Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Return of the Great White Buffalo

First Blood
I recently began fishing gravel pits or dredger ponds as some call them. My friend Charles and I have been exploring more of them and through the help of google maps ended up finding a second pond out at “The pits.” We set out to explore it and fish for a couple of hours this past Sunday morning and sure enough there it was. The water is crystal clear in this pond, similar to the other. The water is really low as anywhere in CA but this pond is also not as deep as the original pond at the Pits.

One section of the pond was about 2 -3 feet deep; we started here. Minnows make the trip worthwhile. Every cast close to fish was a takedown and if you play your cards right, also a fish. Nothing too big in this area, biggest was about a pound. Well I was rigged up and ready to go so I caught fish after fish on my panfish set up with a slip bobber rig on 6 lb test. I use 6 lb test because you never know when you will incidentally get into something bigger.  

We hiked out to a flat area where the water was a bit deeper. With only small fish swimming around, Charles hiked to the other side of the pond and I stayed on one bank slaying small fish. At this point I was tired of getting them with minnows so I started using lures. Grubs also worked on them as did my green and silver cast master. 

Gotta do the selfie
Healthy fish in this pond
That’s when luck brought something bigger and more confident swimming along the bank. It moved fearlessly as if patrolling the situation on the bank. I quickly grabbed a minnow, hooked it up and tossed it right in front of his face. Nothing. The fish was a boss! I knew it didn’t get that big by falling for lame tricks like that. It swam away. It would seem my luck had run out. I looked at the general vicinity where it was but it seemed to have disappeared. I stood on top of a mound of dirt to see if I could spot it but I couldn’t. 

I figured it might still be hanging around so I tossed it in a weeded area and then luck brought the mammoth fish right back to me. I saw him swim up to the minnow, inhale it and keep moving. I waited to make sure he ate the minnow down so I waited a second before setting my hook. Then, with my rod tip low I took a hard swing in the opposite direction of the fish, and hooked him hard. At this point he freaked out and took off peeling line. I reeled and he peeled but I was on top of the mound so I slid down right next to the bank making sure to keep the bend in my rod. He peeled and stopped and I prepared myself to lip this bad boy and celebrate. And then I did something stupid that made me kick myself (even as I write this and probably forever. My drag sounded a little loose and the fish seemed all tired so for some reason I tightened the drag up except I didn’t tighten a little bit, I tightened it a lot. I’m used to muscling these big fish in at the end but I usually bass fish with 10 lb test.  So what do you know, the fish makes one last hard run and snaps my 6lb test. 
one of the last of the day

I cussed at the top of my lungs and for at least a minute. I couldn’t even fish after that. I just scanned the water in hopes that he would come back but nothing. My luck was gone for the day. It snapped like the 6 lb test line on my panfish rod. With that we finished up with a good amount of fish and one more sighting of the “Great White Buffalo!” (For those of you who haven’t watched the movie hot tub time machine: the one that got away.)

Total Fish: 13 Largemouth Bass

** This total puts me at over 200 fish this year.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Another Crappie Day

With nobody agreeing to fish Last Wednesday, I set off on the journey to the beehive alone. I figured this left me more space to cast and that was okay with me. 
I arrived at around 5 and went to work with a worm and bobber for gills. I quickly caught a small bass just to kill the skunk. Plus I love how hard the small bass hit the worms out there. The next fish was a bluegill which I quickly hooked up on my heavier rod with a bottom feeding rig hoping for some large cats or big bass. The last time I was here the bass were hungry and feeding nearby. 

I tossed out a few lures including a popper, a torpedo, and a crawdad ratl trap with no takers at all. After a while I tied my bobber back on with a tiny treble and got a few more gills. Soon thereafter I tied on a larger hook because I was after some bigger bass or bigger crappie. 

Even though we were supposed to have a full moon, the fish didn’t seem to be biting on the main slough. I knew that come “Crunch time,” (the hour-hour and a ½ while the sun sets) the fish would start hitting. 

When crunch time came I set my rod up with a slip-bobber rig and a couple of nightcrawlers. If the night was as it was a couple of weeks ago I would be able to get into some largemouth and I wanted to be ready for them. I also put a fresh bluegill on my other rod and hoped for the best. It started getting darker and the bite wasn’t really picking up. I switched depths with the slip bobber rig but the bite was slow. I eventually picked up a couple of nice size crappies that I ended up keeping for the fish fry. 

I usually know when its getting too late because the panfish and bass bite turns off and the catfish start biting. And that’s usually smaller cats, nothing worth mentioning. After the second cat I decided to pack it up and head home. 

Total Fish: 2 Catfish + 3 Crappie + 2 Largemouth bass + 6 Bluegill = 13 fish 

** These 9 panfish put me OVER my goal of 70 Panfish for the year! Time to shoot for 100!

Friday, September 12, 2014

The Legendary Pond

There is a dredger pond that has become sort of a legend to us; we will call it the "legendary pond. Many are the stories we have heard, the problem being it wasn’t easy to get into. That is until Charles went there, drove right in and started fishing it.

His story was that they were kicked out for gate lock up but that the company worker also told him that he “didn’t know what happened there after he left,” which meant access to the pond. In one afternoon Charles and his friend got into 30 bass. They vowed to keep it a secret from other people, but Charles is my boy so the next morning we hit the dredger pond. 

There were two ponds, one of them the size of a small lake. Amazing that you wouldn’t ever realize this size of a body of water was out there unless you were intentionally looking for it. 

first fish of the day
Long and skinny bass
First couple of casts for Charles near a drain and he had the first bass on. A few minutes later I cast out a minnow imitation on a spin rod and I had a fish on as well. I was pretty happy. Funny thing about some of the bigger bass, they are skinny, kind of unhealthy looking as you can see in the pictures. 
Eating something off of the bottom?
2nd fish
A few feet away I had another fish on. A smaller bass but definitely more of a fighter.  Charles made his way further around the lake. I switched to a buzz bait to see if I could provoke a topwater bite. I also had “Bonecrusher” with me, which I fully intended to use later in the day. 

Fish of the Day
Charles called to me from far away and I ran over only to see him catch a nice bucket mouth. Even though it was a bigger fish, it was also thin. Almost looked like a post-spawner but we’re in September so I doubt it. There are blue gill in there but I wonder if they don’t get a lot to eat? They seem to attack baits pretty aggressively. Charles also caught a nice panfish that looked like a cross between a perch and a green sunfish, does anybody know what it is? 

Perch/green sunfish mix?
At one point I heard a noise behind us and I looked only to find what I initially thought was a coyote and eventually realized was a dog. The owner was a worker for that company and told us to leave and not to come back or that he would call the Sheriff. 

Quick one for the road!
I couldn’t leave with only two fish so Charles told me to toss one more while he packed everything up. I ran back up with a bluegill colored ratl trap, and after a few casts I had my last fish of the day. 

So the fabled pond is a producer. It It has hungry sometimes unhealthy looking fish but I know if we would have stayed a bit longer, we would have really slayed them. Not sure if we will be back there but we sure will try. 

Total Fish: 3 Largemouth Bass

Monday, September 8, 2014

The Skunks Revenge

This year has been the first year have gone out and consistently caught fish instead of just being skunked. Sometimes its just one lucky fish I catch, sometimes it’s a big fish I catch and sometimes I have just had good days.  And occasionally I still have bad days. Here are the tales of two bad days in a row. 

So last tuesday I decided to get some crappie fishing out at my buddy Russell’s secret spot. I took Charles with me and we were ready for some fish. 

We ended up getting there right at sundown because Charles had some errands to run and we had to pick up some minnows. My rods were set up to add minnows and cast and so I did. 

Charles drew first blood with a nice little crappie that measured about 9 inches. I waited but bites were far and few between. My biggest mistake at this place is not having the net right next to me. I did have it at one point but then I moved down a few feet and since it was dark, it was hard to spot. 

It wasn’t until it was dark that that I finally got a take down. The bobber didn’t move or bob, it just disappeared so I knew I had something big on the other end of my line. I set my hook and sure enough, something pulled right back and took off peeling line. I played the fish and told Charles to bring the net. At one point I got him to the top and I saw his massive back and beautiful markings. Sure enough he was a largemouth around 5-6 lbs, nice and fat.  Charles had a difficult time finding the net so I continued to play the fish. When Charles finally got to my side, the fish shot in the opposite direction and back and then it was gone. I was left cussing like a fisherman! I apologized to Charles for my coarse language and when my adrenaline stopped pumping I threw another minnow on the hook and wished I would have caught that fish. What else can a fisherman do but replay the moment in his mind and vow to never lose one like that again. I ended up skunked that day. 

Then the next day with the sour taste of losing a big one, I agreed to go salmon fishing with Sean. Since it has been a full year since I last mentioned Sean, I will say a little about him. Sean is a biologist and works with fish DNA. He is also a true salmon slayer. The guy is on the river every chance he gets during salmon season and regularly gets into some nice fish. He is up to 6 fish so far this season. 

Sean is my salmon guy. He is always down to fish for salmon and is eager to see me get into my first king. Unfortunately this was not the trip. I ended up skunked but my desire to fish is bigger than ever. 
So that’s the deal, two days of fishing and two skunks. Tomorrow is another day! 

Total fish: 0