Monday, June 23, 2014

Fishing Report for Wheeler 6/21/14

Follow me on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter!
Read about all of my Fishing Adventures!

Follow my Fish of 2014

Sadly, it was so tough that I didn't take any vids...sorry folks! 

The MFC had a tournament scheduled for Wheeler out of Ditto 2 weeks ago, but nobody could make it. With Dittofest the next weekend, we moved it to this past weekend. I really wanted to fish it, but as of Monday of that week, the Skeeter still wasn't fixed and there was little hope in sight of getting it fixed. 

Way back in March, Josh and I were rocketing upriver after blasting off for the NATA Open on Guntersville. After a few miles, I noticed that the speed was dropping off slowly. By the time I got to the mouth of Roseberry, the RPM wouldn't climb above 4500 RPM and the boat couldn't stay on plane. 

The following week, I did some research and found that this was a common problem with the Yamaha OX66 motors. The issue was that there were a handful of things that could cause this problem. Initially, I started simple by pulling out several of the fuel filters. I did find the VST filter to be clogged as well as the fuel/water separator. Thinking that the issue was possibly solved, I hit Pickwick up the very next weekend for a MFC tournament. The issue didn't go away.

That following Monday, I dropped it off with my good friend Chris. He worked on it as best he could while working 2 other mechanic jobs. He replaced all the filters and diagnosed it as a high pressure fuel pump. So, he replaced that and I picked it up on a Saturday. The following day, Alyse and I hit up Wheeler only to find that the problem persisted. I dropped it back off. 

A few weeks later, after replacing every diaphragm and filter, the issue still persisted. And, I had this tournament coming up. I really wanted to fish it. But, Josh was out of town and my boat wasn't fixed. I asked to take his boat, and he was ok with it, but I didn't want to go that route. I could take my boat, which did operate ok at low speeds, but it wouldn't make a long run.  I didn't want to take on a non-boater just to put-put around Ditto, so I opted to take Alyse. The only option I had was to pick the boat up and see if I could fix it myself. So, I took off Friday and dug into the motor.

I had read about a simple test for the low pressure fuel pumps, which were the most likely cause of this issue. Sure enough, that was the case. In a few hours, I was headed to Wheeler to test it. The boat rocketed out of the hole, hit 60 and still had pedal left, but that wasn't really the test. Would it hold speed after 5 miles? It did. Excellent. 

Alyse and I scrambled to find a way that she could fish with my, eventually finding a babysitter who would spend the night Friday night. 

We left the house at 4:45 and BARELY made to the water in time to blast off. And that's when the decisions began. 

If you recall, I had found....wait...that's not right. Josh found and caught a NICE bag in the 2nd Annual PEO Bass Classic the weekend before. Ditto is a good haul from Decatur. I wasn't sure I wanted to trust the boat that far. Even if I did, the return on a check for that long of a run was really a wash. And that was assuming I got a check. That left me on the upper half of the lake which is incredibly current dependent. And, June is a bad time for that. The last few weeks, there hasn't been much of any current around the Ditto area. Case in point is that Josh cashed a check in the Thursday night wildcat with 2 fish. And last week, we fished all afternoon and caught one nice fish....but it was nice! Check it out

My 3rd and final option was to run to the dam. At least I would head upriver, so if I had any problems, I could drift down river. But, it was also a good run and the money just wasn't there. 

So, I decided to try and nickle and dime a limit out of the Ditto area. 

Everyone in the club knew where I would head, or at least they thought they did. I wanted to save my favorite spot for when the sun came up. My favorite spot is a sunken bridge that always hold fish, but it really comes alive with current. The weather said that there would be some storms when the sun came up. Additionally, I figured the greatest draw on current would be around lunch time. So, I saved that spot for later on. I wanted to have a limit of some sort early, just in case. 

So, I headed to Butler. Initially, that looked to be the right choice. The fish were schooling hard on baitfish on the outside of the entrance. We went after them with topwater. Though they would hit and slap, they wouldn't catch a hook. When they did, it was an 8-11.74 inch fish. It was very frustrating. I went to a Strike King series 3 and Alyse threw a Luhr-Jensen speed trap. The first cast, I had a solid hit. The fish jumped a few time and I saw that it was a nice 15 inch fish, just the type fish I wanted to catch early. But, we didn't have the net out and he threw the hooks at the boat.
We both caught a few fish, some small bass with white bass mixed in...but zero keepers. When the schooling died, we moved into Butler.  We fished there until around lunch. However, we didn't have a single bite on the inside.

Frustrated, I decided to make the run to my favorite spot. I pulled up and scanned the area with my Humminbird 798. I found the bait with fish on them and we dropped the trolling motor. I went deep with a Strike King 6XD while Alyse probed the middle of the water column with a series 3. On her second cast, she bagged a keeper. I had a solid hit while probing the submerged rocks, but after a few seconds, the fish came off. I made a few more turns on the reel and it hit again, only to come off! Minutes later, I swung a nice 2 pounder aboard for keeper number 2. 

Another hour and we didn't have another bite. The sun was now very high and we were both hot and sweaty. I strapped the rods down and we made a run down river where I found and caught some fish the day before while testing the boat. This spot was just down from the Army rec area where there are some barge tie ups. Between 2 of these was a deep hole where largemouth and spots were ambushing bait, which were holding onto a rip rap bank. Several minutes of hard cranking and we had nothing. 

Frustrated, I spotted an area that Alyse and I had fished last year in September and had scored one of my best days on Wheeler. That was the first and last time I fished it, though we caught a good limit off it. We headed over to give it a try. It's about 100 yards of rip rap bank. Along that bank are 4-5 spots with bigger rocks that jut out into the river. These rocks end right at the ledge. The spot paid off immediately as I swung a keeper aboard on a series 3. I recalled catching a nice 3 pounder on topwater in a very specific point between two large rocks. So, I tossed a Sammy over there and a fish annihilated it! Alyse netted me a nice 3 pound plus fish.

So, we spend the rest of the day searching for a 5th fish, but ultimately we couldn't find one that measured. But, we had a fish that I though could legitimately complete for big fish. Plus, if I struggled, most everyone else would too. I did catch this though...

And, a free Normal crank bait AND a new jig!

Turns out, we came in with 6 pounds in 4 fish, which ended up being good enough for 2nd place. It took 10 pounds to win, which came from the dam. Our big fish went 3.37 while the big fish came in at 3.47! Ouch!

The good news is, the boat works. We both caught several fish. It does mark the 2nd time that Alyse and I have won 2nd place! If you don't recall, check out our Trip on Pickwick!  Ironically, in both tournaments, we had only 4 fish and she caught one of the keepers. All things considered, that's a good streak! Don't tell her I said this, but I am so glad that we were able to fish together, even if it cost more to pay the babysitter than we won.

It sure ain't about the money, though. She is becoming a good fisherwoman and she ain't bad to look at!