Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Big Busse Bass

Thanks to NATO, I ended up enjoying a four day weekend. Friday and Monday work was closed due to the big hullabaloo, which gave me plenty of time for fishing. Friday I hit a variety of waters, Saturday and Sunday we camped (and I caught that giant 28"+ drum) and Monday I had a hankering for some kayak fishing. Exhausted from camping and hiking, Claire and I both were asleep before our heads hit the pillows Sunday night... but my alarm was set for 4:30 am.
When I wake up at 4, usually it takes about 30 seconds for me to remember why the hell I'm awake at 4 in the freaking morning... Then I remember, run downstairs to make coffee, then head back upstairs to get dressed. Yes, that's right, I make coffee before I put clothes on. Priorities.

I loaded the kayak, waders, wading boots, paddles, rods, and all other gear in record time. (Keep in mind it takes me at least one full cup of coffee to be coherent at all, so I always have to allow time for that to happen.) I arrived at Busse at exactly 5:23am, sipping my coffee and pleasantly surprised to see the gate open. I rolled in, unpacked, loaded the yak, and was in the water in a few short minutes.

The kayak
Why did I choose Busse, the water that keeps skunking? I suppose I could have kayaked the Fox, or some other body of water, but I really like kayaking at Busse. In some ways I know that water the best, I've fished it more than any other (except maybe the retention pond), and I have a special love/hate relationship with it.

In the past, I usually fished my usual spots when I was in the kayak. This time, I decided to fish primarily spots that are inaccessible to shore fishing, capitalizing on the fact I was in a kayak. As I began paddling, the sun began to rise and I noticed the water was extremely clear. Usually there is only a few inches of visibility in this water, but today I could see almost to the bottom. I don't know what caused the drastic change, but I sure enjoyed it.

I paddled, fished, paddled, fished some more, every now and then drinking my coffee and eating trail mix. The other reason I chose Busse is because I really wanted to go kayaking, the fishing was only something to do while kayaking. It didn't really matter if I caught any fish, and I didn't really expect to.

I worked my way along shorelines, throwing many different lures. Being able to see the bottom, the weeds, the structure; it was amazing. Usually Busse's water is like chocolate milk, but today it was more like lemonade. Out of the corner of my eye I saw some movement, got out of the kayak to fish (I was wearing waders) and was soon surrounded by tons of little bluegill. None of them would bite, and neither would any bass hiding nearby hoping for a bluegill snack.

I kept moving, following the shoreline. All of the sudden I noticed there was a steep dropoff, many weeds, and suddenly a giant bass calmly swam under my kayak headed for deeper water. Whoa! I cast out my 3" tan tube jig in it's general direction, and immediately the bass swallowed it up. Fish on!

This was my second largemouth bass in the kayak, and it was a big one. It fought me with pure force. Headshakes, topwater splashes; it tried to swim under my kayak. Somehow I managed to keep it hooked and bring it close to the kayak where I could lip it. Filled with adrenaline and excitement, I quickly took a few pictures and placed it back in the water. With a powerful tail thrust it covered me in water. Serves me right!

Busse bass!
That was awesome. It was the first largemouth I'd successfully landed in the kayak- the other one (at Busse a few months ago) threw the hook when I couldn't keep the tension.

Then I saw a school, more like a swarm of little tiny fish slowly swimming in a circle. I'd google image searched this before, I was pretty sure it was a bunch of fry (baby fish). Suddenly I felt horrible; did I catch the mom bass while she was supposed to be watching the kids?

But wait, I thought the males guarded the nests... And the little fish didn't really look like bass at all. Either way, I was happy the big female got away perfectly fine. Only out of the water for about a minute, she swam away immediately.

I let the wind push me along the shore, my polarized sunglasses revealing all kinds of cool stuff in the water. The normally hidden branches, weeds, holes, dropoffs. rocks, moss, and even tons of little bluegill were easily visible to me. Then I noticed what I was positive were spawning beds. I'm not entirely sure what they look like, but they were clearly areas where something had cleared away debris and made little round indentations in the gravel and sand.

Reading reports lately, there seems to be some disagreement on whether one should fish bass beds or not. Obviously, messing with the females- the ones in charge of making the eggs- could be detrimental to the bass population. On the other hand, I've had a very hard time getting them to bite the few times I've seen them literally on their beds. I decided to keep fishing, although perhaps I'll be scorned by other fishermen...

Soon after the first, I hooked into another beast! This one was even bigger, even stronger, and went straight for deep water. That helped my hookset tremendously, and I carefully brought her aboard and admired the fine specimen of a bass.

Number 2! I guessed around 20 inches, at least
I thought of all those times I'd been to Busse and left without even a bite... when all along, these fish are in there. Big bass; big, fickle bass. Maybe it's the kayak, maybe most largemouth anglers don't throw tubes, maybe it's because I was way off the beaten path. Either way, I was having a thoroughly fun Monday morning.

Almost immediately I hooked into another one, about the same size. I got it to the boat, and noticed the hook was barely in the lip. As I reached over to lip her, the bass exerted her considerable strength and threw the hook. Fair enough, I'm still going to count it as "caught." I'll just call it a "self-release" a la Ken G.

I kept fishing, kept watching the water, kept learning about what's under the surface at Busse. It was amazing. I didn't know how long the clear water would last, but I wanted to get everything I could out of it before it went back to chocolate milk. I found an area close to shore where there must have been fifty bluegill darting around. None of them looked particularly big, but it certainly looked like they were on spawning beds. I didn't know whose beds though... were the bluegill raiding bass beds? Were the bluegill themselves spawning? I didn't know. Still don't know. Need to learn more.

Spawning beds?
Nothing very interesting happened after that... I found some lures. Cleaned up some fishing line and trash. I saw a dead crappie, which was sad to see but enlightening, as I'd never caught a crappie at Busse before. Apparently they're in there. Farther down the shore I saw a dead carp. Neither fish had any obvious wounds, I wondered how they kicked the bucket.

After a really great time on the water with some fish I can definitely be proud of, I headed back to shore. In a few short minutes the boat was back on my car, my gear in the trunk, and I was on the way to lunch with the wife. A great Monday morning.

1 comment:

  1. Nice Chris, that is where it is at right there. Those could be Bluegill beds, after the fry hatch even the males leave, it was probally some shad or some other fry.


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