Embracing the Suck

The old saying “Embrace the Suck” is a term that was widely used in the military shortly before I retired. The term basically meant suck it up and do your job, however crappy that job may be because the job had to get done. Sometimes I feel the same way about this time of year. It’s hot out and we’re still a few weeks away from any relief but we need to suffer through the bad fishing days to get to the good fishing days therefor I need to embrace the suck.

Some years we have it and some years we don’t. I call it the “Stank Bubble” because we have been sitting under this funky humid air bubble throughout the south for what seems like weeks, and no air is moving to push this humid air out of here. It’s a little too early for a strong cold front and just a bit early for a tropical system to make its way up from the gulf. With no air moving and getting the same old humid rain showers every afternoon or evening it just seems like we’re in a bubble right now. I didn’t spend a lot of time on the water this week because it just feels like Groundhog Day over and over again. I’ve been going out early, popping a few good fish on top as well as missing a few good fish on top and then settling into the spybait and drop shot routine for the rest of my day, which has usually been around lunchtime. By that time I’ve got a pretty good case of butt hurt and swamp*ss and I’m ready to head in for the day.

Lisa was off on Monday, so she came out with me for a while. We made a very interesting observation on Monday while fishing with Lisa. She wanted to try the Choppo after seeing me catch a couple fish on my chrome Choppo so I rigged her up with a shad pattern Choppo and she threw that around. It was a 105 size just like mine but mine was chrome while hers was a more solid light-colored shad pattern. It didn’t take long for us to notice that they would swirl on Lisa’s bait, but they wouldn’t commit while they were more committal on the chrome. We caught 6-7, all on the chrome Choppo including the 2 in the picture above. We had a pretty good time throwing the topwater and we were rewarded with the occasional blow-up.

That’s pretty much been how my week has gone, I’ve been out early throwing the Choppo around brush out on the main lake and around the creek mouths and I’ve been scoring a few fish here and there. The biggest factor to my success this week has been the wind and setting up on spot lock up wind of my target area, whether it’s a brush pile or just out on the end of a point. In past years, according to my log, the whopper plopper or Choppo have been pretty successful during this time period in past years, so I’ve been throwing the Choppo and looking for the blow-ups about 75% of the time this week. The other 25% varied between the spybait and drop shot.

The best plan I had this week to put a sack in the boat was to seize the opportunities early for surfacing fish. There is a pretty good early morning topwater bite and being in the right place at the right time is key to catching these early risers. They are pretty forgiving as to what you can throw at them to trigger a reaction early in the morning. I don’t think you can go wrong with chrome right now and if I wasn’t throwing the chrome Choppo I’d probably be throwing a chrome sexy dawg. One of the main reasons I’m throwing chrome with success is that the fresh dead bluebacks I’m seeing on the surface have a shiny chrome look to them on the surface. I’ve been lucky enough this week to find some schooling fish early and mainly it’s been out on the ends of points on the main lake or creek mouths and some humps out on the main lake. Not all of these points and humps are holding surfacing fish but keeping a sharp eye out on the surface around you can tell you which areas have active fish. The most important thing is to have your topwater bait ready if the fish start coming up in the area you’re fishing, and they are within casting distance. Get that bait in there as quickly as possible because once they leave the surface you only have a couple seconds tops to get them to come back, after that they are back down into the thermocline. Most of the fish I’m catching right now feel cool to the touch, cooler than the 80+ degree surface temps so that tells me they are coming up from the cooler depths to eat.

Also, definitely use the wind to your advantage and set your boat up wind of the target structure and take your time working the area. I like making my casts with the Choppo down wind and bringing the Choppo back against the grain of the chop. I believe you get the most surface disruption doing this and there is a little better bubble trial in the baits wake. I like to use the same upwind technique with the little spybait because I can get a much further cast throwing the spybait down wind. Another important factor, whether it’s the spybait or the Choppo, be patient. Both baits require a slow and steady retrieve for it to be successful so don’t get in a hurry with either bait on the retrieve. With the Choppo I’m using a steady retrieve just fast enough for it to slowly chop and with the spybait I’m using a 20 count with a very slow retrieve.

There’s a lot of different ways to catch fish right now and being in the right place at the right time has a lot to do with it. This week I’ve just been swinging for the fences with the topwater baits so I’m not much help to the tournament guys this weekend. It’s going to be a grind no matter how you look at it so capitalize on those opportunities for topwater fish early and throughout the day and use the drop shot for fish under the boat.

Water temps this week have been in the lower 80’s and the corps is generating for a couple hours in the evening. The lake level is a little over 2 feet below full pool and falling. If you’re fishing the BFL 2 day be safe and good luck.

The Billiard Room

My biological mother left my older brother and I with my father when I just a few years old. My biological mother and father divorced shortly thereafter, and my dad went on to remarry my stepmother, Kay. My biological mother’s parents still lived in our small town in Kansas after my mother moved away and I had a relationship with them growing up even though my mother was not around. My grandfather’s name was Glenn Payne, and he was career Army. My first memory of Glenn was when I was around 8-9 and it was Christmas Eve when Glenn and Margret, my grandmother, came to our little farmhouse for a quick visit. Glenn had just returned from overseas; it was around 69-70 and I can’t remember if it was Vietnam or Japan. By this time Glen had served in WWII, Korea and had also been present at the Bimini Islands for Atomic testing. My grandfather Glenn had a very distinguished Army career and after spending time with him and listening to some of his stories about his life, I kinda wanted to be just like him. When they visited our little house on Christmas Eve, Glenn and Margret brought my older brother and I a kids sized pool table. It was small, around 4-5 feet in length, but big enough to look very odd in our little living room when we set it up. My brother and I were used to getting Christmas gifts like one of those glass race car cologne decanters from the Christmas edition Avon book but here comes my grandparents with this over-the-top pool table Christmas gift. Glenn didn’t care, Glenn pretty much did what Glenn wanted to do and if meant schlepping in a pool table on Christmas Eve, so be it.

Fast forward a few years, my dad and Kay divorced, and it was my old brother, my dad and I living in our little farmhouse. I wasn’t quite old enough to be left alone so I spent time bouncing around my different grandparents houses during the summer months and they would watch me while my dad worked. Glenn had retired from the Army and Margret was still working the evening shift at a nearby Armory. Margret would go to work in the early afternoon, and it was me and Glenn hanging out. Glenn and Margret were drinkers, and when I say drinkers, I mean they drank. I was just a kid and at the time I just figured that some people drank like that, so it wasn’t that big of a deal to me. Usually, Glenn would bust out a pint of Vodka he had stashed somewhere an off we would go to the town square where there was a small pool hall. Glenn would usually meet a few of his friends in the afternoon for a domino or card game and I would hang out in the dark, in the back, shooting pool on the big 9-foot leather pocket style tables, under the hanging lights. Every once in a while, Glenn would shoot pool with me or maybe one of his friends would come back and shoot pool with me. Everyone knew everyone in our town, and I shot pool with a lot of our older local veterans that would drop into the bar during the afternoon. After a couple years of these afternoon visits to the bar with Glenn, I got pretty good at pool. I gotta say also, we didn’t always hang out at the bar, Glenn also loved to fish, and we would go fishing every once in a while. Glenn and Margret like to bass and crappie fish with minnows so we would usually set out to a farm pond somewhere out in the country with a bucket of minnows and a cooler full of beer. Margret would tag along if she was off work at the Armory, and we would have a blast. They had some pretty good farm ponds to fish, and we were always bringing home bass and crappie to clean. I can remember one time in particular we caught a very large largemouth and I was amazed at how big those bass could get. Glenn was an excellent shot and at times I would bring my little Marlin model 60 semi-auto 22 along for us to shoot while we fished. Glenn could shoot the top off a cattail at 50 yards as he was an excellent marksman.

Once I was able to stay on my own at about 15 and got my learners permit to drive, I didn’t spend as much time with Glenn and Margret, I still visited them from time to time but with raging hormones and a license to drive I had very little time for grandparents. Glenn passed away in his sleep when I was 21 and I had moved to Oklahoma by this time. I continued to shoot pool just about everywhere I went. I played on pool leagues and shoot in tournaments throughout my Navy career, and I’ve even been known to hustle a few games here and there during my travels, but it all started with that little out of place pool table when I was a kid.

I now have my own 9-foot leather pocket table, still love to play the game and reminisce about past memories of my youth, shooting pool with Glenn and listening to his stories about his Army travels.

2022 MLF/BFL Lake Lanier 2 Day Preview Edition

We’re fast approaching the end of August and typically it can be a challenge here on Lanier when chasing spotted bass. It’s been a long hot summer and we’re nearing the home stretch. This summer specifically, has been one of those summers that we’ve gotten very little rain (to date) and the corps has been moving very little water. Of course, that could all change with one of those late summer tropical systems that come bubbling up from the south and drenching us with that sticky humid rain. So far, knock on wood, that hasn’t been the case and hopefully it won’t be anytime soon.

This week I picked up where I left off last Friday. The spybait, spoon and topwater was the deal. I was kind of excited about this week getting because of the cooler temps and the prospects of a better topwater bite. On Monday I started out with the topwater and spybait option with just a little flutter spoon thrown in. I was seeing more surface activity than usual and the more I saw on the surface the more I wanted to throw topwater. I cruised out to the main lake very early, found a nice breeze, a moderate chop as well as this late summer sunrise pictured above.

Late last week the bass started showing some interest in the topwater so I picked it up and started throwing it around the surfacing fish on Monday. If I wasn’t getting any interest with the topwater I was throwing the little spybait to get my bites. The picture below was one of my first bigger fish Monday on the spybait after catching a couple of smaller schooling fish on my topwater bait. Turns out, it was one of my biggest this week on the little spybait.

After that fish I focused more on the topwater and working it over brush for my bites. Don’t get me wrong, the spybait was getting me bites but the topwater was getting me more acrobatic bites. The spybait is more or less a finesse bait and it takes some time to cast and retrieve. You need patience to use the spybait with success and it’s a slow process, but the process is well worth it when that rod loads up on that big fish and you successfully get it to the boat. Here’s a video I made a few weeks back that covers the basics of spybaiting and a nice fish I caught on the spybait at the end of the video. The spybait tactic is one that I would use for the next few weeks and maybe into late September.

Another bait that I used this week and in the past few weeks with success and a bait you can’t rule out for the next few weeks and that’s the Spoons. I really like the Georgia Blade 5-inch flutter spoon and it’s about the only spoon I use anymore. I like the chrome or white pearl and they are a lot of fun to throw out on points and humps on the main lake. Here’s a video I made of the Georgia Blade 5-inch spoon in action a few weeks back. The spoon accounted for a few nicer fish this week and I’ll have the spoon on deck until late fall.

The next bait I had on my deck this week was a very fun topwater bait and the topwater bait in my latest YouTube video. The Berkley 105 chrome Choppo is the bait I used this week that accounted for all the fish in the pictures below plus a few more. It was a fun week although short due to boat issues, but I needed to turn the boat in for some scheduled maintenance anyway. Be sure and check my YouTube page for the baits I’ve been using and the baits I recommend having on the deck for the upcoming week or two. Scroll down for a link to my latest video. Water temps are in the lower 80’s and the lake is dropping to 2 feet below full pool. The corps is generating a few hours in the evenings.

A Lesson in Procrastination

A few weeks back I wrote about a lesson in Complacency, so not to be outdone, I was treated to another lesson this week, a lesson in procrastination. If there’s one thing I’m guilty of, it’s procrastination. One would think that after 62 years of life I would have procrastination in check, but it seems to be deep rooted with me. Kinda hanging in there like a hair in a biscuit.

At 0637 on the morning of my 62nd birthday our smoke detector in our master bedroom started beeping. Not just any beep but that loud obnoxious beep that sent our little dog Chigger into zombie mode. Chigger is deaf but I guess his hearing is still good enough to hear that loud beep. He started trying to hide like he does when it storms. The smoke detector is mounted on the ceiling and the vaulted ceiling in our master bedroom is about 22+ feet high. We always dreaded the day it would happen, but we weren’t proactive enough to change the battery before it died. It was mostly because we didn’t have a ladder high enough to reach it, so we just let it go after changing the other 14 smoke detector batteries in the house over the course of the last 3 years. I should probably go ahead and take the blame for this one because I knew one day it would start beeping and I never came up with a plan to change the battery before it did. That explains the picture of the ladder price tag above. There’s more to the story but let’s just get on with the fishing and chalk it up to another lesson in procrastination.

This week Lisa took a few days off and we worked down in the main cave to finish up the game room entrance. We finally installed our cypress columns and trimmed it out so now we’re on to the bar area remodel.

We didn’t really fish until Tuesday, and we only got out for a few hours. I’ve been on this spoon kick lately, so I was mainly slinging the big 5-inch pearl Georgia Blade spoon. Lisa caught a few on the drop shot and I caught a few on the spoon on Tuesday midday. The fish below was my biggest on the spoon Tuesday and Lisa with her biggest on the drop shot.

Back out for a bit on Wednesday and Thursday with the spoon, spybait and drop shot but no big fish, just a few smaller fish here and there. Mainly the size below and smaller.

Today I picked up my neighbor David and his grandson Will for a morning trip. It started out slow, but we managed to grind out a few on a pretty tough morning. The spoon and drop shot were slow plus the spybait wasn’t really getting much attention, so we pulled out the shaky heads and hit some deeper docks. Will caught the fish of the day on a shaky head along the side of a dock and then followed up with another one a bit smaller. David and I got in the action also and we both caught a couple nice fish off the docks before heading in at lunch. After I dropped off David and Will I hit one more point with the spoon and caught the big catfish to end my week. I thought for sure I had that monster bass on for a minute.

These two rigs pictured below accounted for about 80% of my fish this week with the rest coming from drop shot and shaky heads.

Water temps are hanging around the mid to upper 80’s and the corps is generating a few hours in the afternoon/evening. Lake level is almost 2 feet below full pool. I’m ready for fall.