Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Not much happening... But not for lack of effort :)

It has been a little while since I last posted. My hope has been that one of these days (or nights) I would strike it rich with numerous trophy-size fish and then I'd have some great success stories to share with you. But, unfortunately the stars haven't been aligning for me lately, and things just haven't been working out very well on the water this past week.

The only success that I really do have to share with you comes from a morning trip I took last week with my nephew Bailey. We headed out fairly early one morning to fish a certain stretch of river where I had done well previously. When we arrived to the area however, we found someone else already fishing it. So we decided exercise a little bit of angler courtesy and head to somewhere else. It was a bummer for us, but proof that oftentimes the early bird does get the worm... at least he did that day.

The area that we did end up fishing wasn't a complete bust however. I had a great time wading and fishing with Bailey, and in the end we did catch 5 or so fish a piece. They were pretty small fish and the action was a little slow, but it was action nonetheless. We also got inundated by a huge pod of float tubers, who floated right through what could have been the best water we were going to fish that morning... It was another bummer, but at least they gave us a decent excuse for not catching more fish, ha ha.

In addition to losing our first spot to another angler, and then having the float tube brigade spoil our new spot, we also had a third (that's right THIRD) bummer occur during our trip. I had hooked a scrappy little smallmouth, fought him in to my side, and when I leaned over to grab him, my cell phone slipped out of my front shirt pocket and went right into the river. "Plop!" The plop heard 'round the world...Bummer number THREE!

Still, this occurrence did prove one thing to me--that I am truly, without-a-doubt 100% a fisherman... I have come to this conclusion because instead of feeling remorse when I watched my nice new cell phone sink to the bottom of the river. My first reaction was that I couldn't help but admire the enticing flutter and side-to-side action that it had on the fall. Heck if I was a fish, I would have bit that cell phone! Lol... That was my initial reaction, and I'm kind of proud of that, ha ha.

Aside from my trip with Bailey, I really haven't been doing much catching this past week. I did pick up a decent largemouth one day on my way to work, but that is about it. I have been fishing mostly at night, and I've been targeting mostly largemouths... but I have done a little musky fishing, and some hybrid striper fishing as well. With the full moon that we just had, I though the night fishing would have been a little bit better, but it wasn't... Still, I can chalk it all up as lessons learned and time spent on the water. I'm constantly getting one trip to closer to catching that monster.

Well, I guess that is all for now. Hopefully by next time I will have a little bit more success to share with you. Until then, thanks again for reading and I hope to see you on the water... But don't get to my spot first! ;)

Friday, July 16, 2010

Some skinny water smallmouth... :)

If you have been around central Pennsylvania lately, you know that it has been hot--hot and dry! Up until a few days ago, things were starting to get pretty bad. Local creeks were drying up, the rivers were getting scary low, and practically all my grass at the house had died.

Because of my work schedule, I have only been fishing a little bit lately... and mostly at night. But fortunately I was able to get out on the river in the daylight a few days ago. I only had a couple hours to fish, so I spent the majority of my time wading around a semi-deep stretch of river, were I knew the fish would be concentrated due to the low water. The time was mid-day and with relatively sunny skies. The fishing was excellent!

I love summer topwater strikes, so I fished mainly weightless soft plastics... jerkbaits and lizards/creatures baits on or near the surface. I did try some other lures though, and ended up landing one nice smallmouth on a trout colored X-rap. Thankfully the bite was pretty good, and at the end of my trip I had landed 20 + smallmouth anywhere from 6 to 16 inches. I also enjoyed some awesome topwater explosions!

One of my other goals for the day (aside from catching fish) was to make use of my waterproof camera and finally get a couple decent underwater shots of smallmouth. I took a few shots... but I found out there is definitely a learning curve in dealing with current and fishing/shooting solo.

Well, I guess that is all for now. I hope you enjoy the images, and I hope to see you on the water soon as well! This can be a fun time of the year to fish... So get out there! Thanks again for reading.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Conditioned fish...

When it's too hot to go fishing, why not sit inside and watch fishing shows right? Ha ha! Seriously though...it has been really hot lately. But in all truthfulness, has it ever gotten too hot to go fishing?

All joking aside, I have been doing some fishing recently in spite of the heat... But, I have also spent my share of time sitting at home in the A/C watching the TV as well. I have seen some great fishing shows lately too--one in particular sticks out in my mind.

It was an episode done by the Linders of "Angling Edge." The subject of the show was focused on something that I find quite interesting--"conditioned fish." If you have been fishing long enough, you surely know what I am talking about. Conditioned fish are those fish in a certain spot (i.e. river, lake, stream, ocean) that continue to see the same lures (or bait) over and over again, and eventually become conditioned to not bite those certain lures.

My first lessons in dealing with conditioned fish came when I was a kid--fishing in the farm pond across the street from my parents house. Back then, whenever I got a new lure, the first thing I would do is take it over to the pond. Generally I found that on my first couple of trips over there the fish would absolutely crush my new lure... even if it was something crazy that did not resemble any of the natural food the bass in that pond were eating. They simply ate it because it was interesting and they had never seen it before. It triggered a positive response.

Fast forward a couple of weeks--after I had caught practically every bass in that pond with my newly discovered lure--my bites would go way down. I could still catch a few fish, but the action was nothing like it was when none of the fish in the pond had ever seen that type of lure before. My lure was now triggering a different type of response.

So, why am I typing all of this...? And why do I find it interesting? Because, in one way or another, you and I are dealing with conditioned fish in practically every angling venue that we face. Sure the fish on your 250 acre local lake might not be conditioned to the same degree that the fish were at my neighbors farm pond, but I think you get the picture.

Through the years I have seen fish become conditioned to different degrees in streams, lakes, rivers and even in saltwater. The different degrees to which fish actually become conditioned I would consider short term and some long term. Obviously, the smaller the body of water and the higher the fishing pressure the more likely fish are to become conditioned (long term) to ignoring our lures... Likewise the larger and less pressured a body of water is, the less likely fish will become conditioned to our lures. Also, we must consider that fish biology comes to play in this as well. Some species of fish, and some individual fish within a certain population, are just more likely to bite than others.

Moving on, you might ask what is the solution to dealing with conditioned fish. The Linders answer that question on their TV show, and I think they are right on the money... In my opinion (and the Linders'), the answer is quite obvious--show them something different! It doesn't have to be something radically different from the norm, but maybe just slightly different. A smaller or larger version of a lure that you are familiar with and is known to work, or something with a slight variation in color or shape. A change in retrieve of an already familiar lure is something else worth a try. Sometimes the smallest difference can change what would have been a negative response to a lure into a positive one.

I've been spending some time fishing larger lures lately, and I have been impressed (actually almost stunned really) at some of the baits that largemouth bass will actually hit. I have had musky lures that are larger than what I would have even considered to be bass tackle, getting clobbered by small and medium sized bass... Not even big bass. Why? Because these lures are different, and the fish haven't been conditioned to stay away from them yet.

So, the next time you get out fishing, think about the water you are on... Think about how you fish it. Think about how others fish it. Then consider how the fish in your body of water may be conditioned to react to your lures. If you are already doing great, that's awesome! If not, maybe this will help. Until next time, thanks again for reading and good luck staying cool... Maybe I'll see you on the water.