Monday, April 2, 2012

early season bass..............

     The unseasonably warm weather has attracted an earlier than usual congregation of bass boats to the upper Mississippi river as of late. And spring fever hasn't been wasted on me, as a group of us decided that Saturday would be a good day to chase the green fish on the big river in a simple winner take all two boat contest. Rules are simple, biggest 5 bass wins, and the losers pick up the check for a late lunch. This would be a warm up for our annual Good Friday tournament, but a must win none the less. So Nate and I meant Terry and his son Ryan at the ramp around 7 am, quickly launched, and headed for our first spot.
     We've seen record highs in the last few weeks and the water temperature had ballooned to between 62-64 degrees. But a few cold, rainy, sunless days has driven the water temperatures down to the low 50's. Regardless, we dropped the trolling motor and a few casts into the wooded shoreline, we had our first fish. A dink caught on a Stanley vibrashaft spinner bait. Unfortunately, it would prove to be the only fish on this stretch of bank, so we quickly headed around the back side of the island where the water was deeper and has proven to hold early spring time bass. We quickly dissected the new shoreline with Bandit crankbaits and Stanley spinner baits and were just as quickly disappointed in the result. So an hour or so into our day, we had no keepers and a a pretty good chill going due to the wind and the 44 degree air temperature. We made a decision to go into a nearby bay that held fish in the late fall and early spring.
     As we entered the bay, I noticed we were not alone, as our competitors for the day were rounding the corner. Nate and I fished our way up to them and I couldn't resist asking how their morning was going. As much as I like to mess with my fishing buddy's, I expected to get the same in return, so I wasn't sure what to think when Terry said they had a good bag already anchored by a 3.89lb kicker. Hearing that, I quickly decided that honesty was probably the better plan so I told them we didn't have a keeper yet, and the news was recieved with cautious optimism. As Terry and Ryan headed to the back of the cove, we pounded the shoreline point with cranbaits, rattle traps, and jigs with our first keeper coming off a Rivers Edge custom jig with a Netbait trailer. This 2.07lb laregemouth would begin our comeback for the day. As our competition exited the back of the cove, we made our way into the back of the cove and Nates first cast with a weightless Sinko produced our second keeper of the day weighing 1.58lb. As we continued to catch fish, we never managed another keeper from this area and decided to head up river in search of some consistently larger fish.
     We hit a few spots on our way up river without much luck finally settling into a wooded shoreline leading to a backwater lake. Nate had been conistantly throwing a chatter bait while I was throwing a spinner bait. After about 50-75 yards up the bank, I'd been pulling in a few fish but Nate hadn't been bit yet. So he changed over to a white and metalic blue Stanley spinner bait and with the very first cast caught another of our keepers for the day. This proved to be the key for the rest of the day as we combed both shorelines tossing to every piece of wood we could find. We managed two solid fish in this stretch, a 2.73lb and a 2.34lb, and many between 1-1/2 and 1-3/4 lbs. As the time began to run out on our day, we made a quick run to another shoreline near the ramp with only short fish to show for it. So, our best efforts where going to have to hold up against our competition as we meant them at the ramp and loaded the boats.
     As it turned out, this frigged Saturday was more productive for our opponents than for us. Terry's assessment of their morning catch proved to be accurate as they amassed a 12.41lb bag anchored by Ryan's 3.89lb largemouth. Nate and I managed a 10.56lb bag with the 2.73lb fish being our largest of the day. Therefore, as the rules of the game dictate, we got the check for lunch, as we were filled in on how and where they caught their winning bag. It turns out the location versus the patterns and techniques proved to be the deciding factor for the day. Congratulations to Terry and Ryan for handing us the first, and hopefully only,  defeat of the season.

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