Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Weekend Channel Cats

We finally took a break from the bass fishing this weekend to do some catfishing. Sean and Amanda went out to Rocky Fork Lake Thursday night 5/25 to see if the channel cats were biting. Shad were scarce during the day time but after a couple hours of throw netting they had some fresh shad for bait and headed out on the boat to a spot we have known to hold some big channels. Sean ended up catching 2 nice size channels right after sunset, both caught tight lining cut shad on circle hooks.
7lb 8oz 27 inch Channel Catfish
10lb 2oz 28.25 inch Channel Catfish
Since Sean had success Thursday, Saturday 5/27, we decided to go back to the same spot. This time we had 2 throw nets to speed up the bait catching process. After an hour we had 6 large shad, not as many as we wanted but enough to get by. We got the boat to the spot we wanted around 8pm and set up. The water temperature was 80 degrees so we expected the channels to be in full spawn. After throwing out some cut shad we started fishing for bluegill as I wanted to have some live bait as well. We caught a few bluegill, yellow perch, and saugeye. Turns out there was a hot saugeye bite, we caught about 8 10 inch saugeye, a species we don't often fish for or catch. While bluegill fishing Amanda's rod loaded and she caught a 4lb channel. About 30 minutes later my rod loaded and I caught a very fat 9lb 4oz channel measuring only 25 inches, very short for a channel of that weight, possibly full of eggs
9lb 4oz 25 inch Channel Catfish
9lb 4oz 25 inch Channel Catfish
Right at sunset Sean's rod loaded and he caught the last good size channel of the evening at 8lbs.
8lb Channel Catfish
After sunset the only thing we could find was dinker nibbles, I managed to catch one smaller channel at 1lb 4oz before we decided to pack it in. A good start to some summer time channel cats. As usual Amanda could be found sleeping while me and Sean watched are poles intently.
Nap time

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Some Nice Bass and a New Points Record

Went Largemouth Bass fishing a few days ago with a few of the new wobbleheads I received last week. Amanda and I had the boat on the water at 1:30pm. The day started out with a pound even bass and a couple dinkers. A hundred yards from the boat ramp I tuned and tossed a wobblehead near the base of a fallen tree and I got hammered.
2lb 15oz Largemouth.
Eight small bass, two bluegill, five crappie, and 3/4 of the way around the lake later I managed to catch another nice bass. 
2lb 13oz Largemouth
A few casts later, the very next fish was a 13.5" 1lb 4oz crappie. The second Fish Ohio Crappie of the year for me.
1lb 4oz Crappie

1lb 4oz Crappie
At this point it was 5:30 and we were approaching the boat ramp, Amanda had that look about her...the one that meant that she was ready to go. After a few moments of debating I told her we were going to make another lap. She wasn't happy, but we pressed on.
Five bass, nine crappie, and three bluegill later I had hooked another nice bass. This one put up quite the fight on the ultra light, taking nearly two minutes to get to the boat where Amanda was patiently waiting with the net. The bass went 3lbs and 15oz, just one ounce shy of my personal best.
3lb 15oz Largemouth Bass
The rest of the evening I managed to catch several more bass and a few crappie. At 9:00pm I tied on a rebel chug bug popper and tossed it for thirty minutes in hopes that larger bass were lurking. Turns out that they weren't in the topwater mood.

On the day I manged 25 Crappie, 29 Largemouth, and 9 Bluegill. I had two bass over a pound, 2 bass over 2 pounds, and one bass over three pounds. I also had a half pound crappie and a pound crappie. Altogether I had 54 points in fish, and 42 points in weight for a grand total of 96 points. The previous points record was in the mid 70's from the Ohio River while catfishing. Hopefully we find another hot bite soon, and someone can break into the hundred point club. 

Friday, May 25, 2012

Fishing Injuries

Over the last decade Rylan and myself have had several injuries related to fishing. Rylan has only suffered minor injuries, such as embedding lures into his leg, getting an occasional severe poison ivy outbreak, getting his foot ran over by the boat trailer, etc. But for the most part I have gotten the worst part of the deal. Several years ago I was bass fishing Rylan's pond and managed to catch a 6lb channel catfish on a crankbait. As I start to take the hooks out, the channel made a few good head shakes and buried it's pectoral fin into my hand. The pain initially was mild, but I could tell from Rylan and Amanda's facial expressions that the injury was far worse than I had feared. After several good pulls and ripping skin I managed to get the pectoral fin out and released the channel to be caught another day. I continued to fish and the wound became infected. A day later I made a trip to the emergency room to get antibiotics.

Last week I was putting the boat into Adams Lake in Adams County, Ohio. Its a small lake at 47 acres, and is restricted to electric motors. The only ramp is quite shallow and is hard to get the boat in the water without getting wet. So trying to avoid getting wet, I walked the trailer in order to push the boat the rest of the way off the trailer. After pushing the boat off the trailer, I begin to make my way back to the bank. At this point my foot began to slip and I lost balance. In a last ditch effort to stay dry I made a leap to the bank. As I landed I hit a mossy spot on the ramp and landed hard on my knee and foot. The boat was in the water already and I wanted to fish. An hour into the trip I feared that the wounds would get infected so I dumped some anise oil onto my wounds. I had anise in my bag for adding scent to my plastic baits. Anise is 70% alcohol so I figured it would be better than nothing. Four hours later I had fished as long as I could, it was time to go. When I got home I took a picture of the damage.
Its been a couple days now, and I still have a modest amount of pain, swelling, and a good limp. After several people had shared their opinions, I do believe that I have broken a toe or two. Its a good thing I have a boat so I can fish while I recover. Maybe I'll get to bank fish sometime next week.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Wobblehead 3" Worms

Previous posts we have mentioned using wobblehead worms. About 5 years ago, I purchased a few packages of wobblehead worms from Bass Pro Shops. After using them a few times in Rylan's pond, I quickly found how effective they are. After running through my supply in a year or so I returned to Bass Pro Shops to find that they had stopped carrying the wobblehead lures. At this point I switched to other baits, but never had the same results. After a few long nights of Internet surfing and reading old fishing magazines I sparked my memory. I used a search engine to find Wobblehead lures. I placed an order the following day for a few packs of 3" worms. Last fall I used them on and off to catch bluegill and crappie, but it wasn't until this spring that I started using them again. After finding a few hot lakes and catching several dozen bass a trip, dozens of crappie, dozens of bluegills, and even an occasional catfish with Rylan, Amanda, and Jake, I went through my supply of wobblehead worms in quick order. Each trip I go through 2-4 worms, at least on the good trips that is. 
Our order of Wobblehead worms.
Last week Rylan and I made a rather large order of 3" wobblehead worms. Rylan ordered one of each color; Live, Orange, Chartreuse, Red, Motor Oil, Chameleon, Purple, Black, White, Pink, and Yellow. I had a more specific order of  (1) live, (1) Orange, (1) Chartreuse, (4) Red, (4) Motor Oil, (5) Chameleon, and (5) Purple. Purple, Motor Oil, and Chameleon are my personal favorite colors. Rylan also ordered a few spoons that come with the wobbleheads in chrome, black, red, and brass. We also received a pack of neon colored spoons and translucent spoons.
All 11 of the colors offered by Wobblehead worms.
Above is a picture of each of the colors offered, from left to right top to bottom: Pink, Yellow, Live, Chartreuse, Orange, Motor Oil, Black, Red, Purple, Chameleon, and White.
Here's a few pics of some of the fish we have caught on 3" wobblehead worms recently.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Making Spinnerbaits

A couple years ago I bought a kit to make spinnerbaits from Cabela's. At the time I was using spinnerbaits a lot and at $3-4 a piece, snagging them was getting expensive quick. I thought to myself that they would be easy and much cheaper to make. I stumbled upon the kit on Cabela's website and decided to give it a try. The kit included parts to make 48 spinnerbaits and only cost $36.99, making the cost of one spinnerbait only 77 cents, much cheaper than buying them individually assembled. Of course this doesn't include the cost of shipping so in the end they probably end up costing around a dollar a piece. You can find the kit here. There is also some optional colored tubing that you can buy to add to your hooks for $3.99. The assembly process is pretty easy, the only tools required are some pliers and wire cutters.
Kit contents, red tubing, and tools
The first step of assembly is choosing a treble hook from the three sizes in the kit and adding some optional tubing to the shaft of the hook.
Next slide the hook onto the preformed wire. Then select a chrome or gold body and slide it onto both ends of the wire using pliers to pinch the wire together to get the short end.
With the pliers, bend the short end of the wire to serve as a mark to cut the excess. Remove the body piece and use wire cutters to snip the excess wire off just below where you made the bend.
Re add the body, using pliers to pinch the wire together, the short side of the wire should slide flush with the body now. Now add beads as desired, and the clevis with an appropriate blade with the bowl side of the blade facing towards the body.
Grab the wire with the pliers about a quarter inch from the clevis and form a loop with the wire around the pliers. Make sure there is enough play for the blade to spin but not enough for the body to pop off the short end of the wire. After forming the loop wrap the wire around itself about two complete turns. Finally cut the excess wire and the new spinnerbait is complete.
The kit contains 4 size blades in both chrome and gold. Below are 3 completed baits in 3 different sizes all chrome.

Spinnerbaits are definitely one of my favorite baits. The flashy spinning action can draw in strikes from a wide variety of fish. My best multi-species day of fishing actually came from using one of these spinnerbaits exclusively, that day I caught bluegill, smallmouth, crappie, gar, channel cats, and drum all in one evening at the creek with a spinnerbait, and none of these fish were snagged. Personally my favorite locations for using spinnerbaits are in creeks for smallmouth, in the ohio river and tributaries for hybrid stripers, and in ponds for largemouth. This versatility makes a spinnerbait a top weapon in my arsenal of lures.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Brush Creek, May 12, 2012

Water levels finally dropped to a fishable level this weekend so we decided to take the boat out to Brush Creek. We put the boat in at the public Brush Creek access near the Ohio River. It was our first time to use this ramp, and to our surprise we had to pay $5 to launch a boat. We put the boat in at 2pm and motored up Brush Creek for almost an hour. Using a gps to measure miles per hour we estimated our location to be around 6-7 miles from the boat ramp. For the first 2 miles the water depths ranged from 32 feet to 19 feet deep. We wanted to find a water depth of around 10-12 feet with submerged structure. We had the intention of fishing for Flathead catfish, so this was our criteria for our first spot....and it just so happened that such a spot was found around 6 miles north of the boat ramp. On our way up the creek we came across many limb lines that had been placed during periods of high water that had 3lb channels hanging 2 feet out of the water. It was a sad sight, we even seen two trotlines stretched across the creek at one point. We motored past and continued to watch the bank for limb lines and trotlines so we weren't fishing spots that were already fished out.

While trying to get up a shallow riffle we drug the motor and sheared a pin, which in turn caused the prop to slip separately from the shaft of the outboard. At this point we were up the creek without a paddle. Not really, we did have a 55lb thrust Minn Kota trolling motor and two batteries. We knew we could get back, but it would take a while. With no intention of heading back at this point we found a few spots and anchored for an hour and fished on our way back. At each spot we caught a few small channels on night crawler as we let our shad soak. At one point Amanda managed to catch a baby Flathead catfish. I had been looking for a new catfish for my 55 gallon aquarium and this happened to a perfect candidate. With regulations of one fish over 35" per person in Ohio, I was within legal limits to keep this one. We put it in a bait bucket and kept it aerated for the trip home.

At about dark we found a good spot with structure on a bend. We managed to catch a few more small channels and it began to rain. We trolled to another spot with one bar of cell phone service and checked the weather, it was not looking good. With an estimated hour and a half of trolling left to the ramp we decided to head back. On the ride back Rylan was using a spot light to help avoid debris and logs and spooked a rather large fish that jumped and slammed into the side of the boat. We believe it may have been a Silver Carp but didn't know they were in the Ohio River this far upstream. Two hours later we found the ramp, which happened to be infested with snakes. Hopefully next weekend we can get out and avoid bad weather and shallow water.

Winchester Lake, May 10, 2012

Thursday, May 10th, Rylan and I took the boat out to Winchester Lake/Reservoir. We have lived twenty minutes from the lake and have yet to fish it. The lake is approximately 25 acres, with 20 fishable acres due to heavy vegetation in the head waters. We arrived at the lake at 5:00pm and fished until 9:30pm. We started fishing with 3" wobblehead worms and crankbaits. We began fishing at the dam and made our way around the left side of the lake. We managed two whole trips around before it got too dark. Wobbleheads were by far the most productive baits. We managed around 10 largemouth, a few gills, 2 bullhead, and a half dozen crappie. On our first trip around the lake Rylan managed to hook something quite large. After a few good pulls he brought it to the surface.
We quickly pulled the jig out of the turtle and continued fishing. We guessed the turtle to be around 15 pounds, slightly smaller than the 18 pounder I caught out of Rylan's pond a year ago. After a few more casts Rylan managed to hook something nice again. He told me to get the net, after losing a few bass at the boat we decided we would net anything over a pound. After a few quick bursts of drag we saw a bullhead come to the surface. It went 1 pound and 5oz. It was Rylan's new personal best bullhead, and the largest bullhead we have caught to date. I went to take the jig out for Rylan and the bullhead clamped down real hard, it felt similar to shutting your finger in a car door.  I have heard that spawning catfish tend to bite really hard, and from the looks of the bullhead it may have been spawning. 
1lb 5oz 14 inch Bullhead

1lb 5oz 14 inch Bullhead
After a few more casts we switched to topwater lures. Rylan stated throwing his favorite, a rebel popper, and I threw mine, a storm chug bug. Rylan managed one bass on topwater before we left.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

29 Largemouth and Fish Ohio Bluegill

After Sean's success bass fishing last week we decided to head out to the same lake to see if the bite was still hot. I got off work, grabbed some quick food, and we headed out. We arrived, put his boat in, and started fishing at about 5:30pm. We started using the same tactics that had produced before, 1/16 or 1/32 jigs tipped with 3 inch wobblehead plastic worms. We fished them in a way that we describe as the roller-coaster method, swimming the bait up and down repeatedly off the shore line. It wasn't long before we started to catch bass on every 5 casts or so, all of which were in the 8-12 inch range. Sean also caught a few crappie with this method. Once dusk neared we switched up to various top water baits in hopes for some more sizable fish. The top water bite only produces a couple more smaller bass. We ended up catching 29 largemouth combined but I had several spit hooks. We also caught a few bluegill and Sean had 3 crappie. Surface water temperature was 73 degrees. The highlight of the trip for me though was a Fish Ohio Trophy Bluegill. I caught it using the wobblehead method and it measured in at a solid 9 inches.
9 inch Redear Sunfish
Most fun I've had bass fishing in a long time and I hope to get out and do it again soon.

Monday, May 7, 2012

42 Largemouth and a Fish Ohio Crappie

Thursday, May 3rd, Amanda had college classes all day so I decided to take dad out to fish for a little while. We initially took the boat out to a local lake, found a good bank spot, and set up for some carp fishing. We chummed an area and fished for three hours with no success. Dad was watching the edge of the water and he kept telling me that there was a bass swimming in circles around his line. I knew it was about time for bass to be guarding their nests, so I quickly tied on a plastic worm and went to work. I managed three bass, one of which went 1lb and 13oz.
After another hour of patiently waiting for carp, I looked over to dad and asked if he wanted to take the boat and bass fish for a while so he wouldn't get shut out. We debated for a few minutes and finally started packing up. I tied on a 3" wobblehead plastic worm and tied him on a Mepps comet spinner bait. It only took about two casts and I had another small bass. A cast or two later, the same result. Dad looked back and I asked him if he wanted me to tie on a wobblehead too, sure enough he did....which turned out to be a really good choice. We fished 4pm to 8pm, I managed 22 largemouth, 1 crappie, and 5 bluegill. Dad caught 20 largemouth, 1 crappie, and 8 bluegill. It just so happens that 22 largemouth in a single day is my best bass fishing day ever. However the story of the day was a fish Ohio Crappie. I caught it on a purple wobblehead near a fallen tree in about 10 feet of water. At first I thought I had another pound and a half bass, but when I saw it was a crappie I quickly struggled to find the net. The crappie went 14.5" and weighed 1lb 10oz. To date this is my second largest crappie, and the largest public water crappie I have ever caught.
As with all trophies, a quick picture, measure, weigh, and then back they go. Maybe I'll find him again one day. 

Friday, May 4, 2012

Largemouth Fishing This Week

Did some largemouth fishing the last 3 days with decent success. To start things off Wednesday I went to my pond to see how the bite was doing since the weather really warmed up this week. I ended up catching 7 largemouth in 2 hours which is pretty good numbers for the pond. All were around 11 inches which is average for the pond. Caught them all on a weightless Berkley Wacky Crawler. Surface temperature was 74 degrees. Didn't catch any of the ones I tagged earlier this year.

Thursday, after Sean informed me that the water was up a few feet at Rocky Fork Lake I decided to hit a local public pond. Started off throwing the Berkley Wacky Crawler again and quickly caught my first largemouth of about 10 inches. Later I noticed many panfish were stacked up on one side of the pond and switched to a 1.5 inch Berkley Power Grub on a 1/32 jig. I ended up catching 2 small crappie and 3 bluegill on the grub. When dusk rolled around I got out a Rebel Popper, I've been on a top water kick this spring. Cast about 20 with no bites before hooking into a decent one. Battled it through some thick weeds before landing it. The largemouth weighed 2lbs even and was 17 inches. Rather skinny for a 2 pounder but was fun none the less.
2lb 0oz 17 Inch Largemouth
I ended up catching one other largemouth on the popper that was around 12 inches

Yesterday I figured the water was back down at Rocky Fork Lake so I headed up to one of my favorite bank spots after work. Picked up some frozen shad from the local bait store so I could see if any catfish were biting while I fished for bass and panfish. Started off jigging nightcrawler for bluegill and found that the bluegill were no were to be found, possibly spawning already. After a good while I hooked into something and thought I was snagged only to find out it was a decent size fish. I pulled the fish to the surface long enough to catch a glimpse of an approximate 3lb largemouth only to have the hook pop out. After the disappointing loss I switched up baits to specifically target largemouth. First tossed a crankbait around with no luck. I Then switched to a Spot Remover and hooked into a nice one on the first cast. Brought it to the surface only to have the hook pop out once again, this one was about 2lbs. Immediately cast back in the same spot and hooked another one and finally landed a 1lb 3oz largemouth. Not the big ones I had just lost but better than nothing. This bass had noticeable signs of spawning so its safe to assume that these fish were on their beds at this spot. The bass were hitting my bait in defense of their nest thus I wasn't getting good hook sets. I continued fishing the spot remover with no more bites. Also didn't get any bites on cut shad while I was bass fishing. Water temperature was 73 degrees.

On a side note Bob my bullhead has been extremely active this week. He usually stays under his rock most the time but this week he has been out and about a lot. This got me wondering, does Bob still have reference to what time of year it is and thinks it's time to spawn? He has been in the aquarium for about 2 years so it is an interesting question. Regardless, I'm taking it as a sign the catfish are on the prowl and should be biting good. Hope to get out tomorrow and do some catfishing and prove this theory. I took a quick video of Bob in action, It is dark but I didn't want to spook him.