Creatures of Habit

The right shoe always goes on first. It doesn’t matter if it’s my house slipper or my work boots, the right shoe always goes on first. I wouldn’t know how to act if I had to put my left foot in a shoe before the right foot and I would probably deem it 7 years of bad luck if by some chance I had to put my left shoe on before the right. That’s just one of many habits I have and when it comes to fishing, I have a bunch of habits too.

This week I kept it simple and relied on one bait and one tactic to put fish in the boat. Not only are we creatures of habit but the fish are also creatures of habit and sometimes our habits cross paths. I have a habit of visiting the same places to catch my fish and the fish have a habit of showing up there every spring to greet me. Since I’m getting older and I tend to forget, I just looked back to a year ago on my YouTube page and also a year ago on my blog and I got all the info I needed to start my week. My plan on Monday was to throw the Damiki/swimbait rig and slow roll it back to the boat similar to a video I made 1 year ago to the day.

On Monday I tied on a 3.3 Keitech swimbait on a Lanier Baits 1/4-ounce Damiki head and hit the creek right after dawn. As soon as I left the marina I saw something that I hadn’t seen in a while and that was fish chasing bait on the surface. I could see splash after splash out on the end of a point, looking up the creek. I scanned the area and saw more splashes on the surface, some far away and a few that peaked my interest closer to where I was. It was time to sight fish.

There was a nice sized bass that was getting with it and having a ball chasing bait on the surface near where I was idling so I just made my way towards the fish. This fish was lit up and coming completely out of the water while chasing little threadfins that had rose to the surface to greet the morning sun. I could see little schools of threadfin popping up to the surface in small circular ripples all over the point where the bass was feeding. I cut the motor and dropped the trolling motor just out of my casting range and eased up on the area where I last saw the fish surface. It was a nice fish and looked to be around the 4lb mark. I made my first cast with the little Damiki and it was perfect. I counted it down to five and started a slow steady retrieve, much like retrieving a spybait in the summertime. As a matter of fact, this week was just like spybaiting in July only it was swimbaiting in March, and in some of the same areas as I would visit while spybaiting.

About halfway into my slow retrieve, I felt a little pop and the rod loaded up as I reeled down on a fighting fish. I can tell the little fish from the big fish by the weight of the resistance. Generally, if I pull hard on the fish and the fish comes towards me, it’s a small fish but if I pull hard and the fish doesn’t react to my pulls, it’s a big fish. This was a bigger fish and a lot of fun to catch on the little Damiki rig. Here’s a picture of my first fish on Monday morning.

Before I go any further, I want to brag on my gear this week. The rod and reel setup was from KastKing and it is their 7’3″ medium “Speed Demon” spinning combo. I loaded the reel with 12lb high vis braid and a 30 foot 7lb fluorocarbon leader. Take your pick on the swimbait just as long as it looks like the size of a 3 inch shad. I used the 3.3 Keitech this week. My choice of jig head has been Lanier Baits little 1/4 ounce plain Damiki head using it all winter and into the spring now. It’s just an all around good versatile jig head that I can use for these fish that are feeding on shad and I really like the yellow eyes. I highly recommend them. Sometimes something as small as the little yellow eyes is all it takes to convince a fish to react. I’ve gotten into the habit of simplifying my jig head selection and these are the most versatile.

After landing that fish it was just a matter of targeting the same areas and hitting the places that I saw more fish surface in the early morning hours. It wasn’t exactly power fishing, and the bite certainly wasn’t on fire but there was enough success on Monday to convince me that I was just going to roll with the little swimbait all week. I gave up on the docks and swore off the shaky head for the next 4 days straight. Just me and my little swimbait. I must have gone through 5-6 packs of the little 3.3 Keitechs I was using over the 4 days, just casting it on creek points, main lake humps, main lake points and also areas that the bass stage before the spawn. I would count it down 5-10 seconds and slowly wind it back to the boat, not changing speed or action, just a steady wind. As far as locations, I would have to say that my biggest bass this week came from staging areas like secondary points. The big fish were hit and miss, and you just needed to cover ground to get bites. I must have made over a thousand casts this week with the little swimbait, but I could tell by Thursday, the swimbait bite was on the decline as the water temps slowly lowered due to cooler days and nights. The same places that I had been catching active fish dwindled to barely a sniff by yesterday and the fish had moved back closer to the bottom as the surface temps cooled. Yesterday I found more success with the shaky head dragging the bottom on rocks and docks than the success I had enjoyed earlier in the week with the little Damiki rig.

I’m pretty sure I’ll see the little Damiki bite come back around as soon as the surface temps get back on the rise next week and the fish move closer to spawning. Right now, the corps is pulling water off and on throughout the day or evenings and the surface temps have been around the mid 50’s and dropping for the moment. The lake level is a little above full pool.

Here’s some pictures from my week with every fish this week being caught slow rolling the Damiki.

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