For the 15th consecutive year, I headed to the Big D for the annual WI gamefish Opener trip. With everything going on, this year was unique. Lake Lawn Lodge is shut down until about mid month, so alternate lodging was obtained. In respect to social distancing, I did not stay with anyone and no stops were made other them my room to the boat launch. It was a lonely existence, but I did have company most days.
Friday I started out solo in the late afternoon and was not encouraged with initial findings. About 4 inches of rain had fallen a few days prior and the water was cold, and clarity was bad in certain favorable areas I prefer to fish. I struck out for a couple hours trying to figure something out. I finally found some clear water and hooked 3 pike on 3 casts on a jerkbait. Not my intended target due to it only being catch and release bass season until Saturday, but it helped me score some easy fish later in the weekend. I checked some more bass spots out, but only 3 males for the rest of the evening. Ended up with 4 bass and 4 pike and hit the sack a little worried about the prospects for the weekend
Saturday I fished with WCF member AdamB and it was a slow start again. Luckily we got out of the public launch before the madness started. It appeared multiple tournaments were going on. Additionally I think people are so stir crazy they just want to get out of the house and do something. Add the fact of a 70 degree day and it was as busy as I have seen it in all my years. The scene of all the boats leaving the inlet reminded us of the scene from JAWS with all the yahoos trying there hand at catching the shark. We again struck out at familiar places we ALWAYS catch early fish. Finally we went to the jerkbait pattern and boated over 10 pike to 30 inches very quickly. When we found clean water on the deepest weed flats it was lights out. I saw a friend on the lake who gave us a tip for the bass which was basically fast baits in main lake shallow dirty water. We followed the advice and finally got on board with a few. With the water warming up we started checking our prespawn/spawning areas and picked away at them finesse fishing. Lots of quality 16-18 inch females were found staging just off the spawning grounds. The bad news was the wind was brutal and after running the trolling motor at practically full speed to hold in the wind all day, the batteries gave it up. We made the decision we would take a 2 hour break and I would charge up at the hotel while Adam went home and spent some time with the family. After all, it was his birthday! This happened to coincide with a weather prediction of an hour of rain. The outramps were at least 15 boats deep in each lane which meant well over an hour wait to get off the lake. It was a a shit show. Adam came up with an out of the box idea to charge the batteries on the lake which worked out well. I'll leave the details of that adventure for another time. After charging for a couple hours and enjoying our lunch on the boat, we returned to a rather empty lake. The bass bite was much more consistent as more fish had pushed up to the 2-3 foot depths that are so easily caught in. We beat on them until just about dark and decided to try for some walleye. I instantly hook into a large fish on a rattle bait that becomes unbuttoned at the boat just before being visable. I told Adam the only fish that pulls like that is a large pike (cue the foreshadowing). We fish for a half hour with no results before I finally hook up with a nice walleye that shakes off at the boat. I then look over at Adam and see his pole in the water. He reaches down to grab it and slides of the boat like a seal. I somehow manage to help him back in the boat and ask him what happened. He replies he had a fish hit so hard at the boat it ripped the rod out of his hands. He then proceeds to reel in a 34 inch pike. End of day 1. Final total 52 gamefish
Day 2 I am met by WCF Billy O. We again blank early for the 3rd day in a row at a traditionally prime spring spot. We switch to pike and once again the same jerkbait is on. Eventually we transition to bass and I figure out the jerkbait bite is on for the bass, only much shallower then the pike. As the day heats up we find lots of bass shallow on finesse baits, but today is mostly 15 inch males. We take a long lunch break and the bite is even better in the evening. We see lots of females moving up and chasing gills, but they are not committing to anything. We once again try for late walleye with only a 19 inch bass and nice pike to show for it. It went from 60 degrees and light winds to 45 degrees 20+mph winds like a light switch so we had to call it a little shorter then we wanted to. Final total 55 gamefish.
Monday I fished with my cousin Chris. I called him beforehand and told him not to bother coming before 9AM with the crappy weather forecast. Indeed, it would never get out of the 40's with heavy NE winds. We again struck out (this is 3 days in a row) at one of my favorite spots. We made a drift and junk fished the main lake and Chris surprisingly pulled in some real nice chatterbait fish while I got a few more nice bass on the jerkbait. Almost out of necessity due to the cold wind we looked super shallow for bass and found an area with 61 degree water temps. That did not make much sense, but the bass were there, and it was mostly nice females. We worked the area over and over and occasionally new fish would move in. By early afternoon we had about had it, but decided to try scout one more spot which was at least somewhat out of the wind. I had also fished this spot the previous 3 days with no success. We looked around for about 20 minutes without making a cast. The water was crystal clear, but no signs of life. Before heading out of the area I fired a long cast and hooked up with a decent bass. Next cast, same result. I hit spot lock while my cousin was hooking up. I fire a cast out while he is fighting the fish, and my plastic gets ripped on a tight line while just holding the rod. Holy shit, what is going on. 36 bass in 2 hours and we ended on a double. Big fish of the trip was had with a 20.5 inch prespawn female. I was perplexed by the whole thing until I later talked to WCF Legend Coyote. He was fishing a completely different area of the lake, which happened to be the aforementioned spot I had not had 1 fish at for three days in a row. During the same bite window he absolutely wrecked the bass in that spot. One of those rare times we are lucky enough to be on the water to experience something special like that I guess. Final total of 62 gamefish.
Weekend total 175 gamefish.
Overall a weird but very fun weekend. I much prefer staying at at Lakelawn, using a private launch, eating good food, and hanging out with friends off the water as well. The last few years have seen hundred and even two hundred fish days, but there is a certain satisfaction to grinding things out discovering different things in tough conditions. No surprise, the stud bait was once again wacky rigged plastics fished on light tackle. If there is one tip I can give, it is to go as light and with as little hardware as possible when using this technique in shallow water. The slower the fall the more fish will see and contact the bait. Next in line were Clacking Minnows, Xraps, Ripping Raps, and various chatterbaits.
Enjoy the fish porn. Most of the fish pictures are of me, but my partners caught plenty of fish which are on their own phones.
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