I've never been much of a freshwater fisherman, as I grew up fishing the salt. What little experience I do have has been fishing minnows under a bobber- what I call kid fishing. Not that there is anything wrong with it, its just that as a kid you start out with a minnow and bobber and it always takes me back to those days. This year I decided to broaden my spectrum and spend more time fishing the local sweetwater.
While taking advantage of an early day off work, my buddy Alex and I have been out a few times recently targeting crappie and perch just to bend a rod. I don't keep any although I understand they both make great tablefare. We have had some good days bring in 15-20 between the two of us. Most have been in the 10" range and fat.Oddly enough, we have yet to find the crappie yet.
The following week we decided to target the Largemouth Bass and Chain Pickerel, as there has been some good reports of consistent catches on crankbaits. Alex had picked up a couple small bass on a shad pattern in a private lake, so the next chance I got, I picked one up and we hit our little cove to see if we could crank up a big'un.
Just before leaving I made a Go-Pro mount to fit in my forward rod holder. It only took about 10 minutes to make and cost me nothing. I figured it will work until I can pick up a YakAttack Panfish and Panfish Protrait.
The afternoon started off slow. We each had a couple short strikes, and Alex hooked up a heavy fish, but it shook the hook loose before he could get it to the boat. I was spending alot of time picking my crankbait out of the bushes along the shoreline. At one point I jerked the pole and broke it in half. Luckily, it was a very inexpensive combo I bought about 15 years ago. Not long after, Alex finally hooked up with a heavy fish. It turned out not to be the bucketmouth he was looking for, but a 22" chain pickerel.
Hawg Trough, we released the fish. Somehow while sliding it back into place behind the seat, I broke the lip off the end of it. Damnit! I paddled away to take a smoke break and get refocused. I just had to laugh and decide to get back at it.
I moved over to a lay down and cast out past where I guessed the end of the tree was. I hadn't cranked more than 6 feet or so when I had a strike but didn't hook up. I paused and slowed my retrieve just a hair when the fish took a second swipe and smashed the bait. I knew right away this was a good fish. I also knew there was the top half of a large pine tree down there somewhere and had to keep the fish out of the structure. I have never caught a chain pickerel, so when the fish surfaced the first time, I was stoked to see a large, possibly citation "slime dart."
My crankbait was way down his throat and all I could see was my 8 lb flouro. It took some work without pliers but I was able to go in through the gills and release the hooks, and use my ARC DeHooker to work through the mouth to free the others. Not a drop of blood, from me or the fish!
Its funny how quickly your mood can change, and it goes from a bad day of breaking equipment, to a great day of fishing, in about 2 minutes. We finished the day out fishing the mouth of the cove and both Alex and I picked up a couple small bass just as the sun was setting. It was rewarding to go out and focus on fishing one bait, target a certain species, and have it pay off. This fishing season is starting out pretty good!