Call it global warming if you will, but this has to be the earliest I have ever been able to get out on my kayak with it actually being comfortable outside! I honestly couldn’t have asked for better weather my first weekend out (still during winter) with the new NuCanoe Pursuit and luckily the fish were active and biting!
I hustled the entire week leading up to the weekend getting everything set up and ready to go. Kayak, depth finder, rods, reels, etc. all checked and rechecked before Saturday’s outing. I had to stop by the local Walmart as well to pick up my 2017 Illinois fishing license and water usage stamp as I forgot that the water usage stamp expired on 12/31. Luckily it was painless and I was able to walk out within 10 minutes which usually never happens.
Saturday morning I loaded up everything and was out the door by 6:20 AM. Got to a local lake to find the parking lot empty…which is always nice! The lake was wide open and I rushed to get everything together to get on the water. First mistake out of the gate though was not taking the time to set up my new Humminbird Helix 7 unit before getting on the water. If you buy a new depth finder….always take the time to learn a bit about it and get some settings dialed in beforehand. It can be a pain and wastes precious fishing time having to do it on the water. I’ll be taking the next few weeks to dive into it more when I can to get it all set up properly. Need to start dropping waypoints and mapping lakes!
I started throwing a lipless crankbait first thing that morning and had a bite within the first 30 minutes. Of course I was asleep at the wheel and not prepared as I haven’t felt a bass bite a lure in probably 3 months. Had it on for two seconds and it spit the hooks out. Second bite though I connected on and got in the boat. Since I finally had one in the boat I took the chance to weigh it on my new Connect Scale that came in last week. I had been eyeing this scale for the longest time and saw that it was on sale, so I picked it up to have for the weekend. Props to the team there at Connect Scale…the transaction was awesome and they sent updates through Facebook messenger which was pretty cool! Anyway…with this new scale I am able to link it to my phone and keep track of weights throughout the day…pretty refreshing as opposed to using the bump board honestly. The Connect Scale app gives me exact gps coordinates where I caught my fish, logs pictures, air temperature, water temperature, lake info, etc. Should be a very handy tool keeping track of stats the rest of the season!
The bite was spotty the remainder of the day as I hit my usual spots on the lake. I ended up with 8 fish with my best 5 totaling around 10-11 pounds. No giants by any means but I will take 8 fish any day when the water is between 40-42 degrees. A lipless crankbait and a texas rigged beaver bait with a ¼ ounce tungsten bullet weight from Swagger Tackle caught all of my fish. I wrapped it up about noon and went to lunch with some friends that met up with me at the lake. Great day for sure and the weekend was still not over yet!
On Sunday I had planned on making the long trek down to Coffeen Lake with a bunch of Kayak Bass League members and to meet up with some local kayak anglers from Central Illinois. We decided a couple days prior to have a little impromptu tournament to make things a little more interesting. The drive down was pretty hairy with the heavy fog that set in and continued even when I reached the lake. There was another boat tournament of about 30-35 boats assembling as we were getting ready so we were all nervous with the safety aspect of fog plus boats running down the main portion of the lake. So we went over some ground rules and decided it was best to hug the shoreline until we could get some visibility. Thank God I had installed those SuperNova Fishing Lights on my kayak! I kept on asking the other kayakers I was with if they could easily see me through the fog with them on and they all said they could see them well! I didn’t have my Yakattack Visipole with me as an additonal light on my kayak but honestly I don’t think you would have seen the white light as well as the neon green lights through the fog as it is.
At least the lights were working on the boat…can’t say the same for my Humminbird Helix unit. Brand new unit and it wouldn’t turn on…come to find out the power button and other buttons were sticking on me. So the entire day I was without sonar and GPS which would have been a huge help with the fog as well! Oh well, still had to make the best out of it.
The rest of the day I was pretty much shooting blind but I was clued into what the fish were doing after I saw another angler catch a few small bass. I asked if I could make a few casts in the same area and he explained the lake a little bit to me…big thanks to him for that! I was dragging a beaver style bait on a texas rig in the same area he was fishing without any bites. Could feel the bottom composition easily as I was dragging over small pebbles and shells on almost a clay like bottom. Some sparse grass mixed in as well.
I decided to switch up to a craw imitation bait instead of the beaver, and that’s when I started getting bit. My luck though I only had one bag of these baits with me so I had to use them sparingly. Some fish were super aggressive and picking up the bait on the fall, while some were just nipping at it. Of course in either case I would set the hook and both claws would be ripped off the bait rendering the craw pretty much useless. Thankfully at least one claw was spared on some of them and they still caught fish with only one appendage! Lol!
The pattern continued to develop throughout the day and I was getting bit more consistently. Lots of small fish but I did find a few areas where I picked up four fish in the 14-15 inch range. Then finally I rounded out my limit of five for our mini tournament with a 13 incher. The rest of the fish were squeakers in the 9-11 inch range. I probably caught 20 fish throughout the morning so all in all it wasn’t a bad day. The pattern was pretty much dragging the craw in 4-6 feet of water off of main lake points parallel to the shore. There were a lot of boats from the other tournament dragging baits perpendicular to the shore and not getting bit, and I would come in and pick off a few that they missed. If the point had a brush pile or wood off of it…it was even better! I had probably 72” for five fish so I couldn’t complain.
We weighed in at the end and I had one of four limits between the 11 of us that came out to fish the lake. Biggest limit was 81.25” so I fell short of taking home the win. Just no big bites to be found in the areas I was fishing.
Rod/Reel setup for my texas rig…
Kistler Magnesium II 7’ 3” Heavy/MH X-Fast (my texas rig rod)
Daiwa Zillion TWS 7.3
Seaguar Red Label (20 pound test)
¼ oz tungsten bullet weight (unpegged) from Swagger Tackle
4/0 EWG hook from Gamakatsu
A big shout out to all of the guys that came out to fish on Sunday! You guys were all extremely helpful and welcoming…I appreciate it! I’ll definitely be back down again to fish with all of you. 1 new lake down and 28 bass in the kayak so far this year…were off to a great start!