Monday, May 30, 2016


The plan was two-fold:
Drop into the river for an evening fish and then trade my boat in for waders and try to find some white bass in shallow.  Boat in tow, I headed out to fulfill this plan.  When I crossed the bridge and peered over the railing the plans changed.  Green and chuffed up.  There was no way I was going to spend my evening cleaning algae off of my line.  No way.

New plan.

I did a quick u-turn at the river boat ramp and headed back west and north to the nearest boat access on the south side of the lake.  The wind had been blowing from the north at a decent clip for the better part of two days and the south shore looked like it.  Prop washed weeds and greenery lapped the shore with each wave.  Despite the debris, the lake water looked fairly clear, so I launched.

I headed north across the lake looking for clear water and at the mid-lake line I found it.  I have been thinking for a few weeks about fishing deeper, giving a go at something other than shallow water sight fishing and it was at that moment that I decided today was going to be that day.  I dropped the E-Tec into an easy idle and pulled up a lake map on my phone.  I was looking for something interesting in the contour depth lines and spotted a relatively quick drop that seemed to be a reasonable place to try.

The Lake Nav app coupled with my depth finder put me on the spot in short order and I dropped anchor in 8.4' of water.  I was rigged with a floating line, 10' leader down to 0x and a 3.5" chartreuse and white clouser.

I got a bump on the second cast.  On the 3rd cast a fish picked up on the pause and came tight on the strip.  I was pleasantly surprised to boat a decent crappie.  Five casts later and it happened again.  Somewhere between the 4th and 5th crappie a 26" pike tried to digest the fly but thankfully I lip hooked it and I was able to release the fish and save my fly.  The 6th crappie was followed a white bass and then a cigar of a walleye.  Then another crappie.  The second walleye, a 2 pounder, that ate the fly wiggled free as I was trying to get the lens cap off of my camera. 

And so my evening went.

By the time I was done, the clouser was pretty well destroyed.

As much as I love sight fishing, there is a certain thrill in shooting fish in a barrel. 
Even if the barrel is deep.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Saturday May 28th 2016

May is almost over.  I've watched 44 Mays come to an end and it seems that this one might have been the swiftest expiration of them all.  It is a long weekend and a rare one as we stayed at home and didn't load up the car with too much stuff, drive too far and come home late with too little sleep.  Just a mellow weekend...and this Saturday was a good day to just watch, look and listen.  And cast a few flies.

When the sun started to drop low, RS, JH and I made the trip to the lakeshore and waded out.  I picked up a smallmouth on one of my initial casts and thought that maybe I was in for a long evening of catching.  RS was posted up 30 yards off my left shoulder and JH was posted up 30 yards off of his. 

It's nights like this I am glad I carry my camera because the two of them stood mockingly and pulled in white bass after white bass while I went blank.  I changed flies, waded left, shot a few neighborhood casts their way and yet...nothing.

I suppose that this could have gone on for some time except that a lightning storm started tracking our way and we unanimously voted not to die tonight.  The fishing was cut short but the light show and lack of rain kept me on my camera for another 45 minutes after their departure.

I'd guess that they were both a little disappointed that the fishing ended.  I, on the other hand, was happy for the reprieve.
Albino House Finch at my feeder

Daisy Fleabane by the river

Backwater largemouth bass running daycare

RS hooked up

RS trying not to rub it in...this was his 3rd or 4th.

Lightshow 1

Lightshow 2

Friday, May 27, 2016

And again, and again.

May 27th and May 28th.
Things are starting to warm up and the bass are starting to show.  JH, RS, JP and I have been keeping a fairly constant vigil.  The fish are starting to come in in larger schools and they are certainly feeding on top.  They seem to have a fair amount of disinterest in our standard offerings and changes to other patterns haven't been successful.  So far the steady and rythmic casting at rise forms has coughed up 1/2 dozen or so fish to the fortunate.  I'm a little intrigued at why some years they smack the fly like they are in the hot lunch line and this year they are being picky.  More to learn I guess.  Still, it's pretty laid back and mellow fishing, comfortable temps and easy wading.  Close to home.  Easy.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Try, try again.

It's only been a day since the last foray out into the blackness for the shallow water White Bass bite but it already feels like things are starting to warm up.  The Whities aren't yet in in the masses that signal "the show" a few fish here, which shouldn't be read as a complaint.  The nights are comfortably cool and the mosquitoes have yet to there is always non-target species.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Morone chrysops

It feels like it could be starting any day now.  The water is just a little too cool but the rest of the signs are there.  Tonight we came and gave it a shot. 

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Local Lake

TP and I hit a local lake.  It was time to fish out of the Aluminum Falcon and see if there might be a musky or bass or something willing to eat.

The evening was perfect, and so thought everyone else.  Mush to our chagrin, the lake was pretty chopped up from props and milfoil.

Despite the outlook, the boat ran great and the evening was spent hucking 10 weights to pockets of open water.

A beer or two may have been extracted from Mr T's cooler which gave us a small bit of solace for not getting a grab.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Slick Stick and Hungry Pike

Subtract Winter...November, December, January, February, March.
Subtract Closed Seasons...April
Subtract windy days, cloudy days and days the river is blown.


That's the number of days you get per year on the local river where you can wear a t-shirt, throw big flies and watch the eats from 70 feet away.

That was today.

I pulled up at my desk at 7:30 and started working.  It was a good morning, busy. 

The sun was bright through my window and as I glanced up I couldn't help but notice that the wind was down. 

Back to work.

At 10:30 I started getting the itch.  It's like cabin fever but with a known cure...right outside the window.  I emailed my boss and asked for a 1/2 day off.  Work til noon and then fly.
Cool, "No, problem" he said.  Good guy.

The next mission was to determine if it was going to be a solo mission or...

KZ's message came through at 11:00, "Fishing this afternoon?"



I pushed off at 12:20, the water was clear, the sun was high.  A small pike bolted from cover just a few feet off of the launch.  I was drifting slowly, rigging rods.  Watching the bottom and counting the drum finning over the sand.

KZ pulled up and met me at the ramp and said that he left the rods in the truck since he saw mine were rigged.  

Yep, no problem.

He stowed his gear and grabbed the 10 weight,  made a few casts and then opted for a fly change, downsized a little with some additional sink. 

That fly was in for a beating.

We spent the afternoon poling down the river.  KZ wielding the 10 like a Jedi, casting bold and accurate, pinpoint pocket picking.  The fly landing in skinny water and fished in and around weed and wood. 

The pike fell all over it.

The takes were slashing slams, pouncing rolls from below and methodical eats.  Gills flared, teeth gnashed.

These were small pike, nothing giant or slobby.  But they were fast, hungry and plentiful. 

KZ offered the rod up to me and a few occasions but the view from the platform was too good.  The action too steady.  It was a YouTube video, "Awesome Pike Eats Compilation 2016".  

A few Largemouth took swipes, followed and impaled themselves too.   The drum kept finning and the carp swam through.  The gills were largely absent but it mattered not...BANG! Another pike.

By 4:30 we were satiated and with kids to pick up from school, I trailered up. 

Of the 3.59 days available on this river...

...we took one.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Establishing a Baseline

The local white bass bite is getting close enough that a few of us, RS, MK and JH, decide to spend the evening on the water.  Daytime temps were in the mid to high 50's and the water was in the early 60's. 

The telltale midge hatch never transpired but flies were flung all the same.

JH ranged far and wide covering a lot of water while I stood in one spot and hoped that luck or chance beat exploration.

In the end exploration won in the form of a walleye that JH said was about the "size of a marker".

These forays are always valuable, as much for what does happen as what does not.

It was too early for the smash and grab white bass bit, we established that baseline.

It was also too early to fish with nothing but boxer shorts inside your waders.

MK established that baseline too.

JH and RS heading to the "other side"

JH, sundown prowl

RS changing it up. Low light, zoom and shivers make for interesting photography

Monday, May 16, 2016

A sip of fishing

Taking it while we can, Thor and I hit the river to poke around and see what there was to see.  The dark rain clouds pushed to the north and left us mostly dry but we felt the effects of the wind from the front and back of the front. 

The river was running clean and we dropped anchor midstream alongside a pod of surface feeding carp.  The added distraction of night hawks taking dinner early kept me switching back and forth between the rod and the camera with the end result being that I succeeded with neither.

Depending on your point of view it was either a complete failure or a beautiful abundance of distractions.

At least Thor is a good boat dog.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Further Upriver

My bro was coming down to help me do some work on my house. 

Mr T and I had plans to do some exploring for SMB's on the Big River. 

The two plans merged and the three of us met late on Friday night for dinner and a few beers and some pregame chatter.

Saturday morning was checking out of the hotel, eggs benedict, hot coffee and dropping the boat in followed by a quick and seamless shuttle.  Sometimes everything goes smoothly.

The water looked good...higher and cooler than my last float here, but it looked good.  The sun was up and the wind (from a casting perspective) wasn't too bad.   The first fish, a walleye, ate an oversized fly designed for esox.  My big brother was on the board.  Our thoughts collectively were that this was a good sign...

It didn't take us long after that to figure out that it was pre-pre spawn mode for the SMB's and that we'd need to do a little digging and scratching.

The warming shallows that held bass last year at this time were mostly devoid of fish which left us probing the edges, fishing deeper, fishing slower.  

The takes were subtle... just the fly stopping.  My brother is an excellent steelhead angler and he converted his soft bite experience quickly to the task at hand.  It was a mixed bag of slowly tempting the bigger fish contrasting with smaller fish crushing pike flies a few inches shorter than themselves.

As always it was a pleasure to be on beautiful water with a skilled oarsmen doing all the heavy lifting. 

It was also great to be fishing with my brother again.  Miles and jobs and families don't allow us this opportunity very often. 

Thanks for making it happen boys.

Mr T...the slim beauty


bronze back

I think those guys were playing that a jig?




Wednesday, May 4, 2016


I climbed aboard KZ's boat for some upstream exploration on the W.  The rumor mill suggested that we might find some prespawn smallies. 

The entire season is designed around finding fish that are feeding and, well, feeding them.  The spring spawn changes all of that since the fishes' primary mission isn't cheeseburgers and fries but companionship (and if that is overly anthropomorphising...then lets say reproduction).

On the spawn, I feel pretty good about locating fish, same thing with after the spawn.  But prespawn...I'm no pro.

The wind was up but KZ proved adept at finding likely locations (mostly out of the wind) to try and figure this all out.  The topwater flies of midsummer stayed tucked in their boxes and dumbbell eyes flew.

Eventually rods bent and there was a glimmer that answers or at least parts of answer were revealed.

Healthy SMB


Risky business in Musky water

Clouser Time
KZ doesn't worry.

A quick shot before release...