The Anhinga warned me to stay away, but I persisted and he flew off. He was replaced by a beautiful Great Blue Heron. I saw one of these birds, at a park in Leesburg, consume a dead gallinule, and I have witnessed another choke down a turtle. Very robust creatures, and beautiful to watch, so much poise.
Poor fellow, he just wants to dry his wings, but I want a picture, and there is just no way to explain this to him. A very clear sky, the water is much colder and I can now see that I was approaching the shad issue from the wrong direction. In the still water, I can see the little fish the bass were chasing and they are a pelagic, but the cold has driven them in to the shallows. They would usually not come this close till night. They act very much like thread fin shad, boiling at the surface, but the bass seem silent.
All these fish in shallow water have drawn the birds. It is amazing how small a window they function in, to catch a fish. They have to move with reeds, remain so still and strike so fast. They have to compensate for light refraction, a fish is never quite where I see it. These birds manage this well.
Lily found the hawk today, and hopefully he does not find Pickles. We have been through that before.
I attempted a picture of the schooling fish that the bass are feeding on and gently tried to get this guy to regurgitate a few for me, but with no success. I am guessing it is the same fish at Crane's Roost as it is in my lake. The biggest ones I've seen so far, are no more than 3 inches, and I don't have anything on me to imitate it. My default jigs and spinners are white, and while these work well in lakes with shad fixed bass, they have not produced for me here. It looks like a long, slender minnow, with a dark line down the middle. From the dock they remind me of emerald shiners. It's of course ideal to be able to mimic color and pattern, especially with something so prominent as the dark line, but I believe size and profile to be just as much of an issue in this instance.
Since I don't have anything to match the overall look of the fish, and since they are no longer taking Senkos, I decided to try a 1/16 ounce finesse jig head, I got on sale at Bitters and some greenie weanies. No luck, so I went to a darker color and threw some watermelon/purple jiggy sticks. These worms are about 5 inches long, and with such a light jig, it is a delicate approach. The bass are not feeding like they were in days past, even though there are large pods of bait both in the shallows and mid lake. I do see some activity over open water, but not in range. I look at the minnows that are jumping again, and they are small, so I pull out a drop shot worm that is more a translucent white and purple. It is about 5 inches, so I trim off an inch and a half. I cast it as parallel to the bank as I can, and near the bait schools. Finally, after 2 hours of experimenting, I get my first bass. Another gentleman is casting a crank bait and has made it all the way around the lake without a hit. The bait fish schools in the shallows are relatively unmolested, and it is slow fishing, but I now have some confidence, and as I work my way back to the car, I catch a bigger one and then the smallest bass I have caught in this lake to date. Three bass in three hours, definitely not one of those days where you say we slayed them, but those you remember mostly for the day. The hard earned ones, where you have to reach a little deeper, that's when I remember each fish. So, was it the size, the presentation, persistence, or just dumb luck. Well, this I can tell you, when its hard, I often go small and when there is a lot of pressure on the fish I will revert to finesse and modify my lures. I love to fish.
Forty years old and still in awe of the outdoors.