Tuesday, October 25, 2016

"Never Give Up!"

Bass pro Mike Iaconelli lives by those words, and I have to say my friend, Ron, epitomizes the same kind of devotion. Nearly every evening, and sometimes both morning and evening, finds him taking his kayak to a local body of water in search of all species of fish. What follows are the reports from his latest three trips:

Sunday, Oct. 23, 2016

He launched at Milldam about 3 p.m., with the water level dropping at the time. However, the winds soon shifted, and before he knew it, the water was on the rise again.

Ron proceeded to fish both Milldam and Snake Creeks, where he landed six bass, including a 1-2, 1-3, 1-4, 1-7, 1-14, and a dink. All of his strikes came in the main creek or river, especially on points. "Every time I ventured into feeder creeks," he said, "the bite stopped. I missed more than I caught; they were short-striking the topwater stuff."

Ron went on to report that most of the grass is gone from these two creeks. He also noted that it got a bit chilly at sunset, but still, all in all, was a good evening.

Monday, Oct. 24, 2016

Both Ron and his son, Alex, headed out this beautiful evening to Lake Tecumseh about 5 p.m. and fished until 7 o'clock. Alex scored first with a dink, followed by a 2-lb. 0.5-oz. bass. Ron soon responded with a dink and 1-13 bass of his own, along with a very small crappie.

While dangling a beetle spin on a bobber, in hopes of catching some more crappie, Ron's pole suddenly doubled over, then went slack as he grabbed for it. He never had a chance to see what it was but thinks it was a gar, because he had been seeing them lurking about for a spell. "Both Alex and I lost decent-sized pickerel that gobbled up our Whopper Ploppers," Ron also reported.  

As the duo headed to the ramp for recovery, Ron was trolling when, about dead center of the lake, with no grass, lily pads or structure around, drag started to pay out. "I assumed I was snagged," he said, "but I quickly learned, instead, that I had hooked a nice 2-0."  

"Always good to get out and fish, and it helps to catch a couple," concluded Ron.

Tuesday, Oct. 25, 2016

"Well, it was inevitable" is how Ron started tonight's email before subsequently explaining, "I fished Lovitt's this evening, and the bite was non-existent. The water was flowing out steadily, very clear water, minimal grass in the main creek, but no bass were interested in the offerings. Tried a variety of lures but just couldn't find a bite."

Ron went on to say he managed to catch three very, very small, non-taco white perch (see accompanying photo) on a small crankbait.

The large grass beds are still intact at the bay entrance both north and south, according to tonight's report, and Ron said he spoke with a guy in a canoe who said he had suffered a broken rod on a BIG bass while throwing a Ribbit over the grass earlier today. According to his telling, the bass was at least 8 lbs. He also mentioned that, yesterday, he had caught about 20 bass while working the grass beds and said the shad were active--none of which Ron saw this evening.

"Pretty chilly out there...hopefully, I can find a better bite tomorrow." He also assured me that he'll be armed with gloves and a hat.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

A Common Bond Between Halloween and Fishing

Let's face it: Halloween is all about superstitions, whether it be bats, black cats, ghosts, goblins, witches, or otherwise.

Incidentally, if you'd like to meet a witch on Halloween night, the commonly held belief is that all you have to do is put your clothes on inside out and walk backwards. Or maybe you want to ward off evil spirits. In that case, you should walk around your home three times backwards and counterclockwise before sunset on Halloween.

As outdoor editor Charles Johnson once wrote in The Anniston Star, in Anniston, AL, "Many people believe in some kind of superstitions... . However, anglers probably have more superstitions, myths or rituals for fish-catching, at least in the attempt to catch fish, than anyone else."

He went on to say that some of these superstitions may hold merit, citing specifically B.A.S.S. pro Gerald Swindle, who doesn't pump gas into his truck or boat on the morning of a tournament. "He feels this task can be bad luck over the course of the day's fishing," explained Johnson. "The reasoning is that any lingering odors will be transferred to the lures, and the smell will be repulsive to the fish, causing them not to bite. The same can be said when using sunscreen. Always wash your hands before handling any lures or bait."

Another commonly held superstition among tournament bass anglers is that it's bad luck to catch a fish on the first cast of the day. As a result, some will make a short cast or cast in an opposite direction to avoid catching anything on the first cast.

Some anglers believe it's bad luck to fill your livewell with water before you catch a fish. Others carry good-luck charms or objects with them during tournaments. Pro angler Keith Poche, for example, carries a Buckeye (see photo above) in his pocket--one that a friend gave him. "It gives me some confidence, but I know God is the one in charge," said Poche.

As Johnson continued, "A lot of fishing superstitions involve some type of clothing. A lucky hat, shirt, or even underwear are worn specifically on fishing days, in hopes many fish will be caught."

I read about one angler who had worn the same ballcap for so long--never washed, mind you--that he had to wrap it with duct tape just to keep it from falling apart at the seams. As for me, I wear a ballcap for one season, then toss it in the trash.

"Another superstition," wrote Johnson, "that probably originated with commercial fishermen years ago and has carried over even to today's bass tournament is not having bananas onboard the boat. The origin of this old superstition goes back to when the faster cargo ships carried bananas from the tropic regions to ports in the United States before the bananas could spoil. Since the banana boats were so fast, the sailors trolling for fish never caught anything.

"Swindle is adamant about not having any bananas in his boat. There is a rumor he once threatened to eject an outdoor writer for bringing a banana aboard in a sack lunch... .

"One of my favorite fishing superstitions from when I was a lad," noted Johnson, "was when driving to the lake, if cows in the pastures were lying down, the fish would not bite. If the cows were standing and grazing, it would be a good fishing day. I always wanted to fish the same side of the lake where the cows were standing."

Probably the most common superstition about fishing involves the weather--more precisely, wind direction. Who, among us, hasn't heard the saying: "Wind from the east, fish bite the least; wind from the west, fish bite the best"?

"While this little rhyme may sound like an old tale or myth about fish-catching," said Johnson, "there could be some truth in it. After a cold front passes through, the wind usually blows from the north. High barometric pressure settles in, the sky clears, and the temperature drops. This sudden weather change causes the fish to move deeper and hold tight to cover--conditions that are not favorable for the angler. However, during most major bass tournaments, fish are caught in every weather condition and wind direction. So one has to wonder:  Is the superstition for real, or is it just an excuse thought up by old fishermen years ago to cover up their bad day on the water?"

I personally have only one standing "rule," or I suppose it could be called a "superstition," and that is: I never quit a day's fishing after just having had any kind of backlash. I will fish on until I have completed at least a couple of clean casts without any problem whatsoever. Otherwise, I feel that I will be plagued with nothing but one backlash after another my entire next trip. A sense of "doom" also settles around me if I lose the first fish I get hooked up with on any given trip. When that happens, I notoriously have to fish for hours before getting another strike.

Fishermen, as a species, are a superstitious lot. Traditions and folklore are passed down between generations on the banks of rivers and lakes, while a fire gently crackles and Coleman lanterns hiss their lives away. Over gentle conversations between grandparents and grandkids, the lore of decades is imparted in the minds of eager young kids. Some becomes vital in later years in the pursuit of fish, while some are the even more vital scripts of superstition.

We all see superstitions for what they are: beliefs based on irrational assumptions. Within a sport or hobby, though, these superstitions help to link generations that have few, if any, other connections.

For many families, it is the superstitions that are the best remembered and the last forgotten. In any family that fishes, the superstitions of fishing often play a central role in the connection of family members, even if the lore is not readily remembered.

Dad's favorite fishing hat, ratty as it may be, brings about nostalgia for the carefree days of a youth spent at the family cabin. It may not be remembered immediately that the reason the hat was favored was because Dad was wearing it the day he caught the biggest bass of his lifetime and has considered it lucky forever after. In that way, superstitions also play a role in capturing a moment, preserving it forever, without the need for camera or words.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Wild, Windy Morning Makes for a Dismal Bite

True to his word, Ron headed to Oakum this morning with a buddy. Once there, he found the wind protection he sought, but the bite wasn't anything to brag about. A 1-5 bass on the Whopper Plopper was his sole reward for a mile of effort, to use his words.

Between Oakum and North Landing proper, he boated a couple of small crappie. He also nearly got swamped in Oakum by a guy racing through there in a boat. Said Ron, "He was going way too fast and didn't even slow down when he saw us."

Not willing to quit just yet, Ron and his buddy decided to cross the North Landing and fish Milldam for a while. The white caps made for a "wet" crossing, but forturnately, there were no boats to impede their progress.

Once in Milldam, Ron caught a few dinks, plus a small yellow perch and another small crappie on a beetlespin. He also lost what he described as "maybe a 2-lb. bass." Meanwhile, his buddy scored a 27-inch, 5-lb. 14-oz. bowfin.

Then it was time to battle the wind and waves back to Munden Point and put the lid on a long, mostly unrewarding morning. As Ron noted, there wasn't a single trailer in the Munden Point parking lot. And I didn't find any at West Neck today, either, when I ventured out to replace the updated plaques in the marina store.

In conclusion, Ron noted that the water is flowing out rapidly. "Maybe that will make Sunday better," he said.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Fish Are Bitin' at Lake Tecumseh

For the benefit of any doubters, consider this: Ron boated a total of nine bass this afternoon, from 4:30 to 7 p.m. His catch included five dink bass (all near a pound), plus a 1-5, two 1-7s, and a 2-10 (pictured right). He also tallied a really nice 13.75-inch crappie (pictured below) and missed several other fish.

I'll give you three guesses what bait he was using, and the first two guesses don't count--that's right, his productive lure was none other than the Whopper Plopper.

Ron's bite shut down at sunset, but in his own words, "It was pretty steady beforehand." He expects the weather to be a challenge tomorrow morning but still plans to press his luck. "Maybe I'll hit Oakum Creek to stay out of the wind," he said.

Feeling Lucky Lately...

That's how Ron ended his emailed fishing report Thursday evening. He admitted having low expectations when he headed to West Neck Marina, given the high water still in place there. However, he was singing a different tune by the time his hour-and-a-half fishing trip came to an end at dark.

Once on the water, Ron peddled his kayak northward, under the bridge, and worked a couple of feeder creeks on the western side. The bites that subsequently materialized all came at the entrances to the feeders. "The bite diminished the further I ventured into these areas," he allowed.

It wasn't long at all before Wham! a nice 4-lb 14-oz citation bass (as pictured above), measuring 22 inches, slammed Ron's Whopper Plopper. Before the evening was over, he had added two dinks and a 1-13 to his totals.

"Maybe it was the wind," he said, adding, "regardless, I'm feeling lucky lately."

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Healthy, Chubby Bass Just Can't Get Enough of the Whopper Plopper

All I can say is, WOW!!! when I keep reading about Ron and his son's fishin' exploits with Larry Dahlberg's Whopper Plopper. I give them a lot of credit for seemingly having the right touch, while I continue to flounder with the same bait every time I throw it.

And, it's not just me, either. I watched my partner, Rob, experience my kind of luck with it during our weekend tournament. For lack of a better way of putting it, "He simply couldn't buy a strike with the bait." He probably would have had better luck using a tin can with a baited hook dangling from it--and that's no exaggeration.

However, I digress.

Getting back to Ron and his son--they went to a base lake again last evening and did OK (and that's putting it mildly) for themselves. Alex caught the nice 3-1 pictured above on a Craw, then hit a slump.

Ron, on the other hand, hit a couple of dinks, supported by a 2-3, 2-5, 2-7, and 2-8 (pictured here)--all on the Whopper Plopper, and all before a chill set in just as it was getting dark. "I also lost a big bass--I'm guessing in the 5-lb. range--as sometimes happens," he said  "I also had two large gar make an attack, but luckily, they didn't get hooked up and chew up my bait." All of Ron's bass were in the 16-to-17-inch range, and they were all healthy and chubby.

"A great time of year to be on the river, if only the level would drop and open up some more opportunities," he noted, adding, "it's tough getting out after work this time of year, but six fish in just over an hour is something I'll take any day."

Monday, October 17, 2016

Still Singin' the Praises of the Whopper Plopper

I'm talking about my friend, Ron, who sent me a report by email earlier tonight. He had been to a lake on base and found some decent catches, including three dinks, a 2-3, 2-10, and the 2-14 in the picture at right. Everything came on the Whopper Plopper.

"Nothing over 17.5 inches," he said, "but they were fat and healthy. It was nice to have some weight on the end of the line for a change. Even managed a 10-inch white perch on the same bait."

Ron went on to say that, just after sunset, he caught two nice crappie (as seen at left) on back-to-back casts. One measured 13 inches; the other measured 13.5 inches. "They both were exceptionally fat and will make some great tacos," he noted, adding that they, too, fell for the Whopper Plopper.

A friend, who was out with Ron, had a bizarre hook-up: double bass at 17 and 21 inches on the same lure--a Whopper Plopper, of course (see photo at right). Ron theorized that, since his 17-incher weighed 2-10, he figured his friend had at least 8 lbs. of bass on that lure.

"He didn't have a scale," said Ron, "and I was too far away to be of any help. His hollering, though, was indicative of a great catch."