Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Fishing Report for Wheeler/Decatur

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My friend John, whom I have fished with a good bit and you can find scattered throughout my fishing reports, had kept up with my recent.....struggles....on Guntersville. He had been catching a lot of fish on Wheeler Lake's backwaters. That is, places inaccessible to boats. While I haven't had much luck fishing out of kayaks with him, it was better than the alternatives. 

The backwaters had grass that was coming in strong. That grass filters the water. So, where the rest of Wheeler was chocolate milk, the water color in the backwater was perfect. And, it was also warm. 

So, we planned a trip, even though we knew that there would be oppressive wind and possibly storms. But, with a cold front moving in and low pressure, we figured the timing was right, as long as we could stand the effort.

We got a late start and the first few spots we paddled to didn't produce anything. For the first hour or so, we didn't have a hit. The wind was howling and though I had an anchor, I didn't have a way to keep my orientation. So, the kayak would make a circle around the pin-it stick. That was fun.

As the hour went on, I was beginning to wonder if my choice of baits...er...bait was a bad one. I had elected to bring just two rods. One had a swimjig and the other was a chatterbait. Both had PowerTeam Lures Swinging Hammers, which I carry in my Discount Bait Page. I elected to go with a natural chatterbait and a white 1/4 ounce swimjig, both with matching swimbaits. 

After giving the first spot a solid workout, we moved to the back of a pocket, which is where John had caught fish previously. He had told me a grand story about catching one on every single cast in a small area. I wouldn't say I didn't believe him, I just haven't had much luck finding piles of fish in the last few years. 

The spot he referred to had a line of grass on the outside which framed a line of buck bushes. Behind that were standing timber. In the middle of all of this was a slightly deeper bowl, where he told me to cast. 

So, I did. 

The first hit took me by surprise because it didn't feel like a fish. Rather, it felt like the rest of the grass that I was working the chatterbait through. It was only when I noticed the line swimming sideways that I figured out it was a fish. 

Obviously I didn't get a good hookset and the fish came off near the boat. The next few casts had hits just like that, but this time I was watching the line. When it went sideways, I set the hook. 

After two or three fish, the bites started getting harder....and bigger. 

Though I had plenty of misses (more than catches) the next ten minutes were a riot as each of us had at least a hit every cast. 

After about five fish in the boat, I started flipping the bait closer to cover, as it seemed that the small fish were in the middle of the bowl and the bigger fish were tight to cover, perhaps even in pre-spawn mode. 

That's when the biggest fish hit. It hit like a freight train and immediately swam around the buck bush, tangling me up. I tried to get the fish to swim free, but she wouldn't.

Eventually I retrieved the bait, but not before ruining the spot. 

We moved away to let it rest, expecting to come back within the hour to fish it again. 

The bites weren't as frequent, but we continued to catch fish.

That was until I looked up at the approaching front and saw lightening crackle. 

We headed back. Though we eventually got back out and went to another spot, the bite wasn't the same as the cold front settled in.

However, we caught a lot of fish and missed a LOT more. Setting the hook is a lot harder in a kayak than on a stable platform. 

I went through a TON of swimbaits, but good thing I buy in bulk!