This is Brian, and I use to think he was nice guy, but after today I am not so sure. I love to see my friends do well and I don't even mind when you catch more fish than me, but all the big ones too? That breaks the cardinal rule.
This gill was my first fish today, and look at his color, beautiful! I bet there will be another spawn coming up on this next full moon. Normally I'd give the location, but Brian showed me this spot and there is limited access there, so this time I'm going to take a pass on local.
We took a few small fish at first and then I moved over to the only other spot where there was room to cast. I threw a Gander Sunfish stick bait and hooked a little bass on the edge of the grass. As I was trying to pull him over the grass, he got smashed by the larger fish, which then tangled me up in the weeds. I finally got the larger fish free and then realized the little fish was still there. That was pretty cool, I have had cobia and sharks come after my catch before and watched a bass go after a hooked gill, but I can't say that I have actually ever landed the double before.
So I was off to a good start, but then Brian got started, and it was exciting to see fish that healthy in here, so I ran over to take a pic. He was smiling and it was definitely exciting, so I went back to the other opening and took another cast. There is some nice fish in here I thought, and sure enough, Brian is yelling over to me that he is on again. "Is it nice," I asked? "Yea, he's decent," he said. I had to ask because I'm not the kind of friend that will come over for a small fish.
Ok, back to my little spot and I'll try again, but wait, what's this, you're on again? Brian was using a Bitter's 10 inch Ribbon tail in June Bug, he woke up late, he was casting through the same opening, to the same 10 foot circle and it was bull's eye. He was on again. I've seen tournaments won on the kind of bag Brian pulled out today, and he made it look so easy. Maybe Marines are tougher than us common folk.
All kidding aside, I got to see a side of my new friend today that impressed me. It wasn't the fishing, or how may nice fish he caught (I have to admit, that part was actually wearing on my ego a little bit). No, it was when the homeless guy showed up. He was dirty, smelly and his left side was covered in cuts and bruises. Brian treated him like a human being and tried to talk him into seeking medical attention, especially for his eye. The man said he got jumped, but it looked more like he was hit by a car, and parts of his story changed, but we all still share the same parents. I am very thankful for where I am at, and that I no longer carry some of the burdens this man was clearly dealing with; I pray his story doesn't end that way.
As for Brian, you not only caught the most fish, but you also caught the biggest fish. Even so, I just want you to know that I learned a lot, had a great time, and I forgive you.
Date Lunar Phase Best Fish Lures
5/15 New 5/18 5.97 Stick, StankX in June Gem
5/8 Full 5/4 5.18 Stick, Gander in sunfish laminate
5/6 Full 5/4 appr. 5.0 Pete Spinner, white Rooster tail
5/3 Full 5/4 6.65 Stick, Gander sunfish laminate
4/30 Full 5/4 5.3 Ribbon, Bitter's Candy bug
4/29 Full 5/4 Lost large Stick, Black With Blue flake
4/27 Full 5/4 Lost Large Stick, Bitter's Green pumpkin red flake
4/19 New 4/18 Quantity/ no >3.0 Sticks, cranks and spinners
4/5 Full 4/4 Lots of smalls sticks, Strike King in watermelon red
3/20 New 3/20 7.2, 4.64 & 3.94 Sticks StankX baits Bluegilla
3/5 Full 3/5 Lost 3 in spawning area Sticks StankX baits Bluegilla, Rebel and Yankee
2/27 Full 3/5 Several large prespawn Biospawn exostick and Bitter's green pumpkin red
2/21 New 2/18 Quantity Sticks and hard jerk baits
2/13 New 2/18 Quantity + appr. 4 Sticks StankX Rebel Gill
2/6 Full 2/3 Quantity Big Bite Baits Creature in June Bug and Prime Rib
1/30 Full 2/3 Large Strike King Shaky head in red bug
1/24 New 1/20 4.0 approx. Big Bite Baits Creature in Prime Rib
1/18 New 1/20 4.0 approx. Stick Northland slurpie sunfish
1/10 Full 1/5 several 2 to 3 Creature, Northland sunfish
12/24 New 12/22 5.0 approx Shaky, Zoom in Houdini
11/30 Full 12/6 5.0 approx Wacky northland stick, sunfish
10/20 New 10/23 4.5 approx Bitter's 10" ribbon in plum
10/17 New 10/23 Large Stick bait/ green pump red
10/6 Full 10/8 Large Berkley craw green orange/ top water
9/19 New 9/24 Large Culprit 7 inch ribbon in Gumbo/ top water
The girls decided to go fishing today, and just out of the blue. Of course they do it right before I have to leave to make a fishing appointment somewhere else. My wife says that's probably good because I'm too intense about it. Oh how that stings, but I guess that's why grand parents were always such great fishing instructors. The patience you have for the act of casting, retrieving and figuring out the fish isn't the same as pulling hooks out of clothes, out of trees and somehow grandparents come prepared to do just that. I went out to see how they were doing and tied a few knots to give Lily a hand, and watched her and Drew cast net. They wanted catfish and so of course my mind is racing down all those avenues of how I would approach it, but I just stayed quiet and watched.
They caught more stuff with the cast net and the dip net; one speckled little fish that reminded you of a Dalmatian mollie, which drew a lot of attention. Something about sight fishing and being able to capture what you see. I noticed one of the pots from my kitchen was filling up quite nicely, with a soup of minnows, killifish, and baby sunfish. Lily showed me an empty Apple snail shell and I did offer that those make great catfish bait if you find a live one and remove it from the shell. So then they looked for snails.
I love seeing them out doors, it's very satisfying to see your children partake of activities in the natural world, away from the video games and television. At the Roost, the other night, there were three boys fishing with their dad, and they were well taught and quite serious about their bass fishing. The middle boy, however, had his fishing rod on his back and was wearing a head lamp. He was going through the rocks and I knew exactly what he was looking for. He approached and asked if I had any luck and I told him 2 and lost one so far, how about you? "None,' he replied, 'but I'm looking for snakes, do you ever see any here?" I told him I see a lot of Banded water snakes here and the occasional big brown. He looked at me, trying to gage the reliability of my report, and then said, "Are you sure it was a brown, because a lot of people mistake Bandeds for those?" Fair enough, I thought, I have made some poor guesses at snake identification, but I think in the case of the snakes mentioned, most people mistake them for water moccasins. I saw him again later and he was quite happy so I asked him how he did. He said, "I got my 2; two banded water snakes." Cool kid, I should introduce him to my girls.
Lily had a visitor again before I left tonight, and it is fun to watch them. They will play something similar to tag and then he jumps on her and runs about her like a tree, while wrestling with her hand. Crazy squirrel, but she loves him.
I went on my fishing excursion tonight with Rich, Brian and Javan (I probably butchered his name, but he is a friend of Brian, but I just met him tonight). It was a good time, my best fish was 5.97 and that was on a StankX baits June Gem. The water is about 4 feet lower than it has been at other times I have fished here, and midway along the pads it got really murky. It is also night, obviously, and so I went with the June Gem. Travis's baits have provided me with a lot of entertainment this year and I gave my last one away tonight so I need to put in another order. These are my favorite soft plastics and I have no affiliation with Travis other than online and admiring his talent with producing these. So, when I say how much I like them, it's because they work for me, and so provide a lot of confidence when I fish. My absolute favorite right now is the .40 Cal in Rebel Gill and I love the Bluegilla. These are absolutely worth the money, and he has enough variety and color variation to handle any conditions.
The other lure I used tonight was a Strike King KVD Fat Baby in Red Bug. That took my first fish, but it was on light line so I didn't feel comfortable throwing it into the pads.
Rich took a fish on a Bitter's worm and missed one while trying to talk to his wife on the phone. I'm glad he didn't go home skunked because I hate being that guy, who invites you somewhere and then catches all the fish. I love to see other people do well, just as long as I catch the biggest one.
Good little outing though, and it's nice to have places this close to where you live.
Below is another bait that I have gotten a lot of hits on this week as well. It is a Yum creature in watermelon candy. I highly recommend it in pads and around the Blue Gill spawn.
My mom use to tell us that we should be thankful even in the hard times, gracious whether we win or lose. I had been struggling to catch the big girls for the last few weeks, and then last Monday I broke off on one. The following Wednesday, I hooked something that stayed down and was so heavy I thought it was a giant carp or a catfish. She finally came up to shake her head at me and it was the biggest bass I had ever seen on the end of my line. This was also the longest fight I have had with a bass to date, and in those last few feet I could see that she was just barely hooked. I raised my rod to slide her in the rest of the way, but that was the wrong move, she was too heavy and the hook pulled through the lip. I contemplated grabbing her with my hands, but it was getting dark and she was moving away. I was so upset that trying to be thankful felt impossible. I could say it, but not with any real sincerity, so instead I swore off bass fishing.
The next day I was sitting at my desk, eating my lunch, and I thought about my mom's words. Maybe thankfulness "in whatever state your in", is something you can ask for, and maybe there was so much more to learn from this. So I started to ponder, not the problem, but the recent opportunities with monsters and what had caused these fish to leave the security of deep water and come so close to shore.
So, now that I was done pouting, I decide to keep my Thursday night ritual and head to the Roost. First I went to Bitters for some Green Pumpkin Candy sticks and 10 inch Candy Bug Ribbon tails. If they were stalking the bluegill beds then these were some of the lures I felt confident with. A stick bait will always catch fish, one way or another, but when it gets warm like this, I start throwing more ribbon tails. There has been a lot of water snakes lately, frogs, baby ducks and now the bluegill spawn. This is also when I start throwing more top water.
My inshore rod with my Revo is spooled with 30 lb. braid, and I love Power pro but the line is 8 years old and I think worn out. It handled the 5.32 pounder just fine but then snapped on the next fish, so I didn't trust it for putting my frogs out there. I lost 5 fish that night that felt pretty heavy, and roll the eyes, cause I k now, it's always the one that got away. I didn't quit this time though, and I didn't roll around in the grass or throw my rod across the cove. I laughed, I was thankful and where ever I shined my light on bedding gills, I seemed to find the bass.
The next day I hooked up with my brother and young Larson. They were shooting Tilapia in Cherokee Lake, and the gills were on beds in there too. Pete gave me some 50 lb. braid and a Spro Killer Gill popper. I caught a fish on my Veritas medium power, using a stick, but then made a fatal cast that caught a tree and back lashed my reel. When I say back lashed, it greatly understates the situation. It cost me 30 minutes of fishing and most of my spool. Oh well, at least I have the frog rod, but I am not use to casting a 7' 6" through branches like this. In some of the spots, I would be on one side of the tree and my rod tip on the other. I would the cast, step over, up hill and squat so that I had room to set the hook, other wise I was trimming trees.
I divide top water in to a few categories, but the 2 main are speed, and in my lake they have been trailing but not committing to speed, so I like this popper because it can be fished slow. I got several slaps in here but then moved down and started walking it on the retrieve. This guy inhaled it.
He wasn't in the mats though, I caught him in open water, go figure.
I think this bite will hold up for the better part of the week, and some other things that work well are cranks in bluegill patterns, chartreuse and purple, clear green and purple jerks, stick baits, soft jerks with purple flake or heavy red. If they are hitting better on speed, then this is a good time to throw a buzz bait, speed craw on top or big spinners and frogs. Look for your prime blue gill spawning areas. Sandy bottoms, especially around docks, reeds and pads. The bigger the group of depressions the better. The candy is choice for soft plastics because of the purple and green. If you catch some of the bull bream right now, you will notice a lot of deep purple and overall darkening of the body during the spawn. This also makes the candy bug a good choice, even in clear water, but especially at night. The canals are also prime places to check.
Well, thank God, I had some epic fish loss this weekend, and my share of technical difficulties, but I have a lot to be thankful for. Oh, and thanks Pete and young Larson for the Tilapia. They will go nice with some lime, cilantro rice.
I decided to tweak some of my baits based upon the colors I see on some of the forage fish. My lake contains Inland Silver sides as a primary food source for the predators in this body of water. I haven't seen one over 4 inches, but there are 100's of 1000's of the little guys all over the lake. Bass can start putting these down at a very young age and I have seen very large fish willing to chase these earlier this spring.
I am obviously not an artist, and these colors are quite bright, but I did manage a few small bass and a gar off the swim bait and some sticks I colored. The bite was slow and I think I should have been a little more subtle with my customizing, but coloring is so much fun, it's easy to get carried away.
There were six other people fishing and everyone seemed to be struggling. I switched to a comfort color to gauge just how bad an effect my art work was playing in to this. Nothing, not a hit, hmmm? The other guys were using a lot of the same stuff, some of which I had given them and pretty much consisting of green pumpkin and watermelon base colors. I tried a culprit gumbo and didn't get any strikes till I started swimming it, and most of the strikes were coming up short. The sky was overcast, the water looked like it was carrying a bit of a bloom, and the sun was going down somewhere, hidden behind the clouds. Sometimes dark colors go a long way for me in these clearer lakes, and so I threw a stick in blue black and immediately took a hit, but they weren't holding on to these very well. I was saving back a few Stank X June gems for some darker water, but hoarding is not fishing, so I hooked one on. I did 8 little bass and broke off on a pig, but was happy to see her since I have had a hard time reaching the big girls after the spawn and with lower water levels. Well, sometimes you have to you leave your comfort zone to get bites again, and if these gray days continue, I may try some other dark water tactics. The Spike-It s pretty cool but I think I need to tone it down a bit, although I think my mods would work great on trout and reds.
12 years use to seem like such a long time, and yet just 12 years ago I met my Lily in the delivery room at Halifax Hospital in Daytona. She was looking rather bored this weekend, and so I asked her if she needed an adventure, and she said she wanted to go to the beach and then Pasha for her birth day. So we loaded up the car, grabbed her little sister, and made our way back to her homeland. Lily is a water baby and even before she knew how to swim, she claimed she did. My neighbor, in Lake Panasoffkee, believed her, but then had to pluck her from the pool when she realized Lily wasn't swimming. She is great in the water now, and though she does not care for pools, she loves the Ocean and the Springs.
It was a beautiful day at Ponce, and no, I did not bring a fishing rod. I am a father also, but with fishing gear I revert quickly to a little boy, and it was my oldest's birth day so we let her take the lead.
The salt air and water worked wonder for our allergies. It will clear your head in no time, and make you wonder how it is that you ever got so far away.
The water was beautiful and clean; I love the transitions of green and blue.
Oh the joys of having a younger sibling. Lily is changing a lot and often seeks solace away from Drew's antics. They are funny though, if they are apart then she misses her, but as soon as they are together a fight ensues.
I believe these are Sand Pipers, and what lovely markings they have.
There were a few gopher tortoises out munching foliage, and some apple slices that a tourist provided.
Above is one of my favorite African cichlids from Lake Malawi. Demasoni have such deep color and beautiful contrast. One of my favorite aquarium set ups is a simple colony of these with a colony of Labidochromis.
I spent a lot of time at Daytona Aquarium as a young man, and Gary Johnson was not only my boss for a time, but always my friend. He put up with a very zealous and obsessed hobbyist and took me to places that would have been inaccessible otherwise. I saw fish farms, lived in the side of his shop and poured through books on tropical fish daily. There was really no one around that offered the quality of cichlids he kept and also bred. I remember shipping to customers all over and Gary often indulging me with keeping something rare in the shop. When Lily was born, he was one of the first people there to welcome her to Daytona, and time really does go by too fast; it has been years since I had the chance to talk to him. We spoke a bit yesterday but that shop is always so busy with hobbyist on the weekends.
A beautiful day, God has truly blessed me with some wonderful children. Happy birth day Lily, I will try to get you back to the coast more often.
Thank God for Pasha too, that was great!
Forty years old and still in awe of the outdoors.