Read about all of my Fishing Adventures!
Follow my Fish of 2015
So, I swore off Guntersville, in case you missed it. If not, just take a gander at my last report.
Wheeler had been tough the last few times we had been out and I wanted to continue to improve my abilities as a versatile fisherman. In talking with my friend John, he had shared some pictures and info from fishing Smith lake, specifically some sweet looking spotted bass. He talked about catching top water fish in 100 foot depths. The spots were schooling up and exploding on walking baits.
I wanted in.
Besides, I had never fished Smith lake, and though people constantly complain about how the lake sucks, it remains a destination for large tournaments such as BFL and ABT. I just assumed people thought it sucked because the large majority of fishermen, specifically in north Alabama, are shallow water fishermen. I knew that Smith was a deep late and that catching fish would likely mean heavy use of electronics and fishing off-shore structure. Not that I am good with any of that, but those are challenges I am willing to accept, as can be seen from these two blog posts.
So, we put in at the impoundment. First off, that was a bit further down the lake than I expected to fish. I have been on Smith several times as a kid and remember it quite well, as we camped a good bit. But, I was expecting to fish the upper end of the lake. Instead, we traveled a good bit further, thus disrupting my primary reason for learning Smith: it's the second closest lake to my house. Wow, the dam wasn't what I expected. I didn't realize that the lake was impounded with an earthen dam. I was used to massive concrete structures. It made the engineer in me QUITE nervous, as did backing down the steepest and longest ramp I have ever used.
We had known the weather was going to be pretty nasty, but expectation and reality are usually quite different. It was driving rain and extremely windy. But, we brought the our rain gear, so everything was fine....as long as we caught fish.
My expectations on the depth of the lake were blown away. I expected depths in the 120 foot range. Not the 220 foot range. I also expected steep banks, but WOW, these banks were so deep that if you placed your boat 5 yards too far out and threw your jig to the bank, it would never touch bottom. We started throwing top water without any real relation to the bank. John said that the fish didn't relate to depth and that they could be anywhere from the bank to 75-100 yards off it. On most lakes, that might correspond to depths between 0-50 feet. On Smith, that is literally 0-300. He also warned that the bite hadn't warmed up until the air warmed up. Just days ago, the bite had been inconsistent until around 1PM.
Indeed that top water bite couldn't be found. So, I picked up a PTL 3/8ths ounce Triple-X pea head with a 7" Tickler and made some tosses towards the bank. In order to get to the bottom, you had to let the bait fall on complete slack line, which meant you had to watch the line carefull, as the suspending fish may pick it up on the fall.
On my first cast, I set the hook on a fish. I was using a 6-6 MH H2O express ETHOS rod, so I couldn't really tell how big the fish really was as it surged.
I forgot my Spot Fishing 101 lessons: The fish don't fight hard until they see the boat.
The fish made a jump and we got a glimpse of a 3 pound or better spot, right before it made a break for the deep water, snapping my line.
I laughed about it, because I figured we would be enough bites that the lost fish would be forgotten.
I was wrong.
For the next several hours, we hit a mixture of spots without any luck. I would occasionally get a tick on the shaky head, but none of them would pick it up and commit.
We decided that we would look for fish first using the electronics before fishing anywhere else. We idled down a stretch of bank adjacent to a main river point before we noticed a group of bait balls in 120 feet of water. In 35 feet of water between the bait and the bank were a series of arches perched on top of rock piles.
It didn't take long to catch a few fish including a really nice spot. on the PowerTeam Lures 7" Tickler
With time running out before I had to get home and pick the kids up, we went back to the original spot.
Within a few minutes of stopping, the spots began busting shad. But,unlike his previous trips, John mentioned that they weren't grouped up. Instead of groups of between 5-10, we were seeing individual fish. A few short strikes aside, we couldn't get any in the boat.
Then they were gone.
It was a pretty miserable day. Though I didn't catch but a few fish, I did catch fish, which makes it a good day. Additionally, I was able to fish a new lake, which is always fun!