The Timeless Smell of Shad

If there was a top 5 of smells in my record book of smells (not that I have one), the smell of shad would rank up there in the top 5 smells of all time for sure. My all-time favorite is definitely the smell of the old wooden church pews on a sunny Sunday morning in the spring. I also like the smell of a brand-new leather baseball glove and the smell of a distant campfire on a cool October morning out on the lake. My cologne collection has turned into a collection of scented memories from times past for me. I’ve got a bottle of cologne that I still wear called “The Baron”, and every sniff takes me back to 1979 and sweating in a disco. That’s the good stuff right there. There are a lot of familiar scents out there but there is one smell that hits different for many of us, and it can bring back a different kind of memory, and that is the smell of shad. I’ve always said that if women wanted a perfume to really turn a guy on, figure out a way to bottle up the smell of shad, and the guys, especially bass boat owners will just suddenly appear. It could be while you’re walking past the benches of a local shopping mall or at a parent teacher conference, but it’s bound to turn a few heads. Seriously though, if there’s one favorite scent that can bring back memories of long past days on the shores of our local lakes when I was a kid, it would be shad. Every once in a while, out on our lake I pass by an area where I get the strong scent of bait or shad and when I smell this, I can close my eyes and remember camping at local lakes in our old cabover Cameo camper and fishing for catfish with our old Zebco’s stuck in rod holders at the water’s edge. There’s not a lot of smells that can drum up some old memories like that, but the smell of shad can do the trick. The back of our house faces the east and every morning the sun rises over the creek. When the wind is out of the east during the spring and summer, it blows right down the creek from the lake and it dead ends at our house. Along with that east wind is the periodic smell of shad and to this day that smell has never gotten old. It’s almost like I’m drawn to it.

Burpin Babies and Bustin Bass

Burpin Babies and Bustin Bass

I’m pretty sure I’m losing my mind, but lucky for me, it’s a slow process and sometimes it’s downright entertaining along the way. Over the past few days, I’ve realized that burping babies is just about as much fun as catching a bass out in the creek. Don’t get me wrong, I’m old and I was burping babies back before that kinda thing was cool for me, but here recently I’ve found a new love for the technique and with the right rhythm of back patting I can generate some huge burps in these twins. It’s like the different rhythms of the Berkley 130 Choppo, sometimes when you hit the right rhythm with the Choppo, you can generate some huge blow-ups and in the case of burping babies, if I hit the right rhythm of back patting, I can generate some huge blow-outs. That’s my job around here this week, feeding, burping and entertainment of the twin infant guests. It’s kinda like being a Plane Captain for babies instead of fighter jets.

Between hours of babysitting, cooking and wandering around aimlessly, wondering why I came into a room, I’ve found time to go out on the lake and wet a line. This week I spent more time out on the main lake poking around humps and points just to see what’s happening. When I was looking through my YouTube page for videos I had made around this time of the year, I found a video from a few years back and I was already catching fish on the Spybait. That raised my brow and got me to thinking about a fresh spool of 6lb Tatsu flouro that has been sitting on my bar for the last 2 weeks. I got that spool specifically for 2 techniques, the spybait and the drop shot/pitch shot. I use 6lb Tatsu for both during the summer and it’s just about time to get that rigged up and ready. For ya’ll that are new to the drop shot, here’s a video I made a few years back for pre-rigging your drop shot rigs. Lisa and I drop shot a lot during the summer and the bottom line is that if you’re not getting hung up from time to time, you’re doing it wrong. Sometimes we need to replace a rig in a hurry, and this makes it quick. There are different ways to rig your drop shot and this is just a rig I use.

When I was out this week, I saw plenty of fish that looked like I could have dropped on them although I didn’t but it’s that time of year to start. I found a few brush piles both in the creek and out on the main lake this week that were just loaded with fish and perfect to drop on. Another technique to start thinking about or even start using over brush is the Spybait technique. It’s a technique that usually starts when the fish are suspending and peaks when the thermocline sets up very soon. The technique is good throughout the summer months and into the early fall. Once you learn the technique it can be a lot of fun. Here’s a video I found on my YouTube page that gives you a little more insight into the spybait technique. I’ve got some other videos on my YouTube page for spybaiting references also.

Another observation from my trips out on the water this week was the presence of more topwater activity, as a matter of fact, it was helpful in catching a few of my fish this week. It wasn’t every stop I made this week but on a few of the stops I made this week I saw surfacing fish. They wouldn’t stay up long but long enough for me to get to the area and make a cast with the weightless fluke or the emerald popper. What little time I had to fish this week, those two baits produced the bulk of my fish. The popper was driving the stripers crazy out on a windy main lake point in the chop. It was kinda comical to watch some of the stripers come out of the water around the bait and I couldn’t tell if the near misses were intentional or were they just missing the mark. The stripers were rather large, so I was kinda glad I didn’t connect with one. There are two outcomes to hooking a large striper out on a main lake point in the wind; either you are going to land it, or he’s going to win the battle and break off one way or another. Generally, on Lanier, the striper is going to look for brush or timber at some point if there is any around, so I like to keep my rod tip high to keep his head upward during the fight. I don’t like losing bass lures to topwater stripers, but I still enjoy the battle on occasion. The popper did produce a few bass this week and it also provided me with hope after some near misses from some bigger bass. I was definitely able to call a few to the surface with the popper, whether they connected or not was a different story. This week it was the popper and fluke combo over brush and out on random main lake points in the wind. You could roll the dice and start with topwater when you get to the brush, but if you strike out with the topwater, sometimes it scatters the fish so at times it may be better to try a more silent approach to brush. I’ve often times made a cast and see numerous fish on my graph that had followed my topwater bait back to the boat but they didn’t react to it. Those fish generally go to the bottom after seeing the boat and it’s for that reason that I approach the brush in stealth mode if the fish aren’t reacting to topwater. A lot of these noisy type topwater baits can scatter the fish and spoil the bite at times so I like to test the waters and make brush pile approaches in stealth mode as well as the “bull in a China closet” or “death from above” mode.

It’s getting to be that time of year here on Lanier and the baits that could possibly be on my deck right now are walking baits, popping baits, plopping baits, swimming baits, spinning baits, jerking baits, spybaits and dropping the wiggly stuff around brush. That’s just what I have going. The water temps are probably low 70’s this morning out in the creek and the corps is moving water according to the amount of water between my dock and dry land. The lake level is over a feet below full pool and dropping. Here’s a few fish from my trips out this week.

My other job this week has been to entertain, feed and burp the babies. This is little Lainey learning all about selfies and the last picture is my main view this week, little Lainey girl and big Tater bug.

Finding the Ham Bone Stash

Finding the Ham Bone Stash

It’s usually a process this time of year on the south end. The fish are a moving target and success usually comes from trial and error during the post-spawn/recovery period. This is the time of year that the graveyard of failed lures on the floorboard of the boat can be rather large, and the fish can look rather ragged and tore up when you do finally catch them. Right now, the fish are getting back into the swing of things and starting to feed again after a long spawning period of up and down weather. I’ve witnessed some bass still in the act of spawning in shallow water this week and I’ve witnessed a bunch in transition to structure out in a little deeper water where they’ll make their summer home. I’ve seen some great surface schooling on bait early in the morning over deeper water this week and I’ve also seen sporadic shad spawning in very shallow water this week. There are plenty of big Blue Heron wading along the shoreline, looking for unsuspecting shad and stripers are on the hunt and cruising the same shallows looking for the shallow spawning shad also. It’s a time of year that you can literally pick your bite because a lot of tactics are now in play and fishing is very forgiving.

This week I made it out to the creek every day in some capacity. Most days it was just for a couple hours but I think Tuesday and yesterday I got to spend 4-5 hours on the lake. On Monday it was just for a few hours in the morning, and I mainly looked offshore for a viable hump bite that has started. I spent the majority of my time making a few casts here and there out on the main lake over humps with a combination of topwater, swimming baits and the occasional shaky head, looking for cruising wolfpacks or big singles chasing bluebacks across the shallow humps. I didn’t have a lot of time, so I didn’t really get a chance to break anything down and the bite was slow for me before going back to the house for the morning.

Tuesday, I had more time to figure some things out, so I put the hammer down and started running my summer milk run out on the main lake just to see what was hanging around my summer haunts. It’s pretty early in the season for a lot of offshore humps to produce but the fish are starting to appear in some areas. On my first stop Tuesday morning out on a main lake point, my first fish of the morning came to the boat on a 110 Choppo in a ghost pearl pattern. It was windy and choppy early in the morning Tuesday and the Choppo can usually call a fish up in the chop on a main lake point or hump. I tried to duplicate it several times during the course of the morning, but I never could get another fish to hit it after that first fish. If you don’t have a Choppo or Whopper Plopper in your arsenal I’d highly recommend getting a few. My favorite is the chrome out on the main lake in the summer. Here’s a pic of my first Choppo fish this year.

On my second stop out on a main lake point, not long after stopping and making a few casts with the topwater and spinnerbait and nice fish came up within casting distance of the boat. I had a body hooked super fluke tied on and I threw the fluke right on top of where the fish had surfaced just moments before. Just a couple quick snaps with my wrist and I felt the rod load up on the fluke and I knew I had hooked the fish that surfaced. It was a very large post-spawn fish but she was very beat up and ragged from the spawn. Here’s a pic.

After that fish I started using the body hooked fluke rig a little more. On my next few stops I started rotating between the weightless fluke and the spinner bait at just about every stop. I pretty much put the topwater away and focused on the fluke and spinnerbait out on the main lake points. We had some wind and chop to work with and the fluke and spinnerbait combo was perfect for the conditions. All I did was get upwind of the point, brush pile or target area and used the stop-lock function on the trolling motor, then fan casted the area, bringing my bait back against the grain of the chop or waves. Sometimes it was the spinnerbait that produced and sometimes it was the fluke.

One of the key reasons the fluke worked well for me this week was because of the action on the fluke. There are a lot of ways you can work the fluke and a few different ways to rig your fluke for this time of year. Years ago, when I poured my own lead head jigs, I used to pour a little 1/8- or 1/16-ounce egghead jig head and Lisa and I used the little egghead jig head with our flukes to give them a little weight, but we never really used them weightless until about ten years ago. When I started using them weightless, we went a few years of nose-hooking the fluke with octopus or circle hooks through the nose. We still use the nose-hooked technique from time to time but this week I used another method, and it worked well. Jimmy Sanders uses the technique more than I do but sometimes I find it more effective than nose-hooking and sometimes I use the technique out of necessity. If I nose-hook my flukes, I go through more flukes than if I body-hook them so generally when my supply gets low I do a lot more body-hooking the bait. The biggest key to my success this week was the action I put on the fluke. You can use a steady jerking retrieve at times, but I used a quick snap or two with the wrist and kill it for 5-10 seconds. I was using a 7’4″ medium MegaBass Levante spinning rod and a Shimano Ci4 reel loaded with 15lb braid for the main line and an over-sized barrel swivel attached to a 2–3-foot length of 15lb fluorocarbon. The heavier line and oversized swivel get the bait down beneath the surface during the retrieve and that can be crucial to a successful bite. I used a # 4 Gamakatsu offset shank hook to body hook the fluke and with the braided line, the quick snapping action I used for the fluke really gave the bait a lot of movement. That pop and stop action was what the fish wanted this week.

Through the course of the day on Tuesday I boated fish off and on but the two main baits I used to catch them all out in the wind was the pearl fluke and white bladed spinnerbait combo. The humps and isolated areas out on the main lake were pretty much void of fish but the points out on the main lake that were attached to land produced well this week. It won’t be long till fishing the main lake humps and the creek humps turns on better for me but for now, out on the points and beating the banks have filled my days. Here’s a few more pictures from Tuesday.

Wednesday I was able to sneak out for a bit but we had mandatory team fishing training for the newest Cast Away Fishing Team in training. We went over identifying all the different lure types and their uses. I used my YouTube channel as a training aid and put some sweet topwater videos on the flat screen. We also covered proper hooksets and fizzing deep caught fish. This was all between bottle feedings, naps and poopy diapers. Here’s a picture of the newest team in training, looking intently as I tell them the story of Poppi hiking up the Sierra Navada Mountain range in search of trophy trout back in the day. You can see Big Tate on the left was all jacked and drooling while little Lannie girl thought I was funny and laughed a lot.

During our training session with the team, I was looking for something and I found a stash of flukes I had hidden in the guest bedroom closet after a un-authorized trip to Hammonds Fishing. I needed a quick place to stash the bag of tackle and the guest room closet is where it was hidden behind an old toy firetruck for the last 2 years. It was like Christmas again only it wasn’t socks, skivvies and furry slippers this time, it was some topwater baits and a fresh bag of Ham Bone flukes that I had purchased right after they came out with the Ham Bone color pattern special run. I’d forgotten all about the Ham Bone and never used the Ham Bone color before, only the pearl flukes. It was like an omen, and I knew I was going to be able to spend some significant time on the water the next day. Something in my mind said, “throw the Ham Bone fluke tomorrow Jim”.

Thursday morning, I hit the water early as I wanted to target a few main lake points to start my day. I had my fluke rod rigged with the new Ham Bone color on a brand new leader and I was looking for big fish on top of brush early in the morning. This week it just seemed like the better bite was over brush in 20-25 feet of water, although most of the fish were beat up from the spawn, they were willing to eat and on the larger side. They were few and far between at times, but I was able to scratch out some good fish over brush in the creek after coming back from some main lake points. We had some wind on Thursday, so it was just a matter of me finding the brush piles in 20-25 feet of water with wind and chop blowing across the area. The wind and chop were the key as the fish were moving around the brush feeding in the wind and much more active than the fish in the calm or flat water around brush. Again, Spot-Locking up wind, fan casting the Ham Bone fluke down wind and bringing back over the brush with a few very quick snaps with my wrist, letting it fall and then snapping or popping it again accounted for all of the fish I caught on Thursday, and I had some good ones. By the time I had to head back home I was on my last Ham Bone fluke, and it was about to hit the graveyard when I caught my last fish to end the day and destroying my last Ham Bone bait from the bag. It was a fitting way to end the day and end my week out on the lake. It was a fun day in the creek and the population of fish out on the brush is growing by the day. The lake is dropping and almost a foot below full pool. Water temps are around the 70-degree mark and it’s continuing to warm. Here’s a few fish from Thursday and fishing over brush with the Ham Bone fluke.

Fishing Like March in May

Fishing has slowed way down for me of late, and my plan is to devote more time to my golf swing in the upcoming months. I’m kinda interested in seeing how the new knee will affect my old golf swing and we should have some perfect weather for a change of scenery very soon. We also have the addition of our twin grandbabies and we’ve been watching them a few days a week and that’s been chewing up some fishing time as well. My back has slowly gotten better this week and I think I probably strained it when I was working here at the house. Unfortunately, my brain thinks I’m still in my 30’s when it comes to lifting things. One of the worse things about getting old is the fact that the mind often refuses to accept it. The bulk of my injuries these days are due to that fact.

I only fished a total of 13 hours (mostly in the creek) this week and it didn’t really give me much time to find my rhythm but nonetheless I was still able to put something together. There are several different patterns going on right now at different locations on the lake and even at different locations in the water columns. Once again, it seems that the north end is ahead of the south in terms of fish feeding closer to the surface and changing their target food source to swimming baits due to the shad and blueback spawn. I believe there are still fish in spawning mode, hanging out close to structure on the shore, and I believe there are a lot of post spawn fish in transition to their summer homes out on the brush. This week I chose to target the post-spawn fish around the brush out in deeper water after seeing the bulk of the glitter boat fleet beating the shallow shores. Monday and Tuesday my back was recovering, and they were pretty much a wash for me, and on Wednesday I finally made it out for a while with my back brace on. We had a lot of NW wind to contend with on Wednesday. I got out early to avoid as much wind as I could, and I eventually went back to finesse after bombing for the first hour or so on the topwater and shallow moving stuff. With all the wind I decided to target the transitioning fish that were post spawn and hanging out around the brushpiles and relating to the bottom. I didn’t see a lot of suspended fish, so I just positioned the boat at a casting distance away from the brush, upwind, and spot locked the trolling motor to fan casting around the brushpiles. I usually tried to make a few casts with the spinnerbait over the top of the brush using a 5-10 count before throwing the shaky head. Sometimes there will be a sizable bass hoovering over the brush and the spinnerbait has been my go-to for getting that bass to react before throwing the worm and working on the deeper bottom-oriented fish. On Wednesday that’s pretty much all I did, move around and target the brushpiles in 15-25 feet of water and with the combo of the spinnerbait and then the shaky head. I missed some fish on Wednesday and wasted a lot of time on topwater but I found a few nice ones to end the morning using the shaky head and spinnerbait combo. Here’s a couple nice ones I caught hanging around the brushpiles.

Yesterday I set out to do more of the same and I was able to spend 6 hours on the water with better results. It was a good day and once again my target was the brushpiles out on the ends of points. I didn’t waste a bunch of time with the topwater or fluke and I just went right for the combo. There wasn’t as much wind, but I used the same technique starting with the spinnerbait over the top of the brush for a few casts and then go to work with the shaky head all around the brushpiles. Here’s some of the nicer fish from yesterday.

Today was another babysitting day but I did manage to get out for a couple hours to end the week. On my first stop I caught a couple smaller fish on the spinnerbait on a windy point and I moved on, but that was a good sign. On my second stop I caught a nice one on the spinnerbait over brush and followed it up a hour later with another nice one off another brushpile on the spinnerbait again. After that I hit a little lull and my time was limited so I headed back to the house. My last 2 fish this week are pictured below and a fun way to end the week. My best 2 baits this week was the 3/4-ounce SpotSticker Mini-Me with no trailer and the Zman Big TRD worm on a 1/4-ounce Boss Shaky Head (pictured below). I did catch a few on the weightless fluke rigged Jimmy Sanders style. Water temps are in the low to mid 60’s and the lake is just below full pool.

Grand Lake o’ the Cherokees

This is the first time I’ve ever written about my time on Grand Lake in Oklahoma, but the lake was a big influence on me when it came to the outdoors and fishing. I can only guess that my dad must have had a profound love for Grand Lake, judging from all of our visits when I was a kid growing up. Later in life, he and my stepmother owned a home at the lake for over 20 years before moving to Texas. I wasn’t much older than 6-7 when I can first recall weekend trips and fishing the lake. Back then we would fish for catfish from the bank at our campsite when we weren’t out on the lake trolling for white bass with Roostertail’s. My dad had a cab-over Cameo camper on top of the bed of his pick-up truck and we would spend a lot of weekends on the lake during the summer months. It wasn’t much more than a 2-hour drive from the house to the campsite and usually my dad’s friends Gene and Charlotte would bring their camper with Gene’s aluminum boat in tow, and they would camp with us. Hanging out at the campsite and fishing around the shoreline would occupy my time during the day but the real fun was going out in Gene’s boat and trolling for white bass, usually in the mornings before the lake traffic and pleasure boater came out in full force. Trolling was usually good during the summer months and catching white bass was a fond memory I have of the lake. When we trolled, we would use a couple of Zebco rods with Zebco 33 reels, one protruding out of the gunnel at a 90-degree angle on each side of the boat, and each towing a Mepps type rooster tail, white with black dots. It had to be white with black dots. To this day, if I see a Roostertail that is white with black dots, my mind immediately goes back to Grand Lake in my younger years. Basically, we just put the motor at idle and moved around different areas of the lake until we ran across white bass and started catching them. We would concentrate on the areas we were having the best luck and using nothing but dead reckoning and reading shoreline to stay around the schools of white bass once they were found. In the mid to late 60’s there wasn’t a whole lot of electronics and depth finders were usually the anchor or dropping a weighed bait over the side to see how close we were to the bottom. Sometimes we would camp at the State Park on the lake and sometimes we would stay at the cabins at a place called “Blue Bluff Heights” (which is no longer there) or a place called “Blue Bluff Habor”, (which is still there from what I understand).

Staying at Blue Bluff Heights was pretty interesting as a kid. The owner was a Native American artist who not only ran the business, but also was a very talented painter and painted western type canvas art. He sold his paintings from time to time, and I can remember us buying a couple of the big paintings from the owner/artist. The most interesting part about staying at Blue Bluff Heights is the fact that it was at the top of a huge rock bluff at the lake and the drop had to be more than 60 feet. There was an elevator shaft from the top of the rock bluff down to a crappie house, and that’s what my dad and stepmother Kay liked to do when we didn’t camp at the park. We would stay at the cabins and crappie fish from the crappie house for the weekend. We would usually bring back a haul of crappie and throwing a fish fry was pretty common in our household. I don’t have any pictures of Blue Bluff Heights because it is long gone and the old owner that we became friends with died when he was struck by a winch and fell from the bluff and drown. It was a tragic ending for a great man a personal friend to our family. I can remember riding in that old rickety elevator down to the crappie house and you would have to stop the elevator manually before you got to the water or you would wind up with wet feet. It was an experience to get to the crappie house but once you got to the crappie house it was pretty cool. If you’ve never seen one, here’s a picture of the inside of a crappie house at Blue Bluff Harbor which was exactly like the one at Blue Bluff Heights. You can barely see a fisherman on the left edge of the picture. At times, when there was a good bite, there would be a few dozen anglers in the house fishing at once.

Back in the late 60’s and early 70’s, for $10 per person you could sit inside the crappie house and fish all day. You could get 2-3 dozen minnows for another $10 and for a total of $20 you could bring home a pretty good mess of crappie if you knew what you were doing. It was heated in the winter and a window air conditioner ran during the summer, so it was pretty nice inside the floating house. There were two large square openings with seating all the way around the openings into the water. The depth of the water was around 20 feet and brush piles were stacked and added to regularly under the floating house. Some brush was on the bottom and some brush hung suspended from the crappie house. With all the brush and a great population of crappie on Grand Lake, the crappie houses were always a good place to fish. You just bought a few dozen minnows or just used crappie jigs and made a day of it. I can remember sitting in those seats for hours with my eyes glued on my rod tip waiting for it to bounce. It was always pretty comical to watch the older people catch crappie because they would somehow become youthful and giddy catching the fish. It was pretty close quarters inside the crappie houses, and you usually got to know the people around you during the course of the day. There we no secrets inside the crappie house and if one color or bait was working better than another, everyone knew it right away. There was always a certain smell inside the crappie house and it’s a smell very similar to the smell of bait or shad out on our own lake. I can only imagine the amount of bait around the brush piles below the crappie house and the fish eating the bait. I liked to go outside the crappie house and fish the exterior from time to time. You could either crappie fish or catfish from the outside and there was some bench seating around the outside for you to sit and fish from. Usually, I would take my old Zebco 202 and wrap a dough ball of catfish bait around a treble hook and fish the bottom for channel catfish to add to the crappie collection. Most folks kept their catch in fish baskets that were hung from the posts that surrounded the openings inside the house. I can remember watching as folks pulled their baskets up to put in a recent catch and the number of fish in the baskets was a good way to determine whether or not the fish were biting. It was always pretty cool for me to catch crappie as a kid inside the crappie houses and sometimes my grandparents would be there to join us for the fun. By the time I was 10-11 my dad and Kay bought a cabin on the Neosho River, and we went from camping and fishing at Grand Lake to setting trot lines and limb lines on the river just about every weekend.

There was a pause in my visits to Grand Lake in the early 70’s but in 1980 I took a job at a local grocery store in Miami, Ok. which was just a couple miles from the lake. I lived with a workmate in Miami and my roommate, and I met 2 sisters that were our age and their parent’s owned a very nice lake house. Their dad had a very successful dental practice, and they spent the school year at their home in Kansas City, but they spent their summers at the lake. We became good friends with the sisters and for one summer we stayed with them at the lake house and we water skied with their family boat in our off time from working at the grocery store. It was a fun summer and a summer I’ll never forget but a year later I joined the Navy and left the area for my new career in the Navy.

In the meantime, my dad and Clyde bought a little mobile home in a little lake community at Grand Lake and the lake was a short walk from their mobile home. They used it as a weekender from their main home in Tulsa, Ok. and when I came home on leave from the Navy my dad would take off work and we would stay at the lake and fish. There were times I would plan my leave from the Navy to coincide with the crappie spawn on the lake. My dad and Clyde lived just off the shores of Horse Creek and during the crappie spawn we would take their aluminum v hull up the creek to look for productive blowdowns where the crappie would spawn. It wasn’t uncommon for us to catch 30+ crappie in a trip and we tried to have a family get together and fish fry when I came home for leave in the spring. Once my dad retired from his job in Tulsa, they moved to the lake full time and replaced their old mobile home with a nice doublewide mobile home. I spent quite a few years visiting them and fishing on the lake while they lived there. My dad bought a very nice bass boat, and he tried his hand at bass fishing the lake for a few years, but it was tough for him, so he gravitated back to crappie fishing and he and Clyde used his bass boat for crappie tournament fishing before selling it when they started spending their winters in south Texas. I bought my dad’s aluminum v-bottom boat in the early 90’s and they sold their place at Grand Lake in the late 90’s, moving full time to south Texas. It probably been 30 years since I last fished Grand Lake and I may never fish it again in my lifetime, but I’ll never forget fishing the shores of the lake or trolling for white bass as a youngster on Grand Lake.


Laissez les bons temps rouler Pt 2

Laissez les bons temps rouler Pt 2

It’s been a minute since I wrote my last report from here at Cast Away Cove and a lot has happened during that minute. Since my last report our cat got clogged up with cat treats and had to endure a few enemas and some cat hospital time to get that straightened out. She’s doing great now, and by the way, I’d like to thank everyone for the thoughts and prayers. Big Sis is our rescue cat and follows me around everywhere like my sidekick so she’s pretty special.

I was pretty relieved to see Sis getting better because a week ago myself and 5 others from our Thursday night taco group embarked on a journey south to my old stomping grounds, the Louisiana marsh. We left last Thursday morning and arrived at our destination, the Venice Lodge, around mid-afternoon. We had to stop for a late lunch at Salvo’s Seafood in Belle Chase and this year I noticed that Salvo’s wasn’t as crowded as normal, and it got me to wondering what was going on. I later learned that the oil business down there was slowing some and business wasn’t as good as it would normally be in that area. For the rest of the drive down highway 23 I wondered what would become of this area if there was major cutback in the oil business down there due to moving away from fossil fuels and tougher restrictions on the fishing industry. What would the landscape look like then?

We arrived safely at the lodge around mid-afternoon and LJ led the way into the kitchen where our cook was hanging out and waiting on our arrival. Right away LJ made our cooks comfortable with our group and had them laughing within the first minute or two of our arrival. The 6 of us chatted with our new cook and her helper for a few minutes and then we found our bunks that were two to a room. We had some down time before dinner so we kicked back and played a little pool and chatted with one of our guides about what we would be doing in the marsh.

It’s always a crap shoot with the weather down there but we hit a nice little weather pattern for some good fishing, so we split up into groups of two in a boat and last Friday morning we set out for our first of 2 fishing days in the marsh. I fished with Jimmy S., LJ was with Morgan with Scott and Tom in the 3rd boat. I saw there were coastal flood warnings for the area and our guide Chris told us that Venice marina had some minor flooding the day before. The Mississippi river was very high from the spring runoff and the tide was very active which meant the redfish would be way up in the grass during the high tide. On Friday we happen to hit it just right and the tide was moving out early in the morning. The first stop that Jimmy and I hit, I caught a nice keeper red on a popping cork on the edge of the marsh cane on the first cast. There was a little open area surrounded by cane and it produced 9 redfish for Jimmy and I before letting another guide from the lodge and his crew have the area. We later heard that they caught 13 more reds out of that hole. I guessed that there was an oyster bed there in that open area to hold so many redfish like that. We moved on and I told our guide Chris about Lisa’s first bull redfish coming from the rock jetty at the southwest pass of the Mississippi. One of the reasons I told him that is because I knew we were somewhat close to it so Chris decided that we would take a ride out to the pass and see if we could find a nice bull red to add to our collection. The water was very muddy at the pass and we were in some steady rollers fishing right off the jetty, so we bailed on the southwest pass. There were no bulls to be had but I did snap one picture of a tanker coming into the mouth of the river as we were heading back into the marsh from the SW pass to finish our limit.

It didn’t take long before Jimmy and I finished our limit of 5 reds apiece and shortly after lunch we called it a day. When we pulled back into the Venice marina, and while our guide loaded the boat, Jimmy and I walked over to the cleaning station to look at some of the yellowfin tuna that were brought in for the day. It reminded me of a few tuna trips from years past. Tuna trips are fun, but you need to be prepared for the amount of tuna you could possibly bring back home. I prefer my tuna prepared fresh and I think it is somewhat of an injustice to freeze tuna and eat it later. I believe it just doesn’t ever taste the same as it did when it was fresh. Here’s a few pictures from my last tuna trip. It was Super Bowl Sunday, and the Saints won the Super Bowl that evening. My son Derek and I watched it down in Venice that year. I actually wrote a story about my last tuna trip to Venice.

Here’s a link:

We met up with the other guys back at the Venice Lodge and we compared notes on how everyone’s day went. LJ and Morgan caught over 40 speckled trout as well as limiting on redfish. Tom and Scott limited on redfish and Scott caught the biggest bull redfish for the trip at 32 inches. They limited out of redfish as well. Back at the lodge we relaxed before dinner and talked with the guides about our day and plans for the next day. On Saturday we had a little overnight rain, but we had about a 5-hour window to limit out again before some storms rolled into the area. Once again everyone limited on redfish on day two, and we had a mix of speckled trout, sheepshead and black drum with the redfish limits. We kicked back for the rest of the day on Saturday and Sunday morning the cook came in and made us breakfast before we departed for home. We had a lot of filets in the cooler and the accommodations at the Venice Lodge were top notch. If you want to dip your toes in the Louisiana marsh and red fishing, make it easy for yourself and stay at the Venice Lodge. They take care of everything for you from the time you show up till the time you leave.

The ride back was uneventful, and it takes about 9-10 hours from door to door from my house. We all got quite a few pounds of fish filets out of the trip and I was able to restock my seafood freezer for the next year. We’ve already had redfish twice since I got back, and it was delicious. If you check the recipe section of my blog you can find some of my favorite Louisiana cuisine the way I like to prepare it. Here’s a couple of redfish dishes from this week.

So, it was back to Lanier this week and I did get a chance to fish a few days. I usually just fished from early morning till lunchtime and ended my days of fishing this week shortly after noon. I threw a lot of baits to start the week, but I already had an idea of what I would be using. If you watch the wildlife around the lake, you can figure out a lot and one important thing, I noticed this week was the presence of Great Blue Herons wading the shorelines. For the last few months most of our Heron population has been hanging out around blowdowns and overhanging branches just waiting for an opportunity for a meal to swim by. This time of year, when the shad start to spawn along the shoreline the Heron becomes a more aggressive predator and starts standing and wading knee deep looking for shallow shade around the shore. When I see this I like to start throwing the shad stuff. My little 1.5 Shad crank shines this time of year but to be honest, just about any medium diving crankbait in a shade pattern will work. It is not entirely necessary for the crankbait to make contact with the bottom and I don’t think my crankbait touches the bottom once this week. My little shad crank dives to 8-9 feet in depth and I almost always made casts that started at 8-9 in depth. The fish were usually suspended and just below the depth that the crankbait was running so it was as simple as a cast and steady retrieve to get bit on the crankbait. The crankbait bite was pretty forgiving, and I had success over and around brush in deeper water this week. The second bait I used this week with a lot of success was the little SpotSticker Mini-Me spinnerbait. It’s spring and these fish are aggressive around the bank, especially as we near the shad spawn. These shallow bass will move on anything, and I caught some good ones this week once the wind kicked up around lunchtime. My biggest fish this week was caught over a brushpile on the end of a point is 22 feet of water. She passed on a topwater bait, a fluke and a swimbait but slammed the spinnerbait out in the wind.

On Thursday morning I took our pastor out for a morning of fishing and we had lunch at the marina. At one point in the morning my pastor asked how I knew what baits to use, and I told him about my gut pile on the floorboard of the boat just 24 hours earlier. The fact is that there were no less than 15-20 baits lying on the floorboard a day earlier and that was the ones that didn’t work. We were using the two baits that worked the best during my week. We were down to the shad crank and the spinnerbait for the week and that’s pretty much all I used. I caught fish on both all week and I think the two baits are a good choice right now. Don’t get me wrong, there are a ton of baits that will work right now because the fish are aggressive and in every stage of spawning. One of our fish on Thursday spawned on my hand as well as the floorboard of my boat so there are a lot of aggressive shallow fish as the water warms. Topwater is coming into play and only going to get better in the coming weeks and there are a variety of moving bait that will work. Lisa caught most of her fish this week on an underspin and little swimbait with mine being caught on the 3/4 ounce Mini-Me and a medium diving shad pattern bait. The water temps are in the mid to upper 60’s right now around the creek and the lake is just above full pool. It looks like the corps has been generating about 12 hours a day so there is some water moving through the lake right now. It’s just about time to get those flukes, hard swimmers and topwater ready because there’s a lot of hungry fish on Lanier right now. Here’s some pictures from my week on the lake and while I’m at it, I want to give a shout out about the little BBQ place at Bald Ridge Marine. My pastor and I had lunch there after fishing in the morning and it was great food and a nice day to sit out on the outdoor area. We just parked at the courtesy dock and walked up for lunch.

From Staging to Structure

I think it’s safe to say that spring has arrived. Along with that I’ve been seeing the signs I usually see in late March to early April. Probably one of the biggest signs is the Loons that are grouping up and getting ready for their long journey north. If you’ve been around the lake much you’ve probably seen a few flying around here and there, exercising their wings, or maybe you’ve seen a very large group of Loons swimming around out on the main lake, staging for departure. Soon they will all be gone until late October when they come back to make Lanier their winter home again. On Thursday I saw another familiar group of birds passing through when I was fishing out by the dam. I saw a large flock of white Pelicans moving around and more than likely just resting overnight during their long journey back up north along with the loons. I remember a group coming through in late October of last year on their way south and I wondered if it was the same bunch on their way back up north. Last but not least, it’s just about time for our resident seagull population to end their suckling from the prosperous Loons and head back to the Walmart parking lot where they can feed on little Johnny’s discarded French fries and pizza crusts. Ahhhhh, spring is in the air in the south…along with copious amounts of pollen to clog my nostrils.

It seems like every March, fishing is different and looking through my history for March, I’ve used quite a few baits over the years, but this year was a little different. Basically, I only used one bait all month to catch about 99% of my fish and for the last 2 weeks I only used one color to get it done. I gained a ton of confidence in the bait and when Lisa and her partner fished the ‘All Ladies’ tournament last Saturday, the bait accounted for all of our fish and the win in the tournament. It also accounted for Lisa’s 4.5lber to win the big fish pot. I told Lisa that if we could keep that bait in the water, there’s a good chance we could do well, so she threw it all day and pulled out the 5 fish we needed to win. The key to our win was structure and structure should be the primary focus when the fish move from the staging areas to spawn.

For spotted bass, spawning is just a little different and sometimes it can be just a bit more forgiving for us fishermen. The fact is that there is a lot of spotted bass in our lake and spawning can be just about anywhere, but the primary focus for this time of year goes from the secondary points to the nearby structure. When I say “structure”, I use that term pretty loosely because most of the structure we can’t see because of the deeper water where some spotted bass spawn. Since I choose not to sight or bed fish, I spend a lot of time throwing a fluke or a worm around structure such as blow downs and docks while keeping a little distance between the boat and the target area. Since my staging areas have all but dried up, I’ve had to change my strategy just a bit and go from the secondary points to making my casts around structure to get my bites.

Before getting into my week, first, I want to brag on my wife Lisa and our friend Tess fishing in the “All Ladies” tournament last Saturday sponsored by “4Her Outdoors Apparel” and “Fishing with Everyday Heroes”. It was post-front conditions and basically, we had 4-5 hours to get the right 5 fish for the tournament. I kinda knew the shaky head was going to be the deal since I had been finding some good ones with it for the past few weeks, it was just a matter of putting it in the right places. Tess worked from the back throwing the swimbait while Lisa was up front on the shaky head. Lisa has been fishing it a lot lately and she has the Midas touch when it comes to finesse. She generally out-fishes me with the soft baits so throwing the shaky head was right up her alley. It started out slow for us but I knew that the bite had been getting better as the day progressed and I wondered if we should have made the run down south to our creek and fished my more familiar holes but I decided that in order to keep baits in the water the longest we needed to limit our travel time. We decided to fish the Longhollow area since Lisa and I have a lot of history in the area. We focused on secondary points and rocky stuff to bang out a few 2-3lb keepers on the shaky head but we hit pay dirt when we decided to run a stretch of docks near the old Lantern Inn area. Lisa popped a 4.5lber and a 3.5lber off the docks when pretty much gave us the victory with 5 good keepers and around a 15lb sack. Everything came off the shaky head and the biggest came from the shade patches around docks. I’m very proud of the ladies and they fished hard for the win. Here’s a few pictures of Lisa and Tess at the weigh-in.

I fished just about every day this week and I mostly fished the creek. As the week progressed the secondary staging areas became more and more void of fish, and I could tell that they were making their move to the spawning areas and starting to relate to spawning structure rather than feeding areas. The docks and blowdowns were probably the most productive this week, but I could also still find a few on the rocks, especially if it was shelf-type rock or the big dark chunk rock. We had a lot of sunshine this week and along with that some of the docks I was running would have shady areas depending on how the sun aligned with the dock. If the roof of the dock cast a shadow on the water, there was likely to be a fish inside the shady area or the shade patch. That’s not to say that all of the fish were around the shade as some may have been hanging around the spud poles or under gangways but most were in the shade in the afternoons. Another productive cast I was making around the docks was casts into empty slips in the shade. That was a high percentage cast, especially around the deeper docks. My most productive docks for the bigger fish this week were the deeper docks and I believe some of the bigger spots were spawning around structure under and near the docks. Blow downs were another producer for me and yesterday I could just about count on at least one fish being around just about every blowdown I made a cast to. The deeper docks produced the bigger fish but the blowdowns contributed to the numbers this week.

I’ve cycled through a few different colors but the Big TRD from Z-Man has been my go-to bait this month and it’s probably accounted for a few hundred fish over the month including the win last weekend. I combined the worm with a 1/4 ounce Boss Outdoors shaky head and that seemed to be the best choice for a shaky head because of the keeper and the softer ElaZtech plastic. The key was to fish it slow around the structure. I just imagined the fish down there on the bottom looking at the bait for a while before eating it. I was dead sticking the bait in some of the shady areas and that seemed to work well for me. I feel like the moving baits are going to start being better producers for me soon and I even had a nice one blow up on a topwater bait this week which is a good sign. Right now, it’s still the slow stuff for me but who know what next week will bring. Here’s a picture of the winning combo and my March go-to bait.

Water temps are somewhere in the low 60’s and the corps is generating a few hours a day including this weekend. The lake is just above full pool and holding steady. Here’s a few pictures from my week. Lots and lots of smaller fish this week that didn’t make the picture page.

March Madness Has Begun

Last night I couldn’t help myself at our weekly taco Thursday gathering. At the restaurant there were several tv’s but only one that I could barely see had the NCAA basketball tournament on and every once in a while, I would glance a look at the game and the scores. I may not be diligent about following divisional play during the regular season, but March Madness has always piqued my interest. At the same time another March madness has piqued my interest and that’s the March madness of finding and catching these spotted bass. So this week was the polar opposite of last week on the lake…..literally the polar opposite. Last week we had the mild temperatures, and the fish were basking in the warmth of the shallow water, eating their crawfish and having a good ole time then along comes mother nature with wintertime again.

Monday started with below freezing temperatures in the morning and a northwest wind that was brutal to any exposed skin. Luckily, I still have my winter fat lining to insulate my body, much like the down on a bird, which helps me from getting cold. The only part that’s bothersome about these cold mornings is that my hands get cold, and I don’t like wearing gloves for a few reasons. Once my hands get wet, they get cold and that is uncomfortable. Such was the case on Monday morning when I started out. I was catching fish almost immediately at my first stop and the area I was fishing was shaded from the morning sun. That made it even more cold but on the other hand the fish were biting so it was a pain vs pleasure kind of morning. On Monday I was still catching some fish shallow and with the post front conditions, and a brisk wind the best thing to do was sit on the ends of west facing points with spot lock engaged and making fan casts downwind with my back to the cold wind. Even though it was cold the fish were moving around these areas feeding so it was just a matter of dragging the worm slow. When I say slow, I mean slow. Soaking the worm became an option for me this week.

Just to give you an example, I ran into Jeff Nail and Rafael Q out on the lake Wednesday, and we were chatting on spot lock on the end of a point. I made a cast and just let the worm set on the bottom. I kept the slack out of my line as the worm sat on the bottom and about 3-5 minutes into our conversation, I felt a tiny tick on my line, and I reeled down on a running fish. That worm had sat there on the bottom for a while, lifeless, and along comes a bass and picked it up. Just a couple hours later I run into Jimmy Sanders in the creek, and we start chatting out on the end of a point. I made a cast during our conversation and once again, mid-conversation, worm soaking, another bass picked it up and I reeled down on another running fish. That’s kinda the way the whole week was, just work the bait slowly.

Tuesday and Wednesday were the same deal, windy points with a few dock runs here and there but the biggest bang for the buck was still rocky secondary points in the wind with staging fish. The biggest observation I had for the week was the fact that a lot of fish slowly moved out to deeper water as the week progressed. To give you an idea of how the fish moved, I was putting the boat on spot lock early week in 16-17 feet of water and making my cast to the shallower water but by yesterday I was spot locking in 16-17 feet of water and making my casts out to deeper water. I caught fish in 5-15 feet of water on points early this week, but they slowly pulled out as the water cooled a few degrees because of the cold snap and by yesterday they mainly came from 20-25 feet of water. This happens in March just about every year and the bass usually don’t go far. It won’t be long till the move back up shallow looking for that warmer shallow water. I only needed one rod on the deck this week and I only used one type of worm. With the exception of ambushing a very large striper on a 2.8 Keitech feeding with some loons inside the Marina, my bait of choice this week was shaky head in the wind on secondary points for the win.

This is kinda typical for March Madness and usually the back-to-back fronts can be frustrating but there’s 2 things to keep in mind; first is that the fish are going to be eating in March and the second is that the wind is your friend in March. The lake is just below full pool and the water temps are somewhere in the low to mid 50’s. The corps isn’t really generating a whole lot right now but the good part is that the fish are eating pretty regularly. Some fish may be a little deeper on those points until things warm up a bit.

On Monday evening last week I got to sit down with my friend Jack Young, who has a podcast called “The Seasoned Sportsman” and we did a 3 hour podcast for his YouTube page. Here’s the video below and a few fish pictures from my week.

Picking up the Pace

Finally!! I’ve been throwing my little swimbaits for the past week just looking for something to bite it when I’m swimming it near the surface rather than dragging it on the bottom and yesterday it happened!! It’s a sign of better things to come and it couldn’t have happened at a better time. Don’t get me wrong because the worm bite is running pretty hot right now, plus there’s no better feeling than that little “tap” when you’re dragging the worm and you swing into a heavy fish but yesterday we were able to witness surfacing fish, put the hammer down on the trolling motor to make a cast within 10 seconds of the fishes surfacing and pop a double on the swimbaits. That’s a pretty good feeling too. Our double pictured below:

This week my week of fishing actually started on Sunday when I was able to put a crappie trip together with my buddy who lives on a small lake out in the countryside. Every year we do a bit of pond management and remove quite a few of those tasty slabs for a transfer to my favorite lake, Lake Crisco. Removing the crappie is necessary to keep the size up and prevent overpopulation of the species and I’m a big fan of fish tacos so it’s a win-win kinda deal. It’s a lot of fun and on light crappie tackle some of the fish can really put a bend in the little crappie rods.

Years ago, my parents owned a home on Horse Creek, a large feeder creek to Grand Lake in Oklahoma, and every year the crappie would spawn in the creek. It was just a matter of taking the little jonboat up the creek and find a few good blowdowns along the water’s edge. We would drop anchor next to a blowdown and drop the little crappie jigs down around the blowdown, usually doing very well. It was pretty easy fishing in shallow water, and it wasn’t uncommon for us to catch 30-50 fish in an afternoon. We would have fish fries every so often and I’ve always loved the taste of crappie. Just the taste alone can conjure up a half a dozen memories of days gone by. Helping my buddy with the pond management often takes me back to the years on Horse Creek and all the fun we had crappie fishing 40+ years ago. Here’s some pictures from my Sunday in the country and the start of my fishing week.

I was back on the lake Monday morning with some nice weather to greet me. I was looking forward to this week because I know that the bite is getting better and better. We’re approaching the March full moon and it seems like this moon phase is kicking these Lanier bass into high gear this week. Once again, I started with throwing the little swimbait on a five-count drop and slow rolling it but still no takers, so it was back to the worm. For me it’s about location and percentages right now. I have this memory bank of locations where I’ve caught fish in the past plus I’m always adding to my locations as well as dropping some. More and more bass are prepping for the spawn and the feeding windows are opening wider and wider around the lake. The key is finding where the bass are and that could be anywhere and nowhere at times. Late last week we were having a blast with fish around docks but this week they’ve been nonexistent around the docks and loading up on the shorelines. I’ve found fish in the most inconspicuous and unusual places and found a lack of fish in the places I’ve expected to find them….if that makes sense. Nonetheless, this time of year it’s like “blind squirrel” fishing and if I search around long enough, I’m bound to find a nut or two. Targeting secondary points and rocky stuff has been the deal for me this week and right now some of the biggest girls around are putting on the feedbags for the spawn. This week I used the wind to my advantage, and I targeted larger flats and points in the wind using my Spot Lock and fan casting method. I looked for points and flats that had wind blowing into them and I targeted those points. I just feel like the fish feel more comfortable feeding around windblown points and although it may be uncomfortable fishing in the wind, it can be very rewarding. Such was the case on Monday when I upped my personal best for the year when I caught a very hefty 5.3oz on a windblown secondary point. The fish had apparently had success jumping and spitting baits in the past because it’s all the fish wanted to do and keeping her down was a task. The hook held and I gotta brag on the Cast Co. braided line. It’s the real deal when it comes to holding these fish. Here’s a pic of my biggest this week and a few others from Monday.

On Tuesday the sun was back out, and it was nice and warm. It was the same deal for me, I had the wind to work with and I tried to choose areas in the sun where the wind was blowing into the area or in some cases, across the point. I set up camp on a flat that had wind blowing into it. my boat was sitting in 17 feet of water, and I was fan casting my shaky head onto a rocky area from 5 feet in depth back to the boat. I caught 3 very nice fish off the flat in less than 10 feet of water before moving on. It was the start of a good day and I slowly found fish here and there on my milk run. I also found fish in Shoal Creek and Young Deer on Tuesday targeting windblown secondary points, fan casting the worm on Spot lock. In the evening Lisa came out for a short ride and we ran a few docks but unlike last week, the dock bite was on life support. We did manage to salvage the evening with a few off a rocky shoreline before calling it an evening. Here’s a few from Tuesday.

On Wednesday I had my neighbor David on my boat as a guest. David knows the shaky head bite pretty well, so I knew yesterday was bound to be good. We started out early and it took us a while to hit our stride, but the bite improved as the morning progressed. Yesterday I noticed a little more surface activity and while we were running some shoreline areas we saw a lot of birds and loons diving in a bay, we were close so I pulled the trolling motor and we booked it over to the bird action. I knew there was probably a bass or two around because the birds and loons were diving very near shallow water out on the end of a point. I dropped the trolling motor and we started casting with 1/4 ounce damiki’s with 2.8 Keitechs and KBD Baits 3.25 Slick Swim swimbait. Here’s a link to the swimbait I was using.

The color I was using was a green herring color shift. Here’s a picture of the swimbait.

We made a couple blind casts and then I saw a fish surface once and then surface again and again. We were close and I was able to cast to the surfacing bass within a few seconds and on my first cast on top of where the fish was surfacing the bass hammered the slick swim. I was happy to finally get a decent fish on the moving bait. David zeroed with a little underspin until we hit the next pocket and I saw another fish surface. That was when David and I got a double, mine on the slick swim and Davids on a underspin with a 2.8 Keitech. After that we hit a few more areas and David ended the day with back-to-back catches running a stretch of rock bluffs and we headed back home. It turned out to be a nice day. All of our fish were caught on the shaky head and swimbaits. Here’s a few of our better fish for the day.

Not sure when I’m getting back out but so far it’s been a good week. The water temps are somewhere between 55-60 around the lake and the fish are getting more and more aggressive in the shallow waters. With the fish starting to chase moving baits more and more, a whole host of baits should work, from crankbaits to spinnerbait, chatterbaits and even the a-rig can be a good choice right now on the windy point and around docks. The shaky head continues to be my anchor with the moving swimbaits coming in second. Water levels are just below full pool and the corps is generating off and on during the daylight hours.

Anticipating the Transition

This week was close, not quite there yet for me but we’re close and I can feel it in my bones. For weeks on end most of my offerings have been slow moving and I’ve been relating my baits to the bottom. Whether it’ ‘s a worm or a swimbait, it has been crawled on the bottom with the speed of a three toed sloth and I’ve grown tired of the pattern. My fish brain tells me to anticipate the cheese move and go looking for new cheese and with the water temps on the rise and the fish moving to the shallows, it’s just a matter of time before I rely heavily on the moving and swimming baits, rather than the slow, crawly ones.

It certainly looks like we’ve turned the corner on the lake temperatures and hopefully we’ve seen the last of the water temps in the 40’s for a while. I know we are in store for another artic blast or two before spring arrives, but this week has given us a glimpse as well as hope for warmer days. Another good sign that spring is just around the corner is the fact that Lisa came out of her fishing hibernation and jumped in the boat a few times this week. Each year when the air temperatures hit the 70’s Lisa knocks the winter rust off her hook setters and dominates our fishing competitions year after year. I can’t explain it but I usually take a beating on our outings no matter how badly I front end her and make the choice casts. She has learned to adapt, and she has obtained this 6th sense in fish location from the back of the boat. I’ve grown accustomed to it and just net her fish like a man.

On Monday Lisa had the day off some about mid-morning we set out in the creek to see if you could find a few shaky head fish. Lisa throws a pretty mean shaky head, and she has the touch when it comes to feeling those really light bites with the shaky head so we both enjoy throwing it. We hit rocks and docks with a small limit to show for our efforts. We ended the morning with a small limit on rocky points, and I wasn’t very impressed with the morning bite at the places we fished. It was a little chilly but a fun morning and I’m glad Lisa got to catch a few to get her week started.

I know there’s going to be a good moving swimbait bite right around the corner and I’m incorporating more and more moving baits in my arsenal now. The sure bite for me has been the shaky head for the last few months but I know that very soon the fish will come out of their slumber and start running down shad in the shallow areas and sometimes out over deeper water. For these fish I have a quarter ounce Damiki coupled with a Cast Co. Prodigy or a 2.8 Keitech. If I see anything come to the surface and I can get to it fast, I’m throwing the little swimbait. I’m also throwing it if I see suspended fish on the graph, usually on points. When these bass get on the little moving swimbait bite in early spring, the shaky head can become a distant memory and we can go right from slow rolling the swimbait to topwater. When I looked at my blog reports from the first few weeks in March and all those big fish I caught last year on the little swimbait it made my mouth water even more. I had some tanks in early March and some of my biggest fish of the year. If you have time, take a look at March of 2022 in my archives and check out some of those fish on the little swimbait. I expect that bite to take off very soon and I’m devoting more and more attention to the moving stuff now that the water temps are on the rise.

Tuesday morning Chris and Joe from C&S Marine got me fixed up with the 20-hour on the new powerhead. I was in and out of there in less than 2 hours and back on the water by lunch. A huge thanks to my friends at:

On Tuesday I was back at it with the shaky head, and I hit the rocks and docks with some success. I could tell that the dock bite was starting to turn on late in the sunny afternoon and the fish were starting to relate to the shallower docks. That bite is mainly driven by the sun so the success rate on docks goes up considerably when the sun is out in the afternoon and evenings. I finished the day with some nice fish, and I could tell more fish were moving to the shallows.

I was back at it on Wednesday afternoon and with the warm weather and sunshine Lisa jumped in the boat with me after she got off work. We started running docks about 5:30 and it just kept getting better and better. It was like every empty slip had a fish in it, every spud pole had a fish on it, and we ended up with 7 pretty nice fish in a matter of an hour and a half tops.

I was out again both yesterday and today for a while, and basically for this week it was the same deal, rocks and docks with the shaky head, but with the cloud cover moving in, the dock bite kind of fizzled at times so I focused on the rocks during the cloud cover. The shaky head rig we used this week was the TRD and Big TRD mounted on a Trokar Pro-V tungsten 1/4 ounce round head or a Trokar Shell Buster football head in 1/4 ounce. I recently talked about the TRD worms from ZMan in my last YouTube video and we used it almost exclusively this week.

As of today, the water temps were in the mid to upper 50’s and the lake is a few inches below full pool. The corps has been generating a little more than usual this week. I look for the moving bait bite to pick up for me soon, but this week was more of the usual worm bite. Here’s a few more of our fish from the week.