Monday, April 16, 2012

River Trips and Sunday Boating

Thursday and Friday night we fished the Ohio River for catfish. I fished the river for a combined total of 15.5 hours and ended up only catching a few hybrid stripers while fishing for skipjack. The only fish that was caught came as we were leaving Saturday morning, in which Amanda reeled in her last pole to find that a freshwater drum had been patiently sitting at the end of her line. This happens quite often, in fact last year Rylan's girlfriend (Stephanie) caught her personal best drum as she reeled in her last pole to leave. The drum weighed 5lbs and 13 ounces and measured 24.5 inches making it a trophy drum, Amanda's third Fish Ohio trophy on the year.
5lb 13oz 24.5 inch Freshwater Drum
With no luck at the river we had planned to rebound with a smallmouth trip Saturday evening. However the weather had other plans. It ended up raining most of Saturday, and not the fish-able kind of rain either. The day was plagued with periods of high wind, intense lighting, and heavy rain. So, we decided to sit Saturday out and fish Sunday.

Sunday I took Amanda and my little brother (Jake) out on the boat. Jake had never been on a boat before, so I figured that I'd take him out. At this point its important to note that Jake's swimming ability is less than average, and I was told not to let him get in the water. We decided to head to Rocky Fork with the creek chubs I had left over from the previous river trips. We loaded the boat up and set off to Rocky Fork Lake around 9am. We got on the water and were quite surprised at the low numbers of boats out, that should have been my first hint. We put in at Fisherman's Wharf and trolled over to the nearest cove. We started tossing tube baits and grubs for crappie. It didn't take long to find the crappie. We trolled along for a bit and then decided to head down the lake a bit. At this point the wind had picked up a little, the weather channel had the wind at 12 miles per hour. We got to our next spot and we anchored up. We tossed a few live creek chubs out on floats and continued probing structure with tube baits and grubs. After about an hour we decided to head even further down the lake. I told them that Rylan and I had found a good crappie spot near south beach so I decided to take them there. So heading with the wind and waves we managed our way down the lake.  We trolled our way into the south beach cove and anchored up exactly were Rylan and I had caught crappie the week before. Jake was in the hot seat, I knew this ahead of time because Rylan sat in the front seat and had found the hot bite near the deeper water before. Sure enough Jake managed to catch a few crappie, Amanda on the other hand managed to snag every cast. After the fourth or fifth time of retying a jig she decided to quit fishing. 

About an hour into fishing this spot we started talking about moving to a different spot when my phone went off. It was an alert from the weather channel that stated that we were under a wind advisory until 6pm. I checked the weather once more and discovered that we were now experiencing winds of up to 28 miles per hour. I take a look out of the cove at the main lake to see that the water now looked like what you see on The Discovery Channels Deadliest Catch. Okay, not really but I could see at this point that the waves were making white caps. So in a 14' jon boat I had to make a decision. I had only been in serious waves once with this boat. Rylan and I were out at North shore and decided to test the motor out, we got out about 100 yards riding the waves and turned back against the waves. At this point water from the waves was being thrown into the boat as we slammed down after each wave. Rylan's facial expression was enough to make me realize that we weren't going to fish the main lake that day.

So at this point I have in the back of my head all of the stories of people swamping/sinking jon boats from waves over taking the boat....and I don't wanna lose all of my stuff, oh yeah and Jake cant swim. I begin to weigh my options, 1. we could wait until 8pm when the wind dies down and try to make it back, 2. we could try to follow the bank and stay in shallow water until we got back, or 3. we could call someone to pick one of us up at South beach so we can drive over to the Wharf and bring the car to South Beach. After some debate I decided to head out and see how bad the waves were. Once we got out there I decided to turn on the motor and give it a shot. We get out there and I tell Jake to sit with Amanda on the middle bench seat, this would help take the weight off of the nose of the boat and allow the boat to go up and over waves rather than through them. So with my plan in place we start to head back to the Wharf against the waves. At this point the waves are making 1.5-2 feet swells and breaking over. The boat would go up over the wave and crash into the next wave, throwing water into the boat. At first Jake and Amanda put there heads down, maybe even said a prayer or two,  and avoided the water. After a few minutes of hitting waves I realized that we were going make it with no problems. Within 2 minutes Amanda and Jake were like two little kids on a water ride at Kings Island. They were throwing water at each other and laughing. All the while those bass guys with 30 thousand dollar boats turn and look at us like were crazy.

We got back to the Wharf and I turned the trolling motor on, only to realize that I had left it down while motoring back. The motor prop must have tore the trolling motor prop off because the trolling motor prop and nut were now missing. So I turned the motor back on and we found a spot and anchored up out of the wind.  We fished for an hour and then moved again, sometimes using the wind and oars to move us down the bank. Eventually the wind died down and we caught a few more fish. Jake managed a half dozen crappie with the largest being 11" and 11oz.

I managed 8 crappie two over a half pound, several gills, and a nice little bonus carp on the tube bait. The 3 pound 10 oz carp put up quite the battle on the ultra light spooled with 4lb test. It's my first carp ever on an artificial lure.

All in all it was a decent day, with the exception of a broken prop. We built our morale up with panfish and were now ready to give the catfish another go this weekend.