February Fishing

I think I mentioned in an earlier post that winter is speckled perch season. February is normally the climax of the season and when the fish move strongly from offshore to the shallows where they lay their eggs. So far this hasn’t happened or it did and I missed it. All that Dec/Jan cold weather and the unusual winter rain has things upside down and the lake has still not warmed above 58 degrees. I’ve always heard that the fish need a water temp of 64 to complete the spawning process so either they are still holding off, pulled it all off already in cold water, or have just called it off for this season. Is that possible?? Anyway, I adjust my fishing technique in February for the grand finale. From November through January I troll using small jigs or spoons – two rods, two different types of lure. I fish from a 14′ aluminum Jon boat powered by a 45 pound thrust electric trolling motor. When the lure passes through a school, mostly dumb luck, you catch fish. I don’t use a fishfinder like most guys. I have one but somehow using electronic technology lessens my enjoyment in the process. Doesn’t seem so fair to me. The other thing I lose by not using a fishfinder is the frustration of actually seeing fish and not being able to catch them. My neighbor uses one and I can hear him going wacky finding but not catching. At least I can say that there are no fish, not that I can’t catch them.

In February I switch from trolling to casting or vertically jigging the same small lures or slightly smaller versions of the same lures, in and around the lily pads; smaller because the water is shallower and a lighter lure sinks more slowly. And I change boats to increase my ability to control position and be more stealthy. I have a great vessel known as a Poke Boat. Poke boats are a cross between a kayak and a canoe – small, kayak shape with an open, canoe like cockpit. It’s 12′ long, about 26” wide and less than 8” from top to bottom and best of all, weighs only 24 pounds so it’s quite portable. In the boat you’re butt is actually below the level of the surface so it’s very stable and your casting arm is no more than a foot above the water line so I can cast under branches that would otherwise be impossible. Up close and personal is the best way to describe the experience. If there’s an inch or two of water, you’re floating so I can maneuver it through and over grass, lily pads, and mud banks that would totally stop other water craft. I can paddle it faster than my electric powered jon boat and it’s far more agile even in fairly strong winds. So when the spec’s move into the shallows, I’m ready. So far, I’m doing my part but the fish are no shows.

This season I added a piece of high tech gear to the repertoire – an i-talkie. They used to be called walkie – talkie’s but that’s so 20th century. I leave one on the kitchen counter and take the other along with me. So if Nancy needs me or it’s time to eat or something, we’re in communication. I use it if I’m catching fish and need to alert her that I’m going to be on the water a bit longer than usual. At least that’s what I’ll do if I ever start catching fish again.

And closing on that high tech note – the Toyota recalls are a preview of the future for all of us. As the new cars become more and more computer controlled, get used to computer style glitches. When you change radio stations, the car accelerates or shuts off or turns on the windshield wipers. But it doesn’t do it all the time, just when you’re driving 63.3 miles per hour. How long can it be before we’re hooking our car up to the internet to get the latest software upgrade? And find ourselves in the typical computer trap where we can no longer upgrade because the computers in our cars are no longer supported. Yep, you have to chuck the otherwise perfect hardware because some chunk of silicon in the bowels of the engine is out of date. I think I’m old enough not to have to worry about buying a Microsoft car but my grandkids probably have that to deal with someday. Visualize a world where you’re talking with some Microsoft techy in Bangalore about why your car needs rebooting when you’re cruising the Interstate.

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