More Loons and Spoons

This morning I was back at it bright and early. My plan was to hit the back of a few ditches early and see if I could find a few more nice bass first thing in the morning. This morning the wind was already blowing out of the northwest just like the last 2 days but it was definitely blowing a little harder early this morning. When the wind is blowing early in the morning the chop makes it harder for the gulls to see the bait below the surface so the gulls weren’t much help early this morning. I found a few fish in the backs of the pockets but I kept getting distracted by the loons and gulls moving around the creek in different areas. I saw the loons off in the distance and they were in a a pretty big group. I moved closer to the area the loons were in and I started watching them work. There were 12-15 loons in the group and they were all diving at the same time which means that they were working. When loons are moving around looking they tend to dive randomly looking in a search mode but when they find a good pod of bait they all go to work together to round up the bait in a tight pattern for the feeding. I saw a few baitfish hit the surface where the loons had been and that little bit of surface activity with the baitfish triggered the gulls to move in. A few of the loons surfaced and quickly dove back down splashing the surface in the process. More loons were popping up, quickly moving around and diving back down for another mouthful of small 1 inch shad or small bluebacks. More gulls showed up and started diving on the water but by that time I was within striking distance with my little white spoon and I let it fly right into the area where the birds were working. I made a very long cast to get into the area and when the spoon hit the water I just let it freefall for about 5-10 seconds so it would clear most of the loons before I made my first long pull on the spoon. The loons know the difference between my spoon and live bait so they rarely get hooked accidentally and thankfully so. Hooking a loon is no fun and something you want to avoid at all costs. Once the spoon cleared the loons I gave the spoon a good long pull upward and then let it freefall while I reeled down. I was over 60+ feet of water and after my second long pull I felt a familiar tick and the line going slack. A tick and slack line can only mean one thing when you know the spoon hasn’t hit the bottom. It means that it’s time to reel down on the slack and make sure your drag is set because your fixin to go for a ride. I set the hook on the tick and felt a pretty sturdy pull back and I knew it was the man in the striped tuxedo. I spent the next few minutes in a tug of war with my biggest striper this year, pictured above.

My setup was primarily for vertically jigging bass or the shaky head rigs and is pretty light when it comes to stripers but I was using 12lb high vis braid with a 30 foot 7lb flouro leader mounted on a Shimano 3000 Ci4 spinning reel and a 7’6” Enigma HPT rod and a 1/2 ounce War Eagle spoon. After landing the fish above I watched the loons and gulls move out over the middle of the creek channel and well over 100 feet in depth when they all started working again. The gulls showed up again and I could tell that they had more bait corralled so I moved the boat to within striking distance. I looked down at the graph and could see striper suspended at 20-30 feet over a 110+ foot bottom. I let the spoon fly into the group of loons and gulls and within 10-15 seconds I felt another tick on the line, I set the hook and missed but within seconds I felt another near miss before the line loaded up again with another nice striper. This striper spent most of the fight near the surface which was the way I like it. Sometimes bigger stripers will take you right down into the standing timber when over deep water but this fish swam on the surface and rolled a few times. It was another stout fish that really put that Shimano drag system to the test. This fish had really put on the feed bag and was another stout teenager and a little smaller than the first fish.

After those two stripers I decided to look around for any kind of pattern for the bass which was a washout effort today. I’ve been trying a few new things and checking some new areas for fish every time I go out. Soon these fish will start making their way to the staging areas and shift to a pre-spawn feeding pattern. Every year is different and to this date I can’t nail down a time when that will happen, but it will happen gradually and soon. I have years of data to draw from and I’m able to put together a trend analysis from my past posts, videos and pictures. That’s the reason I’m starting to focus more on the pre-spawn staging stuff as well as the deep fish on every trip.

With the exception of a few smaller variety bass on a shaky head in the marina area on the way back to the house my effort for bass didn’t pay off today so called it a day early. The stripers made my morning and really made up for the lack of greenfish so if you find yourself in a slump during the dog days of winter there’s always a few stripers hanging around the loons waiting on the action to start. Give it a shot sometime. Water temps are just below 50 and the wind was out of the NW again today.

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