 7.80, discounting the weight of the 4th-place team. FYI: Our rules state that a place winner cannot also be the mystery-weight winner.

Here is how all the other contestants finished the day:

     * The team of Mitch Portervint and Skip Schaible, five bass, 6.50 lbs. total weight, no big fish.
     * The team of Randy Conkle and Bob Glass, five bass, 5.87 lbs. total weight after 0.25 deduction for one dead fish, no big fish.
     * Jim Bauer, three bass, 5.49 lbs. total weight, no big fish.
     * David Dozier, four bass, 5.28 lbs. total weight, no big fish.
     * The team of Jonathan Glasscock and JD Glasscock, two bass, 4.22 lbs. total weight, 3.07-lb. big fish.
     * The team of Jim Sumrell and Cathy Brandt, three bass, 4.21 lbs. total weight after 0.25 deduction for one dead fish, no big fish.
     * Ronnie McLaughlin, two bass, 3.27 lbs. total weight, no big fish.
     * The team of Darryl Dunn and Jim Wilder, one bass, 1.57 lbs. total weight, no big fish.
     * The team of Rob Chatham and Ken Testorff, one bass, 1.39 lbs. total weight, no big fish.
     * Steve Bailey and the team of Mike Miller and Chris Fretard did not weigh any fish.

Overall, today's anglers weighed a total of 58 bass for a total weight of 93.73 lbs. The average weight was 1.61 lbs.

Four more anglers became eligible to fish our season-ending two-day Classic.

Congratulations to all of today's winners, and thanks to everyone who came out to participate. For planning purposes, our next scheduled event is Saturday, Sept. 10th, from safe light (about 6:15 or 6:20) to weigh-in at 2:30 p.m. I hope you can join us.

It was refreshing to see so many anglers turn out for today's contest. I have to believe that, somewhere, ol' Dewey was smiling down on us. He always got excited anytime we had such a big participation.

A quick check of my records back to 2013 revealed that, while we, on occasion, have had a few more boats participating in our tourneys, I could not find a single instance when we had 32 anglers on hand. I applaud everyone who helped us achieve this new benchmark. Good on ya!

Having heard outboards running hither and yon throughout the tourney's eight hours, I suspected a lot of folks were experiencing much the same kind of day my partner and I were having. Accordingly, I wasn't surprised at the final numbers we put up. The hope of all, of course, is that, as the temperatures start cooling, we will see an improved bite. It's just not that much fun to step outside in the wee hours and immediately get smacked with humidity like what we had this morning--so thick you nearly could slice it with a knife. Nevertheless, we persevere.

Friday, August 26, 2016

They Do Things Differently Down in Northeast Texas...

You don't have to take my word for it. Just check out this video I found in Jay Kumar's latest BassBlaster.

Let me say that I've had my share of no-frills wannabe bassin' boats over the years but nothing that I remember approaching the level of the one in this video. Check it out for yourself. Just click on this link:

Thursday, August 25, 2016

To Each His/Her Own When It Comes to a "Favorite" Fish

Like fishermen everywhere, Ron is susceptible to forgetting something every once in a while when he's packing for a fishing trip. Such was the case this evening, when he forgot the peddle drive for his kayak.

As a result, his planned trip south to Spitzle Creek became a paddling trip over to Albright's, where he spent two hours before finding any action. He first caught a dink on the Whopper Plopper.

About a half-hour later, he landed a "nice 4-lb. bowfin (see right)," to borrow his words. "That fish took five distinct swipes at the Plopper," said Ron. "I just kept reeling steady and slow, and he finally nailed it."

"Yep, I learned a long time ago that, when I get multiple strikes with no hookup, I’m likely dealing with one of those toothy critters," I responded. "Unlike you, though," I continued, "I get my mess back to the boat as fast as possible and make another cast. If I never was to catch another bowfin, I’d be perfectly content."

Ron quickly came back to me, saying, "Bowfin are my favorite. If that was all I caught, I would be happy. Bigger, nastier, the better!"

Before ending his series of e-mails, Ron noted that the southwestern corner was loaded with gar playing around on the surface. "I avoid them because I don't want to risk a Whopper and the $$$ I spend for each one on a gar. I always see them in that area," he concluded.

My final note to Ron explained Dewey Mullins' method for dealing with gar. He always told me I should break out a crankbait anytime I saw them working an area. "Choose a crankbait that'll get down under 'em, because that's where the bass will be hanging out." I spent many a time trying to prove that method to be true but quite frankly never was able to do so. The problem, however, likely was with me, not with what Dewey had told me. He certainly was right about so many other things over the years.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

A Golden Oldie Shines Yet Again

The "golden oldie" in this case happens to be a gold-colored Johnson Silver Minnow, which Ron took to northern Back Bay for two-and-a-half hours this morning before heading to work.

He decided on a morning, rather than evening, trip today because of the strong northerly winds. It was calm when he launched at 6:30, but by 9 o'clock, when he quit, the Bay was rough and windy.

"I was targeting white perch with ultralight and a gold-colored Johnson Silver Minnow when I started," said Ron. "After six bass, including a 1-2, two 1-3s, a 2-4 (pictured here), and two dinks, I was getting disappointed." He finally, however, caught a yellow perch and had several followers, but only managed two white perch.

Ron also noted that he had something slam and snap off his Gold Minnow (could have been a bowfin or gar--he's not sure). His strangest catch of the day, though, was the needlefish pictured here. It fell for the Silver Minnow, which was all he had left after losing the Gold Minnow.

"Boating the 2-4 bass was tough, considering all the grass and ultralight set up," conceded Ron. "Only one of the dinks was caught on the Whopper Plopper; everything else fell to the Gold Minnow."

Monday, August 22, 2016

If Not for the Dinks, Today Would Have Been a Bust

Since I had found my fish on wood during my trip to the river last week, I knew I'd be starting today the same way. There was just one problem: Someone apparently forgot to tell the fish that Skip and I were coming.

We went to the back of Albright's first thing, where the water level was dropping steadily behind those northerly winds. We each just had gotten two fish when we met up and exchanged a few pleasantries before continuing our pursuit. I had decided to shift my focus to the front end of the creek but initially found the going there every bit as tough as what I had found in the back.

Eventually, though, I hit a stretch of 100 yards or so, where the fish were in a more cooperative mood and quickly put four more dinks in the boat. After that, the best I could do was elicit some blowups on my topwater baits, but none of the strikers were getting enough of the lure to bury a hook in 'em. That pattern continued for the rest of my day.

Skip already was in the parking lot when I got back there about 2:45, and I soon found out that the two he had when I talked to him this morning were the extent of his day. One of those came on a Whopper Plopper, and the other fish fell for a KVD soft plastic in white.

As best I can remember, four of my fish went for a wakebait. I caught the other two on my INT 1 bait. Meanwhile, most of the blowups this afternoon were coming on my INT 2 bait. It could be I was working this bait a bit too fast. That sort of thing is a recurring problem with me. I have every confidence, though, I'll eventually find my stride with this second secret bait and will start putting some fish in the boat with it.

The talk around the marina today was about the 7-lb. bass that Duane Kessel caught in West Neck sometime in the last few days. I know he had to be one happy angler with a catch like that. I'm certain I speak for the majority, Duane, when I say, "Congrats!"

Just received an email from Ron, with the following report on his evening trip: Launched Horn Point about 1730. Fought northerly wind and waves to get to Hells Point Creek. Tried the western extension up past Indian Cove Campground to Sandbridge Road, where the water was very murky.

Backtracked and turned to the eastern extension, where the water cleared up, as well as the bite. Caught three dinks, a 2-9 (pictured here), and a white perch, all on a Whopper Plopper, toward sunset. Tried throwing Johnson Silver Minnow, to no avail.

Unlike my results in other Back Bay Creeks, the bass got bigger the further I went in, where the grass became more abundant.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

What's Better Than Having a Secret Bait?

I think we probably all know the logical answer to that question is having two of 'em. I mean, after all, what red-white-and-blue-blooded American angler wouldn't rather have a solid one-two punch, especially when the going gets really tough?

With that thought in mind, I've spent time the last few days researching an idea online and developing some working models. I'm now ready to begin the field-testing phase for what, if I'm successful, likely will come to be known as INT Bait No. 2--at least, for the time being.

"So whatz da matta? Gittin' noivous yer INT Bait No. 1 is gonna fail ya?" some of you very well may be asking. That's not the case at all. I'd just rather, as depicted in the old Wrigley's doublemint gum commercial, "double my pleasure, double my fun."

Let's face it, nothing can compare to topwater bassin'--not in my books, anyway. Whether they blow up on the bait when it hits the water, or just suck it down, nothing gets my adrenaline to pumping faster or harder than a topwater strike. And if I maybe can find a way to get twice as many of those strikes, so much the better. Right?

I'm not the only one who feels that way, either. Years ago, Outdoor editor of the Kansas City Star, Ray Heady, claimed there's nothing like catching bass with a topwater lure. "When bass come roaring up out of the depths of water with their big mouths wide open, and you see the fish exploding through the center spray, it gets your adrenaline going like nothing else in fishing," he wrote.

"The excitement of using topwater lures are just that," Heady continued. "They stay on top of the water, and fish come up from underneath and do their best to give the angler a heart attack. Fish hitting a topwater lure are doing more than picking up dinner; they are trying to kill that frog, bug, rodent, or baitfish struggling on top."

Well-known pro bass angler, Hank Parker, echoed similar sentiments. He once said, "I don't think I have ever met a bass fisherman who didn't get excited when talking about topwater fishing. There is no greater thrill in angling than a bass exploding on your surface lure."

And if you're looking for a way to interest a kid in bass fishing, topwater lures are an excellent choice. Once they see a bass explode on their lure, they are hooked...often for life.

As noted earlier, I'm looking for something to complete a one-two punch--an idea that ol' Tennessee Ernie Ford expressed in his classic tune "16 Tons." A line from that song goes, "If the right one don't get you, then the left one will." That's what I want to have in my hip pocket.

Maybe I'll find it, maybe I won't. "You never know 'till you try," though, or so the saying goes.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Could It Have Been a Coincidence?

That's a question Ron is asking as a result of what happened during his morning sojourn to Back Bay. He ended up landing 17 bass and one white perch. There's nothing particularly noteworthy about that fact until you consider that he logged exactly the same numbers on another trip to Back Bay just a week ago.

On that earlier occasion, he caught everything on Senkos. This morning's successful lure, on the other hand, was a Whopper Plopper. He also was in a different creek last time, but the differences end there.

Ron acknowledged that, while most of the fish this morning were small, he did manage to boat a 1-0, 1-7, 1-9, and 1-11 (pictured above right). The lone white perch, in his own words, was "an aggressive little fella," considering his small size.

And what fishing trip this time of year would be complete without at least one or two sightings of those venomous creatures that slither across the water's surface? Such was Ron's luck, starting with a welcoming critter at the mouth of the creek he fished, along with several more further along the way. You don't have to look very hard to see the creature in the lower lefthand corner of this photo, which also shows one of Ron's kayaking friends, who caught 14 bass this morning on--you guessed it--a Whopper Plopper.

Incidentally, for anyone interested, I was in Ocean's East today and noticed that they have a few more of the smaller versions of this hot bait hanging on the pegs. If you want any, my suggestion is not to hesitate, 'cause all the retailers seem to be singing the same tune: "They fly out the door as fast as we receive a new order."

And last but not least, speaking of those cottonmouths that seem to be appearing in abundance now, I include a comment Ron made in his morning email: "There's nothing like untangling a line fouled around hooks or a fish, while worrying about what lurks in the nearby grass you keep drifting ever closer to." I'm sure I don't need to tell you to be extra vigilant.