Visited Lake “W” the other day

Choosing to continue the charade of never mentioning the name of the lake that shall remain nameless. But I went fishing there the other day. Had a great day too, despite the heat and the bright sunshine.

The lake level was down about 18″ from what I think of as normal summertime pool. Surface temp at 6:15am was flirting with 84 degrees. By noontime, it would be 85-plus in the shallows. Clarity seemed normal, and while the weed cutter didn’t come out while I was there, its presence and the abundance of floating weed fragments suggested that there’s been quite a bit of chopping going on, That fact eventually helped me develop a productive pattern. But we’ll get into that a bit farther along.

I started out as I normally do, fishing the weed edge along the lake’s main drop-off. I started alternating between my “heavy duty” drop shot setup (Stiffer spinning rod, 20# braid, 10# fluoro leader, 6″ worm on a #1 VGB Drop Shot hook, but still with my usual 1/4 oz Bakudan weight) and a Texas Rigged Ozmo. If it sounds like I expected to catch them in or around the veggies, that’s because that is exactly where I thought I’d catch them. My first fish was a decent one that came on a cast that did in fact land within a couple feet of the outside weed edge. But the next half-hour or so produced only a few undersized largemouth.

Picked up the standard DS rig (Lighter action rod, 10# braid with a 6# Fluoro leader, 4.5″ Ribster, #2 VGB Drop Shot hook and the same 1/4 oz Bakudan weight.) Didn’t move too far off the drop, but enough that my casts roughly parallel to it were landing in 15 to 18 feet of water instead of 8 to 10. Still caught mostly barely legal and nearly legal largemouth, but started picking up a few better quality fish in the mix. Some of them were much better quality.

Every now and then I’d keep ’em honest with a foray closer to or into the vegetation, or to hit specific, trditionally high-percentage targets (laydowns, boulders, etc.) in shallower water. Those forays proved pretty much to be exercises in futility. I was noticing scattered fish, usually a foot or two off bottom, in that 15 to 18 foot depth range, whether I was near a drop-off or not, and ended up catching quite a few fish from that depth range on areas with no real drop off, just a slow, sloping bottom. Admittedly though, all my better quality fish save one, came adjacent to well defined breaklines.

All my efforts on the flats between the outside edge of the weeds and the shoreline proved pretty much fruitless, and with the mats of floating vegetation fragments to deal with, frustrating as well. With the water level down, it was a lot easier than normal to locate and I.D. the few large rocks on the shallow flats, but it also turned out to be a waste of time to cast to them. At one point, I decided to fish what I consider to be the best pad bed in the lake. After 15 minutes of nothing happening on a frog, I picked up the flipping stick, and started to target small pockets near the outside edge of the pads. When I realized that my 3/4 oz bullet weight and creature bait were sinking less than a foot on each drop, I pretty much put thoughts of fishing shallow away for the rest of the day. I really got the feeling that between the low water level, the high water temp and the apparent recent weed mowing, an awful lot of the better sized bass (and perhaps even many of the midgets) had relocated to deeper haunts, so I committed to the drops and the basin. And it paid off.

Ended the day having caught about 30 bass, five of which were better than average sized fish — 2-1/2 to 4-1/2#. One came on a jig, one ona a creature bait, and all the rest on the drop shot. Felt like I was getting more bites on a Grapevine Ribster than my usual Motor Oil Pepper, but they both got chewed regularly. Also caught 3 or 4 bluegill, and one each of yellow perch, crappie, rock bass, bullhead and pickerel.