Monday, August 29, 2011

Frustrating morning at Busse

Waking up, my last fishing outing a complete bust, I was determined to prove my angling ability and catch some fish. I ate some cap'n crunch (he's a captain, right? couldn't hurt) drank some coffee, packed my gear, sprayed down with bug spray, and was off.

I got to Busse at 5:52am expecting to wait in line for the park ranger to open the gate, but to my surprise the gate was open. I headed in, seemingly the only car int he place. I made a beeline for the boat launch, and quickly unloaded, moved my car to a non-trailer parking space, and was in the water in 10 short minutes. The water was COVERED with geese, I mean every square yard of lake had a goose on it! It was pretty crazy.

As I was unloading, two pickups with small boats arrived and began their own unloading process. I talked fishing with one of the guys, who was clearly after some fish- he said he was going to be fishing for bass. From our conversation I wasn't sure if he fished Busse often, so I told him where I'd been catching bass and what I had been using.

I slid into the water, and the geese complained and grumbled like old guys who hadn't had their coffee yet. Or like me before my coffee. I was already around the bend, line in the water, before the other boats had even launched. It would be great to have a bass boat, but for now, I'm pretty satisfied with my quick-unloading and quick-launching S.S. Silent But Deadly.

I started working some downed timber just east of the boat launch with nightcrawlers and tubes. The second boat, a husband and wife, slowly made their way around the bend. I knew there *should* be fish in this wood, I just hoped the fish knew that.

Sure enough, it didn't take long to get a nice-looking but small bluegill in the boat. Hooray, I beat the skunk! I am a real fisherman after all! Hey, it's just a tiny gill, but a tiny gill at Busse is better than no fish on the Fox.

Not 50 yards from me, I hear a splash, and see that the man in the boat has a fish on. A nice big fish. He pulls it toward the boat, his wife gets the camera ready, and I hear him say "walleye." Walleye!!??? What!!?? The elusive walleye, one of the many species I've never caught, and this guy gets one RIGHT where I was JUST fishing, on his first cast there!!?? At BUSSE!!???!!??

I congratulate him, and ask him what he was using- he says a jointed rapala. I don't have one like that, so I bust out a shallow-diving crankbait, and cast in the area he caught the eye. (He and his wife had moved on by this point, so I wasn't fishing right where he was!)

After many hangups and treble hooks full of weeds, I decided to move on. I paddle accross the lake to some more sunken trees. I catch a few more little bluegill. I read a DNR report the other day about the numbers of bluegill in Busse; there are TONS of them, but very few are over 8" - which is the minimum size. The DNR people theorized that most people fishing for bluegill keep any over 8" and that accounts for the lack of larger bluegill. Seems fair to speculate that many bluegill under 8" are also kept.

At this point, I don't feel redeemed as a fisherman... Sure I can catch tiny bluegill, and yes it's great to catch fish, in a kayak no less, but let's get into some bigger fish please. I work my way along the shoreline, slowly paddling toward the Higgins Road bridge. I know it's deep in the middle there, and have heard recent reports of walleye being caught there. I lusted after some walleye. I was so jealous of that guy and his wife and their walleye.

I stop behind an island where the water is still and there are lots of weeds. This is exactly the kind of place where I caught some nice bluegill and those perch last weekend. I proceeded to catch more tiny bluegill. I did find a pretty awesome new lure though- a Hedon Torpedo, which will be nice addition to my tackle box, once I figure out how to fish it.

There were lots of birds in these trees
I fish the Higgins bridge channel for a while, throwing crankbaits, tubes, senkos, nightcrawlers, and nothing. Nothing except for more hangups. At this point I'm seriously frustrated. The wind was also picking me, making it more difficult to stay in one place in the yak. I know that's part of the whole kayak-fishing deal, but it was still frustrating.

I need to catch a nice fish. Even a nice sized bluegill, just something to redeem myself after the skunk-fest I had yesterday. I paddle over to the north dam, a place I've had a lot of luck this year.

Biggest landed fish of the AM...
Catching a few bluegill in the weeds, I hear a little kid talking non-stop across the bay. Looks like his dad is on the point, fishing for carp or catfish, getting his ear talked off. I think about how annoying that must be, he's trying to concentrate and catch some fish, but his kid is going on and on... I also think how nice it is he took his son fishing, and how much the son must love it to be talking this much. Fishing isn't just about catching fish, I tell myself, it's about the experience, and nature, and relaxation, and bonding... But seriously, the kid was talking a lot. I wondered if I eventually have a little kid and take him fishing, how I would deal with the rambling. But hey, he's just a kid! It's great he's so into it. Just because I'm super frustrated doesn't mean the kid isn't having a great time fishing!

Working my way around the shore, catching a few small bluegill, I head closer to the dam. The kid sees me, and heads toward me. With a nightcrawler, hoping for a fair-sized gill, I cast toward the shore. The kid casts about 3 feet to the left of my line. It's ok, he doesn't know any better... 

and then WHAM! Fish on! Something came up and engulfed my worm, and was now going crazy! This was a bigger fish than I'd been catching. I caught a glimpse near the surface, it was a largemouth. Hooray! Fish on!!

After a short fight, I worked him over to the kayak. Using my very bad estimation skills, I guessed he was about 12-14" long, and relatively chunky. A nice bass for anywhere, but especially Busse where skunk rules supreme! Awesome. This was great, I was going to land my first bass in the kayak, take a great picture, it would be my new facebook profile pic, I could share it all on the blog, and then PLOP.

He unhooked himself and swam back into the deep.

A foot from the kayak.

@&%$*@!!! Are you KIDDING me!!? In all my fishing inexperience, I haven't lost too many fish I've hooked- I like to think I'm pretty good at landing them once I've got'em... But this was a dark hour for me. It was hard to keep the tension as he was swimming toward the kayak, and it was a powerful tail movement that set him free. If only he had known I was going to set him free anyway! Maybe he would have obliged a quick photo.

I shouted (not profanity, mind you) and looked at the kid, who watched the whole thing. "Did you see that!!??" I asked. "yeah," he said. "Where did you get him?" I told him, and he immediately cast right there, about 10 feet in front of me.

As I was dealing with my intense grief of loosing such a nice fish, playing it over in my head, thinking what a great picture that would have made, that's when he started talking.

Again, I totally understand he's just a kid, and it's cool he's so into fishing (it's actually very cool), and I appreciate completely his desire to catch a big fish like the one I just lost... But at that moment, it was difficult for me to think of those things. All I could think of was the skunk fest I was deep into, and the very nice fish that I unintentionally released.

I answered his questions as calmly as I could, and tried my best to continue fishing and avoid crossing lines with the kid. I wanted that bass back. Real bad. I was on a mission- I didn't want to move, there was a big bass under the water somewhere right around here! The kid moved closer and closer to the kayak, until he was casting 3 feet away from the boat. I wondered how I could explain to him fishing etiquette, and how fishing right where somebody was isn't the best thing to do... But I didn't want to diminish his excitement for fishing by giving him a bunch of rules, so I didn't say anything.

A duck
After about a half hour, I wasn't going to catch my lost bass. I lost a few lures and hooks on the rocks and tree branches, and was getting more and more frustrated. I felt the way I used to feel on every fishing trip last summer, inept and inexperienced, unable to keep my line untangled, unable to keep a lure on for more then 3 or 4 casts. As much as I appreciated the kid's enthusiasm, I had to get out of there. I bid him farewell, and headed up the shoreline to another spot I knew to sometimes hold bass.

Turns out, that would be my one and only bass hookup for the day. I wondered if it "counted" to just hook into a beast, but I kept thinking "if there's no picture, it doesn't count." Then I thought, "if there's no picture, I can make it as big as I want!" That made me feel a little better. But seriously, blog reader, it was definitely at least 13", I promise. Or maybe it was closer to 22", about 4 pounds, probably more like that. It might have been a muskie. Yup, that's what it was.

On my way back to the boat launch, saw what looked like a white crappie floating at the top of the water. I got closer, and it looked alive. I picked it up, and righted it in the water. I moved it through the water to get some water through its gills, and it seemed to revive. Awesome! It swam down a little, but then quickly floated back to the top on its side. I felt bad, I wanted to help, but it seemed pretty messed up.

I paddled back, and found another lure- this one looked really cool and seemed like a deep-diving crankbait, which I didn't have yet. Cool! As I made my way, I thought of the day, and really was happy I at least caught some fish. And almost caught a monster bass. It wasn't so bad- I was outside, on the lake, in a kayak, on a beautiful day, enjoying the scenery and getting exercise, and was about to head home to my lovely wife and awesome dog. Not bad! Can't really complain.

Except about the one that got away, I could certainly complain about that, and unfortunately, my wife would have to listen to it.

I caught this hog this spring, t not far from where I lost the bass today...
I'll just assume the one I lost was at least as big

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