October 14 & 16, 2022. My dear friend Dorothy Zinky can still cast a shooting head at 92. We got a rare chance to fish together this past weekend and despite my pessimism about the forebay after last weeks big zero day, we decided to scout around and see if maybe things had changed. To make things worse, there was a full moon Thursday night. We launched onto the forebay around 9:00 with about a dozen boats out. The wind was calm and bait was working everywhere but no fish were working them. I had Dorothy cast a clouser off the dock while I put the trailer away thinking we could probably catch some fish right around the dock. All I wanted to do on Friday was to get Dorothy on a couple good stripers but that wasn’t going to happen on Friday.
Like the week before, I really used the sonar to its limits to find us some working stripers. There were huge schools of bait almost everywhere we looked but it seemed that the fish were either too full to chase a fly or they had fed all night and were resting. I was hoping for a later bite but that never materialized. We fished the rock walls, the flats, the trench, the powerhouse and everything in between from 9 to noon without even a touch.
Lee Haskin was there with his club on a fishout. I watched them fish with the binoculars and nobody seemed to be on them from 9:00 to Noon. I also kept a close watch on the FlyCore guys. It seemed like the fish sere napping. I didn’t see a single fish caught all morning so at noon, I decided to go back to the Big Lake since I was pretty confident that I could put Dorothy on a smaller striper off the shoreline there. Last week it was pretty automatic for dinks and we still would have shots at bigger fish as well. I went back to the south shorelines that had green weeds. I think the green shorelines are near springs which might attract bait fish. As we worked the shorelines, we could see fish busting on the surface right at the shoreline as the boat pushed the bait there. I got Dorothy on a couple of fish working the shallows and then at 3PM we went to the trash racks and also got skunked there. Before fishing the racks, I cruised around it with the Panoptix and there were no fish around them at all We ended up with half a dozen non keeper stripers for the entire day. It was an unproductive day but for the company. Dorothy was great company and I love fishing with her. She loves to fish and catching is just extra. Maybe when we all reach 90, It’s not about the fish any more. I’ll let you know in 25 years.
I talked to Vaughn and Steph on Saturday about how slow it was on the forebay and lake. Vaughn sent me a video that was shot the previous wednesday evening right before dark of fish working bait on the surface all over the lake . It was insane. It sure wasn’t anything like that three days later or maybe the fish only feed this time of year at daybreak or sunset. I haven’t fished at daybreak or till closing for years. One October weekend, I think Ill camp at basalt and fish till dark. This amazing video was enough to make me go again on Sunday. I tend to fish differently when I’m alone especially when I’m trying to figure things out. Lots of fly changes and watching on the Panoptix how fish are reacting to my retrieved and fly.
Sunday started out exactly like Friday–not a single bite all morning. I spent some time watching other fishermen hoping it was just me and that there might be a chance to “figure it out” and save the day. I trolled flies and even cast some jerkbaits and rubber jigs at sonar fish with not even a bump. Just when I thought it couldn’t get worse, the wind started to pick up and by noon there were whitecaps. I tried fishing long drifts across the channel all the time looking for fish on the sonar with no luck. At noon I got so frustrated that I decided to troll an umbrella rig and Fly core a second rod. The 49r game I was watching was in its last quarter and I decided that I would troll across the middle of the forebay till the game was over and leave humiliated (just like the Niners after Marcus Mariota owned them) . I trolled for an hour by the time the game ended without a fish and I was ready to quit when I noticed on the 2D sonar a huge school of fish sitting on the bottom in 30 feet of water right under the boat. There were whitecaps rolling on the forebay and I anchored the best I could up wind from the school that surprisingly was hunkered down on the bottom not moving. Maybe the whitecaps disguise the boat and fish tend not to be as easily spooked by the boat positioning. In the next two hours I caught a dozen good fish, slow stripping a size 2 yellow clouser on the bottom with a T14 OBS, taking long pauses and twitching the fly. The bite turned on at 1:30 (Solonar Peak!) and I was catching half a dozen fish an hour when I “paid the price” for the change in luck. As I was getting a pulling lesson from a fish, my Iphone slipped out of my shirt pocket, hit the boat deck carpet and bounced end over end into the water. For a second, I almost dove in and then I considered stripping and diving for it in 20 feet of water. Then I remembered I was 65 years old and figured out it wasn’t worth it and it’s time for an upgrade. I didn’t feel like fishing much after that as phone separation anxiety set in. The last two hours of the day was worth it. Maybe next week I should sacrifice something earlier.
The forebay is definitely good . It’s just a matter of staying out there long enough to figure it out.