Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Memorial Day Weekend Fishing

Last Friday, 5/23/2014, I decided to do some bank fishing for carp and catfish. It was the beginning of memorial day weekend so I knew the lakes would be packed with boats. Stephanie joined me for this trip. We arrived at Rocky Fork Lake around 8pm. We counted nearly 40 boat trailers in the parking lot of the north shore drive boat ramp. I was glad I chose to leave the Nucanoe at home and was excited about bank fishing.

My plan was to fish for carp with one rod and bass, crappie, and bluegill with the other rod until dark. Once it was dark I'd throw the cast net for some shad. If I was able to get shad I would then throw out one catfish rod, otherwise I would go duel carp. So I chummed some corn and Stephanie and I both put out a rod for carp. I then began working a jig and chigger craw combo for bass. In 30 minutes or so I had one bite but no hookups with the jig. Stephanie worked a 1/32oz jig and nightcrawler combo and managed to catch her first saugeye. I switched to a wobblehead to see if I could find any smaller fish. After 30 more minutes I was able to avoid the skunk with a fat 1lb 6oz largemouth. At this point It was dark so I grabbed the cast net. I managed to get a nice 10" shad on my first throw and then another on my third throw. We both threw out a piece of cut shad and I threw the net for another 30 minutes to get 2 more shad. During this process I had the first carp run of the night. As I fought the carp I told Stephanie that it wasn't that big, I figured 5-8lbs or so. Carp fights can be variable from my experience though. Sometimes a 5 pounder will run like a train and some times a 20 pounder will just about lay over and die. I finally surfaced the carp after a minute or two and it was a little bigger than I expected. The first thought in my head was, "That's the Fish OH I've been looking for". Another 30 seconds and Stephanie had the carp in the net. It measured 30" and weighed 11lbs 10oz. My third Fish OH species of the year, only one more to go for master angler.
30" 11lb 10oz Carp
30" 11lb 10oz Carp
For the remainder of the evening we had 3 small runs on the cut shad but no hookups and no more carp runs. By 1am we decided to head home. 

Sunday, 5/25/2014, I decided to do some bass fishing. I woke up at 5:30am and got on the water by 7:30am. The water temperature was 70 degrees. I started out working a frog in the shallows searching for any active bass. After an hour of throwing the frog I had zero bites. This was not a good sign. So I switched to the old faithful green pumpkin jig and chigger craw. I had my first bite in 15 minutes. An hour later I finally hooked my first bass of the day and it was a big one. After a few seconds it made a flying leap into the air and my jig went flying out of its mouth. This bass would have been in the 18-20" 3-4lb range. It was a disappointment but it had been a long time since I had lost a big bass so I guess I was due. I continued with the jig for another hour with no bites. So I got desperate and switched to a wobblehead. After 30 minutes I finally got my first bass, a 14" 1lb 2oz. As I passed by the spot where I had lost the big one I noticed a slightly smaller bass (maybe 2-3lbs), clearly guarding a nest in 1ft of water. The sun was shining bright at this point so it was obvious to see. So it became apparent that the bass were on beds and explained the slower fishing. I tried to sight fish this bass with no luck. Another hour went by with the wobblehead without nothing more than bluegill bites before I decided to call it quits for the day.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Snake on a NuCanoe

Last weekend we had a cold front move through. Temperatures dropped to the 30's overnight. A cold front like this typically slows down most fishing. I figured the bass would be shut down so I decided to do some more carp fishing at Rocky Fork Lake. As I arrived at the boat ramp Saturday, I was greeted by two guys in a nitro bass boat. As I threw my net into my Nucanoe I hear one of them say, "you wont be needing that net today." I quickly responded, "you don't even know what I'm fishing for." with a smirk on my face. So they asked what I was fishing for and I responded, "carp". They then replied that I probably would need my net. So my assumption that the bass fishing would be slow appeared to be correct.

It was an overcast day and there was only a 10-20% chance of rain. I paddled to the same cove I had caught carp in a couple weeks ago. The water temperature was 64. The water clarity was good at 1-2ft of visibility. I decided to anchor up on the bank at a slightly deeper spot. I thought the cold weather might have pushed the carp a little deeper. I chummed a half can of corn and tossed out two lines and waited. 30 minutes in I got my first bite. I hooked the carp and it immediately went into a pile of branches and my line broke. An hour later the wind started to blow. The temperature was only in the upper 40's and with the added wind I found that I had under dressed. Minutes later it started to sprinkle rain which wasn't supposed to happen. I checked the dopplar radar only to find a small isolated rain system was heading straight towards the lake. After looking at the dark grey clouds on the horizon I decided I was too cold to get rained on so I headed in.

Sunday, the weather looked perfect. Partly cloudy, 70's, and only 4 mph wind! Wind under 5 mph for an entire day almost never happens. I decided I still wanted to try for carp so I headed back to Rocky Fork. Again, I headed to the same cove I had success in. The water temperature was 68. I seen a couple carp swimming around in the shallows so I set up, chummed corn, and waited. 30 minutes in I noticed a snake slithering towards me along the bank. Snakes  are a pretty common site to see while fishing so I didn't think anything of it. It passed by me, inches from my Nucanoe. I thought to myself, "I hope that snake doesn't crawl up in my Nucanoe". Nucanoe's sit pretty low to the water so it wouldn't be hard for a snake to do. 15 minutes go by. I look back behind me to see what I assume is the same snake swimming around in the water about 15-20ft behind me. Another 15 minutes go by. I'm sitting motionless when I make a slight movement and I snake comes shooting through my legs! I grabbed my camera and stood up. I couldn't see it as It was hiding under my tackle bag. I didn't want to move my bag while still on board so I stepped onto the bank. After removing everything that the snake could hide under it finally exited my Nucanoe. Here's the best two pictures I got. I am told that this is a queen snake, a somewhat docile snake.

After all the commotion I decided to change spots. As I paddled around I noticed several carp packed tightly around downed trees. Since they didn't appear to be active I tried sight fishing for them. I managed to hook the biggest one I seen, maybe 10lbs. In a matter of seconds it shot under the snag it was by and broke off. An hour later I hooked my second carp sight fishing, this one was a good bit smaller than the first. It went 20" and 3lbs 12oz.
20" 3lb 12oz Carp
I failed to catch any more carp sight fishing and eventually tried anchoring and chumming again. After two hours with no bites I'd had enough. I snagged and broke off one of my carp rods so I decided to tie on a floating crankbait. I had an hour left before sunset to see if the bass or crappie were biting. Turns out, there was a pretty hot crappie bite right where I was carp fishing. I started catching crappie on the crankbait every few casts. I even got a near Fish OH at 12.75"

This spot also produced a couple small saugeye.

The bite was hot but I had to call it quits a little after 9pm as I had work in the morning.

Monday, May 12, 2014

5/10/2014 Pre Storm Largemouth

Saturday morning I set out to do some largemouth bass fishing. Conditions were perfect, 70 degrees, light wind, overcast with storms on the horizon. Now storms may not sound perfect but fishing right before a storm is one of the best times to fish for just about anything, especially bass. The problem is, it can be hard to get the timing right, mother nature doesn't often work to your schedule. On this particular day it was looking like the storms would be rolling through sometime midday so this gave me the perfect window to fish in the morning. So I headed out to what was looking like a promising day of fishing.

I got on the water around 10am. Water clarity was perfect at 1-2ft of visibility. I prefer water that is not too muddy/stained, but also not too clear. Water temperature was 69 degrees. I brought 4 rods with 4 different baits to try. I had a shallow square bill crankbait, top water frog, wobblehead, and a green pumpkin jig. I decided to start shallow and work my way deeper as I expected the bass were fairly shallow and nearing spawn. I started out alternating between the crankbait and the frog. 15 minutes in, I caught my first and smallest bass of the day on crankbait. After 45 minutes or so I finally got my second strike and hook up on the frog. The hit was fairly subtle, unlike the typical top water explosion you think of when frog fishing. After two leaps into the air this largemouth had won the battle. It was a decent one at approximately 16", but that's the way frog fishing goes.

I soon started moving out into deeper water as I failed to get anymore bites in the shallow water (1-4ft). I switched up to throwing jig and occasionally the frog into any shallow coves I came by. Wobblehead was only going to be my "if all else fails bait". 30 minutes went by and I only had a couple nibbles on the jig when I finally got the bite I had been looking for. I pulled the bass out of the wood it was hiding under and maneuvered it around my Nucanoe away from the snags. A couple runs later and I had the lunker in my net. Could it be? the illusive Fish OH largemouth? In all my years of fishing I have only landed 2 largemouth at or over the 21" Fish OH mark, although in the past couple years big bass have become much more common. I attribute this to two factors. Bigger baits, particularly jigs, and fishing from a boat/kayak/canoe. And the length..... 20.25". Not a Fish OH but still an awesome fish that I was pumped to catch. The bass weighed on the lighter side at 3lbs 10oz.
20.25" 3lb 10oz Largemouth Bass
20.25" 3lb 10oz Largemouth Bass
From this point forward I really dialed in on the bass, mostly due to location. These bass were still holding to deeper structure. I caught several more bass in the 12-16" range on the jig. A couple hours later I even got my first bass of the year on frog. The bass took my frog so lightly that I thought a bluegill had nibbled at it but then my frog was gone. Shortly after the catch on frog I got my second big bass of the day on jig. An 18.5" 2lb 11oz.
18.5" 2lb 11oz Largemouth Bass
18.5" 2lb 11oz Largemouth Bass
This was turning into the type of day that I dream about. The wind at this point was almost non existent. The temperature was in the 70's, and the fish were biting. I couldn't ask for more.

A couple 12-14 inchers and an hour later I got my third decent bass of the day. A 17" 1lb 14oz.
17" 1lb 14oz Largemouth Bass
17" 1lb 14oz Largemouth Bass
This was when I looked up at the sky and saw this...
Approaching Storm
The storms had arrived. It was 3:30pm at this point. I herd some distant thunder but didn't see any lightning so I decided I'd make this trip last as long as possible. 10 minutes went by and some light rain began to fall. Still no lightning up to this point when suddenly lightning came crashing down just over the hillside with thunder so loud I nearly fell out of my Nucanoe. I quickly hightailed it to the boat ramp as it began to absolutely downpour. I had rain gear but as usual, I waited until it was to late to put it on. I loaded up as quickly as I could in the torrential rain. When I was nearing completion the rain even decided to turn ice cold, how nice of it. When I was done I was dripping wet, so wet that I decided to drive home in my underwear. As I drove home It rained so hard I had to slow to a crawl more than once. With or without the rain it had been a great day, one that I wont soon forget. If anything the rain just adds to the story. When I got home the garage had 2" of standing water, something that isn't all that uncommon as the draining system isn't great. I thought to myself, "Is my NuCanoe going to float in the garage?" As I was pulling my NuCanoe into the garage I noticed my cats food dish was floating around in the water. That's when my cat came wading in and started eating out of the floating bowl, she didn't even seem to mind. I thought that was pretty funny so I had to mention it. Got to love spring fishing!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

5/3/2014 Rocky Fork Lake Carp

This past weekend I decided to do some carp fishing. Wind was a strong factor in making my decision as always. The wind was predicted to be in excess of 20 mph so I knew I would need to fish somewhere sheltered. I narrowed my choices down to either crappie fishing once again at Rocky Fork or to do some carp fishing at Rocky Fork. Crappie fishing was tempting as I did so well last weekend but I enjoy variety. I've been wanting to do some carp fishing for a while now. Each year I try to make a few trips to catch the hard fighting carp. So that's what I chose.

So I headed to the lake with a can of corn, my preferred carp bait. When I arrived the conditions were worse than I expected. 2ft waves with white caps on the main lake. I debated briefly if I still wanted to go through with this. I decided I wasn't backing down.  I got on the water around 2pm and headed out into the waves. Waves began splashing over the sides and bow of my Nucanoe as my bow slammed over each wave. I came to my first cove option... it was occupied. I was starting to seriously regret this decision. I pressed on. It is safe to say that this was the most nervous I have ever been in my Nucanoe by far. I came to a second cove, this one also had one boat in it but this was a much larger cove so I headed in. I looked around and debated what to do. The water was still pretty rough inside the cove with 6"-1' waves. I seriously considered heading back to the boat ramp when suddenly I seen a large carp come leaping out of the water near the back of the cove. This was all I needed, I was ready to fish. I took a picture of the main lake once I was in the safety of the cove. Of course the picture does not do it justice.

I anchored myself to the bank near where I saw the carp jump and threw out half my can of corn to chum the fish in. I tossed out both my baits and waited. I simply use a small bluegill/crappie size hook with 4 or 5 pieces of corn threaded on. Sweet corn to be exact. After 2 hours I hadn't had any bites, that I could see at least as the waves were still banging me around pretty good. I was getting pretty disappointed as I had seen several more carp jump. I decided to add a small split shot 1ft above each of my hooks to help keep my lines tighter to see any short bites. Not long after I noticed one line had gotten tighter but no line had been taken. I picked the rod up and let out some line. After a minute the line had gotten tight again so I set the hook. I had a fish on but I quickly found out my drag was way too loose as the carp shot straight into a snag and came off. These carp were picking up my corn and not taking off with it as carp typically do.

An hour later It happened again, my line tightened but didn't take off. I set the hook and again I had a carp on. This time I was ready. A short battle and I landed my first carp of the day. A small 3lb 1oz 18.25".
3lb 1oz 18.25" Carp
Every hour after this until sunset I had similar results with each carp being progressively larger. The second carp was a 5lb 0oz 23".
5lb 0oz 23" Carp
The third carp was a fat 8lb 9oz 24.5"
8lb 9oz 24.5" Carp
8lb 9oz 24.5" Carp
I thought for sure this carp was going to be the Fish Ohio size (26") I was looking for but it turned out to be short and fat.

Finally as the sun set I got a bonus channel catfish. Unlike the carp, the channel actually took off with my bait. The channel cat went 4lb 2oz and 24".
4lb 2oz 24" Channel Catfish
I soon headed in as it was getting dark and I was out of corn anyway. On my way back I cast a wobblehead but didn't get any bites. The water was very muddy from all the waves. Water temperature was 61 degrees. Thankfully the lake was significantly calmer as I headed back to the boat ramp. I was glad I decided to brave the tough conditions.