This was a bass behind the condo, and I find a lot of fish in here that for the size of their mouth and body length, they are quite gaunt. I first tried flipping behind the reeds and lily pads, but only took fish that were smaller than this one. I went to an eighth of an ounce bullet weight and started making cast at angles to where I felt the first drop offs should be. In the larger of the two lakes, I took this one, and in the smaller lake, attempting the same pattern, I hooked into my fattest girl yet. She was heavy and took some to bring in, and as I tried to ease her up the boat ramp, she took one last jump and threw the hook. With a broken heart and shattered dreams, I watched her tail, as if waving goodbye to me, and she slipped away. All I could was smile and laugh a bit, but I do have one common factor to her and some others I have lost, the hook. I tried thinking about how many fish I have lost compared to the amount I have landed on these EWG's with the extreme bait keeper bend, and it is staggering. The normal EWG does not seem nearly so problematic, but while these do keep the bait from sliding off, which is the main focus of their design, they seem to interfere with the hook set, often. I know, its a poor workman who blames his tools, but I think it is more than coincidence at this point.
Both the afore mentioned fish were caught on what appears to be a 7 inch ribbon tail worm from Big Bite Baits. It is a very unique, dark green, that I don't often see, and was immediately drawn to, as was a carp in the lake behind me, oddly enough. She broke me off, very bazaar, this is the second time I have had a carp hit a soft plastic in here. These are again the assorted packs at Dick's with no designated color on the label. At a 1.49 a bag, it is a smart way to try some different colors and styles.
I started out with the same worm at the Roost, and you don't find the underfed, gaunt little fish in here. They are all fat and fight like Spartans. After I lost my lure in some rocks, I decided to switch to a Bitter's stick bait in green pumpkin red flake. I caught several fish by the house on it and it has worked well for me in here, but after an hour or so I also broke that off. Bitters is located just north of 434 on 1792, and they are really nice people with a constant running 2 for 5 on their in house baits. The plastic is soft, and has a lot of pork fat mixed in, which seems to make the bass really hold on. Since they are so soft though, they do have a tendency to slip the bend when fishing cover or after a fish. The hook sets are good, but I recommend rigging it with the eye of the hook exposed. When you follow this with a bead then a weight, you eliminate the biggest part of the problem. This way the weight is striking against the bead and hook eye, rather than pushing the worm down the hook.
My brother showed up and broke off on a snag right from the start. He then proceeded to brake off in the mouth of the biggest fish I have seen in here to date. He was using a finesse rig and alternated between a bluegill patterned slurpie hog, and eventually a KVD fat baby finesse in red bug.
The Shaky head with the fat baby took some nice fish for us tonight. Pete pulled this one out slow working it through some little pads near the rocks. A lot of times they would hit right as you approached the rocks.
I ran in to some line issues with my worm rod, and it was about 10 pm, so I didn't feel like tying in the dark for fiftieth time. I put the rod down and grabbed the little rod I have been using for Shaky heads and drop shots. It has six pound Trilene mono on it, a Shaky head jig and Fat Baby. I went back to a spot we had fished earlier and started dissecting it. The jig head snagged up twice but I was able to pull it free, and then it felt like I had snagged up once again, only my line was moving off to the side. I reeled down to it and set the hook. Wow, now it really felt snagged and I could only pray that she wouldn't pull me into the pads on light tackle. She was taking drag whenever she wanted to, so I bumped it up to give me a bit more control, and all I could think of was the big girl that I had lost the other night, but I this one didn't get away.
Peter came climbing across the wall when he saw her splashing around, and then took a few pics for posterity. Nothing like light line battles and finesse baits. I think she will spawn by next week and I will be back to find these fish. The one that broke Peter off was longer, but with this type of build, so they're in here.
Not the best photos below, but I thought it would help to contrast the green worm I am talking about with a green pumpkin red so you can see there is a vast difference, and I think water clarity changes more often than you realize, but sometimes I believe it is even less complicated than that. You have to change it up, throw something new. Finesse baits take really nice fish.
The bass in here glow brighter than the fish at the discharge end of Nuclear power plant, or maybe I just need to face the other way.
Usually it's dark when I get out here so I don't wear any shades, but these polarized glasses came in handy today. I was just going to pull my lure up and out of the water, to avoid some rocks, when I saw this girl opening her mouth around it. Good thing, so I dropped the rod tipped, reeled in the slack and set the hook. I am using a Big Bite Baits version of a brush hog. It has a smaller profile than a full size hog which does seem to make a difference at certain times of the year. My wife sent me to Dick's Sporting goods the other day for some treadmill lube, and I guess she was unaware that they had a fishing section, so I would be there for some time. It's actually been a few years since I was in this store, and I have to say the people there are very attentive. I had 3 different sales people offer to assist me. It is possible that they were more concerned with me sitting Indian style on the floor, as I went through 100's of bags of assorted baits. They have sample sized bags of Big bite baits that contain a 5 count of their soft plastics for a 1.49. If you've never used these, the rubber is very sturdy and is not as prone, as some baits are, to sliding down the hook. This particular bait outlasted 3 fish, 3 misses, twice stuck in rocks and several times in the pads, and it is still on there. The down side to the sample packs is that the store seems to get an assortment of whatever BBB sends them, and there is nothing on the label denoting color. I was looking for their coontail worm in Tilapia, plum and green pumpkin Texas red, and I'm not sure what this color is exactly, but it worked really well. I also got some worms in a green that reminds me of one of my favorite worms as a kid. This also worked well for me right away. Well, no coontails this time, but I am happy with the stuff I got and the way the BBB's performed.
I don't know the woman with the beautiful smile, but I think she was more excited about this fish than even I was. She ran over and asked me what it was, then I asked her if she could do me a solid and hold the rod while I jumped over the fence. She was happy to, and rather than risk braking off or braking another rod tip, I hopped over fence and then laid down on the sea wall, where I could get a better reach on the fish. This lady was a natural, and with her perfect assist, and warnings not to fall in, we safely landed the bass. He was in an interesting spot on the backside of the stage, opposite of the wind, like a stream trout waiting behind a big rock. The wind was crazy today so I got the lake all to myself, no other fisherfolk. I like windy days, the wind directs me to places to look, it pushes plankton and bait fish, and sometimes drives the bass to the cover. I caught fish in all those places today, but I was told by the ranger that I was only aloud to fish the north side and the grass areas. I guess my first south sider will also be my last. "What if you would have fallen in?" Well, I would have gotten wet I suppose.
I felt a bit under the weather last week, so I didn't get much fishing in, but come Friday I was feeling better and anxious to cast a line. The girls had a friend for a sleep over so after I made them some lasagna and we ate dinner, I headed to the Roost. This is following some rainy days, and several days of gray. The sun was blazing earlier today, and so I hoped the cold blooded bass would be on the feed. As I pulled up I intended to pass by my favorite holes, in search of those other areas that might hold some pre spawn fish. From the car though, I could see a lot of commotion and it was too much for me to pass up. I ran down the bank and started casting to every circle or splash I could reach. Sometimes a wacky rigged worm produces well for me in this situation, and other times no matter what I throw, these heavy feeders are just not interested. A person can become bust drunk quite quickly, only to realize later that much time has passed and you still haven't the first fish to show for it. I stopped myself and did not throw away the Senko, but moved it to a worm hook and Texas rigged it with a 1/8 of an ounce weight. The fish below was still kicking when I walked up to him. I tried to get a pic of the otter that was feeding on him, but I couldn't focus in the dark and he would leave when I got to close. I came back later and he had finished the whole thing.
It was a Strike King model of stick bait, in a sweet potatoe pie color that took my first fish. Texas rigging changed the speed of fall and the action, and I like to try different colors and approaches to see where my boundaries are. I worked this for a while, concentrating on ambush points and trying to find unique features that I had not thoroughly fished before. It slowed down and so I went rummaging through my pack, and low and behold, in a package of other worms, there she was, a single Slurpie in bluegill. I put it on and worked a slight arm that came out not far from a patch of Lily pads. I fought a fish and lost it. Never should a man move on immediately after losing a fish or missing a set. I cast back in and connected with another bass. After I released it, I made the same cast again and upsized.
The water continued to explode and if my lure was out of the water I would make the occasional cast to these blow ups, but for the most part, I looked for the obscure and cast to possibilities, and caught fish.
I checked the boat ramp with a shakey head jig, adorned with a Strike King fat baby and took the little guy above. The wacky style approach wasn't getting any bites for me tonight, and it is a great technique, but not always appropriate. There are wacky jigs though that will add weight to your presentation and increase the fall rate; this may have been an option here but I didn't have any of those jigs.
The bass below made my Slurpie dissappear, and it all seemed to die off after that
A Seminole Killifish for those who like to look at the forage like I do.
The girls found our Clan tent, and we met some very nice people there. My grandmother started taking us to the games when we very small, and she found a woman to make us kilts, but after I heard the laughter of young boys I lost heart and would have no part of it. It's a shame because a true Scot would know that it is only the opinion of God that matters, and kilts are cool.
I found a few of our Clan Tartans, and if I get a kilt I think I would prefer the Mackintosh hunting pattern. I like the ancient hunting the most, and it fits my outdoors life. Imagine a day at Crane's Roost fishing for bass in your lucky kilt. I can't think of anything that says, " I know what I'm doing," more than that.
I use to love going to the different vendors as a kid, and this year Drew brought a friend to share the experience with her. I suppose I was a bit of a nerd growing up, and while I loved the meat pies, bridies and fish, I could sit for hours and listen to the pipes. There is no instrument for me in this world that invokes as much emotion. The girls were more interested in the ice cream and normal carnival type entertainment. Our guest had a sausage breakfast sandwich for fear of trying something new. I had to down some meat pies with the H&P sauce. They are not my typical spicy fare, but they are pure wholesome goodness, laced with many memories of childhood.
There was more than a few people here this year, and it was difficult to get in close to some of the activities. The sheep herding gave the girls quite a laugh, as the sheep were not very cooperative in the beginning. They ended up mingling with the crowd a couple of times and then finally came out onto the field for the border collies.
These are Black Faced Highland Sheep, and according to the shepherdess, there are not many herds in the State of Florida. She also mentioned that the both male and females carry horns.
Very nice day!
More on the games later; I think I hear a fish calling me.
Well if you measure the trip by the pictures, then it looks like a very productive evening, but the truth is I got here at 3:30 in the afternoon. I had already missed 3 strikes before 5 PM and would miss 3 more before 8:30 PM when I started catching fish. Peter was able to catch a nice one in a north cove at about 7 PM, and then we went to an area that I like to check on periodically. The bass don't seem to hang around in there all day; it is strictly to feed, and if you wait them out you will always catch one there. Five of our bass tonight came within 20 feet of each other, and the cove bass was a few hundred yards away.
It was cold and late, my belly was emptier than it looks in these pictures, but Pete had 2 bass and I had none. I enjoy watching my brother catch fish, but I'd kind of like to land one of my own now too. So I watched how he worked his craw, and it was Texas rigged but he was giving rapid, very tight shakes on the bottom, whereas I was using a much larger craw and fishing it more like a worm. He had also added a small bead behind the weight to give it a little clack as he moved across the bottom. Even though you couldn't see the craw in the murky water, you could tell my little brother could feel it and knew exactly what it was doing. So I pulled out a Strike King Fat Baby, in red bug and slowed it down on a Shakey Head.
Peter pointed out something with the bass in here, that they all have small mouths relative to their bodies. It seems you will never find a thin fish in here, but I will need to go back through photos to see some of the larger girls I've caught in here. These are large mouth bass, but the bucket does seem a bit smaller when compared to the body, maybe this is growth rate, a sexual dimorphism, or genetic isolation. I don't know, but they do remind me of river bass and fight like them too.
I believe the brush hog that my brother is using is a discontinued item from Northland. It is a much smaller, and skinnier main section than I typically see on brush hogs. The color is bluegill, and this is the same color and company that made the slurpie stick baits I loved so much. I pulled out a hawg that was similar in size but much darker in color, with no response. The water may be darker here and it may be night, but I continue to have better luck on the clear water colors. I wanted a lighter colored plum, since that has been a go too for me on tough days, but the red bug has worked well for me here tonight, and a few days ago at a very clear lake. A gentleman at the other lake sneered at my fat baby, but 4 bass later and not a bite on his shiner, he asked me where he could get some. I don't knock live bait fishing, but it just doesn't hold my interest as well. Some nights its good to sit with the kids and drowned worms, but overall I would like to teach them the enjoyment of challenge and the reward of lures.
As for myself, I really didn't have a good reason for not meeting with others who believe. I always make time for fishing, but for the people of God, I have been lazy at forging relationships, and too proud to sit with other hypocrites, but it appears that God is not going to let me alone on this.
As we made our way back to the strike zone for the second time, we were approached by two women. One of them asked me if I would like a gospel tract, and I told her that I am a Christian, so she should save it for someone that is not. I started to head back to my fishing spot but she persisted, how do I come to call myself a Christian? "Well, I was born no different than all men, a sinner. The Bible is very clear on this that all have sinned and the wages of sin is death. Sin has robbed me of a free will in that I was born a slave to it, and have led most of my life in either denial of that, excusing it, or out right glorifying those things that God hates. God has also been very clear from the beginning, to include in His word, a scapegoat, one way, not the confusion of many, but One, His Son, His very self, to die on my behalf. He says, I am the way, the truth and the life, no man comes to the father but by me." She said she had been coming here on Saturdays for the last 2 years, and that this was the first time she felt she had met someone who truly believed. I thanked her but I told her that it wasn't her opinion or mine that mattered. She did question where I go to church, and to that I had to be honest that I don't. I have accountability at work, at home, but at the lake this was truly a first. If I am truly honest I have always disliked church people. There are some that are babies to the faith, some that are cold, some that play church, some that are legalistic and would make everyone in their own image instead of directing them to Christ. Then there is me, proud and arrogant, debating for the sake of my own ego rather than humbly approaching another person, made in the image of God, with love. Every Saturday for 2 years, one Christian and whole lot of rejection. As she turned to my little brother and asked him if he was saved, my heart sank, because I couldn't say with a certainty what he believed. We have not hung out much in the last 2 years till recently, and though we talk now, and share that which we both love, we have not approached the reason for the breach. I think he is in his mind a self described good person, but there are no "good" people that can ever stand before a holy and just God. I miss you Peter, but it would be wrong for me not to point out certain things.
Well, it is a new year and I would hope not to go backwards in any of things that are good, but whether fishing, working, parenting or playing, let all be done to the glory of God.
I will start out with some photos by Amy Philbrick, and they came at a good time, since I took what appears to be my last shot with the Nikon, yesterday. There is a shutter fault and it feels like one of the components has broken inside the lens. Amy:s dad, Frank, is my wife:s grandfather and he was gracious enough to send me a zip of some of her nature photography.
These sort of pictures can take a great deal of patience at times, and I can't count the number times I have wanted to walk a little closer before taking a picture or making cast, but did and scared the moment away.
Well at least phones come equipped with cameras now, and here is a shot of my date with Drew. She loves Stavros Greek pizza, and so we had a little one on one time with some pie and root beer. I felt like going fishing later, hard to believe, and Lily asked to go with me. I was excited because normally they don:t like Crane:s Roost because of my number one rule of fishing. *We don:t leave till we catch a bass.* I often hope this will teach them patience, or how to entertain themselves, but mostly she wanted to go with me, and I kind of missed the boat on that. I got a bit overly focused on bass and ended up dragging a little girl and her ultralight all over the lake. I taught her how to drop shot but then left her to her own means once I started trying to find bass. She just wanted to relax, talk and catch some gills. Sometimes I can be a bit of a dolt, and so she started climbing the rock wall there, to entertain herself. I heard the sound of graphite rubbing against rock behind me and I told her three times to move or she would brake the rod. She paid me no mind and then jumped down against the rod. *Did you brake it?*
* I don:t know….yes.. *and then tears.
*Why didn:t you listen to me?*
* Because, I was:t paying attention. *
I was mad of course, but she was genuinely upset, and this is the rod she uses to fish with her friends. So I took a cast and pondered for a while. I:ve broken a dozen rods in my day, and not all of them while playing the old man and the sea.
*It:s just a rod, Lily. We should be better stewards of our stuff, but I should have been a better companion tonight too.*
This is Lotus Lake Park, and these signs drive me crazy. They are very confining. You can walk past the signs to other points and find fish that you are not allowed to catch. I caught a small bass and a sunny in the creek, but my daughters pointed out some no fishing signs over there.
We noted some large Blue gill in the lake, so I decided to make up my previous failure with Lily and bring her here. She decided not to go, and then Drew piped up that she would like some fried Blue gill, so I took her instead, and she is usually the one to back out. They get more and more confusing every year.
A bug flew in Drew:s eyes as we hopped aboard the tram to the park. A lovely, hot winter:s day here in Florida. Tomorrow is the full moon and I think the water has stayed so warm that the big girls will move in to spawn. Just in case you were wondering.
The heat brought out one of the healthy natives. He just lay there, basking in the sun on the creek bank. Beautiful little guy.
I looked at my bass rod before I left the house this time, but as I watched Drew pull out Blue gill, I knew I made the right decision leaving it at home. The three little boys, who had gone 4 hours without a bite, all gathered around the little blonde girl to see what she was using. *Just bread and worms, but I rig my hook like a drop shot to control the height.*
*Oh, right, like that,* they reply.
You know, as I think about it, it really was just a rod. A few weeks ago I saw a boy who went after a skateboard, that was just a skate board, but the string of images that followed have haunted me for weeks now. I don:t want my girls to be careless with things, because we work hard to buy them the things they need, and you should always respect other people:s stuff. There is just no material thing that can be possessed in a way equal to the value of your life. I hope my girls know I love them more than anything, and I am trying to grow up faster than them to stay ahead of the curve.
Forty years old and still in awe of the outdoors.