2023 and Back in the Saddle

After a long two months since my knee replacement, I’m finally back on the water and fishing again. This has been a tough one in terms of endurance and recovery. When it comes to knee replacement, everyone handles it differently and some replacements are smoother than others. I’ve had friends that recovered very quickly with minimal pain and others that didn’t fare so well. For me, it was as much mental as it was physical recovery. Physically, the discomfort continues but it’s getting better, but mentally it’s been a struggle. I’ve had several surgeries and a few broken bones over the years, but this was definitely the most debilitating event I’ve ever endured. It was the fact that I couldn’t use my dominate leg for things I’ve used it for my whole life. The anxiety from sitting around waiting for my leg to heal was mentally challenging for me. As far as the physical stuff goes, the best way to describe it is as if my knee went to sleep and I can’t wake it up. It also feels like there is a tight painful band around the upper part of my knee. That is more than likely from cutting or loosening the muscles around the femur and then reattaching them, as it can be painful at times. It is also still painful to step up or step down using my knee. The surgeon says it could take up to a year for that to heal but he seems to think it will be way shorter in my case because my healing has gone much better than he expected. The good part is that the bone-on-bone pain I was feeling before the surgery is gone and that was the ultimate relief for me.

During my time without fishing my boat got a new powerhead after the old one blew right before my surgery. Timing couldn’t have been better because my boat and I both needed a rest. I had been fishing just about every day for months and the boat motor as well as my knee turned out to be the weakest link in my fishing efforts. The guys at C&S Marine got me fixed up with a new powerhead in record time and had I not been recovering from surgery; I would have been back on the water in less than a week. Chris and the guys at C&S know their stuff when it comes to motors and had the powerhead swapped out in 2 days.

Now for the fishing. Monday Lisa and I made a trip out and after breaking in the motor we started hitting ditches. Lisa tied on a little jig head with a 3″ Prodigy from Cast Co. I was using a little silver War Eagle spoon and the little swimbait did all the damage in the ditches for us. Lisa caught a few smaller fish casting the little swimbait in 40 feet of water and bouncing it on the bottom and then she caught the fish below just before we headed home. Every winter I enjoy catching a lot of fish on the Damiki rig and the new Cast Co. 3-inch Prodigy swimbaits are a great option for these fish feeding on small baits in the ditches. Be sure and give them a try this winter on Lanier.

It was overcast and the fish in the ditches we hit were very scattered and not too many were interested in eating in the afternoon. On Tuesday I was back out but only caught 3 in the ditches. On Wednesday I had enough of perch jerking a bunch of 2 pounders in the ditches and I went looking for the meat eaters on the rocks and docks. I wanted to try the little emerald ned rig again since I had good luck with it around this time last year. I pounded a few docks and rocks with it, and it produced a few but I felt like I could do better, so I tied on the green pumpkin shaky head and went to work on the rocks. This time of year, I focus on the sunny rocks for the most part. There are some big fish around the shady/deep rock bluffs, but they are few and far between right now. Same with the docks in the creek, I just couldn’t get bit on the docks successfully this week so by yesterday my primary focus was sunny rocks facing the south and west. With the west wind blowing, most of the west facing rocky points had sun and wind blowing right into the point and the fish were cruising the rocks. With the stained water getting worse in the creek and pushing out towards the main lake, I mainly concentrated on clean water around the mouths of the south end creeks and rocks on the main lake where the water was the cleanest. I had my best day today and I had to leave them biting. With the weather getting more stable the fish seemed to respond well today and they were really getting up on the secondary points and staging areas early this afternoon. I wished I could have stayed longer but I think I put 9-10 in the boat today before heading to the house. This week the best pattern for me was the shaky head on sunny rocks with wind and chop. It’s been slow, partly because of the full moon this week but also because the water temps are getting down into the 40’s now. When the water first hits the 40’s, the fish really slow it down for a bit but they get used to it and they’ll get going with the pre-spawn soon. Most of my fish were caught in less than 20 feet of water this week and the warmer/shallow fish were very strong fighters, unlike the lethargic ditch fish. Water temps were around 50 today and the lake is a little over a foot below full pool. The corps is only generating for an hour or two each day so not a lot of water is moving right now. Here’s a few of the memorable fish this week including my 2023 PB of 4.01pictured above and caught yesterday.

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