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.