Sunday, April 28, 2013

4/23/2013, 4/25/2013 Carp Fishing

This week I decided to do some carp fishing. Tuesday after work I headed out to a lake we know to hold some monster carp. I got on the water at about 5:00pm. Immediately I opened a can of corn and tossed nearly half the can in the water to get the carp chummed in. Corn in recent years has by far been our favorite carp bait. My preferred setup is as simple as can be, just a small bluegill hook threaded with 3 pieces of corn or so, no weight or anything else. I toss it out as far as I can into where I threw the chum, typically this isn't that far since I'm not using any weight, 15-20ft or so. At this point I leave my spinning reels bail open allowing line to come off. If your not going to be watching your line intently you can clip a piece of styrofoam to your line for some added visibility of a bite however this isn't necessary if you plan on watching your lines closely. At this point its a waiting game.

I waited and waited with no bites. I could see some huge ones swimming around near the surface lethargically. They didn't seem to be interested in my corn but I knew there had to be some out of view that were. About 2 hours went by and I was on the verge of retiring to fishing for bass or bluegill. Finally just before I decided to leave I got a short tug. This was enough to get my attention and I decided to stay a bit longer. Ten minutes later my line started slowly pulling out once more and this time it didn't stop. I picked up my rod and set the hook and it felt like a good fish. It quickly splashed the surface after being hooked and I could tell this carp was easily 20lbs. It immediately started ripping line off my reel, my anchor didn't hold in the shallow water and the fish pulled me 50ft out into the middle of the lake. Holding on for dear life I reached down and dropped my anchor down to stop the fish from pulling me out any farther. At this point the fish probably had 30 yards of line out. I slowly worked the fish in closer and closer. Eventually I got the carp within 10ft of my NuCanoe, to the point where I was thinking about picking my net up. I could see now that the carp was pushing 30lbs. The fish was not happy about being that close to my NuCanoe and off it went again, ripping line off like it was nothing, so much that I started to think it was never going to stop. This happened time and time again, I'd get it close and off it would go another 20-30 yards out. I battled the carp for about 10 minutes like this. Finally, as I had feared, It made its way into a fallen tree and broke free.

I was disappointed but at least I knew they were biting. I set back up and threw out some more corn. This time I hooked my anchor on a small tree to ensure no fish was pulling me anywhere. An hour passed by and I once again started losing hope. Again, right before I decided to give up, I got a bite. I hooked into another carp that felt much smaller than the previous, but still pretty decent. After a few minutes I had it in my net, to my surprise it was a mirror carp. Mirror carp have a genetic mutation causing there scales to be inconsistent and unique. This was my first mirror carp ever as they are fairly uncommon. It weighed in at 16lbs 12oz and measured 28 inches. The carp was also good enough for my third different Fish OH species.
16lb 12oz 28 inch Mirror Carp
I took the opportunity to try out my camera mount and attempted to get a picture of me with the fish. They didn't turn out well but I didn't realize that my timer only turned on for one picture only.

Before checking the pictures I released the fish. Right before hooking this carp I had tossed out my remaining corn so this concluded my carp fishing for the evening. I ended my evening casting a small crankbait around and found 1 largemouth and 1 crappie to conclude my day.

Thursday after work I went out for round 2.  Day two didn't go as planned. I waited 2 hours without any bites once again, but this time it was windier and I couldn't see any carp on the surface so I decided to move on to bass and bluegill fishing. Like Tuesday, I tossed a small crankbait around and caught 3 bluegill, 2 largemouth, and 1 crappie before calling it quits.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

4/20/2013, 4 Trophy Crappie

Unfortunately I didn't get to fish much in the beginning of April, higher priority things came up. However the last week and a half I have been trying to make up for lost time. Last Saturday, 4/20/13, I went out in search of a trophy crappie and I didn't just find one, I found four including a new personal best. I started the day off by picking up some minnows and heading to a lake that we have been doing well at for crappie. I got on the water at about 3pm. The wind was rough, gusting in excess of 20mph so I didn't have high hopes. I paddled to one of the nicer looking snags in the lake and put out a minnow on a float set 4ft deep near the snag. I then started casting a small crankbait around in search of any active fish in the area. It wasn't long before I started catching nice eater size crappie in the 10-11 inch range along with a few bluegill and largemouth on the crankbait. The minnow float action soon thereafter picked up as well and I brought in a few more 10-11 inch crappie. It wasn't long before I found my first and smallest trophy crappie of the day on the minnow float. It was right at 13 inches and 1lb 0oz, good enough to qualify for a Fish OH trophy and my second Fish OH of the year.
1lb 0oz 13inch White Crappie
I was excited to get my first trophy crappie of the year but I still wanted a bigger one. A few crappie later and I hooked into a decent one. I haven't hooked many crappie that pulled drag so I knew this was a good one. After a short fight, I boated a very nice slab. This one went 14.5 inches and 1lb 10oz, a new personal best. My camera actually died after snapping a few pics of the length on my paddle so I didn't get a chance to try out my camera mount to take a pic of me with the fish. I was pretty disappointed I didn't get any good pics of my new personal best, the length pics just don't do it justice. I had my cell phone for the remaining pics, which doesn't have a timer nor can it be mounted to my camera mount.
1lb 10oz 14.5inch White Crappie
The action failed to cease. A few crappie later, to my amazement I hooked another nice one. This one went 13.75 inches and 1lb 4oz.
1lb 4oz 13.75inch White Crappie
The action started to slow after that. Since I only had about a dozen minnows left, I decided to continue fishing for crappie til I ran out and then toss a crankbait for bass and bluegill. At this point I moved as close as possible to the snag I was fishing to really probe it for any remaining crappie. To put the icing on the cake, I found myself yet another nice crappie. This one went 14 inches and 1lb 7oz, putting me at four trophy crappie on the day.
1lb 7oz 14inch White Crappie
I ran out of minnows soon thereafter and moved on to bass and bluegill fishing. Tossing a small crankbait around I ended up catching a few more bass and bluegill. Two of the bluegill were over 8 inches, good enough to qualify for kayak wars points.

On the day I ended up catching 19 crappie, 5 largemouth, and 7 bluegill. I kept 14 of the crappie for the table, all the trophies were released to be caught another day. One of the best days of fishing I've had in a long time. Points wise, It was my best at 93 points.

Friday, April 19, 2013

April 17-19 2013, Fish Ohio Crappie and Morels

Last week we got out and fished 3 times on various bodies of water. We fished creeks, large ponds, and small lakes. The weather was as diverse as the water we fished, one day it was calm and cool and the next it was super windy and day the water was clear and flowing slow, the next it was over its banks and looked like chocolate milk. The best day of the week came from a small state lake on Wednesday evening. The wind wasn't bad and the temperature was in the 70's, the only problem was that the day before we got almost an inch of rain in a very short period of time so creeks were over their banks. Anytime creeks are flowing like that its hard to fish. This lake in particular was running high but clear. We started on the deep end of the lake and followed the wind down the bank to the shallow end. I had a small rapala crankbait tied on one rod and a 1/32oz jig with a Bobby Garland baby shad tied on the other rod. I tossed the rapala when I wasn't near structure and then tossed the jig into structure. The bite was hot, I ended up catching tons of bluegills, over a dozen crappie, and 10 largemouth. Within the first hour I had hooked a huge crappie on the Bobby Garland, but as luck would have it my line went slack and got caught under the reel handle....luckily the fish was still on. I quickly started pulling line up with my hand, until the fish surfaced and I could land it. It was my first 13" crappie and my first Fish Ohio of the year as well. It went 1lb. and 1oz.

Shortly after landing the 13" crappie I decided to give the panfish a break and I started tossing a rapala original floating minnow. As I was heading down the bank I looked up to see a school of carp basking in the sun. I took a break from fishing and tried to take a picture, I wasn't sure how the glare would affect it but it worked out alright. You may have to click on it and view it full screen, you can see at least 10 decent sized carp.

At about 6pm I had made my way up to the shallow side of the lake and started casting up into the shallows. On one particular cast I tossed my crankbait up into some sycamore roots and immediately felt snagged, until my drag started to slip. After a long battle I finally landed my biggest bass from the 3lbs 1oz.

The rest of the week we caught a ton of 14" largemouth, 8 inch bluegill, and 10 inch crappie but lacked any true picture worthy fish.

Friday we decided to give the water a break and see what was going on in the woods. We took a few bread sacks and went out to see if the morels had started popping up yet. Sure enough we found 149 morels between 4 of us in 3 hours of hunting. We found 145 black mushrooms and 4 greys, most of which were smaller than average. Here's a picture of them as we counted them up. Sorry for the blurry picture, but I only had a cell phone on me and its lens is scratched up.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

4/13/2013, 4/14/2013 Creeks and Ponds

Amanda and I fished a local creek Saturday morning. Most of the creeks were over their banks, however after driving around for a little bit we found a stretch of creek that was still running clear, high but clear. We put the kayaks in around noon and fished until dark. Water temps ranged from 52 to 55 degrees. The winds were ripping real hard (20+ MPH), couple that with the higher than normal flow and it made for some very interesting fishing. We started out looking for areas of slack water, current breaks made by boulders or fallen trees. We figured that the fish would be stacked up in these areas trying to conserve energy, also we thought that we could fish slack water with more control. The bite was slower than it has been, but we managed just over 30 crappie, 6 largemouth, and 4 bluegill. I threw chigger craws, rooster tails, bobby garland baby shad, crankbaits, jigs, and minnows at them. Minnows were only productive when we jigged them vertically, the wind was too bad to fish them under floats.

The biggest fish of the day was a 16.5" largemouth that went just at 2lbs.

I took a quick picture of it on the measuring board for the kayak wars tournament and then paddled over to Amanda for a better picture. After watching Amanda slay the crappie, I decided to try for a kayak wars crappie.....12" minimum. Well after 17 crappie the day was almost over and I fell short of the 12" mark. My largest crappie of the day was 11.75", a heartbreaker.

Sunday 4/14/2013

Sunday Rylan, Amanda, and I loaded the car up with the kayaks and decided to hit a few ponds in the Shawnee State Forest. My game plan was to throw a black and blue jig with a Berkley Chigger Craw and then throw an F5 Rapala original floating minnow when I wasn't near structure. Rylan went with a more proactive approach and decided to throw a swimbait. Amanda had a few dozen minnows and her game plan was to throw a float out with a minnow, and then jig a small plastic around while she waited for a fish to bite. We started fishing around 10:30am and fished until dark...8:30pm.

Rylan did significantly better than I at the first two ponds, he managed a few bass in the 13-15" range. On the other hand I managed a few bass under the 12" mark and to be honest all of which came off of the Rapala. We found out that the bass were not holding to structure yet, rather sitting right on the edge of the bank or cruising the middle of the ponds. Once we figured this out I started tossing the Rapala everywhere, even out in the middle. I ended up catching a few 8" bluegill and over over a dozen small bass.
On the third and final pond I found a few crappie and told Amanda about where I had caught them. She quickly anchored up and started to wear the crappie out. All of which were in the 10-11" range. I continued up the bank continuously casting a jig and then switching to the Rapala. About a half hour before dark the bite picked up and I managed my first bass over 14" and then a crappie just over 12".
Shortly after releasing my crappie I heard Amanda yell over and stated that she had a crappie over a pound. So I paddled down to her to see what she had caught.....seriously doubting that she had a crappie over a pound, maybe a half-pounder. Sure enough she had landed a 13" crappie that weighed 1lb 1oz. So I then gave her my camera to take a picture for the Kayak Wars tournament and it happened. The fish made a few good flops and overboard it went. Luckily for me she held onto the camera. It was at this point I realized that not only was that worth points in the tournament, but that was her new personal best crappie and she didn't get a picture. She was pretty upset, but she continued on. As we were paddling back we all discussed what we had caught. Amanda had landed 25 crappie and 2 largemouth; Rylan had landed 6 largemouth (4 over a pound) and 1 crappie; and I had landed 17 largemouth (1 over a pound), 8 crappie, and 6 bluegill.....all in 10  hours of fishing. Not quite as good as we had in the creeks the week before but we were happy to get out and try some new water.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

4/8/2013, 4/9/2013 Creeks on Fire.

Monday after work I received a text message from Jake, my little brother, asking when I'd be home. I told him when I got off work and met him when I got home, he then asked to borrow a few rods. One thing led to another and we were sitting bankside casting for smallmouth. However the smallmouth were still nowhere to be found. We began on the upstream side of one of the deepest holes we have found in this particular stretch of creek near the house and then proceed to work our way down the riffle and throughout the hole. I managed one small spotted bass, Jake caught a couple small bluegill and Amanda had yet to catch a fish in the riffle. We then jumped down to the head of the hole and I quickly managed a couple more spotted bass from the shoreline. Amanda switched to tossing tube baits and probing the deep ledges. As Jake and I were fishing the backside of the hole Amanda started yelling. We quickly went over to check things out and her rod was bent. We quickly realized after a few slips of drag that she did not have a smallmouth on the end of the line. A short 2 minute battle and we had landed her first flathead catfish of the year.
The flathead went 9lbs and 10oz. As the day went on we managed a few small bluegill and a couple largemouth. We called it quits and decided to finish our trip the next day.

Jake and I took the kayaks out to another local creek with a few dozen minnows to see if we could pick up a few fish. We got in the water at around 2pm and fished until 8pm. Jake managed the first fish of the day, a largemouth bass at 2lbs 0oz. He was pretty happy, I believe it may be his personal best, but he won't admit to that. He doesn't smile much, so that alone tells you how happy he was to have it. 
We drifted along and I managed to pick up a few largemouth and crappie here and there pitching minnows along the bank. About halfway through the trip Jake managed to flip his kayak, he claimed that he was messing in his stern well and he bumped into a log. Either way he was over his head in water, luckily he had a life jacket on because he can't swim. I pulled him into my kayak and dropped him off at the bank to dry off while I went out and gathered his things. We quickly figured out that he lost 2 rods, one of which had a healthy price that Amanda had bought. So I spent about 45 minutes scouring the area with a treble hook and a down imaging fish finder. I finally got it and we continued fishing, minus one can of skoal, an ultralight rod, and 5 dozen minnows. 

We drifted along and found a good tree that produced a few quick fish so we anchored up and ended up staying there for the rest of the day. We went through all my minnows rather quickly and then started casting small plastics. We caught a fish literally every 2 or 3 minutes. Combined we ended up with 69 crappie and 1 largemouth off of that very spot in a little over an hour and a half. 

Above is a picture of my largest fish of the day, a largemout bass at 14.5" and 1lb 8oz...nothing big, but I was happy none the less. We got out, got wet, got our first sunburns, and caught fish.  I guess if I had to sum up the past weeks of fishing, I'd say that the creeks are on fire right now....and if your not fishing you should be. 

Sunday, April 7, 2013

4/6/2013 Kayak Creek Fishing

Saturday Amanda and I decided to take the kayaks and fish a creek for the first time. For the most part we have been chasing crappie and bass on the lakes in fear of having to drag the kayaks in 50 degree water in the creeks. However with air temperature in the 70’s we decided to give it a shot. We got the kayaks in the water at noon, and that was quite a process. We had to drag them down a 100 foot bridge embankment to get to the water. We loaded them down before dragging them down the hill…..wont ever do that again. Anyway, we got in the water around noon and casually paddled upstream. Water temperatures were 49-51 degrees and water clarity was about 3-4 foot. About a half hour into the paddle we ran into our first riffle.

It wasn’t too bad, we beached the kayaks and proceeded to get out ,side saddle, and drag them along the edge of the bank. We both managed to stay dry at this point. About 5 minutes later we ran into a series of riffles, probably 100 yards long. This set of riffles was deeper and Amanda managed to make it through them just by paddling, however I did not. As I was taking the first rapid I noticed that I was headed toward a huge bolder so I adjusted to the left and in the process I lost speed and my kayak started to drift back down stream. All I could do was hang on, until I noticed myself going toward a rather large limb sticking out above the water…which would surely break a few rods if I hit it moving as fast as I was. So I did something I shouldn’t have done, I tried to stop myself with my foot, and as my foot caught a rock my kayak tipped and my butt became wet.  It was worth saving my rods for though. I quickly walked along the bank pulled a scupper plug to drain water and caught up with Amanda. Here's a picture looking back at the lower section of the 100 yard long riffles.

We soon made it to our destination and began fishing.  I started out throwing a 1/8 oz. white rooster tail just to search the area. I then switched to a drop shot rig and bounced a live minnow. Large sized minnows…..I hate calling them bass minnows because it almost implies that I’m using baby bass for bait which isn’t the case. I managed to catch a small white bass and Amanda caught a small largemouth. The bite just wasn’t there this time around. We stayed for about an hour and a half before I could manage to pull myself away from that hole.  So we began drifting down stream and watching the fish finder for any submerged structure. Water depth probably averaged 5 feet deep with some holes hitting 10 feet. We quickly found a huge tree in 6 feet of water and began tossing minnows under a float into it. On my first cast I set my rod down and started to tie on a second float, as I looked back at my float it had disappeared... I set the hook with way too much slack in my line but to my surprise the fish was on. I saw the fish as it came to the kayak; it was a massive crappie, at least 14", probably closer to 15"…..then it happened, the hook popped out.  The fish broke my heart. Shortly after losing that fish, Amanda had ventured over to see if she could find the fish I had just lost.  We quickly landed a half dozen crappie and a few largemouth bass. We sat around and waited another half an hour before deciding to head down stream a little bit more.  

We fished a couple more spots that produced a few small spotted bass, but nothing like the previous spot. We decided that it had to do with the current. The current on the first tree was very slack, almost stagnant, and the current on the trees we fished that didn’t produce many fish was almost to hard to fish. So with that in mind we developed a game plan and decided to fish the slack water behind fallen trees and boulders.
Our last spot of the day was actually 2 trees that had fallen in the water just downstream of a massive boulder that had fallen of a nearby cliff. The water was so calm that we could have gotten away without anchoring. I let Amanda have the downsteam side and I took the area just behind the boulder, just upstream of the trees.  Before I could anchor I heard drag slipping and she soon asked me for a hand. To our surprise she had landed a huge stream largemouth on a 5' ultralight rod spooled with 6lb test in some rather nasty structure. We really debated on calling it a spotted bass because its lower jaw did not extend passed the eye, it was super short and fat like a football, and its mouth was much rougher than most largemouth. I can’t say for certain if it had the rough patch on its tongue. However going off of appearance we decided it was a largemouth and a dandy at that. It went a short 18" and 3lbs 8oz.

We took a few pics and released her back into the water.  I finally got back into position and threw out my anchor. I set my float at 5' and started probing the structure. We quickly found out that this tree was holding a school of crappie. The largest of which went 12".  

We managed to pull fish out of this spot until dark at a rate of 1 fish for every 5 minutes... failing to hook 2 out of every 3 bites. We presumed that it was small crappie trying to eat our large minnows. It was aggravating but we were catching fish.

We fished for as long as we could, and probably longer than we should have.  It was my fault, I told Amanda that we had waited all winter for a bite like this and that I wasn’t going to leave just because it was getting close to dark. I took a picture as we were heading back to the bridge and you can see that it was dark….real dark.

We then realized that we had to pull the kayaks up the hill in the dark. You can imagine how that worked out for me. If Amanda hadn’t caught that bass, I’m pretty sure I would have heard about it all the way home. She did fall one time, busting her knee up pretty bad, but she got back up and helped me get the kayaks the rest of the way up the hill.

When we got home we grabbed a quick bite to eat and then filleted the crappie we kept. 

Friday, April 5, 2013

Malibu x-13, Rod holders and GTS Elite Seat

This week I received part of my orders from the previous week of shopping. I ordered a few things from Hook1, including 2 Hog Trough measuring boards, 2 forty-five degree angle flush mount rod holders, a ram transducer mount, and a Surf to Summit GTS Elite kayak seat. I also ordered an X Wing sliding console from Malibu Kayak, but it has yet to come.

To start this blog off I'll go over the installation of the flush mount rod holders first. When I bought the kayak it didn't come with flush mount rod holders, so I ended up laying my rods down and using the bungee cords on the stern well to keep the rods attached to the kayak. I noticed that Amanda had no problem keeping her spare rods within an arms reach. Needless to say, I felt it would be a good investment to get some of my own. I also ordered gaskets to keep them water tight, at the time I wasn't aware that they came with caps but I'm glad they did.
I grabbed a few tools out of the tool boxes and started work. I had a cordless drill, some bits, and a screwdriver.
I then got a permanent marker and used the gasket as a stencil to mark out the holes I needed to drill. I then started drilling holes and made one heck of a mess. I placed the rod holder into the hole and secured it with the screws that came with it. I chose to use a screwdriver and tighten the screws by hand so I didn't crack the plastic.
I then did the same thing to the other side.
That completed that process, so I then moved on to attaching the seat on the kayak. After 4 trips on the water, my lower back was in severe pain and on one occasion I actually decided to quit early because my back hurt. Therefore the seat was a high priority, and the key reason I spent so much money on it. I began my search on many different kayaking forums, in which I searched for kayak seat reviews. I quickly found that the Surf to Summit seats were one of the most mentioned and highly regarded seats out there. To make a long story short I decided to go with the Surf to Summit GTS Elite Series kayak seat and the optional fishing pack.
My kayak had factory eyelets for a crack of dawn seat (the seat that is optional when purchasing your kayak), which happen to be pretty much universal attachment points for kayak seats. I simply attached the clips to these and tightened the straps. Below is a picture of the fishing pack that I chose to buy. It comes with two rod holders and a large bag for storage.
All in all I am very happy with my purchases and I feel that they will make time on the water much more comfortable and enjoyable. Hopefully I receive my x wing console in the next few days so I can mount my fish finder and transducer mount to it.