Wednesday, June 26, 2013

7 Days in a row

Since last Thursday I have fished every single day. My last post highlighted Thursday, Friday, and Saturday in which Amanda and I prepared for the tournament Thursday and Friday by fishing heavy vegetation and then Rylan, Amanda, and I fished the Kiser lake tournament on Saturday.

Sunday, June 23

The morning started out with an exchange of texts between Russ and I at about 8am. I just threw out the option of doing a long float in between public access points. I believe navionics had the route at 9.2 miles. At that point Russ agreed to do the long haul. We got the kayaks on the water and had the vehicles at the access points by 11am. The water was stained....visibility of probably 8 inches. I borrowed a couple of Amanda's high end spinning outfits which had a wee craw and a Berkley Powerbait crazy legs chigger craw tied on, so that's what I threw at first. I later switched to a small popper. Russ had a rooster tail and a wee craw tied on I believe. The bites were slow but we managed a few small spotted bass and smallmouth. At about noon the sun got high into the sky and Russ passed under a section of shade to find gar stacked up in the shade. Out came the rope lures. He managed to catch 5 fairly good sized gar while I struggled to keep up, only landing 2 all evening.

About halfway through the float we came across a 14" rock waterfall. By 14 inch I mean a 14 inch drop. I inch up to it and get out to inspect it further. I take my paddle and I probe to see if I can find bottom below the waterfall.....nope it was deep. The only option was to pull the kayak halfway over the rock waterfall and then get in and push myself the rest of the way over. The keel on my kayak would not allow that, and over I went. The current created by the waterfall was rather swift and I struggled to resurface. But with a little effort I made it onto a slab of rock. I looked back to see if I had tipped the kayak and lost Amanda's rods, but luckily the kayak had stayed right side up. At that point Russ retrieved my kayak and we kept fishing. As we paddled off we took note of the depth of the water....35 feet. That's pretty impressive for a creek that averages less than 4 feet. We paddled on and started fishing again. From that point on I managed to hook and lose a massive drum...close to 25", a good sized spotted bass, and a couple smallies that would have been close to 15". I wasn't having a very good day and the lack of sleep only fueled my frustration. The evening began to draw to a close as I realize I have no idea how far we are from the take out. So at 9pm we begin paddling and dragging over riffles. An hour and 36 minutes later we came to the bridge. Turns out we had only fished 5 miles in 10 hours. At 10:30pm I went to swap out the vehicles while Russ waited with the kayaks. At 11:20pm we began to load the kayaks up, and at 1:20am I got home and layed down. My alarm went off at 5:45am and I went to work. 

Monday, June 24

Monday I tried to find people to fish with but I failed to scrounge up a partner. I decided to take the kayak out to a local creek and paddle upstream and then fish back downstream. I had plans to gar fish in order to obtain points for our kayak wars tournament and catch up with Russ. I failed to find any gar this day, but the other fish were biting. I managed two smallmouth bass close to 14", a 12" spotted bass, and a 19" freshwater drum.
The day ended with a storm that got a little too close for comfort.

Tuesday, June 25

Tuesday I managed to drag Amanda out of the house to fish again. We took the kayaks out to a creek that we like to fish for largemouth. We had such a blast fishing hollow body frogs at Kiser Lake that we wanted to throw them again. We hit the creek and started tossing frogs. On my first cast a decent bass crushed the frog before I could even start to walk it back to the kayak. I waited to ensure that the bass had the frog in its mouth and then I set the hook. I hooked the bass and it immediately made two good leaps and threw my hook. The evening progressed and I managed to lose 3 more fish. Amanda ended up fishing for two hours before quitting and just floating around.

Wednesday, June 26

Wednesday I met up with Wes and fished the same creek that Amanda and I fished the day before. Since I had lost so many fish on the frog the day before I decided to start throwing a 7.5" culprit plastic worm. I managed one quick bass. Wes on the other hand had found a hot bite around the large rocks of the creek. His first fish of the evening was a nice channel catfish.
It put up quite the fight on light tackle and it took Wes a few minutes to land the catfish. He later caught 2 more channel cats and a green sunfish. It didn't take long for me to get the itch and I re tied the frog onto my baitcaster. I started working some weed beds and on the third cast I had a HUGE blow up. I saw the fish come out of the water and it felt as if my heart had shifted to my throat. It felt like that one second lasted 10 minutes as I waited for the splash to subside so I could determine if the bass had actually eaten the frog. To my dismay the bass had missed my frog. I left it sit for a couple seconds to see if he wanted to eat it a second time. I then walked the frog all the way back to the kayak. I casted back to the same spot, again, again, and again. However the bass was gone. At this point a storm was blowing by south of us and the thunder was making quite a ruckus. As I took each cast the storm got louder and the rain got harder. I continuously checked on Wes to see if he was sufficiently wet and was ready to go. He seemed determined to catch another fish so I continued to cast. I started making long casts, 20 yards or greater, to the other side of the creek to some fallen trees. I would walk the frog for the first 20 feet off of the bank and then burn it back to the kayak. On one cast I had walked the bait off of the bank and started to burn the frog back when I saw a wake behind my frog. I stopped my frog and then I saw the bass eat the frog, never slowing down to hesitate. I watched to make sure the bass had actually got the frog and this time I set the hook. After a few jumps I got to see the fish and my heart started to race again. This time I won the battle.
The largemouth was very healthy, it went 20.25" and 4lbs 10oz. A new personal best largemouth. I don't think my heart can take much more of this frog action.

The rain continued to come down and at one point it was raining hard enough to cause difficulty breathing. At that point I told Wes that we were going to have to call it quits for the day.
Looks like it was good that I fished the creeks while they were still fishable.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Kiser Lake, Buckeye Kayak Fishing Trail

Saturday, Rylan, Amanda, and I fished the Buckeye Kayak Fishing Trail tournament on Kiser Lake. Kiser lake is a nearly 400 acre lake located in Champaign County, Ohio. We knew ahead of time that the lake shoreline was primarily covered in lily pads and dense vegetation. Thursday and Friday, Amanda and I took the opportunity to fish some dense vegetation in preparation for Kiser Lake. Here's a picture of a bass I took out of a hole in a dense lily pad field.
The pre-fishing was very slow and each day I struggled to get 2 fish. I threw everything that I thought would work; heavy texas rigged creature baits, hollow body frogs, weedless swimbaits, etc. However, I failed to find a pattern after two days of fishing and with my confidence shattered I went home. As I tried to get some sleep I debated what I could do differently the next morning, and then the alarm went off. It was 2:30am and it was time to get on the road.

After a nearly 3 hour drive we had arrived at Kiser lake an hour before the start of the tournament. We quickly unloaded our gear and got our kayaks set up. From left to right: Rylan's NuCanoe Frontier 12, Amanda's Ascend fs12t, and my Malibu x-13.
Shortly after we got set up, others started showing up. Rylan took the opportunity to take a picture of the other early birds.
At 7am we were all called into a short meeting where we were told the event rules and regulations. We quickly went over how to measure fish, when and where to check in, and other housekeeping procedures. After a brief meeting we were off. Amanda and I decided to head toward the marina and fish for active fish on a bank that was semi-free of vegetation. My thought was that as the sun got higher in the sky the fish would push into the densest vegetation available, and during low light conditions they would be actively chasing bait around and cruising the shorelines. At this point I had made up my mind that I was going to use a hollow body frog, a bait that I had only used for the first time two days prior to the tournament.
The frog of choice was a Jackall Iobee hollow frog in bluegill color. On my third cast I hooked a 12 inch bass, a dozen casts later and I landed another one. Within an hour I had my three fish for the tournament, however all of them were small. As the evening wore on I hoped to cull the small bass with a few larger ones. Everything was going as planned.

At 1:30pm a storm had blown in and pushed everyone off of the lake. As the storm got close I took a quick picture.
Ten minutes later the wind had picked up and it began to absolutely pour so I decided to head back to the beach. I thought I was the last person in but as I looked up the lake I saw a pack of kayaks that had waited a few minutes too long before they decided to head back.
At this point I had spoke with a few other people and knew that most people were struggling to get three fish, let alone three fish of size. I was feeling that maybe I had a good shot of making the top five with three bass over 13", so I asked Rylan what he had. He replied, "Why, What do you have?" I confidently replied 40", he said he had 44" in his three fish. I then told Rylan what I had heard from other people on the water and, at that point I figured he had a good shot of making the top three. As we waited for the rain to clear, Rylan told me that he did not land his first fish until well after 10am. At that point he had tried just about every bait in his box. He then tied on a jig and started to catch fish deep in weeds, from there he started to find a pattern and catch 15" bass.

The rain quickly cleared and we got back on the water. I knew at this point that I had ground to make up so I went straight to a lily pad field where I had gotten a few bites which I felt were from larger fish. I quickly landed a few more small bass, but nothing much bigger than what I had already gotten. This was pretty much how the rest of my evening played out. I ended up catching 17 bass on the day, and getting well over 50 top water bites, some of which didn't get the frog in their mouth and others that I failed to hook. Rylan's evening seemed to fall into place as he picked up another decent bass. He landed an 18.25" bass, which happened to be his biggest of the day.

This fish would be very critical in determining his place in the tournament. Thirty minutes before 4pm, we started to make the journey back to the beach. We quickly loaded the kayaks up and went to submit our photos. We patiently waited as the guys checked each photo and tallied everyone's total. There was 28 people in the tournament. The top ten places all received money, and it wasn't long until I heard my name. I placed 10th with a combined total of 40.75" and received $20. Amanda had a rough day and didn't measure in any fish, so we knew that her name wasn't going to come up. At this point it was just a matter of waiting until we heard Rylan's name. 9th was called, 8th, 7th, 6th, and then 5th. At this point Rylan had made it into some serious money. 4th was called, then 3rd, and then the moment of truth....................2nd place, and it was not Rylan's name called. Rylan had managed to pull off a first place finish on a lake that he hadn't fished before against very tough competition. An accomplishment I'm sure he won't soon forget. Rylan ended up getting $200 for first place and missed the big fish pot by less than an inch. The big fish was 19". He ended up with 48" on his best 3 bass. Amanda and I both won some raffle prizes as well, both of which happened to be Yak Attack GearTrac's and tackle from J&M Tackle.

I want to thank everyone who helped to put on the tournament, the anglers who attended the tournament, all of the tournament sponsors, and the state parks for letting us use their facilities. Check the Buckeye Kayak Fishing Trail Team, their Sponsors, and the trail standings out by going to www.buckeyekayakfishingtrail.com

See you guys at the Dayton Regional River Event.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Pond Harvesting This Week

Prior to this week I had only fished my pond for about 30 minutes before a storm one evening. This is mostly because I've always wanted to take my NuCanoe out instead. Well, this week I decided to fish the pond and harvest some bluegill. I've been craving some fresh fish and I figured that I would end up being out too late if I fished somewhere else and still had to come home and clean fish. Last year I started a selective harvest plan on my pond to try to increase bass growth and I plan to continue that plan this year. I wrote three blogs last year on selective harvests at the pond which explain my plans and results.
Selective Harvest Pond Fishing
Selective Harvest Pond Fishing Part 2
Selective Harvest Pond Fishing Part 3

So Tuesday, Stephanie and I headed to the pond. I used a nightcrawler float set at about 2ft deep and she wanted to use a fly. The bite was slower than I would have liked for bluegill fishing. The bass however were hitting pretty good on our bluegill sized baits. One lap around the pond and about 3 hours later we had caught about 30 bluegill combined and only 14 were in the 5.5-7 inch range that I intended to harvest. Only 3 were over 7 inches. It seems the population of the medium sized gills has gone down somewhat after last years harvest. We also caught 8 largemouth on this first lap around the pond. Halfway around the pond when I started thinking we were not going to get enough bluegill for a good fish fry I decided to also start taking bass. So we kept 3 of the 8 bass which were in the 8-12 inch range that I intended to harvest. At this point it was getting late so I tried some top water baits to try and get a couple more bass. I ended up catching 2 more bass, 1 of which I kept, putting us up to 4 bass harvested.

Since I wanted to harvest 5-6 largemouth like last year, Wednesday I decided to go back to get a couple more before we had a fish fry later that evening. I chose to use a weightless 6inch purple worm. Weightless worms have always been a strong producer for me at ponds. I made one lap around the pond in about 2 hours and caught 7 bass and kept 2 more for the table.

Seeing how it was pretty tough to find any bluegill in my target harvest range and I met my quota of 5-6 largemouth harvested, I don't intend to do anymore harvesting from the pond this year. So far I haven't noticed an increase in the average bass size. Of the bass I caught this week the largest was 13.5 inches and the average was somewhere around 10-11 inches as it has been for the past several years. If I don't see results in the next couple years I will probably up the largemouth harvest to 10 per year.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Slow Largemouth Bass Fishing

Since the beginning of June, the bass fishing has really slowed down for us. At least when compared to how we were doing in May. We've been throwing everything at them (jigs, spinnerbaits, crankbaits, top water, plastic worms, swimbaits, etc.) and haven't caught anything worth blogging about. The last two Saturdays I have even got up at 4am to go bass fishing. Both mornings my hopes were high and I expected to catch some picture worthy fish but that wasn't the case. I fished some small local lakes and both days I was on the water before 6am.

The first day I tried jigs and spinnerbaits. I ended up only catching 5 in about 6 hours, 3 on the jig and 2 on the spinnerbait, all of which were 13-14 inches. I actually lost the biggest fish of the day on my first cast of the morning, it may have went 16 inches or so. Sean joined me on the second Saturday morning. I tried top water and crankbaits. The top water bite wasn't too bad but the size was still not there. I ended up catching 10 on top water and 1 on crankbait, all in the 10-14 inch range. Here's a picture of the biggest one from that day, it had some sort of scar where something must have tried to eat it when it was little.

I also caught several tiny green sunfish that were managing to get hooked on a popper nearly as long as they were.

Sean fished the opposite side of the lake and It's safe to say I got the good side. He managed 2 bass on the morning and didn't find the top water bite that I did. We fished for 5 hours that morning. Once the sun peaked over the hills, the bite died.

Many other trips have been similar results. Maybe I was just setting my hopes too high but I thought if I got up at 4am I was going to catch some 16inch+ bass for sure. At this point I'm unsure if the slow fishing is due to a post-spawn period, bad luck, wrong baits, or our expectations have just gotten too high after doing so well in May. May is one of the best months for bass fishing in Ohio if not the best. I think for the most part it is the post spawn and setting our expectations too high.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Thank You

This weekend we fished every day as usual, however the bite just wasn't there. We fished for catfish Friday evening, fished for bass Saturday morning, and trolled for saugeye Sunday with nothing very spectacular to show for it. I did manage to take a few scenic pictures. Here's one of fog rising off the lake Saturday morning.
Saturday morning Dihardhunter, Gabriel Karns, put up a page on his blog that advised his readers to take a look at our blog. It was surprising to us that someone that we didn't personally know would go out of their way to advertise our blog on their own. With that in mind I began to dive into his blog and was shocked to see how very similar we really were.

Gabriel is a graduate of Auburn University, and is currently working in a post-doctoral research position with Ohio University in Columbus, Ohio. Therefore, his writing style is very similar to the writing style we developed in our college experience. His blog is exactly what he claims it is, a smorgasbord of information. Much of Gabriel's collegiate research has been based on White-Tailed Deer, so many of his posts are hunting related information. He posts book reviews, product reviews, hunting tips, fishing reports, DIY projects, environmental issues, etc. Recently Gabriel made the move to Ohio and is beginning to get acquainted with the streams in Ohio. Recently he has been wearing the smallmouth out, boating some well over the 18" mark. 

A college graduate who studied a natural science, who loves to fish, shares his experiences in the woods and on the water with others, has convinced his significant other to fish with him, ......dare I continue. I'm beginning to like this guy already. LOL.

I strongly suggest that everyone who has a free minute take a look at Gabriel's blog, it has a lot of good information and will prove to be very helpful for any of our readers north of our fishing area. http://www.skinnymoose.com/outdoorsmorgasbord/

While I'm at it I thought I'd take the time to thank a few other people who have helped us out along the way. First off I want to thank the guys at Catfish Freaks, catfishing forum, for putting a sub board up for our blog. I also wanted to thank everyone at Ohio Game Fishing, online fishing forum, for allowing me to place a link to the blog in my signature under each of my posts. Each of the fishing forums above have helped us draw in potential readers so we wanted to return the favor and post the links to each of them. If you haven't been to them please take a look. Feel free to look me up and send me a personal message, my username is Seanstone. 

We also wanted to thank anyone who has helped to spread the word about the blog and thank our friends and family who have supported us along the way. 

Once again,
Thank you

Monday, June 10, 2013

Kayak Wars

We've mentioned stuff about kayak wars on here now several times without much explanation so I thought I would explain. www.kayakwars.com is an online kayak tournament that goes on throughout most of the year and is worldwide. For each region of the world a points distribution is specified for all qualifying species. You can see the points distribution here. For each species a minimum length and trophy length is specified, everything is based on length rather than weight. For example the minimum length for a largemouth bass to qualify in the north east USA region is 16 inches, and is worth 10 points. 24 inches is considered a trophy largemouth and is worth an additional 20 points. Simply take a picture of your qualifying fish on your kayak clearly showing the length and submit it on the website. There's also records for each species in each region.

You must compete on teams of 3-5 so we formed a team called esbfishing consisting of Sean, Amanda, Russ, some random guy, and me. Currently we are up to 31st place in the worldwide freshwater standings and 10th in the north east USA region freshwater standings. Currently there are 453 registered teams and 1534 registered anglers on kayak wars.

Online tournaments like this are highly based on the honor system. I have noticed some misidentified species and duplicate entries, but mistakes happen and most of them are corrected. The good thing is its free. We don't expect to win anything but it is a fun extra way to compete against each other.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

6/4/2013, Gar Fishing With Rope Lures

Tuesday, Amanda, Russ, and I took the kayaks out to a local creek again. We decided to float a shallow 3 mile section near the house. We floated this particular section last week and saw a pretty good number of gar in the slower moving pools in between riffles. Gar have been notoriously hard to catch in the past. We have had some luck with using cut bait under floats, in which we would let the gar run and swallow the bait down before setting the hook. However, this method wasn't fool-proof and we still hooked less than 25% of the fish that bit. We have also had some luck with artificial lures, Rylan has proven on the Ohio River that an in-line spinner bait is a most effective lure for both enticing gar and hooking gar. With that in mind, Amanda and I took some time Monday evening to make a few lures known for catching gar, the rope lure. After much researching, I found that many of the people using these lures had different techniques of attaching the lures to their lines. First and probably the most simple method was tying a 6" piece of rope in a knot and then taking a 1/4oz jig head and hooking the knot of the rope. The second method was tying a section of rope in a knot and then taking a spinnerbait and hooking the knot. Each method used hooks to attach the rope to the main line, but its important to note that the hook is not actually used to hook the gar.....it may be helpful for those other species that are enticed by the rope lure.

Our experience has been that gar are attracted by flashing and vibrating lures such as the spinner bait, so we started going through old tackle boxes in search of old spinner baits that had been retired. Once we found our candidates, we began to cut sections of rope from our anchor lines. We then started the process of unraveling the rope, only after tying a knot at one end.  After we had fully separated the strands of rope we added some color with Spike It's brand of scented markers. At this point it was midnight and I decided to call it a night and get some sleep before work in the morning.
Tuesday we met up with Russ and hit the creek, and to our surprise Russ had also developed his own rope lures. We unloaded the kayaks and started fishing. Less than thirty minutes into the trip we had landed two gar. Of course Amanda's gar was bigger, mine was only 28" and hers went 36". Here's a picture of my gar with the rope lure entangled in its mouth.
Here's Amanda's 36" gar.
After spending an hour or so at the first hole I informed everyone that we still had 2.5 miles to go so we pressed on. As we went from hole to hole we switched to bass fishing the swift moving water until we got to the deeper slack water where we had spotted the gar previously. We ended up catching tons of spotted bass, very hungry longear sunfish, and a few smallmouth. Russ had the biggest bass of day, a smallmouth just over 14".
I'm not exactly sure what's going on, but the smallmouth bite has been super slow in the last week. My guess is that the smallmouth are in post spawn and have lock jaw. At least that's what I hope. On another note, Spotted bass may be my new favorite bass species. I was throwing a chug bug popper and the spotted bass were coming out of the water to eat my popper. I was surprised at how accurate they were, some leaping over 2' out of the water on the bite, landing with the bait still in their mouth.

We ended up landing 3 gar, and hooking up with over 50% of the fish we made bite....a much better hook up rate than any other method of gar fishing we had tried previously. Hopefully we get to fish the creeks a few more times before the rains hit and muddy them all up.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Creek fishing and Bad Weather

This week we fished Thursday through Sunday, each trip we found ourselves facing adverse weather conditions.

Thursday, May 30th

Thursday, Jake, Amanda, and I fished a local creek after work. We decided to float a three and a half mile section of the creek in the five hours we had before dark. It was rather windy, 10-15mph, but the creek was well sheltered so it didnt affect our fishing. As Jake and I were unloading the kayaks at the drop off point, Amanda thought she'd take a few casts. Sure enough she caught one on the first cast....next time she'll unload her own kayak.
After she got her first fish out of the way we set off. The particular section of creek we chose to float was super shallow and narrow. We ended up dragging our kayaks way more than I would have liked to. We did notice that there were a ton of fish in between riffles in the slack water, but the water was so swift that we didn't get to cast at them. At one point I saw several small channel cats sitting in less than 8 inches of water. We saw dozens of gar, so many that Jake ended up casting for them most of the evening, but failed to land one. I ended up going through two packs of chigger craws because of gar, small bass, and bluegill biting my claws off. Amanda seemed to have a better trip than us. She caught several spotted bass, smallmouth, and drum. The biggest of the day was a 15.5" smallmouth that weighed 1lb 8oz.
Friday, May 31st

Friday, Amanda and I took the kayaks out to a local creek that we knew held a good population of largemouth bass. My phones weather app, accuweather, stated that we had less than a 30 percent chance of rain. With that in mind we loaded the kayaks up and hit the creek. We got on the water at 3:30pm and were dry up until 5pm. Fifteen minutes before the rain hit we heard a noise in the distance, it sounded like a really loud truck that was coming right toward us.....really slowly. I knew that there wasn't a road nearby so I started paddling toward a well sheltered area of the bank. I thought it was just really hard rain coming but it was some severe wind pushing the rain in. I wasn't really aware of how bad the wind was because we were somewhat sheltered in the creek. Later, Rylan informed me that the wind was well over 40mph while he was driving to Bass Pro Shops Friday evening.. We sat through the hardest part of the rain and wind. The second cast after the rain I landed my first, and biggest, fish of the evening. It was an 18.5", 3lb 10oz Largemouth.
It continued to rain all evening and I managed to catch a couple more bass over 16 inches, including one that went 2lbs 14oz and 17.5". At about 6pm, Amanda had given up and went back to the bridge to wait out the rain, but it never stopped.

Saturday, June 1st

Saturday, I got a new weather app, the Weather Channel app. This time around both weather apps agreed we were going to be good and dry. So I convinced Amanda to head back out and fish the creek again. We got on the water and realized that the rain we fished in Friday didn't seem so bad after all. Saturday the wind was going to be our biggest problem.
We fished all day long and only managed a few fish. Amanda and I both landed one bass over 16", the minimum length to qualify for points on Kayak Wars. Here's a picture that Amanda took of her bass.
We did notice that most of our fish were starting to heal up from spawn, which made me start to rethink my bait of choice.....the black and blue jig. Its a great bait all year round but when bass just come off spawn they can get really aggressive. At that point a crankbait may be a better option.

Sunday, June 2nd

After rain on Friday and wind on Saturday, Amanda was ready for a break from fishing. She decided to help her family around the house while I went fishing. I loaded my kayak up and got on the water at 2pm and fished until 9pm. Since I had no competition, I decided to give the black and blue jig and chigger craws a break. I paddled up to the first riffle and tied on my second lure of choice.
A shad rap in original color. I tied it on my new favorite rod and reel set up, a shimano compre rod and shimano curado reel. I was very hesitant to tie it on because the curado was spooled with braid.(There is a general rule of thumb that when using crankbaits you should use a fast action rod and monofilament line.) I didnt catch near the numbers that I did with the jig, nor did I catch near the size. However I did get to catch crappie and bluegill, which aren't very common on the jig.

The weather's looking good for the begining of the week so I will get to continue my fishing streak. Maybe I'll shoot for a personal best......most trips in a row.