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Well, I am pleased to report that the surgery on my shoulder went well. Turns out, there was a lot more wrong with it than originally thought. I had a torn labrum and rotator cuff in my right shoulder. I had it fixed 12/3. And...I was itching to get back out on the water.
As many of you know, my wife's family is from Tuscaloosa. While it's sometimes painful to put up with all the Rohl Tahdism that goes on in Tuscaloosa, I do love her family. And I also enjoy catching spots. Additionally, I have Alyse's uncle Tony, whom you have read about in some of my other posts such as the Eagle's Wings Tournament of 2012 and Eagle's Wings Tournament 2011. The man is one of the best on the lake and I love learning from him. Luckily, I was able to go out with him for a few hours Friday the 20th. The wind was howling and the fishing was tough. He was able to show me some techniques and spots that I could come back and fish the next morning, however.
Most notably was the techniques that I never would have employed, such as fishing the very bottom of creek channels in excess of 20 feet deep, with a shakey head. He told me that he would fish the whole day with nothing more than that. If it was good enough for him, it was good enough for me! So, that was the only rod I had on my deck. I was using the Owner shakey head backed with a PowerTeam Lure's 5" Sick Stick in Watermellan Red Flake. It's been my go-to shakey head bait. I also washed them in PowerTeam's Hog Tonic.The Sick Stick is one of the most versatile baits you can find and I love how it's a little different than the other stick baits on the market. Even on tough days, you can and will get bites. When the bite is light, like Tony said it would be, I opt for the Hog Tonic to ensure they hold on to the bait just a little longer.
I fished two different spots back and forth all day. Each would yeild a few fish every time I fished it. In most cases, I could get back to back fish before the bites became scarce. The hardest part for me is casting and waiting the 20 seconds or so for the shakey head to make it down to 20 feet. After that, I would hop it back to the boat a few inches at a time. In both of these two spots, there were either rocks, brush, or both scattered along the bottom. When I found those, I would let the bait loiter for as long as I could, shaking it occasionally. That seemed to draw the bites. But the bites were still very light and the wind made it hard to feel anything.
Add on to that my recently operated on right shoulder, which was killing me by the end of the first hour and you have the makings of a tough day. But, if I could make the casts and get the bait where it needed to be, I got bites. Hooking up with the fish was something else entirely and I missed a lot of bites. There were only 2 hours that the fish actually were biting, but I managed to catch a good many of them including a small limit of around 6 pounds. That's a far cry from what I was hoping for, but I still caught fish on a lake I barely know.
One of the reasons I really like this lake is it's tendency to force me to be a better fisherman, in particular, to improve on things I lack. We talked about many of those in my New Year's Resolutions. This lake makes you target suspending fish, fish hugging the bottom in 20++ feet of water, and finesse fishing. Perhaps the hardest thing for me was finding off shore structure and probing it. But, I managed to have some success, so that's what matters. Along the way, I reinforced perhaps the biggest lesson I learned all year. Never give up on a bite after a miss on a shakey head. I can't tell you how many times this year I missed a fish, jerked the lure 10 feet away, let it settle, then bagged the fish anyway. Check out this vid from August where I did the same thing. It's the first fish on the vid.
Best5Zach Fishes Wheeler
Well, the shoulder is still sore, but the day was fun and I learned a ton from the lake expert.