Feb 22, 2020 -I don’t know what happened this week that was different from the last that would make such a difference in the fishing in only 5 days ago. Maybe the racks have been hot since the beginning of the year. So many things came together today. Mark left for Cabo for his bachelor party and Gina is in Las Vegas with Mia who booked a TV segment on the same day as the Democratic Party Debates. That left me with Kimmie for the next couple days. Instead of spending the day at the Pleasanton Fly Fishing show and leaving Kimmie alone all day, I decided to take her out on the lake, in the boat, for some bonding time. I bought this cute little life doggie life vest for her from Bass Pro just in case it was windy. Kimmie would benefit from my more comfortable taste in my senior years riding in a boat with food, water, a comfy bed and shade vs fishing off the shore in the cold and wind, I also do make sure to be prepared with all kinds of equipment (find out more here) so fishing with me is always a good time.
No fly fisherman has had a good day on the lake this year and I wasn’t expecting too much although I did find a youtube video of some swimbait\topwater fishermen that did great last monday fishing the west side and around Portuguese cove. I figured if I checked those places out with top water plugs until I found a school of fish. I would then switch over to fly gear. When it’s super slow, I like using conventional tackle to search since I can cover more water looking with longer casts with less effort. In January, I got skunked and last weekend I got blown off the lake and was forced to fish the Forebay. The winds on Friday were predicted to be the best of the weekend. The lake was very calm and overcast-the weather was perfect. The solunar tables showed 3 stars with a peak period around 11:00 am. I planned to be at the Trash racks or the Bay of Pigs at that time. The lake is 70 percent full and it looks like they are starting to pump water out of it although the pumps were not on while we were at the racks.
I coordinated my fishing with Steph and Vaughn who would also be out on the lake this weekend, for this we used the best bass fishing rod and reel combo so we can fish effectively. Knowing they are on the lake gives us the benefit of covering more water looking for fish. More than once, Vaughn and Steph have found the fish and relayed those spots to me saving my day. I decided to get out on the lake at daybreak since it seems the plug fishermen were catching more fish before sunrise than in the afternoon. Kimmie knew we were going to do something fun today and she eagerly planted herself in the front seat of the truck at 6:30 am. I put her bed and water bowl in the boat and brought some food for both of us.
I launched at Basalt and started fishing and sonar searching to the west. I fished it all the way to Lone oak without a fish. Also, i didn’t see any fish on the sonor or livescope. it was very odd and I suspected that most of the stripers had retreated to deep water I even noticed some algae in the water. It must have gotten warm enough to generate some algae. The water was around 53 degrees in the lake. I’ve done better in the lake when there is a bit of algae in the water for some reason but I still hadnt touched a striper fro 7:30 to 10 am.
I decided to go fish the racks at the solonar peak around at 11:00. Len Bearden believed that there was a correlation between cows feeding on the shoreline and the striper bite. Well the cows were not eating but Kimmie liked watching and barking at them. Also she was really into watching Pelicans, When we got close to a bunch of them on an island, she went nuts. I dont think she has ever seen a bird that big close up. I pulled up to the racks on the south side and to my surprise my humminbird chirp sonar was filled with marks showing a HUGE school of fish. I thought it might be malfunctioning or it was picking up debris or algae. When I lowered the panoptix Livescope into the water, I saw the biggest school of fish I have ever seen on sonar and they were right up against the south tower wall of the trash racks from 15-40 feet and they were stationary. I thought they might be American Shad and decided to catch a couple before calling the guys over. You can see the shape and movement of the fins on a Livescope. I caught two nice 22 inch stripers in half a dozen casts and texted Steph “Banzai” which is our codeword for “Get your ass over here now….” They were fishing the trees and shoreline around cottonwood without much luck. After studying the sonar tapes, I think the schools were most likely shad. They seemed rounder, but then we were still catching lots of stripers casting to these schools. Maybe the stripers run with them. Ive seen them do that on the edges of shad schools.
It was fish catching for the rest of the day. Occasional lulls in the bite would occur even though I could see the fish still there. I did some fly changes to fix that. Also, the fish weren’t interested in a fast retrieve at all. I caught many fish just letting the fly twitch in the middle of the school. Sometime it had to sit there for 30 seconds before they would lightly suck it in. Both Vaughn and I hooked a few stripers on a non moving fly. I had a great day fishing a 40 second drop around the trash racks catching well over 20 stripers most over 20 inches using a size 1 yellow tan craft fur clouser with a #4 pulse disk on T-14. The pumps were not on today but they must be pumping out at some time since the lake is dropping. I know Steph and Vaught were into double digits as well. It was definitely a good start to the year and I know Kimmie really enjoyed herself on the lake, She was exhausted on the way home and she slept like a log all night.
Kimmie is a natural fishing dog. I was worried that she might think that fish were squirrels with fins but she only licked the first one and didn’t try to Sushi it. Kimmie is a “ratter”. She loves to hunt and kill squirrels for fun and she is good at it. In the boat, she was very observant and patient. She didn’t hide in her bed under the console, She was right on the rail while I fished looking into the water for something. She watched my casts hit the water and when I would hook a fish, her tail would start moving and she would go to the rail and wait for the fish to come up. I think she had a great time in the boat. I kept her hydrated and fed her snacks. When she got off the boat, she took a long piss right away. I think she was holding it. Good thing she took a dump before getting on the boat. I guessed we were out on the lake from 7:00 to 2:30 almost 8 hours and she drank about a bowl full of water.
The Panoptix Livescope was amazing today. It got to the point that it was so accurate at predicting a hookup that I didn’t even want to cast if I didn’t see a school to cast to. I even called a couple fish while fishing next to Vaughn, like Babe Ruth pointing to center field before knocking one out. I noticed that there were multiple schools that hung around the racks that would sometimes turn into one school. For most of the day, the schools would stay stationary. I always thought the schools were moving all the time. When they moved, they liked to rise and fall in the water column 30 to 40 feet at a time. The thing you can see with panoptix livescope are much different than chirp sonar or Hummingbird 360. The 360 unit was handy for showing me where to point the directional Livescope. At times the school would move behind the boat and I couild drop my backcast into them for a fish. Check out the HUGE schools of fish around the trash racks on the sonar.