The annual event simply couldn’t get here fast enough. And once it did, of course, it went by far too quickly.
As usual, this year would find new and inventive ways to challenge us. It has been a number of years since we have managed to hit the spawn just right – and this one would prove to be yet another. But somehow, some way, we always manage to at least find enough for our fish fry.
As a proud member of the scout team, we arrived early to fish the afternoon and get a feel for where we will take the crew the next morning. Paul and I started out at Long Shoal, as usual, hitting all of our standard hot spots. Only they weren’t really very “hot”… in fact, they were completely dead.
We noted what might have been the clearest water we’d ever seen at Truman as we safely released the only three keepers we boated in a five hour span, debating how to approach the next day over a pitcher of margaritas in Warsaw. It was only a day removed from Cinco De Mayo, so we felt justified.
The party was waiting for us at the cabin when we returned, and the “Guys Weekend” part of our getaway ensued, over baggo, poker, and all other such nonsense as typically fills the time not in a boat.
Thursday turned out to be a very long day of running these same banks, looking for what should have been still spawning crappie. The highlight of Thursday would be, as it always is here, our “Bad Girl” burgers at the Long Shoal Marina restaurant – one of the greatest of all traditions of this annual adventure.
So, it took five of us 8 hours to find 13 keepers. Not so good, and not going to feed this crew. Something had to be done. That evening, reports were checked, phone calls made, thinking caps snugged down tightly. Word around the marina had it that few were faring much better than us… but that the water was a bit more stained up around Bucksaw. And there were one or two reports of success. The 15 minute drive was certainly not going to be an obstacle.
As is becoming the unfortunate norm here in recent years, our backs were up against a wall. Find fish, or no fish tacos for the Friday night fish fry. Pressure. Was. On. Friday was going to be wet. It was not an “if”, but more of a how much/how long. And it turned out to be the most beautiful rain I have ever fished in. Soft, drizzly but a warm and comfy rain. Sure, we got a little wet, but it was never more than we could fish in and stand. We were drizzled and misted on us most of the morning, but the sun came out and dried us out completely shortly after lunch.
It was never a bit uncomfortable. The temps were nearly perfect, and the lake around the Bucksaw area is incredibly scenic, making for perfect day on the water. Oh, and the fishing was a bit better, too.While we did not completely load them up, we had a fairly steady bite. Slow, but steady. Enough that the 2-boat, five-man crew cleaned 33 – ensuring that we would have our fill of fish tacos for our FryDay Night at Truman (I know you like what I did there!)
Saturday was not overly productive. Tried to replicate the Friday pattern, running up and down the same banks, and picked up a few, but not like Friday. An overall tough time on the water… but really. With these guys, on this trip… it’s never too tough. Because it’s never about numbers. Although we do like to catch enough for our FryDay Night (yeah, did it again. Think I’m keeping this one.)
We say it every year, and it’s true. We only pretend that it’s about the fishing. This is one of the few trips I take where the pictures I post of us goofing around outnumber my attempt to be outdoorsy and artsy. And the phone pics outnumber my DSLR pics.
Overall, as I mentioned, water was crazy clear out of Long Shoal. Water temps ranged from 65-70.
Overall, things were pretty slow and tough over the four days on the water, with fish scattered – they seemed to be in that fuzzy area between spawn and summer pattern.
We were picking up males anywhere from 2-6′ down in 10-15 FOW, but still picked up some really nice females, still full of eggs, a foot under a bobber in 2′ of water.
Best day 5 guys cleaned 33, with 12 being between 13-14″ – loved the size, but it was an all day grind to get them. Other days were even tougher, but what we did catch was still very nice quality. Most of our fish were taken on jigs – red/chartreuse outperformed black/chartreuse and anything with pink. Jigs outperformed minnows as well.
Most other reports from those we talked to were also poor/tough, but you heard of a few here and there who were getting them.
Very excited about the quality of fish, however. Possibly best average size we’ve ever had down there. Ratio was outstanding, we threw very few fish back, and did not keep many 9″ fish, our smalls were “Kansas” legal, with nearly everything we caught being 11-13″+.