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Follow my Fish of 2015
(Please excuse the stupid face)
A quick look at the Fish of 2015 Page shows that my first catch of 2015 came on 1/17/15. I thought it would be tough to beat that early of a date, but the weather this past year has been.....unique. On a related subject that I promise is non-sequitur, 2015 proved, among many other things, that the best trips are always the last second trips. That is, not the days I take a day off of work.
So, when I got a phone call around lunch time from my fishing partner, friend, and co-worker John asking if I had time to fish for a few hours in the late afternoon, I said yes. After all, the best trips seem to be those I didn't plan and the weather was decent (for the first week of the January).
John had some info that the fish were really turned on with the high water and current coming out of Wheeler. In particular, the smallies were really biting. Well, that was GREAT news. I have good cold weather gear. I like to catch smallies. And, wouldn't it be the proper and fitting beginning to a 2016 to follow up where 2015 left off. In case you didn't know, 2015 was definitely "The Year of the Smallies" for me.
No, I didn't catch a ton of them, but I caught SOME and really got hooked on catching them. And, the first fish of the year in 2015 was a nice smallie I caught on Guntersville. No, really! Furthermore, I caught at least one smallie on every Tennessee River lake in Alabama last year, which puts me in a very rare group. If you caught one on Guntersville, Wheeler, Wilson, and Pickwick last year, speak up.
Maybe I am wrong, but catching smallies is a game that really separates fishermen. And, it doesn't hurt that it seems that the worse the conditions, the better they bite. Translation: Joe Blow ordinary fisherman won't bother getting out, relieving much of the fishing pressure. In order to catch them, I've had to do much more work on matching lake and weather conditions. I have had to do a lot of scanning. But mostly I just had to throw the A-rig.
Anyway, we fished out of Decatur and ran to where the powerlines cross the lake. The powerline towers are located on the main river channel and are stacked with rip-rap. The heavy current creates some great eddies. The water was very stained, offering only about 8 inches of visibility. Water temp was 45 on the main river and 47 in slow moving eddies and backwater.
I brought four rods with me, but I really only planned on using two. I planned on using a A-rig with PowerTeam Lures grubs and a Luhr-Jensen speed trap. Initially I threw a sexy-chartreuse, but eventually changed over to a crawfish red with tiger stripes at John's suggestion.
We began fishing the eddie line and the swift water, but after two casts, I made a longer cast right at the rip-rap and inside the eddie, which was actually flowing in a backwards pattern than the river itself. The bottom was littered with rocks and I used the same retrieve I had been using on my last trip to Pickwick. That is, dead slow. I would crawl it over rocks.
On my third cast in to the back eddie, the A-rig was absolutely DESTROYED by a fish. I said a little prayer that it was a brown fish and not a white bass or a stripe. Eventually I horsed in a nice smallie.
That's a heck of a start. Seconds later, John was hooked up with a nice fish. But, it was about a 3-pound stripe. I boated another stripe, as did he.
We made a drift, catching several more before motoring back up to the spot. We never got another bass to hit, though we caught more white bass and stripe. Then, the spot went dead. We followed the powerline to the next tower.
Another trash fish or two, but no bass to speak of. So, I dropped the A-rig and went to the Speed Trap. After a few slaps, I slowed down the crankbait. As soon as it hit cover, I would hit the brakes. The positive buoyancy would lift the bait up. If nothing hit is, I would crawl it along.
Withing 5 minutes, I had caught two largemouth. One of them a squeaker and the other a decent 2-pounder.
Again, we caught all the stripe and white bass we wanted, but no more brown or green fish.
We fished a couple of other spots. John caught a tiny bass on a crankbait.
Since we started out with just a few hours of sunlight and the sun was beginning to dip below Decatur, we decided to go back to where we started.
The big stripe and white bass were back. And, they were ANGRY. John had one pull the D-ring off his A-rig at one point.
While we both caught some massive white fish, we were both haunted by two different hits.
Both of us made casts to where I had caught the smallie and both of us had freighttrain hits. In both instances, the fish got in the current and pulled off, even though the fish was halfway to the boat. Neither of those hits acted like whites or stripes. Coulda woulda shoulda.
We ended up with 4 largemouth and 1 smallmouth on top of all the magnum whites and stripes we wanted. We took some pictures with the fish and let them go. I was repaid for my kindness with a nasty fin attack, #whenfishfightback .