How Many Do You Need?

That’s the question I asked myself over and over again this week. I found myself wanting to go to the deep ditches where I could spend hours just casting or bouncing a spoon around because the fish are there in big numbers and I could catch a bunch.

This week I started out practicing my jig skills in the back of some pockets early in the morning and if there’s one thing I’m lacking when it comes to fishing, it’s confidence with the jig. I can never seem to get on a roll with the jig although it’s a winter staple on Lanier. I just choose other baits to use during the winter months but this winter I’ve made myself use the jig more. Early Monday morning, I was all about the jig in the shallow pockets in the back of a ditch in the creek. As I moved up shallow in the center of the ditch, I started marking fish suspended and moving around at the 20-25-foot depth, so I started making casts towards the shallow back of the ditch and letting the 1/2 jig slowly sink to the bottom. After I feel the jig make contact with the bottom, I like to lower my rod tip and slowly drag the jig along the bottom in a stop and go motion back to the boat, always making contact with the bottom. The cool part about the jig is that when a bass hits the jig there is a pretty distinct thump and it’s your que to set the hook. I got on a roll with the jig early and managed a few confidence builders early in the morning in the very back of ditch pockets.

Monday afternoon I picked up my neighbor for a few hours and we looked for a few shaky head fish in the creek. It was kinda slow, but we managed a few. My neighbor David is working on his shaky head technique, and I always enjoy my time with David as we always talk about the bible and being better Christians. David and wife Ann both teach Bible study and are accomplished Christian writers and just a joy to have as friends and neighbors. Here’s David and his afternoon fish.

On Tuesday I was back out for the afternoon run again and I had a plan. My plan was to run 2 long stretches of docks with the shaky head, one in the shade and one in the sun to see if there was a distinct difference. I started on the deeper shady docks and by the time I had finished running at least a dozen docks in the shady stretch I had amassed a smaller 5 fish limit. The 5 fish were mainly caught between the docks up shallow or on the spud poles. The thing about spud poles this time of year is that they hold heat in the sun, and fish will suspend near the pole, usually chasing anything that moves near the pole. If I see a spud pole, it always gets a cast. Some of the docks were deep with big chunk rock or flat slopping rock shelves which usually produces a fish or two. It was a good dock run.

I then moved to the sunning docks that were just a bit shallower on average and this dock stretch had less rocky stuff. It had a flat out in front of a stretch of 3-4 docks and the flat was in the sun. Bass were always patrolling the flat in the sunny afternoons and I generally expected to always catch a fish on the flat. At the end of my run, I had 4 more fish and missed what would have been my 5th to a slow hookset. That’s the thing about the shaky head, you gotta be on your game because every once in a while, a fish will hit the worm on the way doing to the bottom and you’d never know it if you have a lot of slack in your line. If that’s the case, sometimes the fish will suck the worm in and eventually spit it back out, undetected. I almost always control my drop with the shaky head. I quit fishing after running the sunny stretch of docks and as I was leaving to head back to the house, I noticed a 3/4 moon was rising in the east as the sun was setting in the west. I had a good evening and I remembered what an old wise fisherman told me one time, “when the sun and the moon are in the sky at the same time, the fish bite the best“. Over the years I’ve come to the conclusion that there may be something to that observation from my old friend. Here’s some pics from Tuesday.

On Wednesday I decided to fish the morning hours to see if I could find a few larger fish, so I started out on the docks again but the fish either weren’t there or weren’t active. After an hour of running docks, I shifted my attention to the sunny, windy points and rocky areas that had wind and waves blowing across them. It was mid-morning and the sunny points facing the south with wind was the ticket with the shaky head. The bigger fish were up, and cruising and I slowly amassed a good sack on the rocks. I was back at the house by lunchtime and considered the morning bite much more productive for size. Here’s a few pics from the morning bite on Wednesday. The biggest was very close to 5lbs and I caught that one on a shallow south facing flat.

On Thursday things started changing and we were facing clouds and no wind to speak of. The fish that had been coming up shallow in the sun and wind were not coming up shallow and I had to head back out to the ditches for my bites. I spent a few hours out from mid-morning till early afternoon and found my fish either very deep or very shallow, but the big girls just weren’t out cruising like they had been doing in the sun. I did manage to catch a few on a pearl Magic Swimmer when I saw fish chasing a bait on the surface but all in all it was just a bunch of staring at the graph and dropping the spoon deep for 2lbers. It was kinda fun because I would drop straight down on empty bottom and start slowly going up and down about 10-20 feet and eventually, I would draw a crowd. The crowd would chase the bait up and down until one lone cowboy would say ‘I’m your huckleberry bass” and my rod would load up. I gotta brag on my Humminbird units. Whether I was fishing in 50 feet of water or looking for a certain contour on my mapping to find my shallow fish, I couldn’t have had success this week without them. They were key whether it was sonar or mapping.

Probably the highlight of my afternoon was seeing a striper work its way back into a pocket I was fishing. I watched the striper chase bait on the surface in the shallows and I couldn’t resist putting a stalk on the goofy striper just all carefree and focused. It reminded me of red fishing in the marsh and sight fishing a red in some backwater pool in the evening. The water was gin clear, but the striper is very curious and aggressive so my bait of choice that almost always fools the striper is the white pearl magic swimmer 125. It’s almost always a lock and when I saw my opportunity to make a cast to the striper, I made it count and the fight was on. Lots of fun and a great way to end my afternoon.

Friday, (yesterday) I was back out in the morning and it was kinda overcast with patchy sunshine here and there but no wind again. I didn’t have a long time to fish but I was able to find a few nice shallow fish and a few deep fish. It seemed like as the morning progressed into afternoon, and the temps got up into the 60’s the shallow fish responded, but I mainly caught smaller fish up shallow. It seemed like the bigger fish were reluctant to come up shallow at first but just when I thought it was going to be a smaller fish afternoon, I hooked a giant in a few feet of water, and she just went to jumping and shaking her head on the way to the boat. She was working the heck out of that single hook in her mouth and on a last-ditch pile drive the hook pulled at the side of the boat and she disappeared into the depths. That’s how my week ended this week and I’m still a little bummed, but I did manage a few decent fish to end the week. Right now, I’m pretty stuck on running banks and docks with the worm although the numbers aren’t quite what they would be if I were out in the ditches, but I always end up asking myself, “how many do you need”? Here were the last of the fish to end my week so I can’t really complain about the ending. I had Mac Deisel, mini mac and broke back mac.

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