Yesterday evening it was finally warm outside so I decided to fry up the fish we had caught on Sunday. As I was prepping the fryers on the back deck I looked back to the creek behind the house and saw a friendly neighborhood beaver.
He was laying there chewing on some grass. I walked up to him to get a picture and he slowly moved towards the creek. I walked back to the deck and he came back up again.
When my Sister-in-law, Mother-in-law and kids were out my nephew Peyton said that he saw a beaver down on the creek. I told him he was crazy, and that it was probably just a groundhog as we have a lot of them around and they look kinda similar.
A couple weeks ago I saw a tree chewed down in the back yard and last night I finally saw the culprit. I have rarely seen beavers and this is the first time I have seen one so close up.
Saturday night after the tournament I was beat. Getting up at 3:30 in the morning is something I rarely do. It is more likely that I stay up until that time.
When I got home from the tournament and put the boat in the garage, Christina said that we should have a family movie night so I picked out some DVD's that were kid appropriate, sort of. Leo picked out The Hulk from the group so we sat down to watch it. The recliner sucked me in and after 15 or so minutes it was Z time. I woke up at the end of the movie and went to bed at 9:30 on a Saturday night. At 9:00 the next morning I awoke.
Gene was sleeping on the couch. Instead of waking him up in a conventional way, I got a dog toy and got Kimber's dog Hunter to jump up on him and run back and forth across him. Gene finally opened his eyes and we started to get the boat ready.
His brother Glenn wanted to go so we invited him along.
Once at Alum Creek we boated to a regular bass spot to try for some bass and the possibility of a bonus musky. Glenn hooked into the first fish on a nightcrawler he was dragging along the bottom behind the boat. When he got it to the boat we realized it was a saugeye, about a 17 incher. He took it off the hook and chucked it back in the water. Gene and I looked at each other then let Glenn know that he could have kept that fish. Glenn said he had never caught a saugeye before and didn't know they were good eating.
Gene hooked into the next 2 saugeye, a 16 and a 17 incher, with a Rapala Extreem Shad. We anchored the boat and rigged up worms to try to catch some more. It had been raining and a thunderstorm was approaching. The wind picked up and even in the tree surrounded cove the wind was blowing hard. Rain started pouring down. It was a quick passing storm. The fish stopped co-operating in that cove so we went to try the next cove over.
In the next cove we tried several areas with hardly any luck. Glenn cuaght a small catfish on his worm. I think most of the time we were moving the boat around trying to get those 2 out of snags. Finally we started making our way back out of the cove. I had saw a couple small swirls in the back of the cove and started using my tiny dancer as I thought they were crappie swirls.
A couple guys came down on the bank and started casting bobbers and minnows into the water. They asked if we had caught any crappie. I answered no and at that time Gene was hung up in a laydown again. We pulled over to the laydown for Gene to free his lure and I cast neer the structure and pulled out a crappie. I ended up catching about 50 crappie in that spot. There were a lot of small fish but I pulled out a few 10 inchers to keep. Gene was using the same thing and only managed to pull out 1 crappie. It was a slab measuring about 13 inches and made my 10 inchers look tiny.
That spot dried up after a while and Gene and Glenn wanted to try for some more saugeye so we made our way back to the first cove. We worked it all the way to the back of the cove and I found another crappie spot where I pulled out about another 50 crappie. This time only 2 keepers. Glenn pulled out a couple small bass and Gene finally catching a few crappie.
At one point when Glenn had snagged on the bank, Gene had pulled the boat to the bank to free the lure. We were next to a fallen tree in the water so once Gene got the lure I used my foot to push off the roots of the tree to get us back out away from bank. The roots were rotted and broke under the force causing me to lose my balance. I fell trying to make it back in the boat. Instead of falling outward or into the boat I fell straight down. My left leg made it in the water up to the knee before the trolling motor finally caught me right in between my legs. It stopped me from going into the lake but I don't know if it was worth it.
I sat down for a little bit recovering while Gene and Glenn had a good chuckle.
We tried one other spot for a while before giving it up for the day around 6:30. By the time we left we were all cold and soaked.
Leo fell out of bed at 3:30 in the morning. He came into our room saying that his head hurt bad. We let him crawl in bed with us. My plans to wake up at 4:00 were ruined thanks to me not remembering to plug in the three bank charger again after I had pulled the boat out of the garage the night before to work on the rear livewell and the depth finder transom.
I had charged the batteries for a few hours the night before and hoped that an additional hour would get me through the day if I didn't find a partner to fish the tournament with.
At the gas station I grabbed a couple sandwiches and proceded to the counter. A guy standing at the counter did not see me come in and when he looked at me he started laughing hysterically. I had my new frogg togg suspenders on and my Ranger hoodie with my wore out K-state hat. He must have thought I came straight out of redneckville. It didn't bother me, it actually cheered me up seeing somebody laugh like that.
On route to the lake I came close to hitting a deer. Luckily, with no traffic on the road that early on a Saturday morning I was able to kick the high beams in just in time to see it and slow down.
I arrived to the lake and there were quite a few boats already there. Mostly from the bass club members starting to set up. Mike, a member of the club, was the first person I talked to. He asked if I was fishing the tournament and mentioned that he did not have a partner. I asked if he wanted to fish together. He said yes and I felt extatic. I was going to get to fish the tournament after all. It was even more exciting that I was going to get to fish out of his new boat fresh off the factory floor 3 weeks ago. It was a Ranger Camanche loaded with options including a power pole and 2 Hummingbirds with the side viewing sonar.
The weather forcast was for rainy all day and lightning storms rolling in around 2:00. It was supposed to be fairly warm with a high in the upper 60's. It had quit raining during the check in and 21 boats ended up showing for the tournament.
Mike said that he was unfamiliar with the lake so I took him to some of my favorite spots. We caught 11 bass total. There were only 3 keepers out of that and they were pretty small. We even hit a double as both of us cast to the same spot on a tree with different presentations. We both set the hook at the same time and got the bass in the boat at the same time. Both bass were less than a quarter inch of being a keeper. That would have been awesome to fill our limit for the day with a double.
I started the tournament with a spinnerbait and ended up switching to a 10" powerbait worm pretty quick when I saw that the spinnerbait bite did not seem to be what was needed. I felt a light tick and set the hook on my first keeper. Mike had gotten one shortly before that in the same cove. We fished some other shoreline and kept picking up non-keepers. We tried some riprap that I had seen smallmouth come off of before. I picked up a non-keeper smallmouth on a beetle spin. Mike caught a small keeper smallmouth not too much after that.
Mike also picked up this large Musky on a worm in the middle of the tournament.
We tried some different areas and picked up more non-keepers. I missed a lot of light bites on my 10" powerbait so I switched to a 6" brown curltail worm that I have had some success with on the lake. I caught some more fish but missed a lot of really light bites. They would not hold on to my worm very long, even the powerbait. I saw that a lot last year in the spring.
I was able to feel a lot more bites thanks to my Berkley Amp rod that I recently picked up. I could feel everything with it matched with Berkley Flourocarbon line. My hookup ratio improved quite a bit this year as well since I switched my hooks to Bass Pro BPS hooks. They seem sharper than the Eagle Claw brand that I had been using. Equipment does make a big difference.
We finished the tournament in 8th place out of 21 boats with 3.19 pounds. 1st place had a little over 12 pounds. They also got big fish with a 4.14 pounder. It was the best day bass fishing I have had in Ohio yet. We just didn't get the bigger fish. I have no doubt that we were doing the right things and fishing in the right places. We just got the smaller bass. The rain did not seem to hurt the bite at all. In fact it might have improved it. I will have to fish in the rain more often now that I have my Frogg Toggs.
I looked up Fisherman's Wharf's website to see if they were sending out walk-on headboats yet this year. Not only are they going out but looking at the pictures on their website this month they have been getting a lot of good fish. It says the jig bite is on. Here is the website http://www.wecatchfish.com/
There are quite a few headboat's that leave from Port Clinton, Ohio but I always use Fisherman's Wharf. They have an extreemly friendly helpful staff. Their headboats can accomodate up to 40 people and they have 3 different boats. The price to go out on the weekend is 39.00 per person. On the weekday it is 36.00 for adults (16-60) and 33.00 for Seniors and Children. In April they have 1 daily trip from 8AM-3PM. Starting in May they will have Two trips daily from 7AM-2PM and 3PM-10PM.
They take you out and drift you over the prime walleye spots for the season. All you have to do is sit or stand and catch fish. You can't beat that!
I am going to try to schedule a morning fish on May 9th. I'm just waiting to see if Gene is up for it.
The need for a baitcaster was never a concern for me. I bought one last year but after many birdsnests I barely used it. At Kentucky lake last fall I pulled it back out because I needed the serious backbone from the medium action. I fell in love with fishing with a baitcast that week. I still got birdnests and eventually just left it and fished with the lenght of line that was free.
This winter I was determined to figure out how to use one properly. I wanted to prevent the backlashes and I wanted to get some distance out of my casts. Those 2 things had prevented me from using the baitcast for years. I read several very halpful articles on bassresource.com and took time to stand in the yard to practice casting over the winter.
There is still a lot to learn, but my comfort level with the baitcast is high enough that it is now my preference in fishing over a spinning combo. I can cast farthur and just as accurate after one winter of practice. It feels better in my hand and adds another level of fun to fishing.
The big things I learned this winter was to load up the rod on the back swing so the rod does the work when casting. With a spinning rod you just heave the lure where you want it, I never used much of a back swing.
The other thing that helped with the birdnesting was adjusting the cast control knob under the star drag next to the handle. I had thought that the numbered control on the other side was the only thing that adjusted the back spin on the spool and allowed the line to come out faster or slower. The cast control knob that I had not used was the most critical tool on the reel to help me prevent birdsnests. I adjust the cast control knob so the weight of the lure that I am using will slowly pull the line out of the spool.
Both trips I went on the last 2 weekends I used my 3 baitcasts primarily. I had a birdsnest both trips that I could not get out without cutting my line. They both happened when I cast without paying attention to what I was doing. To catch bass I need to stay focused all day on my casts as well as my retrieves. This will help me keep my mind focused while fishing.
On the trips, I also realized it is just one reel that is giving me problems with birdnests. The newer higher cost reels seem to have more control slowing the spin on the spool as the line gets slack throughout the cast. I don't have the most expensive reels on the market but my Rick Clunn signature series reel from bass pro is very impressive to me. It's so smooth in casting and reeling. I wish I could afford a couple more, I would replace my other 2 reels.
If you have any tips suggestions or hints to using a baitcast I would be happy to hear them.
It's been a couple weeks since I last posted. Part of the reason was there was not much that happened but the primary reason was that I had a stinky virus for 2 weeks. It pretty much kicked my butt, but I was finally able to fight it off and feel better now.
There is an open tournament at Alum Creek next weekend for our club. The plan was to spend the last 3 weekends at the lake getting in practice for my first tournament and to get more comfortable out on the water prior to tournament season.
Instead what happened was a road trip with the wife and kids, being sick and only spending a couple days on the water.
Last weekend on Sunday I started feeling a little better so I pulled the boat out of the garage to clean it up for spring and to fire up the motor. I hooked up the garden hose and it fired right up. After a few hours with the vacuum and a bucket of suds the boat was sparkly again. Since it was out of the garage and hooked up to the truck already I just couldn't help but to take it out for a bit.
I called my buddy Gene and he came over to go fishing for a few hours. Deer Creek was the closest lake so we headed there to run the boat and get in a bit of fishing. We hit some of our primary early spring spots as well as some of our fall hotspots. The fish were not cooperative and Gene was the only one to boat a fish. It was a rather small white bass.
By the time we made it back to the house I realized that I had pushed it too hard for the day, and the virus sensing that I had used up all my energy, proceeded to take its licks. It was still worth it.
While we were out on Deer Creek the trolling motor batteries died really quick. We were on a really shallow flat and had to ore quite a ways to get to some deeper water to fire up the big motor. New batteries are not in the budget but I have a contact in the bass club that can get me good new batteries at a great price.
Over the couse of the next week it was a battle of me vs. Viro. It was that bad it gets a name. Saturday rolled around and I was ready to hit the water again in anticipation of my first bass of the season. Friday night was filled with dreams of lots of bass being caught. Saturday morning I arose to less than desirable conditions. It was cold and really windy. Since it was not a tournament day, I chose to stay home and take the kids to the zoo in the afternoon. It was a good choice as I will not get to spend as much time with them once tournament time comes around.
Sunday was going to be a day on the water regardless of the weather though. I text Gene and let him know we would be heading out early. He text back and said that he will be on the couch when I get up. Saturday night I got on pokerstars to take a stab at a tournament around 8:00. About 4:30 in the morning I was nearing the end of the tournament when I lost in 47th place out of 2800 players for a decent profit. The early start to Sunday morning fishing was looking like it would start a little later. Gene rolled in about 3:00 as well and stayed up with me almost until the end so I didn't figure he would mind.
Feeling a little rough, I ended up getting out of bed about 9:00. We hooked up the boat and drove to Alum Creek. It was breezy and cold but I was able to catch a 12" bass on a white and chartreuse spinnerbait off a stretch of reeds right away. That would end up being the only bass of the day.
There was also 2 bluegill and a crappie that fell for "Tiny Dancer", my jig head and grub skirt combo that is my go to for pan fish.
I had a huge swirl and miss on my spinnerbait off another reed stretch on the North end of the lake. If it was a bass it was huge. More than likely it was one of the many Musky that lurk around Alum Creek.
The trolling motor batteries are apparently still going after several years of use. I had the three bank charger plugged in for 48 hours last week. They got a good test, running the trolling motor all day in the windy conditions.
With the cold and breezy conditions and the lack of action after 8 hours on the water we loaded the boat on the trailer. A stop at the Chinese buffett on the way home solidified yet again another great day.
I'm not sure if I will be fishing the Open this next weekend. Mizike moved and Gene has to work Saturday so I might just show up and fish that day unless I find somebody else that is wanting to partner up for the tournament.
It started out with a three day weekend for both of us. My wife and I both had Good Friday off from work and a desire to explore some more of this great country.
We started out as planned heading towards North Carolina. We made our first stop a little ways out of town to pick up the beginnings or our road trip goodies. I grabbed a Monster and a big bag of Giants Spicy Garlic sunflower seeds. The vampires wouldn't be bothering us on this trip. In fact nobody wanted to stand to close.
We made it out of Ohio in timely fashion. Our next stop was a restroom/get more road trip goodies stop in West Virginia. By the time we stopped the reading on the van's temperature guage was 96 degrees. It was HOT when we got out of the car.
Once we were stocked up we got back on the road again. We took I-77 South through West Virginia. Along the way we saw signs for the worlds greatest shopping in Beckley. As we got close to the exit a sign said left lane ends. I got into the right lane right as it was getting ready to exit off without warning towards the great shopping. With all the speed of the mini van I was able to pass the car beside us and get back onto the through lane. The left lane never ended. We joked that it was a trap to get you lured into the worlds greatest shopping mall.
A few miles down the road there was another sign saying I-77 was splitting off to the right. I took the next split off and ended up smack in the middle of Beckley with no way to get back onto the interstate. We drove through downtown and through a hundred red stop lights before we came to THE MALL! They got us after all. The worlds greatest shopping mall only had 2 stores and gave us a good laugh after seeing all the signs on the way down I-77.
We got back onto interstate and took the correct split the next time. We made it to the southern edge of West Virginia and went through a town called Bluefield. It was an older mining town that reminded me of the movie Valentine. All of the old buildings were a site to see.
We made it into Virginia when we decided to take the roads less traveled on. The first back road made its way over and around the peaks of the Appalachians. It was a very scenic zig zaggy road. The bad thing was it was littered with trash and graphiti on the railings.
A deer crossed the road in front of us at one point. A little ways down the winding curvy road Leo asked where the deer was. We told him that he had ran into the woods. Leo then said "He's dying, he's dying!" I told him "No he ran off the road he's o.k." I glanced back and saw his little brother Gavin turning white as a ghost. We had thought he was still talking about the deer. I was able to pull off right away and Christina got Gavin and the car seat cleaned up.
We made our way towards Troutsdale, as it was in a National Forrest and looked like it had a lot of camping. As we drove into the park we noticed closed campground after closed campground. Apparently the 90 degree weather doesn't make the camping season start any earlier.
There was a little restraunt open so we stopped there to eat. They had surf and turf, 10 oz. ribeye steak and shrimp for 10.99 on the menu so we both got that. With a full belly we were ready to set out on the road again in search of another park that might have camping. As we were leaving the cashier told us that she thought the campground down the road was open and there was also a horse camp that she knew was open.
We drove past the horse camp to the campground and it was closed. With a little backtracking we made it back to the horse camp. We pulled in and set up camp after dark and went to bed right away.
That night the wind would gust about every 30 minutes. Each time it would shake the side of the tent I would raise straight up out of bed. I would just start to fall asleep and the tent would slap again spooking me from my sleep. Finally, about 1 or 2 in the morning I fell asleep for good.
The next morning we were up with the sun. I walked down to the stream that ran behind the camp and first thing I saw was a little brook trout. My blood began to rush and I wanted to fish. Once camp was packed we got back in the car to find a place to buy a fishing liscence and see if we could locate another camp. We drove along the river the stream dumped into and it turned out to be an awesome looking trout river. Along the way we saw several pull offs with free camping.
It was starting to look like we were going to spend the rest of the weekend in this spot. We drove into town to find a liscence and to pick up some lunchmeat and bread. As we got into town there was a sporting goods store. I made a quick stop to price fishing licenses. They did not carry fishing equipment and did not sell licenses so we continued on down the road. We stopped at a gas station for some breakfast food for Leo and Gavin. I looked at a fly rod and reel they had for about 30.00 and thought about getting it since I had left mine at home for some reason. I left it behind and figured we would continue our roadtrip to somewhere else.
There was a grocery store down the road where we stocked up on camping food, wood, and ice. We continued on down the road along the river a ways when I decided I needed that fly rod and reel. We turned around and I now have a new short fly rod and reel. The gas station did not have fly line, backing or flies. I was going to find a wal-mart or a place that had line.
A few more miles down the road we spotted a fly shop. After spending 45.00 on fly line backing and few flies I was set up to go fishing. I asked the gentlemen at the fly shop where I could get a fishing license and they said that Virginia only had 5 day licenses and with a trout stamp would cost nearly 80.00. I couldn't get myself to pay that much to fish for a day and a half. I am sick! I just looked up the price as I am typing this and it is only 11.00 for a 5 day license and 18.00 extra to fish stocked trout waters. The trip would have been a lot different if I had known it was not 80.00 to fish. I will go back for a long weekend trip to that area now.
We decided to travel to Tennessee since the campgrounds in Virginia were closed for the season. I had a spot that I had seen online that looked promising near Elizabethton and it was not too far away. We pulled into the national park campground and it was open to campers only. No tents until April 15th. We stopped ate lunch and played in the park anyway. Oh yeah, it had an awesome trout stream too.
I had heard that the Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge area was really awesome and a lot of people go there so we started driving that way. It was early and a good time to set up camp when we arrived to Gatlinburg. After driving through packed downtown Gatlinburg we made our way into the Smokey Mountain National Park. We stopped at the visitor center to look at the map to see where the campgrounds were. All but 1 campground was close and being worked on.
We took our chances and went to the 1 campground. The drive in was beautiful. Another great trout river and this time they have 3 day licenses. Once we made it to the campground we noticed that only 1/4 of it was open and it was packed full of tents. That was a devastating blow. At that point we just wanted to camp and realized it was not going to happen.
I pulled out the GPS and pointed it towards home. We would make it back around 2:00 A.M. We stopped at a picnic area along the river before leaving the park to have supper and play near the river.
Then we got settled in for a long trip back home. Along the route back home I spotted a State Park sign pointing towards Norris Lake in Northern Tennessee. We decided to check it out and believe it or not we could camp there.
The kids went to sleep pretty quickly and my wife and I sat outside enjoying a couple hours of each others company.
The next morning was Easter. Everybody slept in a little longer and when we got up the kids went outside and found easter eggs that had been scattered throughout our camping spot. Gavin was picking up the eggs and eating the candy out of each one before he went to the next one for a bit until he saw Leo was filling his basket quickly.
As the egg hunt ended Leo was ready to play on the massive fort/playground that was near the campsite. I let him go over to explore it by himself. Christina told me to go check on him after a minute and when I did I was not surprised to see him staning on the top of the 18' structure where your not suppose to be. He didn't know how to get back down so I had to climb up to rescue him.
I found out Norris lake is known for great striper fishing near the dam and has good trout fishing below the dam. I looked up the fishing report online from my phone while we were there and it had one of the most extensive fishing reports. It explained what patterns were working and where for each species of fish.
We drove to an overlook of the lake on the way out then started heading towards Kentucky. We were going to spend some time in Boone National Forrest on our way home. We must have taken the road less traveled again as there was not much to see or do where we went through. I did let Leo get his pole out and fish a little in the stream that ran next to the road.
Realizing that we had went to the wrong area of Boone National Forrest we found our way back to Interstate and started driving back home. We were near Florence, KY when I remembered that a couple friends from 4th grade lived there. My family had lived in Arkansas for a year and I became close friends with the Coulter boys in that year. I called Wade and he said to come to his Mom and Dad's house. He and his brother were both there. Over 20 years had passed since we had seen each other. It didn't matter, 20 years later we ended up hanging out for 4 hours talking fishing, hunting and old times.
As the clocked ticked down the last minutes of the weekend we made it home. It was again a successful road trip. There were definately trials but in the end we managed to do what we set out to do, build memmories.
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