Lake mystery

My new fish finder has been a source of frustration which has turned into a mystery. For the last few weeks I’ve noticed that the lake is chock full of fish which are hovering between 7 and 9′ down. The frustrating part is that I have no idea what kind of fish they are or how to catch them. They are about 100′ from shore and nominally consistent anywhere in the lake – an occasional gap – but more or less a continuous level of fish. The fishfinder reports fish in 3 sizes and also indicates schools of minnows in a speckled, cloud looking display. It also determines and displays whether the fish is directly below the boat or off to a side. The symbology tells you how deep the fish, the size, and the horizontal location – right or left of the sensor. These fish that are hovering are mostly small with an occasional medium and, an even less frequent, large. Probably a normal distribution. At first I thought the fish were Spec’s so I started trolling spec lures – little jigs, feathers, spinners or vibrating swimmer style. Nothing. I tried varying the speed which has the effect of varying the lure depth since it’s hard to say exactly how deep your lure is. Nothing. Maybe small bass or bluegill? Tried conventional bass and bluegill stuff such as the beetle spin. Nothing. Several colors, several speeds, nothing. I’m still thinking that somehow it has to do with placing the bait exactly at the right depth so this weekend Simon and I tried drifting over the fish using small jigs and floats set exactly to the right depth. Nada. We concluded that the only kind of fish they could be are shiners. That tracks because shiners simply can’t stand warm water so it would make sense that they would be at the shallowest place where they could find comfortable temperatures. So I went out this morning and within 2 minutes was on the fish. I used the regular fish food bait and dropped it down exactly 7′, right into the midst of them. I also dropped a rubber jig down on another rod to the same depth. Nada. They still could be shiners but I learned nothing from that trial and I kind of think shiners, being basically dumb, would have attacked the bait. I did learn one more characteristic though. They are definitely more prominent in the morning. Simon and I saw a grundle in the morning as usual but when we went out in the afternoon, they were more difficult to find. There may be a clue there but not sure.

I tried to talk simon into diving down and opening his eyes but wasn’t able to sell that. The best I could do was get him to dive under the fishfinder to see if he showed up as a big bass or what. But, that’s where I am. We discussed dropping down an underwater video camera and some high intensity lights but that seemed to be a pocketbook challenge for so small a problem. So next weekend if the kids come up, or the kids parents, or the kids uncles, bring a pair of goggles and get mentally set for some Jacque Cousteau exploration moments. We have to solve this mystery.

I’d post a picture but nothing to show until the mystery is solved.

grasshopper

Extended the poke boat excursion string to two with a trip to Grasshopper today. I guess I knew it was gator season but didn’t appreciate exactly what that meant from the perspective of a cruise across the pad field in a micro boat. I could hear any number of loud grunts and knew they were gators but until I saw a couple near that front island up close and personal, I didn’t consider that we (me and the boat) were approx equal in size to several of the locals. None of them did anything aggressive and for sure I didn’t do anything to piss them off so it all worked out just fine. As usual it proved a tough lake, made even tougher by strong east winds. It was like casting from a boat with the trolling motor running on full throttle. I managed to snag one about 4 pounds on a devil’s horse so it wasn’t a total loss. There was a guy from Kentucky fishing there with his son and they had one about the same size on shiners.

I read an article in the bassmasters written by a guy who scuba’d (verb form) lakes he fished to find spots. He mentioned that clear boats scared fish and suggested dark hulls were better. Maybe that was my problem so I’m thinking of doing a camo paint job on the bottom of the boat. I’m wondering if I painted pictures of fish on the bottom, would that attract them? would it be better to paint fake shiners so they gather for a feed or paint bass so they gather around for a meeting?

Lake Inez water temp 80. Another week should do it for me!

Tomoka trip

Made the first trip to the Tomoka River today. I thought it was too early for the Tarpon and Snook to make it up the river but wanted to try anyway. Nancy had a quilt happening at the house so I needed to be away and it so happened that the tide situation was perfect – high at noon. That meant I could put in the poke boat at the park off Airport blvd (where the electric motor fell off the boat last year) around 10AM and let the tide carry me up river for a couple of hours and then back to the park when it changed at noon. It worked perfectly and I fished almost to the upstream end of the big island where the tarpon were schooling strongly last year. That took about 2 hours. I alternated fishing both sides and pretty much stuck to top water since the river is really shallow on one bank and very stumpy on the other making rubber jigs difficult to work effectively. As suspected, no Tarpon. Not the first sign and very few mullet – so just too early in the season and maybe still too sweet from the recent rains. Caught a few small bass, a bream, and had a couple of major slams which were also probably bass but perhaps snook. Had a great time and will try again in a few weeks.

big mama


You probably want all the details on “big mama”. Went out about 6PM and fished until 7PM. Got the fish on the last cast. It was the only strike I got. Caught it about 20′ past the corner where our property meets Grover’s property and right, dead up against the shore. I had worked back from the far corner towards our dock and got to this point just about dark and planned to head in right after this cast. I about dropped my teeth when it jumped and I saw how big it was – for sure the biggest I’ve caught in the lake to date. Yanked out quite a bit of line between jumps so all in all, a fun catch. Red Shad – Gamagatsu strikes again.