Monday, August 14, 2017
Monday, Aug. 14 (from Ron)...Weather didn't look very good, but I rolled the dice. Launched on Milldam from Blackwater Road at about 5 p.m. and caught two dink bass and three dink white perch before the sky darkened and the distant thunder drove me away. Still good to be out.
Tuesday, Aug. 15 (from Ron)...Launched at the drawbridge on upper North Landing to stay close to my car with a pending storm. Fished for about an hour and caught two stripers at 16 and 17 inches, respectively, along with a dink bass, a 2-0, and nothing else. The sky darkened, and I got out of there just before it got ugly. Stripers were hitting a crankbait, and the bass hit a Pop-R. (FYI: Ron nailed it with the term "ugly." Wayne and I were working on my boat at West Neck when "ugly" hit, including some loud thunder and a downpour that lasted at least 30 solid minutes.)
Sunday, August 13, 2017
Sound familiar? I'd venture to say we've probably all heard these excuses and/or maybe uttered a few of them ourselves at one time or another. The fact is that everyone, even experienced anglers, have occasions when they don't do very well.
As a tourney director, I distinctly remember a couple of those occasions this year--days when the usual "heavy hitters" didn't fare so well. Each time, though, I witnessed one or more other anglers who managed to find a bite that produced a nice bag of fish.
So, how do you make stubborn bass bite? It starts with making mental adjustments. You fight off a defeatist attitude. When you're not getting bitten in an area where you've caught fish recently, step back and try to figure out why the bites aren't happening. If you think the fish are pressured, look for a different area, but remember this: The fish don't usually move far, so resist the temptation to start running all over the place. And if the weather is an issue, simply slow down and fish more methodically.
Be thorough and slow down. Patience is a virtue when bass don't want to bite. A smart angler resists the urge to fish faster through potential areas in an effort to cover more water. Instead, he lets the bait soak longer in the same spot. In other words, make the most of each cast with multiple presentations from different angles. You want to cover every inch.
Whether you have to deadstick the bait, shake it, or maybe do a combination of the two, the onus is on you to entice the strikes. If you're fishing fast movers like spinnerbaits or crankbaits, use the bottom or cover to deflect the lures and create erratic movement that can trigger reactionary strikes.
Also don't hesitate to downsize your lures. Smaller lures are apt to produce more bites from lesser quality fish, but on tough days, smaller fish are better than no fish at all.
Wednesday, August 9, 2017
Thursday, Aug. 10 (from Ray)...Fished the lower and upper West Neck Creek today. Thought it would be a good day but only caught three bass (a 1.10 and two dinks), along with four bream. Had several more strikes on topwater but couldn't hook 'em. The lures that worked were the Whopper Plopper and KVD 1.0 crankbait. Water temperature was 76/78, and it was fairly clear and at a good level. The grass seems to be increasing at a high rate.
Looked like a big cell of nastiness to the west, so launched Munden Point and stayed close to launch till about 0900. The cell spilt north and south so headed across North Landing and into a creek south of Snake Creek. Very poor and intermittent bite.
Sunday, Aug. 13 (from Ron)...Caught several panfish, including three crappie to 11 inches, on the beetlespin, as well as a 9-inch yellow perch, but oddly no white perch. Tried everything in the arsenal. Water was high but flowing out, so shifted to plastics and grass-choked feeder creeks. Threw a SwimSenko into a feeder creek and had a violent attack. While reeling the fish, I thought it was a small bass or panfish until he got close to the yak, but it then took off and made my drag scream. My initial thought was a pesky gar, but it turned out to be a nice big ol' bowfin. Made my day at 24 inches and 5 lb 8 ozs. Managed a few dinks and what I think was a "sub dink" and called it a day.
Monday, August 7, 2017
I was fishing the West Neck Creek shoreline during our tourney two days ago when what should appear before me but a couple of boys in a johnboat running their jug-fishing lines. My immediate thought was that I just had happened upon a couple of young fellas who might be breaking the law.
No, sir. Uncle C. wanted Pop to take him jug fishing in the Neosho River. And he had come fully prepared for the occasion. His car was loaded with 5-gallon glass jugs. There was just one problem: At that time and to this day, too, I think, Kansas has a thing about jug fishing. In short, it's illegal--a fact I'm not sure Dad ever divulged to Mom, because he had to have known how she would react to that kind of news.
Nevertheless, Pop and Uncle C. readied the bottles and, at the agreed upon time, set out for a secluded stretch of the river. I had been all over Dad for a couple of days to take my brother and me along, and in due time, he had caved, so I was all set to get a lesson about a new kind of fishing (new to me, that is).
I can't begin to tell you how much I enjoyed seeing what happened to those floating bottles when a big catfish would grab the bait attached to one of them. It then was up to Dad and Uncle C. to go chase down their prize in Dad's rowboat. Suffice it to say the day was a total success...without, I might add, any visits from John Law.
From that day until this past Saturday, I hadn't seen any more jug fishing, so you can imagine my surprise when I came around a blind corner in West Neck Creek and saw all those floating jugs. That element of surprise, however, quickly was replaced by questions about the legality of what I was witnessing. For that reason, I contacted Chad Boyce, a fish biologist with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, and got answers to my questions.
It turns out that jug fishing is a legal means of taking catfish and other nongame fish in Virginia. According to Chad, "Each float is required to be marked with the owner's name and fishing-license number (I think). I believe each fisherman is allowed to use 20 noodles (another name for jug lines) at a time, and they must stay within sight of the floats while fishing them," he said.
Chad provided the following language from the official regulations:
I'm not advocating that anyone take up jug fishing. Rather, I'm just making everyone aware to be on the lookout for jugs now, as well as crab pots, on the North Landing and its tributaries. This is the first time in my 40 years of local bass fishing that I've ever seen anyone using this method. I suggest that it's anyone's guess how long it will last, or if it perhaps will catch on the way kayak fishing has in recent years. Bottom line: The waterways could have just gotten a little more crowded...for the long haul...or not.
Sunday, August 6, 2017
So is the five-way race for Angler of the Year in the 2017 Dewey Mullins Memorial Bass Tourney Series. Less than three points separate these competitors.
Here is how the race stacks up at the moment:
Leading the charge is Bobby Moore, who has weighed an accumulative total of 101.26 lbs. of bass to date.
The first runner-up is Rob Peppers, whose accumulative total to date is 100.86 lbs.
In the next runner-up position is the team of (from left) Bob Glass and Randy Conkle, both with an accumulative total of 100.75 lbs. to date.
And then comes Al Napier, who has accumulated a total of 99.36 lbs. to date.
Finally, we have Duane Kessel, who is Bobby Moore's partner most of the time. One instance when they didn't fish as a team accounts for why Duane's current accumulative total is 98.89 lbs.
A couple other competitors these fellas have to watch are Chris Fretard and Don Carter, with 81.04 lbs. and 79.57 lbs., respectively.
All of these anglers are veterans of the Dewey Mullins Memorial Bass Tourney Series and current Classic qualifiers. This year marks the first time since I introduced the Angler of the Year Award to the series that there has been this kind of competition, and I'm enjoying every minute of it. I wish all the competitors the best of luck.
Saturday, August 5, 2017
For the moment, though, everyone is just taking it one tournament at a time. A total of 19 anglers in 12 boats showed up for today's contest. Their combined efforts resulted in a total of 44 bass coming to the scales for a total weight of 84.2 lbs. and an average weight of 1.91 lbs. per fish.
Those standing in the winners' circle at day's end included the following:
In first place was the team of Duane Kessel (left) and Bobby Moore (not pictured), with a five-fish limit weighing 15.09 lbs. They had a couple of nice fish, including a 4.61 (caught by Duane) and a 4.75 (caught by Bobby), the latter of which took the day's lunker honors.
In second place was the team of (from left) Bob Glass and Randy Conkle, with a five-fish limit that tipped the scales at 14.45 lbs. Their big bass checked in at 3.8 lbs.
Finishing in third place was Chris Fretard, who had a five-fish limit weighing 9.57 lbs. (after a one-dead-fish penalty of 0.25). He didn't weigh a big fish.
Today's mystery-weight winner was Skip Schaible. He had three fish that weighed 3.69 lbs., which was closest to the 4.85-lb. tab that was drawn. He didn't have a big fish.
Here is how everyone else stood in the final tally:
* The team of Rob Peppers and Don Carter, five bass, 9.51 lbs. total weight, 4.02-lb. big bass.
* The team of Andy Morath and Diana Mendez, five bass, 7.60 lbs. total weight, 2.75-lb. big bass.
* The team of Gary Coderre and Lenny Hall, five bass, 7.42 lbs. total weight, 2.89-lb. big bass.
* The team of Wayne Hayes and Al Napier, five bass, 7.31 lbs. total weight, no big bass.
* Jim Wilder, four bass, 6.59 lbs. total weight (after a one-dead-fish penalty of 0.25), 2.59-lb. big bass.
* The team of Rusty Girard and Samantha Tawan, two bass, 2.97 lbs. total weight (after a two-fish penalty for weighing a short fish), no big bass.
* Steve Bailey and Ken Testorff did not weigh any fish.
Three more anglers joined the ranks of those qualified to fish our two-day season-ending Classic. These additions bring our current total to 14 competitors.
Congratulations to all of the winners, and thanks to everyone who came out to participate. For planning purposes, our next scheduled event is Saturday, Aug. 19, from safe light to approximately 2 p.m. I hope you can join us.
I talked briefly with the fella with the overheat alarm and advised him to remove the thermostats from his motor. I've done that with my last two Yamahas (which he also has) and never, to this point in time, have had a repeat event. I have to allow a little extra warm-up time during the colder months, but that's the only difference.
Of those anglers I talked to during weigh-in, the vast majority indicated their productive baits today were soft plastics. I threw some of those baits, too, along with a wide assortment of topwaters, a spinnerbait, some wakebaits, and a crankbait--all to no avail. The best I could do was to get about four blowups on different topwaters. So, for the fourth time since this past January, I had my butt handed to me in the form of a skunk. But, in a manner of speaking, I spread my wealth around: I wasted the first four hours in Milldam and finished up wasting the last four hours in West Neck. If nothing else, I believe in equal opportunity.