Monday, August 15, 2016

Riding the Storm Out

This month has been a series of figurative and literal storms.  Various medical challenges in my personal life along with poor fishing in my Small Craft Fisherman life.  Part of the fishing storm has been due to actual storms, high waters, and brutally high temperatures.  My latest outing was no different.

Having hooked into, but losing, the largest bass I've had on in a long time, I was eager to hit my home waters hoping to lip it.  A couple days before I ceremoniously de-spooled the mono that snapped under the stress of the tank and replaced it with 40 lb Gliss line.  Gliss is strong like braid but casts for miles.  While I'm add it, I clean, grease, and oil my reels to ensure a mechanically smooth trip.

The morning of my 2 minute journey to my local water.  I awake well before sunrise.  I'm used to the early sunrises of the summer, and in denial of the nearing "hard water" kayak-unfriendly Wisconsin Winter growing nearer.  My car pre-loaded with my kayak and gear, I head to the fishing hole.

I expected an empty ramp and lot given the heavy rains the week and night prior.  As I approach the ramp, I glare through the pine trees into the lot looking for a flicker of reflection from a car or white from a boat trailer.  Seeing none, I loop past the ramp where the dock is slightly under water.  The lake is approximately 2 feet higher than normal.  My expectations for a slob dwindle, but I'm determined to spend some time on my favorite body of water, on my favorite watercraft, doing my favorite sport.

The morning is breezy and overcast.  However, the local weatherman, who has the coveted AMS seal of approval, says a picture-perfect day awaits.  Thus, I start my fishing on spots frequented by the fair-weather bass hunters waiting for the sun to light their way.

After unsuccessfully working the first bay's waters, a thick cappuccino color after the week's heavy rains, I move onto the rip-rap bank.  A few cranks in and I snag a small bass.  It saves me the hassle of landing it and removing the hook by spitting the hook on its way to the kayak.

The wind is picking up and my Garmin Striker 4DV is marking fish around the 10 foot mark.  I paddle into the wind and ready a crankbait that will reach that depth.  Allowing the wind to push me back cross the lake I begin cranking.  While doing so, my Garmin shows the fish moving up in the water column.  There are some topwater splashes around me.  Another boat has joined me on the water.  I can hear the distinctive "whoooshbzzzzzzzzz" of a buzzbait being casted hard against the wind and the distinctive "I got one!" followed by splashing of a fish being caught.  Game on, my favorite bite is on.

The sun has nearly fought its way through the clouds.  The ramp begins to fill with other fishing boats looking to fish a beautiful day after a couple weeks of storms and thick heat.  The usual boat-reachable spots become quickly occupied so I move into the thick mats with my Lunkerhunt frog and Ardent topwater setup.

My frogging spot greats me early thanks to the wind carrying the smell of fish and decaying vegetation.  This is where I feel at home with my topwater setup and go-to lure, the Lunkerhunt frog.  I think I seen a hint of a smile come across the face of my frog, mimicking mine, at the smell of our home-on-the-water.  Shortly after, the choppy water gives way to the heavy mat.  My FeelFree Lure is first to enter, confirmed with the hiss of thick vegetation running under the hull.  My Bending Branches Angler Pro starts its familiar shallow paddle, preventing weed buildup while cutting through the water.  A few feet in, snuggled safely in the weed mat holding me against the wind, the magic begins.

Frogging is my favorite type of fishing.  I've spent a lot of time doing it, I like to say I have a sixth sense for frog conditions.  My senses told me today wasn't the day.  The frogging signs weren't there.  Blowup holes in the freshly agitated weed mats, blowups at the edge of the mats, bluegill schools scattering for their lives.  None of those froggin' signs were surrounding me.  My addiction to frogging got the better of me, so I carried on.

A few casts in, I smirked at my Froggin' Sense when I had a taker.  Frogging is addicting for two reasons.  The topwater blowups are the number-one reason for
me.  The second is the gift.  The blowups can be deceiving and the 5-10 pounds of vegetation surrounding the fish after landing it are like unwrapping a gift.  You never know what will be inside.

I land my first hard-earned fish of the day and eagerly unwrap it.  Instead of being greeted by a Red Ryder BB Gun, I'm greeted by a pair of socks.  It is a largemouth, but only 12.5 inches.  But like gifts, I appreciate getting something at all and the thoughtfulness of the gift-giver.  Since every inch helps on the Kayak Bass Fishing leader boards, I submit my fish to TourneyX, and release him to get bigger.

I continue working the lake using various techniques but there are no takers.  The lake has became busier as the skies turned bluer.  Shortly after landing my fish, the small lake fell silent.  Confirming others are weathering the same "storm" as I.  I decide to call it a day and spend the remainder with my family.

Life is filled with various storms.  Fishing is a way to escape and help weather the storms in life (pun intended).  Though fishing has its own storms, I don't let it come to that.  A day on the water, no matter the fishing, as a relaxing day.  I hope you are all happy, healthy, catching more fish than I, and successfully riding your own storms out.



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