Friday, May 27, 2011

Ditto Thursday Night Wildcat 5/26/11

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I hadn't been able to fish the Wildcat tournament in weeks, due mostly to Aubree's AND Alyse's softball schedules. But, I must say that it was A-OK to make a swap for a few weeks as Josh and I had just plain struck out. Sucks to give away 30 dollars a week!

As I am sure you are all aware, the weather was supposed to be nasty with a 50% chance of T-storms. But I have grown a large distrust of weathermen in this area, and trust my own meteorology. So, at 5pm...guess what. No storms! The engine fired on the first crank and with cold beer in hand, we got ready to blast off.

The water was back up, and a blog reader had informed me that one of my spots SHOULD be on....that being the "bush bite" inside of Butler Basin. When the water gets high, the fish love to get under those little trees on the bank of Butler. You cast a top water in there and get bit more often than not.

When Patrick, the director, waved us on, I floored it....and the motor just died. By that time, 2 boats were out front, headed up river, undoubtedly towards Butler. When we arrived, we were the 3rd boat in there, but the only boat down that upriver bank....which was ok.

15 minutes later, we didn't have a single bite. My other tactic was to get on an eddy bite at the mouth of Butler, as Bertus had shown me a week back. But, there was a boat on it. Strangely, there was bait fish swarming...but we couldn't coax a bite. We idled out.But the motor wouldn't fire. It would turn and turn and turn. I hit it with ether. I swapped batteries since it required 700 amps to trigger the kill switch. Nothing. Just like back in the NATA Open....Sigh. Of all places to get stranded....At least it would drift TOWARDS the launch!

I threw the new Xcaliber square bill up on the rip rap, just outside of the mouth.

As soon as it hit the water, a scrapper NAILED it. Because I was so disgusted, I threw him back. Before he even hit the water, Josh started yelling at me....since that fish would have measured. I guess I had my Guntersville calibrated eyeballs on after last week. Sigh. I guess I could have dove in after him!

We drifted about a quarter of a mile, catching a few short fish. Josh caught a few on a baby brushhog and I on a Ole monster, both made by Zoom.

Again, nothing big, although they all COULD have measured with a little stretching. However, since the winner had needed 15 pounds every week we fished, we threw them back.

As I continued to work on the motor, I FINALLY found that pesky leak in the boat. One of the straps on the port side fuel cell had pulled out, leaving a hole. Gotta fix that today before tomorrows tourny! Burble Burble Burble! Hope those pumps don't die!

The motor DID finally start, so we ran to the point of Hobbs Island. Again, someone was sitting on it. Same guy I have seen out practicing. He wasn't on the sweet spot of the point, as there is a sunken bridge piling, making it go from 14 feet to 7 feet.
last summer, we caught all of our good bags here, mostly on top water. Surprisingly, we saw some top water action, so I tossed the Zell-Pop out and was rewarded with a nice fish.
I should add that I had swapped the front hook for a red Owner #2 and the rear for feather Owner #4 in silver...not that it really matters.

That being the only taker, we went to our last spot, as we had wasted half the day trying to get the motor to fire.

Now, I promised that I would quit showing Josh's, all I will say is that it is a rip rap bank on the main river.

As we pulled up on it, we threw Zell Pops under trees..just like Butler Basin. We had so many hits...from small fish...that it was ridiculous. We had at least 3 doubles. Mostly, short...and I mean...REALLY short fish.

The humor for the day came when Josh tried to back the boat onto the bank so that I could retrieve my Zell Pop. Well, I took a step onto a submerged rock, and dang it if it was slippery. Into the water I went.....At least it was marginally warm!

We only kept 3 fish, though we did fill out a sack. We didn't even take them to the ramp, as we didn't think it would matter...and it didn't...but it was close.

Winner had 11 pounds, including a MONSTER 5.6 ounce large! Beautiful fish! Second had 7 pounds and I don't even know what 3rd was. Suffice to saw that we were in the mix....well, would have been...had I not thrown back all our fish! At least the motor DOES work!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Fishing Report for Guntersville, 5/20/2011

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With my sisters wedding coming up, and 3 different showers or parties in 3 days, I knew that a Friday morning fish was the only option that I would have. My friend and Co-worker Jon was interested as he had been wearing the fish out on the Big G on a new-to-us spot that featured a long slate rock shelf. He had been catching 20-30 a day, but that was with the spawn in full swing.

We wanted to start early, so at 2:30am, I was awake and getting ready. It didn't help that lil Griffin was wanting to snuggle, having gotten out of his bed and pitter-pattered to our room!

I passed the Hardees in Gurly at a little past 430, and they weren't open. I tell ya, that place has more problems! So, I stopped at the shell on 431 and bought biscuits there. They sure were good, especially after I thought I might go hungry! I pulled into Seibold Camp ground right at 445, as we had planned. Jon and another co-worker, Jeff McCaleb, were waiting on me. I hadn't fished with McCaleb, but he shares my affinity for making swimbaits! Neither of us said anything, but secretly I wanted to compare! Now, I admit that he makes a Rago BVD knockoff which is huge...whereas I make a MUCH smaller bait:

But, hey, isn't fishing a competition?

One of the first things I noticed was that it was a full moon on a cloudless night. Right at the shad spawn. I knew, right then, that we would have trouble catching fish once the sun got up. But it should be easy for awhile, judging by the shad fry in the water and the busting bass! Here is where we fished:

We started on the downriver point. The fish were going nuts on top water, but I noticed that they were pushed out from the bank a good bit. Jon and McCaleb were fishing in the front, casting towards the shore. Not wanting to fish behind two people, I opted to cover that deeper water. As they threw swimbaits, Reaction Innovation skinny dipper in Bad Shad, I believe:

I went to top water with the Lucky Craft Sammy 100

Second cast, a bass annihilated it. A good 3 pounder. This fish came all the way out of the water by two feet! Next cast, another. Next cast another. I had 5 fish in the boat in about 10 minutes. You can see from the map above that there were two points. I found that if I cast parallel to either of them, or even towards the channel, that was shen I got bit.

Jon stuck to the swimbait, but McCaleb swapped over to a sammy and caught a few.

As soon as the sun peaked over the mountains, the fish started slapping at it. By about 7, I had caught around 10 on topwater with McCaleb and Jon adding another 5 or so. But, those slaps kept coming. I missed a 5 pounder on two consecutive casts. It is infuriating to have so many weak hits. By 715, the slaps were gone and it seemed the bite had died. We pushed deeper to an underwater hump (circled on the map). I began throwing my swimbait and was able to catch a couple of fish on it:

We moved to several older honey holes, but couldn't catch the numbers. We finally went back to where we started and Jon and McCaleb had the skinny dipper bite turn on. They were able to catch a good number of fish including at least one 4.5 pounder each, which beat my big fish. However, every fish we caught was VERY spawned out.

I was able to tempt the fish with a few other weapons, although I didn't land any of them. I had a solid hit on a new Spro frog:
Gander mountain has the entire line of Dean Rojas Singature frogs. They are SICK!

As well as a new XCaliber square bill crank

I also lost one on a Carolina rigged Ole Monster, which got off at the boat.

We called it quits at 2pm as the bite had all but died...although I did catch this guy on a Zell-Pop:

As we returned to the ramp, I noticed the damage to the campground:

It was a great day, even if the bite died. It told me that night fishing during a shad spawn MUST be done! Can't wait for that! We caught around 30 fish total. Best 5 would have been around 20 pounds.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Fishing Report for Ditto Landing/Tennesee River

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This week hadn't looked favorable to do any fishing, so when an opportunity presented itself,  I had to jump on it. Yesterday afternoon looked like the best chance I was going to get so I used the Army Rec area ramp. There was some sort of party going on! Loud (but good) music, softball games, and beer drinking. It looked to be so much fun that, despite not catching ANY fish around the ramp, I fished for the better part of two hours waiting for my friend TJ to meet up with me.

In the meantime, I got to experience how the boat preforms without another person in the boat. It shows that I am just not ready for a fast boat! 60 miles an hour sure felt fast and I had to actually DRIVE the boat.

When he arrived, we headed up river to Butler. The water was low and there wasn't any current. The little trees on the banks which were submerged a week ago were now 2 feet out of the water. With the bad wind, the cold weather, and the dropped water level, I figured it would be tough. I didn't expect to get stone walled, though! I alternated between a new bait, the Xcaliber square bill:

and the lucky craft sammy:
Not a bite!

After about 20 minutes, my good friend Bertus called me. He was at the Ditto Landing marina and wanted me to pick him up. So, we obliged. I was excited to see him in action, as he just has IT. He says its just time on the water, but the guy just has the knack.

The first place we tried was the lower end of hobs island. It has a long submerged point. We threw Carolina rigged Zoom Brush hogs:

If you know me, you know that I can't STAND throwing plastics...or any finesse baits. I am too impatient!

On pretty much his first cast, he pulled a fish! Watching him is so much fun. He can feel bites that I never would. The fish would literally follow the bait for 30-40 yards to the boat, all while biting it. He would drag it on the bottom underneath the boat, enticing them until they ate it. Try as I might, I could get a fish to hit or discern bites from dragging across rocks.

He caught 2 or 3 while TJ and I struck out. He headed up river to Butler, positioning the boat on the eddy line. We noticed that they had started pulling SOME current. We would throw into Butler, dragging it back out to the main channel. TJ and I finally caught some fish, though I can't admit to catching any numbers. I think Bertus caught around 10 mile TJ and I fought to get 5 between us! That wasn't to say the fish weren't biting, because they were. They would pick the bait up, move it, but wouldn't eat it, which is worse than not getting bites at all! All the fish we caught were small, with only a few that would even measure.

The best fish I saw all day came from when I was swapping the boat around to reposition it. I looked down at the water next to the boat and a 5 pounder was sitting there looking at me!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Ditto Landing (3 trips), May 4,5, and 7th

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As most of you know (all 3 of my readers), you know that I fish the Thursday night Ditto Landing Wildcat tournament. Since I hadn't been out on the boat in about 2 weeks, I decided that Wed night would be a good night to get out...not only for fun, but to prefish for the tournament on the following day.

Aubree wanted to go with Josh and I, and since I love taking her with me, I loaded her up and we headed to the river. Josh and I decided that we would not be going down river, as we had in previous weeks. We simply hadn't caught the numbers that we needed to catch. We started out on the lower point of Hobbs Island, but caught no fish. At about 630 or so, we opted to go upriver to Butler Basin, a gated (and wealthy) community. It is a community hole but ALWAYS has fish. They have nice slips and even have their own lighthouse! Baller!

we didn't have to fish long to find success. You can see my notes below on the different areas. we started down the south bank to the drainage ditch. It is a large concrete culvert with usually has water flowing out of it. It has big chunk rocks under the water. With my trusty Strike King Series 3 Powder Blue Chartreuse, I quickly caught 2 small bass and a crappie.

I was asking Josh what he thought about the up coming tournament. He made a flat out statement that, unless convinced otherwise, he wouldn't fish it..opting instead for Thirsty Thursday at Joe Davis. I couldn't say I blamed him. We just hadn't caught any good fish.

Almost to punctuate his sentence, he snagged a MASSIVE bass, which shook loose at the boat, but not before giving us a great view. It was easily the biggest bass I have seen on the river, and I have caught a couple of low 5s.

While not convinced, he proceeded down the south bank, catching a few more decent ones, but nothing that would build a winning sack. Now, I will admit that we had a few shake loose at the boat that were OK. Here is one that Aubree got in the boat , down in the corner by the slips:

We swapped banks, sitting on the point in front of the concrete retaining wall. We kept seeing BIG swirls REAL shallow under these 3 overhanging limbs. We began to target them with the series 3. One after the other, we caught GOOD spotted bass and a few smallies!

We proceeded down the retaining wall, catching more decent fish. Even in the back corner, we picked up fish after fish. While Josh did catch some on a shaky head, and I caught some on a Sammy, we didn't catch any good ones on anything BUT the series 3. One fish DID catch me, though. As I was getting it out of the net, it managed to snag me, the barb went into the skin and out the other side. Before I could say "ouch", it jerked it out.

We went back to those overhanging trees and boated at LEAST 3 fish over 3 pounds. By that time, it was getting quite chilly and Aubree wasn't properly dressed. Josh gave up his coat.

That sowed it up. We would give it a try the next night. Unfortunately, there isn't much to say about Thursday night. We caught fish...even some good ones, but we NEEDED that kicker fish and just couldn't find it. In fact, we culled at LEAST 5 times on the way to a respectable 9 pounds. However, the winner took the check with 14 pounds! AGAIN! I tell you what, some of those guys know where the fish are. More amazing is that 4 out of their 5 fish were SMALL MOUTH!

On to the better times! Saturday, Aubree didn't have a softball game, and Alyse wanted to get out on the boat with the kids. I was happy to oblige. We packed up a cooler and drove to the army rec area. since there was a benefit tournament out of Ditto (which my partner didn't want to fish), I was interested in seeing how full the parking lot was. It was fairly packed, I guess around 25 boats. I was curious to see where they were fishing, so I ran up to Butler. I wanted to show Alyse where we had been fishing...and the type of life that maybe we could have one day :-)

While we were there, I tossed the old Strike King, but had NO BITES! Hmmm...only a few days ago they were KILLING it. So, I swapped to the Ghost Minnow Sammy

First cast to those over hanging trees:

I got greedy and started plugging those trees even more. But sometimes I get over zealous. Alyse thought it was funny that I would go through so much effort to get my bait:

Even Aubree was allowed to get into the action!

Meanwhile, Griffin found ALL the fish on the fish finder!"There! Fish! There, Daddy!"

Griffin even got to drive! He wouldn't let me steer!

We had a terrific day. I lost count of the fish, but we caught a lot in the 2 hours we fished!

Humphrey Lake, April 30th 2011

It had been a couple of LONG days after the brutal tornado. It was the Sunday after the storms, and dad, Josh, and I needed to get out. Dad is now obsessed with turkey hunting, and old Humphrey lake is COVERED with them. Since dad was going, Josh and I thought we would hitch a ride with him and get some fishing done.

It rained the entire way up there and the temperature had fallen significantly since the storms a few days before. I was willing to fish in the rain, and was prepared for it. Josh, however, had not thought about it raining and as I donned my Frog Togs, he was looking for garbage bags to wear! HAHA!

Since Luck favors the prepared, I was able to catch 7 fish on a top water Sammy, made my Lucky Craft, before Josh could get his line wet.

the rain pounded us from 8am until 10 or so. In that time I was able to catch over 20 fish, mostly on the sammy. Something about that lake and the rain makes those fish go NUTS for topwater. It didn't matter if it was tight to cover, in the grass, or open water. They would kill it! Big, small, it didn't matter! It was about time, too, because in the last year, that lake has been stonewalling me. I felt like this was the breakout that I needed.

After catching a ton of them on the Sammy, I swapped to my Chartruese swimbait.

However, I couldn't get a bite! It took me awhile to get them to hit it, but once they did! WOW! What I had to do was parrallel the shore and cast it RIGHT to cover and reel it along the shore. With the water being high, they would be burried in saw grass, or behind structure. You owuld see the chartruese swimbait get knocked sideways. It was terrific to watch! I used one swimbait and caught at least 7 on it before we were ready to leave.

My Granny had asked for a fish fry. For once, we had caught so many fish in both numbers and quality, that we had to throw small ones back as well as the larger ones, keeping those in the middle. We brought home 7 fish a little over 1 pound apiece, throwing back at least 5 over 2 pounds. For that lake, thats a decent fish. No BIG fish, but I will take a fun day in the rain ANYTIME!

Guntersville, April 26th 2011

Sorry it is taking me so long to get around to writing some reports. The tornadoes have kept me off here for over two weeks! I DID get a lot of fishing done though! So...onto the report!

When I woke up around 3am, the rain was pounding the roof and I wearily checked the Accuweather forecast. 70% chance of thunderstorms! But all of my best fishing has been done in the rain. As I got dressed, Alyse started yelling at me to make sure my life insurance policy was up to date. And she wasn't joking. But somehow, my 7th sense told me that it wouldn't rain on us. I did shoot John a quick message that it might which he "LOL'd" and said it was just a little rain.

So, I loaded the old Lumina up and headed towards Mink Creek. Here is where we fished.

I had made up my mind that I wanted to fish Mink Creek because I felt like there would still be SOME fish spawning, or at least holding to their nests. In the back of Mink Creek are 3 little Islands, as you can see. There are some MASSIVE stumps back there, all in less than 4 feet of water. Last year I discovered the area and caught some fish with swimbaits, although I never really went back. I decided that today would be all about Zach's Custom Swimbaits and Rods. It was a little dingy, so I selected my chartreuse swimbaits. John was throwing swimbaits as well, using a Reaction Innovations Skinny dipper in Hitch color.

Almost before I could get my first cast, he had 3 bites on the dipper and had one fish in the boat. Not to be out done, I quickly had a solid hit which shook off at the boat, and boated one decent fish. He absolutely destroyed the bait. I had to get the pliers after him to get the swim bait out! What a great feeling! To catch fish on a swimbait you made on a rod you built!

I found that you HAD to bump the baits off of stumps. With the 20-30mph sustained winds, that was a difficult task. Heck, even keeping the swimbait in the water was tough. I had to go from a 1/6th weight to a 1/4 ounce weighted hook. I was throwing a Gamakatsu spring-lok weighted hook.

We made a circuit around these three islands. I didn't get a GREAT count, but I know we had 10 fish in the first 30 minutes, including this beast:

At 730am, we could already call it a successful day and decided to try some new places. That proved to be an adventure. The waves were 5 foot swells paired with 25-30 mph winds! I am not making that up! Even "Big Easy", his 24 foot Sea Ark, had trouble with these waves and we couldn't go much faster than 30.

John had some luck in North Sauty, so we went to check that out. Although the fish were far and few in between, we did stumble across these beautiful creatures:

One of our last stops was a rock shelf in front of some nice houses. I haven't seen this type of rock ANYWHERE on Guntersville before. There was some decent grass growing and we could see beds in them. In fact, we could see males chasing other fish away. John was able to catch a few topwater frogs....alas I have yet to catch a frog fish this year. The interesting thing is that we saw a nice female on bed with a male. The male would swim away, but the female allowed us to get right up on her. I would entice her with the swimbait. Sometimes she would head butt it. Sometimes she would pick it up and move it. But she wouldn't take it! All for the better, since she was on bed anyway.

Great day, despite the wind and the waves. Not a DROP of rain! I counted 17 fish that measured with a few that didn't. All but 2 of mine where caught on my swimbait, which lasted ALL DAY. It wasn't like they were barely hitting it either. They were engulfing it! that sure beats going through two packs of Money Minnows at 10 dollars a box of 4! I'd like to thank John for taking me and for providing the great pics!