Saturday, May 14, 2016

One of Those Days

Today was "one of those days" on the water.  Yesterday was Friday the 13th with a full moon.  The day went without incident for my family and I, except for the weather report for the weekend.  However, I was optimistic.  I've fished in harsher conditions (though inside a shanty with a Mr. Heater).

The weatherman was calling for below freezing temperatures and 20 MPH winds.  Just over a week ago it was 90 degrees for my river float.  The following day the bass were shallow for the spawn and hitting topwater.  I even got in my first frog action of 2016.  Hopeful the week's 40 and 50 degree temperatures didn't drop the water temperatures too much, I tied on a buzzbait and frog while I prepared my FeelFree Lure kayak for an early morning departure.  I also packed a pair of ice fishing gloves and heat packs.

My alarm clock rings and I slowly roll out of bed.  I'd love to stay in the warmth of my bed, knowing the fall-like weather awaiting me.  No excuses.  I have a KBF/TourneyX tournament to work at.  I slip on my clothes typically reserved for ice fishing/snow biking, catch up on my social media accounts while sipping some coffee, and wander out the door.

I arrive at the lake.  The empty parking lot confirms I read the weather report correctly.  It is 34 degrees.

As I sit in the warmth of the vehicle, I remind myself some of my best fish were caught in harsh conditions.  I turn off the vehicle and commence my now automatic kayak loading ritual.

All morning I felt "off".  Perhaps it was the beer I drank last night, or the abbreviated sleep to arrive at the lake early.  I brush it off and paddle towards the spawning grounds while staring eagerly at my Garmin Striker's temperature gauge as it adapts to the water.

Choosing the "ignorance is bliss" approach, I decide to ignore my Garmin's rising temperature reading.  Arriving at the spawning grounds, I immediately need to deploy my stakeout pole.  The wind has already picked up and causing whitecaps.  This is going to be a tough bite.  I nervously toss my buzzbait a couple times.  Like a kid peeking through their fingers during a horror movie, I hesitantly glance at my Garmin's temperature reading..... 52 degrees.  My heart sinks as I cut off my topwater baits and switch to my fall lures.

My baitcaster and spinning rod are now in my go-to fall mode.  A spinner and a swimbait.  I maneuver towards the center of the lake and re-plant my stakeout pole in 2 feet of water on the edge of a ledge.  I work both baits up the ledge which rises from 25 feet to 2 feet in a short distance.  These ledges are a great target area when the bite is tough.  The river enters the lake near this area.  Unless the bass are shallow, they typically suspend along this ledge depending on their preferred temperatures.

This is when my trip takes a turn for the worse.  It begins with my Garmin shutting off.  I promptly check the battery connections in my FeelFree Lure's sonar pod and turn it on again.  I glare at the low voltage reading as it again shuts off.  I haven't charged my battery after several days of use last week!  I am partially blind, but I know this body of water like the back of my hand.  No problem.

I admittedly was cheap when re-spooling my spinning rod this year.  I bought bargain line, which I will not name, for my daughter's Zebco 33.  A fine line for her use.  Not a good idea for my rigorous use.  The line had concerned me when landing my first large bass of the season last week.  When flipping the bass into my kayak, the line snapped.  Today, as my spinning reel's grease struggled with the cold, the line snapped while casting.  Before I trust this pole with another lure, I need to restring it.  One primary pole down.

I begin tossing the spinner on my baitcaster through the spawning area.  I also try slow-rolling it up the ledge.  Amidst this effort, during a cast into the wind, my spinner stops suddenly a few feet from my kayak and drops into the water.  Assuming a backlash, I look down at the reel.  No backlash.  Confused I inspect the length of the rod.  A large knot is in the line.  Admittedly, I should have re-spooled my baitcaster.  After some nasty hangups on the river, my spool was a bit lower than I prefer.  Now the already low spool has been further reduced.  I have micro guides and cannot feel my fingers in the bitter cold (I learned you cannot use ice fishing gloves to operate a baitcaster).  I reluctantly cut out the knot, and re-thread the rod.

I decide to give up on the ledge and head to the rock dam.  Rock structures are great with temperature fluctuation since they hold their temperature for longer.  I let the strong wind push me towards the rocks while I cast.  I quickly notice a problem.  My casting distance is significantly reduced because of the little remaining line on my spool.  Determined not to let this day defeat me, I paddle to the rock and drop anchor.

Upon arrival at the dam, my wife texts me to see how the morning is going.  I believe she did this out of 10% curiosity, 10% genuine concern, and 80% hope that she could say "I told you so" (she figured the weather would cause me to come home early),  I report back with current status.  I'm down to 1 pole (my backup pole is nearly out of line) and it is snowing.  Yes, it snowed today.  In May.  While kayak fishing.

After frustrating short casts, I decide fate is telling me today is not my day.  I report back to my wife that I'm heading in early and will try again tomorrow.  In the end, today was a great day.  I got home early and went shopping with my family after enjoying fresh, local, donuts for breakfast.  We had a great time while shopping.  My daughter got to see the Oscar Meyer Weinermobile for the first time.  She also decided to get her ears pierced.


I'm grateful for the multiple equipment failures today.  Without them, I wouldn't have has as great, or long, of a day with my family.  However, this is a lesson learned.  My neglecting to maintain my equipment caused major problems.  Luckily, I was fishing waters a few minutes from home.  Had I traveled any distance, it would have been a major waste of time and money.

Take care of your equipment and it will take care of you.  And if you are fishing in a tournament, don't use the cheap line you bought for your child's pole.  Having now properly re-strung all of my poles with Suffix line, I hope to report back differently tomorrow.

Be safe and tight lines my friends.







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