Thursday, October 13, 2011

Fishing Report for Oct 12th on Wheeler (Decatur)

One of my fishing buddies and co-workers, Jon, had been telling me about this spot that he had fished as a teenager. It is in a tributary of Wheeler and is too shallow to get a "real" boat in to. So, he had always fished it from the bank. Now as a financially stable adult, he bought kayaks to go fish areas that he couldn't otherwise reach.

I believed his stories of catching dozens of fish a day. Our lake in Tennessee is a lot like that. I SORTA believed what he said about the size of the fish caught. After all, I caught the biggest bass of my life in our lake in Tennessee.
But, the numbers of quality fish that he was promising were...well...let's just say I was skeptical. The other thing is, it's Wheeler. The numbers of 4 and 5 pound fish he talked about...well, I hadn't caught 3 5 pound fish on Wheeler. Ever.

The other thing is, let's be honest, MOST fishermen out there don't consider it REAL bass fishing unless you are in a bass boat. So, does that mean that my fishing report isn't valid? Is it any less of a trip?

Being a cheap engineer, of course I question that. Does that mean that to truly bass fish, I have to spend the effort in getting a boat out? Spending tons of gas money? Getting pulled over by the water police? Does being in a boat without a big motor to propel me to certain doom define fishing? Of course not. So, I was happy to let Jon show me this magic honey hole that no one knows of (and neither will you, since I was sworn to secrecy, alas to say that it is VERY close to Decatur and Ingalls Harbor. There. That ought to make this a worthy read.

So, we met up in and drove to his house, loaded the kayaks and headed on the 20 minutes route to get there. We drove down some muddy back roads, terminating in a gravel ramp. Jon's friend, Short, met us there. I have fished with Short one other time. He is quite the character.

At first glance, the creek looked FAIRLY large. It had a line of submerged timber around 100 yards from where we stood. It extended left to right some 400 yards or so.

What I would soon find out is, this area is flooded during the spring/fall which makes it extend past the tree lines I could see. In fact, the flooded area was larger than I dreamed, and I still never saw the end of it. What I did get to see was flooded timber, flooded corn rows, points, flats...all the things fishermen loved. Except that most fishermen can't get to it, even if they knew it was there.

But that's just a collection of water and shrub. What does it REALLY mean? Well, as many fishermen know, during and after floods, the fish come in droves to flooded lands to feast on newly exposed treasure troves of sustenance. Areas of land that haven't been picked clean of food by other fish. This would explain the numbers and size that Jon had promised. I bet every fish within 5 miles of Decatur streams into the creek bottom when they flood it.

Alas, we fished for an hour without a bite. being in a kayak was a new experience. I had to learn to balance myself so I could cast. I am weird, I know. I must stand to cast. And because I was in a kayak, my arsenal was limited. I flipped into corn rows. I bounced a frog on emerging grass lines. I swam a swim bait through submerged trees. No luck. So, I paddled further and further away until I found and area of action. I was seeing bass busting bait on grassy humps. So, I thew a Lucky Craft Sammy around them.

I had a hit, but it didn't take. I fan casted around to different areas, but I had in my mind to throw back. After a few minutes, I tested the waters again. Twitch Twitch. Bang.
I spied another bass busting, but this one was in the grass, so I tossed my Spro Dean Rojas edition frog out, hopped it on the grass, and the fish pounded it.
While smaller than the first fish, this fish swallowed the frog harder than I had ever seen one swallowed. It had both hook buried. That's impressive.

The wind picked up and made it harder to fish. I spent more time paddling than fishing. Because of that, the bites took longer in between. I had just about lost interest, still tossing the sammy around some flooded stick ups, when this beast annihilated the sammy. It about jerked me out of the boat. And I mean that. I had to sit down before I even set the hook. I am embarrassed to say that I screamed like a girl. So much so, that between the wake coming off the boat and the splash, Jon and Short thought I had fallen in. I bet they were sure of it when they heard my shouting with excitement. They paddled over to inspect me, but found me hoisting a NICE fish.

I have covered a lot of water on Wheeler, and this is the biggest fish I have caught on the lake.

I'm telling you folks. There was nothing like catching this fish on topwater, in a kayak. It was Brutal. That's the closest word to define it.

After I had caught a few more fish on the Sammy, I handed a spare over to Jon, who had not had a real hit, other than running across the back of a carp. On his very first cast, he had a hard hit. It was hilarious.

Over the next hour or so, we caught several more quality fish. I have to say that, out of all my trips on wheeler, this would have been the largest sack that I would have weighed. The best five fish would have gone 14-15 pounds. Guess I learned that bass fishing really isn't about blowing a lot of money on gas and going fast. It really is about the fish.

Thanks Jon!