Sunday, March 18, 2012

let it begin.......

     I cannot remember a St. Patrick's day weekend where I had opportunity to spend an afternoon on the water with 80 degree air temperatures and between 62-64 degree water temperatures. With the expectation of getting on the water on Sunday, I spent Saturday getting all the yard work (possibly a bit premature), out of the way so I had zero guilt spending Sunday on the water. It was everything I hoped it would be with the exception of a 15-25 mph south wind which at times created issues with boat control. Regardless, it was great to be on the water and getting my Rivers Edge custom made jig hammered by some hungry largemouth bass.
     Immediately upon dropping the trolling motor I was surprised to see the water temperatures hovering around 62 degrees. I expected 55 degrees or less, but regardless, I almost immediately found eager fish. I crossed over a small channel and into 6'-8' of water with a slopping rock and wood bank. I started throwing a medium diving Chartreuse Bandit crankbait but after about a dozen casts, decided to slow down and throw a jig. It was roughly 3-4 flips into the bank before the first 1.9lb largemouth thumped the jig in about 5' of water. It was a nice way to start the day and shake off the winter rust. I continued to pitch to the shoreline slowly working the jig along the bottom back to the boat. By the calendar date, I would assume the bass would still be in deeper water, but since the water temperature was so high this early in the spring, I didn't want to rule out the bass moving shallower. It was another 20 yards or so before my next fish, a small dink that bit in 2' of water or less near a rock covered bank. Not two casts later another solid 1.7lb largemouth ran off with the jig almost directly under the boat in about 8' of water. So at this point I'd caught fish at three different depths, so decided to continue working the jig with a Net Bait brown and orange craw trailer completely back to the boat. 
     As the wind continued to howl across the water, I decided to go back over the 200 yard stretch I'd caught fish on and change jig colors to give the bass another menu option. However, I hadn't even turned the boat around and caught another 1.5lb bass off a large laydown I'd thoroughly fished not 2 minutes before. So, I decided not to switch jig colors and fished up the bank to wear I'd began. This proved to be good move as I managed to catch two other fish along the way roughly the same size as I'd caught over the past hour. 
     I decided there was one more rocky point I'd seen a 3+lb largemouth caught on last year early in the spring. The sun had been on the rocks all day and the water depth was 2'-4' around the point entering a shallow spawning bay. As I reached the point, I was torn between a swim jig, a shallow crankbait, or the jig in which I'd caught all my fish on to this point. So I decided to stick with the jig, and it paid off. A couple casts onto the rocks and I set the hook on a 2.35lb largemouth that was already in mid season form with the fight he put up.  
     It was a great ending to a surprisingly productive afternoon on the water in early March. I hope the weather continues to hold its pattern and the fish continue to cooperate this early in the year. 

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Why I do what I do..........

    When I'm asked how I became so passionate about fishing, the answer is always the same. But to be honest, I never get tired of answering the question. My grandparents owned a home in Harpers Ferry, Iowa and I spent almost my entire summer on the Mississippi river from age three on up. With a guide like my grandfather, I had the luxury of being asked what I would like to fish for that day. And as a youngster, my answer would vary from bobber fishing live bait for bluegills and crappies, to throwing big spoons and giant Mepps spinners for northern pike. But it didn't take long before I discovered that bass fishing, specifically the wide variety of baits to fish them with, grabbed my attention, and started a passion that hasn't let go to this day. I cannot truly express the gratitude I have for all the time and patients my grandfather showed me. I can only hope to follow in his foot steps and teach my children the simple joys of fishing, and hopefully install in them a life long passion for spending time on the water.
     My daughter Kennedy (9), and my son Grant (5) have been around the world of bass fishing by default. Listening to dads stories, viewing pictures, and coming to weigh in's has exposed them to tournament fishing and to dad's competitive nature. I cautiously view this as a positive, simply because I want them to experience fishing for the simplicity that it is. I remember Kennedy's first really fishing trip to the river, in which she simply couldn't keep her line in the water because the bluegills where bitting so quickly it was only a matter of dropping the line in the water. I was thrilled as a father to watch her smiling face as she kept pulling bluegills out of the water, showing the same suprized expression every time she caught one. To add contrast to this story, I can remember Grants first trip fishing as being a dull waiting game with few bites and no fish. As a parent I was robbed of the joyful expressions I expected to see in Grants face, and was left reassuring him that fishing doesn't always mean you will be catching. Needless to say, I didn't have Grant running to the vehicle the next time I said, "hey lets go fishing".
     But that is what the simply joy of fishing is. Not seeing the whats under the water, not knowing if you will catch any fish that day, the size, the species, ect. Just hoping for a good day on the water was enough for me as a child and I hope that is enough for my children as they continue to grown and develop as individuals. As a parent, I have always embraced technology and the educational properties inherent in today's electronic world. So in my quest to expose my children to the world of fishing, I have used this to my advantage on the water and at home. The other aspect of fishing that echos today's culture, is the competitive nature inherent in our children's lives. I'm not one who shy's away from competition, in fact, i'm actually a proponent of it. I believe the challenges that come with competition bring out traits and character in people they never knew they had. But competition at an early age is a delicate thing, that needs to be monitored. That's why I don't let them see me get too high when i do well in a tournament, and I don't get too low when i do not do well in a tournament.
     It's comforting to see all the friends I have in the bass fishing tournament community talking from time to time about taking their children out chasing the little green fish, or fishing in general. I see more and more father and son/daughter teams on the various tournament series and open tournaments around the upper Mississippi river valley. I'm anxious to expose my daughter and son to the bass tournament world, but want to keep in mind why I fell in love with fishing in the first place. If they have that foundation to build on, they can pursue anything they want on the water, as long as it brings them the same joy and satisfaction that I get from our sport every time out.