Call it what you will but this week it was all about “Fishing on Faith”. I think it was the dead of winter just a few short months back when I wrote an article about “Dropping on Faith” and I described the winter deep spoon bite. If you missed the article, the description I gave was about taking a chance and dropping your spoon down when there was nothing on the graph and having “faith” that fish will be there. If you look up the word “faith” in the dictionary, among a few other definitions, one in particular is described as “a firm belief in something for which there is no proof”.
This week is a short week because of a two day tournament this coming weekend. I’m done until Saturday morning when I make my first cast on the lake. This week I fished Monday through yesterday and I could tell that my knees and shoulders needed a rest. I’ve made so many casts in the last 3 days it’s time for a rest but the casts I made were productive casts this week. I have the luxury of fishing every day and with that I am able to stay on the fish and track their movements from one day to the next. Lot’s of times I can follow them by reading my sonar and seeing them beneath the boat or they may surface for a brief second and I can get an idea of what they are doing from the surface activity. I also possess the old school knowledge of reading the shoreline because there was a time in my past that reading shoreline was the best way to locate fish. All this is factored in when I made my decisions on where to fish and what to use. A few weeks ago my up front sonar bit the dust so I’ve been using my console sonar for double duty, moving it back and forth from the front to the back as I need it. Some may think that it’s problematic but to be perfectly honest, I’m not really using my sonar at all this time of year. If anything, the most I’m getting out of sonar is water temp and maybe a verification of depth, the rest is combination of mapping and reading the bank.
Right now the fish are determined; they are on a task right now that cannot be stopped. That’s what I kept telling myself when I’ve been fishing this week. This is the one time of year that the fish are very predictable in what they are doing and where they will be. Understanding that the fish are on a mission to spawn is half the battle, the other half is understanding where they will do it. If you know where they will do it, then you can backtrack to where they will be feeding before they do it and possibly run into one along the way. One of the variables this year is the water levels. They are down a few feet from previous years so what was good last year may not be good this year and that’s where the mapping comes in. My mapping can show contour and underwater features that I can’t necessarily see with my eyes reading the shoreline so that’s where the fishing on faith comes in. I’m positioning my boat at a certain depth while making a cast at a certain feature and trusting that the fish will be there. I’m totally relying on what I am seeing on the mapping and the fact that the fish will be there feeding up and nourishing those eggs. Right now the window for feeding fish is wide open for a lot of the day. Sometimes the window is small and they may only be feeding for a few hours a day but right now, in pre-spawn mode they are packing on the pounds for stored energy and egg growth so I have faith that they will be there. Don’t get me wrong here, it’s never a lock that there will be success but that’s where the second definition of faith comes in, which is a belief in God and being at peace with failure as well as success. Believe me, there is failure for sure but failure can be turned into success if failure is used as a tool for future success. By that, let me give you an example when it comes to fishing; Right now I am making several stops a day and if I continually fail to catch a fish at a certain location day after day, at some point I will quit wasting my time in that location and remove it from my list of stops. That’s what I mean about turning failure into future success, something was learned from the failure of not catching a fish in that location and I moved on to more fertile grounds. I may have moved on but I still ponder the reason why there were no fish in that location and if there was something inherent to the location that made it void of fish.
All that being said, I have found and slayed enough fish for the week and my satisfaction cup hath runneth over. Whatever happens from this point on is just extra gravy on my biscuit and I have reached the pinnacle of my spring fishing. I have moved from creek to creek this week and looked for the same contour with success at just about every stop so bring on the weekend and our chance at success in a field of the best. I’m going to once again rely on Faith as well as experience for my success this weekend. Water temps are in the upper 50’s and on the rise and the lake level is around a foot below full pool. Here’s the pictures from the week.
This week was a weird one in terms of finding fish and getting them to bite. One day it was the moving baits that worked and the next, they wouldn’t touch them. When it comes to early spring and pre-spawning fish, finding a pattern and finding the fish can be a grind. There are so many variables this time of year. Weather is probably the biggest variable this time of year because one day it could be sunny and 72 degrees and the next it could be 35 degrees and the north wind howling at 25mph. When it comes to spring you need to learn to fish the elements. When the wind is howling, take advantage of it and fish the wind blown banks and points with the moving stuff and when it isn’t blowing slow it down to the wormy slow stuff on the bottom. That’s my rule of thumb. Next is finding the fish. Look, they could be anywhere right now. They could still be hanging out in the deep water chasing the deep bait or they could be in less that 5 feet of water basking in the afternoon sun and crunching on crawfish.
A few weeks ago I was running a stretch of docks in the creek and I happened into an area of docks where I continually catch fish. At first I thought that maybe there was a series of brushpiles that someone had set out under and around their dock but I could never really find the brush. After fishing the area a few times I finally pinpointed an area where the fish always seemed to be. It was a lock for catching at least one fish when I came to this one dock. If I made a cast about 10 feet off the corner of this dock, I was going to catch a fish. A couple weeks ago I pulled up to the dock and made my first cast to the corner and immediately caught a fish, a nice 2.5lber so I threw back into the area and caught another on the very next cast. I released that fish and caught another, then another. On 4 consecutive casts I had a 10lb sack and needed one more for a limit. When I made my 5th cast I felt my little Ned worm stop as soon as I made my first little pull. I leaned in and set the hook for fish number 5 but I felt nothing but dead weight. I pulled hard and whatever it was started coming to the boat but it was very heavy. I pulled and tugged on the line thinking I had finally found the brush pile and it was slowly coming to the boat. As it got closer and closer I could see fish on the graph scattering everywhere under the boat. It was like someone had dropped a fish bomb over the side of the boat. The graph was loaded like spaghetti and the big piece of structure finally came into view; it was a large plastic Adirondack style chase lounger and I had it hooked by the leg. It had blown or had be thrown off the top deck of the dock I was fishing but before I could get a hold of it my little Ned hook had straightened and let go of the chair. The chair slowly disappeared back into the depths as I realized that these fish were using the chair for structure and there were a bunch of fish occupying the chair. The chair had a lot of algae buildup on it and clouded the water around the area when I brought it up so I left the area for things to settle back down. Since then, I have visited the dock on each of my subsequent outings including the day before yesterday when we stopped at the Adirondack dock and my buddy pulled this one out from under the chair.
For the past few weeks that chair has provided me with some fun fishing and it seems like there is a never ending supply of bass hanging out around the chair. So far it’s provided me with some fun times and at least a couple dozen fish. I never thought my strategy for catching fish would be targeting outdoor furniture but it is what it is and I’ll take the action.
As for my favorite baits this week, I would have to say the little 3.3 KeiTech on a 1/4 ounce Damiki head was the most productive in the wind and around active feeding birds. Here’s a short video I made earlier this week out at the mouth of the creek. I was chasing birds and targeting the fish feeding on the bait beneath the birds with my little Damiki rig and a new St. Croix spinning rod I had just purchased.
My second bait that has been producing in the wind is the a-rig. Just find the windblown points and shoreline and let it fly. Here’s a nice fish I caught on the a-rig on a windy point earlier in the week.
This week there were times I’ve needed to go to the slow stuff on the bottom to get bites and a variety of worms have worked for me. First, I would have to say the Ned rig has done the most damage on the bottom. It’s been good on the points in the creek as well as pitching it around shallow docks. If you’re new to the Ned rig, now is the time to give it a try. It can be casted or dropped down and when the fish are keying on the smaller stuff the Ned is a good choice. Colors may vary so pick out some that you like and give it a go. The fish are very forgiving when it comes to the Ned rig and color patterns.
Lastly, a bait that gets an honorable mention and that’s the Chatterbait. It’s hit or miss with the chatterbait right now but if slinging an a-rig isn’t your thing then pick up a chatterbait on those windy points and go to work. You may be surprised at the results right now. Water temps dropped back down to the mid 50’s over the last few days but I’m sure it will quickly bounce back to the upper 50’s next week. Here’s a few more pictures from my week. Fishing is only going to get better as the water warms so get the popcorn ready, we’re in for an awesome spring for fishing!
Holy cow, I’m not sure ya’ll have been smelling what I’ve been smelling in the creeks this week but I’m smelling the strong scent of shad every morning that I’ve been out this week. This week I’ve been able to get out fairly early just about every morning and it’s really been worth it. The creeks are starting to come alive with bait moving around early in the morning and the fish have been responding well. I kinda knew the fishing would get better as we’ve had fairly stable weather all week and the water temps are on the rise. We’re getting closer to the spawn every day and the fish are moving around looking for food after a long winter slumber. I can remember just about 6 weeks ago I was freezing my butt off and dragging a little swimbait on the deeper bottom just hoping the little swimbait would lure a fish into biting. The fish were cold and my fingers were frozen but that little Damiki rig I was using got it done in the later part of the winter for me. I had to work it very slow as you can see in the video below that I made back on Feb. 1st. This video was made in the back of the creek while the bait and fish were stacked in the back. Most every fish was under 2lbs but it provided me with some late winter action for days. I probably caught close to 100 fish just making the same cast in the same place for 3 days straight. The fish were sitting on a ledge and constantly intercepting small bluebacks coming out of shallow water into deeper water via the ledge and I was just hoping the little Damiki down the ledge.
Throughout the month of Feb. I used the little Damiki a lot and I’ve built a trust in the bait. In my opinion the little 2.8 Keitech is a pretty good match for the little threadfin shad that the fish are keying on in the creeks so it was just a matter of figuring out how the fish wanted the Damiki. As the water started to warm the fish started getting more active and I found that it wasn’t necessary to drag the bait anymore and I started getting more and more fish while swimming the bait at different depths Rather than dragging it down ledges and across flats. I also jacked up the size of the swimbait to a 3.3 keitech. If you look at my videos from this time last year I was using the 3.3 Keitech with a lot of success. Here’s a picture of the rig I’m currently using and the rig that’s done the bulk of the damage this week.
The cool part about the Damiki is that it is very versatile and I can use it several different ways. Lately I’ve been making long casts on points, flats, around docks, in ditches, rock bluffs and if I see a fish swimming under the boat I’ll drop it down and dead stick it on the bottom. I will say this, you may not get good numbers on it but if you are patient and throw it in the right places it can be fun. The key is the speed. It really reminds me of the spybait technique sometimes because it can be like watching paint dry. Earlier this week I was coming out of the marina and saw some birds diving on some bait so I cruised over to make a cast or two in the general vicinity of the bird action. I had my video camera with so I decided to make a little Damiki video while I was out. You can see the technique and speed I’m using now with the Damiki vice what I was doing 6 weeks ago with the same bait in the back of the creek.
Don’t get me wrong here, there are plenty of other baits besides the Damiki rig pattern that work well right now, there is also a crankbait bite, a chatterbait bite, a jerkbait bite, jigs and a few other things that are working well right now some I wouldn’t exactly hang my hat on a Damiki rig bite from one day to the next but it has been a lot of fun this week and every once in a while I’d bust a good one. Right now I have a ton of confidence in the little Damiki and I’m probably using it just about 80% of the time. As far as the color choice for the Keitech goes, it varies. My advice is to choose whatever catches your eye because the fish are pretty forgiving when it comes to color choices. Just try until you find one that works well.
When I got out this morning the water temps were in the mid to upper 50’s and the lake is down a couple feet right now. Here’s some fish pictures from the week including the last 5 which were from offshore fishing the main lake today. That’s another thing I wanted to mention, this pattern works well on main lake humps and points and that’s where I found them today.
For the month of March I have a rolodex of baits and patterns I like to use, so when I hit the creek about mid morning this morning I started factoring the conditions and going through the rolodex of baits and options for a beautiful sunny afternoon with a little breeze. Luckily, this morning, every once in a while we had a gust of stronger wind and I was able to find some wind on a point right away. It wasn’t a lot of wind but the surface had a pretty good chop which meant I had options. One bait I’ve had on the deck for the past week or so has been the chatterbait. It’s been on my deck recently because of this gut feeling I get every year about this time so I’ve been throwing it a little bit each day. One sure thing about the catterbait this time of year is it’s unpredictability of success. One day it will work great and on other days it won’t get a sniff but there are ways you can better your chances, kinda like today. When I saw the wind blowing on the point I thought about my old friend, the chatterbait. I hadn’t caught a fish on it yet in 2021 but it wasn’t for a lack of trying and I felt good about it today. It was Friday and the wind was blowing on the point, a perfect combo to break out the chatterbait and let it fly. I think it was my 2nd cast and the fish pictured above hammered the chatterbait in less than 15 feet of water. That made me feel good and it gave me something to build on. All it took was that one fish to get me going. At that point I started running points and looking for as much wind as I could find on every point I could find and every once in a while I would get a little reward for my efforts. It’s not like the chatterbait bite is on fire or anything right now but the way the fish bite it makes it somewhat addicting. Most times when a fish hits the chatterbait the rod just unloads for a second or two and the quicker you reel down on the slack, the better chance you have of hooking the fish before the fish shakes the bait out. The reason the rod unloads is because the fish hits the chatterbait and usually swims towards the boat with it for a second or two so I’ve learned to reel down quickly and then apply a little hook set. Here’s another chatterbait fish from the afternoon.
Yesterday and the day before were a couple of those early spring days with the temps in the upper 60’s and a little wind out on the lake. Normally I’d be out there slinging a crankbait around because it’s certainly crankbait season but I have yet to find a decent crankbait bite. The crankbait is working well right now and from the reports I’m getting, it sounds like it’s a good choice to have on the deck. Here’s a picture that my neighbors David and Ann sent me a few days ago. Ann caught a nice bass Thursday afternoon cranking a point in the creek with my 1.5 Shad crank.
Earlier this week, before I got on the chatterbait run I was mixing it up with the ned rig on the docks and the little swimbait around the ditches and also on some flats. My little Damiki rig with the 2.8 or 3.3 keitech is still working for me so if I mark a few fish on a 20 foot flat, I back off a casting distance away and throw back into the area, letting the swimbait sink to the bottom and then slowly dragging it through the fish. Here’s a nice fish I caught earlier in the week with the Damiki rig on a flat near brush.
Another bait I’ve been starting to throw each time I got out is the little keitech on the underspin. If you check out my YouTube page and go back to spring of last year I made some videos featuring the little swimbait pattern. So far this spring they are still a little reluctant to get after the underspin for me but that bite is coming very soon and if this warming trend continues and shallow bite will be very good. Here’s a picture of a few underspin fish from earlier in the week. That crappie smashed the underspin in less than 5 feet of water.
More to follow but to recap a few baits in my March rolodex, first would have to be the chatterbait for me right now. Second would be keeping that crankbait handy. Third for me is the little swimbait or underspin and lastly is the little ned rig on docks. If you want one more option for windy points in march I would have to say the a-rig would be a good bet if you like slinging the a-rig in the spring. Water temps are anywhere from 54+ in the backs of the creeks and 51-53 out on the big water. Lake level is rocking on 2 feet low.