Should have Fished the Boat Ramp

Sunday November 26, 2023  –  It’s quite amusing how one often assumes that the best fishing spots are out in the middle rather than where they initially set out. This morning, I launched my boat at Cottonwood onto ONeill Forebay, while there was a frenzy of fish activity right under and around my moored boat. Just as Vaughn and Bobby V had described, there were baitfish swarming around the dock, much like the scene from yesterday.

Vaughn’s report for the forebay yesterday morning didn’t offer much promise, and he ended up heading to the lake later in the day. However, there were fish aggressively chasing after bait around the dock, and some people were even catching minnows to use as bait. Despite the presence of five anglers fishing around the dock, using flukes and live bait, only one striper was successfully caught.

I decided to launch and fish at the north end of the lake, where I had a good outing two weeks ago. Strangely, there were no birds actively feeding today. It’s possible that the full moon and the colder weather had driven the fish deeper, making them less active. Water temperatures were hovering around 58 degrees.

I located some groups of fish sitting on the bottom in about 15 feet of water. Working these fish with short, rapid strips and long pauses seemed to entice them towards the fly. I was careful to cast only where I spotted fish on the Livescope and managed to sight fish a couple of them after leading them ten seconds to get to depth and stripping through them while watching them line up behind the fly. These fish weren’t aggressively chasing bait and had to be teased and persuaded to hit.

I explored various spots, including the rock walls, the powerhouse, the 152 trench, and the middle of the forebay, in search of larger schools of fish, but I couldn’t find more than six fish together, and they showed little interest in eating. Surprisingly, a third of the fish I caught today were in very shallow water, right by the shoreline. It seems that hungry stripers actually patrol the shoreline, looking for bait in these shallow areas.

In hindsight, I have no regrets about choosing to fish the forebay today instead of heading to Check 12. Catching a fish or two every hour through sight fishing with the Livescope felt almost like walking the flats of Christmas Island searching for elusive ghosts and shadows. In retrospect, I might have had a better day fishing around the boat launch this morning instead of heading out to Check 12.

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