Saturday, June 25, 2016

Weekend at the Gorge

Fishing Time:  June 25 and 26, 2016
Weather: Slight breeze, Sunny, T-80s
Moon Phase: 73% Moon
Water Temp: 60 degrees
Location: Flaming Gorge
Best Bait: 7-inch Tube Jig (Rainbow colored)
Who Went: Bobber John, Dunc

Made a quick weekend trip with Bobber John to Flaming Gorge to chase the elusive lake trout.  We were also hoping to find some spawning smallmouth bass, but the weather had pushed them a bit too deep for sight fishing.

Saturday we fished hard and spent a lot of the morning looking for active fish.  Antelope Flats seemed to have humps full of active fish, but as usual it was tough to get any bites.  We got a couple, but unfortunately no hook ups.

In the afternoon we went to look for smallmouth along the shoreline in Sheep Creek, but the cold start to the morning and big wind storm the night before had them heading for deeper water.  We did manage to catch a few including this nice 2 pounder.
On the way back from Sheep Creek we detoured into Horseshoe Canyon to admire the steep rock walls.  What a gorgeous lake.  Saw a few sheep as well...
That evening we set up the downriggers and tried our luck trolling for kokanee near the pipeline area.  We saw a lot of fish on the finder, but for whatever reason couldn’t put any in the boat.  Usually if I can find them I can hook a few, but it wasn’t to be on this trip.

Sunday morning John wasn’t feeling well so I launched the boat myself.  It wasn’t a problem early in the morning, but loading it later that day when the recreation boaters were out made for a fun experience.  People yelling at me for taking so long, I guess it’s just normal boat ramp talk, but what’s up with that.  We are all there on vacation.  Relax!


I fished at Swim Beach first thing in the morning, but soon realized I needed to move.  Not many fish were showing up.  I headed back to Antelope Flats and tried my luck there again, and after some effort I was finally able to land one.  It wasn’t a monster at maybe 8-10 pounds, but after two mornings with no hook ups I wasn’t complaining.  At least one lake trout went into the net on this trip.  

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Mud Cat Bonanza

Fishing Time:  1200 PM to 3:00 PM
Weather:  Hot, sunny, T-90s
Moon Phase:  50% Moon
Location:  Utah Lake (Provo Boat Harbor)
Best Bait: Worm underneath a slip bobber
Who Went:  Dad, Devin, Addison, Dayton, Dunc
Cari was busy and I had a day alone with the kids, so I called up my dad and took him and the little ones down to the Provo Boat Harbor at Utah Lake to waste a few hours doing what I love.

We were hoping to find some big channel catfish, but only the bullhead catfish wanted to play.  No worries.  The kids just wanted to catch a fish, and they caught plenty.  The bite was hot and the kids were catching them all by themselves.  They would watch that bobber like a hawk and once they saw it go down it was fish on.  We had a bucket full of catfish in no time.  I laughed as the kids would brag to everyone who docked their boats, of how good of fishermen they are.  They were kings of the fishing world for a few hours. 

It was great to have my dad out there with us as well.  He struggled a bit in the hot sun, but I think he enjoyed seeing the kids have so much fun catching fish.  Even if they were just little mud cats.  I remember the days when my dad would take me to do the same thing.  He taught me my love for fishing and I hope I can pay it forward with my kids!  What a fun day.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Cali Bass Fishing

Fishing Time: March 29 to April 2
Weather:  Partly cloudy, breezy, scattered rain, T-70s
Moon Phase: 29% Moon
Location:  San Diego County: Lake Dixon, El Capitan, Lake Jennings
Best Bait: Live shiner 
Who went: Bobber John, Rick, Dunc
Shortly after arriving in Yuma I realized I was only 2 hours from some of the best bass fishing the west has to offer.  San Diego County is home to quite a few lakes that are known for producing some monster largemouth bass, including the infamous Dottie. Dottie was a sought after female largemouth bass that finally died from natural causes and when found dead was over 25 pounds.  She would have shattered the current world record of 22-pounds 4-ounces.  She had a dot on her gill plate so Dottie became her nick name.  That said, it didn’t take much to persuade my fishing buddies into making the trip down to fish some of these epic lakes.  We planned the trip for the week after I left Arizona and it worked out perfect.  After 3 months in Yuma, I packed up my house, loaded the boat, turned in my house keys, and off I headed for So. Cal. 

I picked up Rick and John from the San Diego airport after dropping my boat and gear off at our camp site near Lake Jennings.  After picking them up from the airport we took a quick detour to the San Diego Bay to try our luck for some ocean spotted bass.  Rick has had success for them in the past, but we hit it right at low tide and the fishing was tough in the shallow mossy water.  
So, after no success for spotted bass we headed to Lake Jennings and set up camp for the next four days. 

DAY 1:  LAKE DIXON

This is the lake that the infamous Dottie once called home.  You can’t launch private boats, but you can rent boats from the marina for $35.  
The lake itself wasn’t much to write home about.  It was slightly larger than a community pond, and almost everyone there was more interested in catching the stocked rainbow trout instead of largemouth bass.  
The water was extremely clear, deep, and the bass were spawning on beds everywhere.  Unfortunately the bass were extremely skittish and the fishing was really tough.  In fact, by noon we hadn’t caught a fish, and on top of that, we hadn’t seen any big fish.  Call it crazy, but we were off the lake at 1:00 pm.  Dixon Lake wasn’t what I had hoped for.

The mood didn’t waver though, as the next lake is the one we were the most excited about.  El Capitan Reservoir is known for producing some amazing bass, big blue catfish, and monster crappie.  Rick has actually fished it before with one of his buddies that grew up in San Diego, so we weren’t completely blind going in, which was nice.  He told us where to find a deep underwater hump that had produced many double digit bass.  If that doesn’t get you excited I don’t know what will.

DAY 2:  EL CAPITAN

We launched the boat early and the temps were cold.  
We motored straight to the deep hump and started slowly dragging live shiners along the bottom.  Live bait fishing was a bit new in my book, but I have to admit it works extremely well.  We instantly began to land some nice bass in the 3-4 pound range.  
video
By noon we had already had a good day and decided to go explore.  We found some nice looking areas and caught a few more decent bass, but never did find the double digit bass.  I think the bass in Cali have seen every bass lure on earth and catching them on plastics was extremely difficult and according to Ricks local buddy, has been for quite a few years.  Live bait was the ticket to most our success.  All in all it was a great day on the lake.

DAY 3:  EL CAPITAN

Second day on El Cap Ricks friend Salim that lives in El Cajon, CA joined us.  Salim is a local that has put many days on El Cap, so it was nice to have him show us around and give us some insight.  Salim took us to an area where he catches large crappies in the 17-18 inch range.  We saw crappie all over the fish finder suspended in deep water, but it was tough to get them to bite.  Rick finally put a decent one in the boat, but that was the only one caught.
Later that day I dropped Rick and Salim off on shore so they could explore and fish from the bank.  Bobber John and I went to find more crappie from the boat.  However, we didn’t get to fish long before Rick was waving us back over to the shoreline.  When we arrived we couldn’t believe it.  He had a 20 pound blue catfish lying on shore that he caught on a worm underneath a bobber. It was the highlight catch of the trip.
video
Later that evening we hit the deep underwater hump again and put a few more nice bass in the boat.  El Capitan was a blast and made our trip to Cali a success.     
    
DAY 4:  LAKE JENNINGS

The last day in Cali we decided to keep it close to home and fish the lake we were camping at.  Lake Jennings is also known to produce its fair share of monster largemouth and the lake was unreal with almost perfect clarity down to 40 feet!  By far the clearest lake I have ever seen or fished.  We started the morning throwing topwater, and had two blow ups, but neither bass decided to hang on.  We caught a few chunky bass slow dragging live shiners, and then went hunting for bedding bass.  
We found quite a few, but again it was tough fishing with the clarity of water and the pressure these fish see every day.  We saw many bass in the 6 to 10 pound range that got our hearts pumping, but just couldn’t get any of them to commit. 

Later in the afternoon we were cruising the shoreline sight fishing and saw a large shadow swimming down around 15 ft near the bottom.  I motored up on the fish and couldn’t believe my eyes.  It was a monster female largemouth bass.  We couldn’t keep the excitement in and were literally jumping and hollering, all while we threw everything we had at her.  Unfortunately just like the other big bass, she casually swimmed off without a care in the world.  Once she finally went out of sight into the depths I looked up to see about 5 boats surrounding us that were all staring at us like we were crazy.  I can only imagine the scene, watching 3 guys from Utah literally freak out over seeing a fish.  People must have thought we were nuts, or on drugs, either way I didn’t care, I have never seen a bass that big and may never again.  The bass had to be over 15 pounds.  Wouldn’t that excite anybody!

Lake Jennings was the last hurrah to the trip and the next morning we left camp at 3:00 AM so I could get John and Rick to the airport for an early flight.  From there I hauled my boat all the way home from San Diego.

CONCLUSION:

Cali bass fishing was extremely difficult.  Our best plastics produced very few bites.  Live shiners were the ticket to the majority of our success.  These bass see a ton of pressure, and therefore, seem very skittish.  Almost all the lakes are filled with quagga mussels and because of this the water is extremely clear, which makes fish very wary.

The highlights were fishing for largemouth on deep structure.  This was new to me and helped me to expand my knowledge for largemouth bass fishing.  Ricks 20 pound blue catfish was awesome and broke up the monotony of chasing largemouth for four days.  Even though we didn’t catch the 15+ pound bass we saw at Lake Jennings, it was really exciting seeing a bass of this magnitude swimming around.  Something I will never see in Utah.


I would definitely do this trip again and thank Rick’s friend Salim for showing us the ropes on Cali bass fishing.   He also provided us with fire wood and shelter from a heavy rainstorm that hit us on the second day.  Thanks Salim!

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Goodbye Arizona

Fishing Time: March 21 to 27, 2016
Weather:  Windy, T-90s
Water Temp:  Morning: 68 degrees, Afternoon:  75 degrees
Moon Phase:  Full Moon
Location:  Colorado River, Arizona
Best Bait:  Shad spinnerbait
Who Went:  Dunc
I had a good last week of fishing before saying goodbye to my waterfront home in Arizona.  The weather has been hot and the fishing is getting tough midday.  It’s the mornings and evenings that produce fish.  The burros are getting active as well.  They walk up and down my street all night heehawing loudly.  Crazy animals. 
A couple days this week a front moved through and that turned the fishing on!  I landed my biggest fish of the trip during this cold front on a spinnerbait thrown in the back of a cove where the wind was pushing all the baitfish.  I didn’t get a chance to weigh it, but it was all of 5 pounds.
A few more good fish were landed this week and it made it hard to want to leave.  However, I miss my family and the time has come to say goodbye to Arizona.  May we meet again someday?  

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Post Spawn Blues

Fishing Time:  March 14 to 20, 2016
Weather:  Hot, calm, T-90s
Moon Phase:  38 to 93 % Moon
Water Temp:  Morning - 68 deg, Afternoon - 73 deg
Location:  Colorado River, Arizona
Best Bait:  KieTech noisy flapper (topwater frog)
Who Went:  Dunc
This was a fun but challenging week of fishing.  I think I caught a total of 2 or 3 fish through the entire work week.  All caught on a Texas-rigged green pumpkin senko thrown near boat docks.
To start the weekend off I took a slightly different approach.  Live shiners!  It’s definitely a post spawn bite and the fish are extremely finicky, so why not see if they can resist some live bait.
I got off work a bit early on Friday, so I stopped by the bait shop and picked up 20 live shiners.  You can’t fish with live bait in Utah, so I figured it might be fun to try it.  Unfortunately, the shiners produced two bites that evening, but no fish.  I started to get a bit bored sitting there staring at a bobber and noticed just before dusk the fish started rising near shore.  I put on a Kietech noisy flapper (topwater frog) that I have been itching to try.  Two casts later I had two fish in the boat including a fun surprise with this beast crappie. 
Saturday I got on the water early only to be met by about 50 bass boats sitting in front of the docks waiting to take off.
This place is crazy with bass tournaments and this one must have been a big one.  There is only one little outlet to get on the river from the lake I live on and the tournament boats felt they had the right to block the inlet to the river.  Wow, Just another reason to dislike these “elite fisherman”.  More on that later. 

I weaved my way through the masses getting dirty looks the entire way, and then took off upriver in darkness to get to my spot before the rush of idiots followed.  I went back to the same spot where topwater produced the night before and started throwing it again.  It didn’t take long before I got a few hits and landed a couple bass.  Topwater is a blast and I love working it in and out of grass like in the photo below.
Soon the sun came up and everything went dead.  I decided to try the live shiners again and got one taker, but again couldn’t set the hook.  Apparently I need some learnin on live bait fishing.

Then came the idiotic masses in there sponsor covered shirts and their $80,000 bass boats.  Man they look cool.  I wonder if all that flare puts bass in the boat?  Apparently it doesn't because each one of them that fished passed me (way to close) were whining about the tough bite.  And then it happened.  As I’m sitting there fishing live bait, two morons all jazzed out in bass flare come working down my shoreline.  I’m not moving because I’m fishing live bait, which as we all know, is cheating in their book.  As they motored closer I started wondering, will they ever go around me?  Then I hear a splash right next to my boat.  These "elite fisherman" were casting within 2 feet from my boat, and to make it worse, one had the gall to ask me how the fishing is.  I stared back at him in disgust and shook my head and didn’t say a word.  Seriously people!  I have no problem sharing the lake, but give me a little distance!
 
Now that we know how I feel about tournament fisherman back to the fishing.  I could quickly tell the fishing was not heating up so I tried something a bit different.  Being that Lake Martinez is only 10 feet deep and full of sunken trees, I dropped a live minnow down about 9 feet and let the breeze blow me across the lake while I enjoyed the warm sunny morning.  Not long into my drift my rod doubled over and about went into the lake.  I grabbed it just in time and sure enough I had a fish on.  However, this was no largemouth bass and I could tell while fighting him.  After a worthy battle I found this small striped bass on the end of my line.
I knew they were in here, but hadn't found them yet.  Now I had found a whole school of juveniles.  I wasted some live bait and caught a couple more before the sun started beating down hard then I ran for AC.
 
I continued to fish the early mornings and evenings through the weekend and my topwater frog was pretty consistent putting a couple fish in the boat each trip out.  The daytime was dead and I never did find a pattern.  Only one week left here in paradise…