Sunday, September 4, 2011

School's back in session.......a tough lesson learned

Labor Day weekend is always a quandary for me - do I venture out on the highways to get to the salt or some prime fishing waters like Sandy River, Briery Creek or the Doah and fight traffic all the way home, or do I tough it out locally and take what I can get.  Since I got a late start today, I opted for the latter.  I asked my son if he wanted to go, so we could re-visit the site of the infamous 21-4 rout he gave me a couple weeks ago.  He quickly turned his head and almost leaps out of the house to the van.

I forewarned him that fishing this late in the morning, especially after Irene dropped a ton of debris in the pond, could make for a long and boring day on the water.  There is just no way to tell until you get out there and try your luck.  Well, I loaded up the kayak and packed some frozen waters, his medium combo and a couple of my light rod combos along with his panfish tackle tray I put together for him and headed for the pond.

We saw a couple fishing off of a pier and another gent in a jon boat making all sorts of racket and not catching a thing on the far shoreline.  I told my son that we would start over on the quieter side for now and see what we could find.  After about 15 minutes, my son is the first to land a fish, albeit a small bluegill.....

I told him to keep casting ahead of us next to the lily pads and the docks and wait for the strikes.  He was getting a little impatient and didn't want to heed my instructions of slowing down his retrieve.  He put his rod down after about a half hour and said he was just going to let me fish today and he would take pictures.......twist my arm why don't you!!!  So, I started off with my ultralight spinning combo and landed one pretty quickly....
I kept working the shoreline looking for any pockets of shade next to lily pads, overhanging trees or docks.  The pattern seemed to be a slow retrieve, almost too slow but every time I doubted that technique a fish strike followed in short order.

You can see the lily pads offer some escape from the sun, but there are still plenty of pockets to work a non-weedless lure like the beetle spin I was throwing at them today.  I quickly learned after losing 3 gills, a chain pickerel and a chunk of a bass that my combo was not the best outfit for the day.  The rod has almost no backbone and is difficult to get a good hook set.  My son quickly volunteered his combo telling me that all the fish I would catch would be his fish, since it was his rod and gotta love the thought process of a 6 year old.

The wind started picking up making it difficult to maintain position back in the cove of lily pads, so I paddled over to the over flow drain and started working the shoreline pretty rigorously.  A few casts after this approach landed me the best bass of the day - a chunky little 14" with lovely coloring.
By this time, the sun was high in the sky and beating down on us pretty hard.  The bite had slowed to a crawl with few hits over the course of the next hour.  I asked my son if he wanted to try again, and he said no.  He just wanted to take pictures for me - how cool is that?  So, I got back to it and paddled back into the far cove looking for some more fish.  Ended up catching a dozen or so more bluegills back in this cove, including this chunker - a 10 1/2" bluegill.
Unfortunately, no measurement picture was able to be taken.  My son had put the camera away, and the gill spiked me good while I was trying to position him on the measuring board.  No worries, he'll be there the next time I come back with my son.  I notice my son is getting fidgety, so I asked him if he wanted to fish anymore.  He asked if we could switch colors, so I said sure - pick out which one you want.  He picked out the classic beetle body in white with the red spot.  I positioned the kayak to let him cast up to the next batch of shoreline pads, but after 3 half-hearted casts, he decided he just wanted to take pictures.

I reassured him that the white one would catch fish.  I showed him where to cast and started a slow retrieve that was greeted by a prompt thump.  I saw the fish flash in the water, but he spit the lure and swam away.  I reeled it back in and recast to the same spot, only this time I was able to set the hook.  End result - a nice little black crappie.

All in all a great day on the water with my son even though he lost interest pretty quickly due to the apparent lack of a bite.  I tried to remind him that some days are better than others.  We caught the same amount of fish as we had the previous trip, only this time the shoe was on the other foot so to speak.  Final tally: 24-1 in my favor but I didn't make mention of it.  At least he enjoyed taking photos, but now it looks like I need to invest in a camera float with wrist strap and a waterproof camera quickly!!!

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