“Whoever is controlling the weather has this bitch on shuffle…”

Saturday March 16, 2024 – I seized one last opportunity to fish the lake before my departure for Charleston, where I’d be meeting my new grandson, River William O’Hara, for the first time. The weather forecast had promised a favorable day until about 12 hours prior when uncertainty loomed over whether the wind would disrupt the lake or render stand up fishing exceedingly uncomfortable. Nevertheless, I had committed to taking Dan Blanton out, knowing it might be a month before I could do so again. Vaughn and Bob Valco, known as “the weatherman,” were also set on hitting the lake, which gave me some reassurance.

Setting out from Dino at 9:00 am amidst 14 mph winds cutting across the lake toward the Bay of Pigs, I tried to maintain optimism, knowing Vaughn and Bob would be out there too, with over 20 boats launching alongside us.

Skimming across the waves, initially, I felt hopeful that the wind would soon relent. However, as we neared the Bay of Pigs, the waves surged larger, propelled by 15mph winds.  I found it impossible to stand on my casting platform  and decided to position the boat for Dan and work the rocks till the wind died or we did.    Despite the challenging conditions, Dan’s eagerness to fish spurred me on. We decided to drift along the Dam  targeting Stripers cruising the shoreline for food.  The increased water levels from last week offered a new challenge, shifting the fish from their usual spots. Dan managed to catch five fish despite the choppy waves and challenging conditions. Of the 20 boats I saw at the launch,  only two ventured across the lake to fish the down wind shoreline.   I figured maybe they were all in Portugese bay catching fish .   I texted Vaughn only to find out he chickened out and was sitting at home wishing us luck.   Alas, we were on our own.

By 11:00 am, the wind had subsided, allowing me to stand on the bow platform and cast more comfortably. We picked up a couple more fish near Guardrail before deciding to explore the trash racks area, where other boats were attempting to baitfish without much success.  one boat had 5 people and what looked like 10 rods .   It was “limit the family out” day at the racks.

Opting to fish the north end of the dam wall, we found success similar to the previous week. We settled into a rhythm, catching fish regularly over the next hour by repeating the same route.

Despite our efforts to locate schools of fish off the shorelines, we only managed to catch one fish from a school we located with Livescope in the Bay of Pigs.    The sonars were useless today.  Considering the conditions, we still were able to wrap up the day with a dozen fish, all over 18 inches but notably, all were lean skinny fish.  Dan got the big fish of the day topping out at about 7 lbs.   The warming water was around  57 degrees but  hadn’t triggered spawning behavior as expected yet,

I initially thought Vaughn and Bobby were joining us today , only to discover Vaughn had wisely decided to cancel after reviewing the morning’s wind report. Had it not been for my commitment to Dan, I might have reconsidered too. Thankfully, luck was on our side, and the day turned out to be surprisingly good for March. Plus, spending the day reminiscing with Dan Blanton made it all the more enjoyable.  It hard to believe that between the two of us,  we have over 100 years of combined experience on these waters having both fished them since the 70’s .  And yet we still suck occasionally.

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