09 April 2011

A Whole Lotta' Firsts

Today was the first outing for the Mitzi Skiff in 2011, and what a fine outing Cody and I had!  We had heard several weeks ago that Lake Athens was chalking up a nice White Bass spawn, so we decided to give it a try.  Lake Athens was a new destination for us, so we talked with the gentleman in the Marina.  Unfortunately, he told us the fishing was very slow and a few Crappie were being caught on the beds in about 5 - 6 feet of water and that was it.  We talked about going next door to the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center Outdoor Fools Day or sticking with fishing Athens.  Decision made, Cody and I studied their map and chose a cove that would buffer us from those SSW 19 mph winds and headed off.  (I really am despising these frequent, high winds!)

With the high winds, we left the smaller rods in the car.  Cody chose to take his TFO TiCrX 7# and St. Croix 4#, both rigged with sinking lines.  I chose my brand new TFO 7# Professional rigged with Orvis' 300 grain Depth Charge line on my brand new Nautilus NV Reel, and my CfR 5# rigged with Jim Teeny CfR floating line.  (I finished building my 7# back in January, but every time we planned a trip, bad weather interfered.)  I was tyring out my new fly, bream pattern, in lake waters to see if the results I experienced on the small ponds would hold true.  New lake, new rod, new reel, new line, new fly--WHEW! the pressure was definitely on!

Okay, I know everyone says front-of-the-boat is best, but when Cody and I fish, our little Mitzi Skiff has a polling platform, and it's easy to spot the fish from there, and when your feet tire, you can sit and fish.  When you're up front, stand, stand, stand is all there is and it's a hard surface.  As a result, we like back-of-the-boat fishing.  I drew the short straw and got the front. 

Like all other Texas water bodies right now, the lake level was down about 4 - 5 feet.  We hit a cove and struggled with the headwind, but we did see lots of Spotted Gar and some Largemouth Bass, who were too spooked to take anything we would offer.  We worked our way across to another cove, and Cody Bell had FishOn! his 4#.  That 1.75# bass loved his CodyBugger!  The fish was healthy and fought hard.  Some pressure had been relieved.  The cove was active but shallow, so I switched to my floating line with our Bonefish Bitter pattern.  I tried to catch a gar and had several lookers and one chaser but no fish.  Most of the bass we saw were hovering near beds, so we didn't pester them.

The wind died down to a reasonable 10 mph, and so we wind-drifted along the shore using the drift sock to help keep us aligned and fine business was had.  I really got to work my rod and Orvis Depth Charge line, and let me say I am in love.  It is a smooth line that really loads the rod well, and it does not feel like I'm throwing a 300 grain line.  A backcast, a double-haul, and line just slips through the guides.  Now, when it hits the water, it sinks every bit like a 300 grain should.  I have sinking lines and sink tip lines made by Rio and Scientific Angler, but from here on out, it is definitely Orvis Depth Charge that I will choose. 

In my rods, I like medium action.  I want to feel a tug on the back cast and have some time between forward and backwards motions.  Cody let me cast his TFO Professional last year, and I really loved the feel, so that is what prompted me to build 6, 7, and 9 weight rods from that TFO line.  The 6# debuted at Unalakleet, Alaska, and so now, the 7# needed its debut.  Knowing that I will be using the 7# for fresh and saltwater fishing, I chose a Nautilus Reel NV.  Maybe a little hefty for lake fishing, but the look is awesome.  I build my rods with a color scheme in mind and then name the rod.  The 7# is my homage to my alma mater, Texas A&M University, and is aptly named WHOOP!

Whoop I did when the 1.25# Largemouth took the Bass Brunch.  The pressure was completely off.  Everything worked and worked well and felt great.  We continued to fish this cove catching more Largemouths, but we were really surprised that we'd had no Sunfishes.  Having fished most of the cove's shorelines, we moved and fished a more developed area, and Cody caught two nice sized Bluegill--a .5# and a .75#.  For  3.5 hours, the boat netted seven Largemouth Bass and two Bluegill, mostly because of Cody and his CodyBugger.  I would say Lake Athens, et. al. was a great firsts spot and is fishing better for the fly fishers than bait chunkers.

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