Hot Days and Hard Bites, But Hope Springs Eternal
Let us face it. The dog days of summer have been hitting hard lately and the bite is tough with a capital T. With temperatures averaging 90 or more over the last few weeks and with more of the same heat coming for the foreseeable future, water temperatures will continue to be high, which will keep fish deeper and scatter them as well. It is not going to get any easier that is for sure for a while. Patience, moving, and staying cool are about the only things that may be constant right now. But if you are the eternal optimist, there's always that chance even as the sun pounds down on us.
On a recent trip to Stockade, I tried to use some of the techniques and tips my bass mentor, Mark, had shown me from our trip to Angostura. I tried different topwaters, spinnerbaits, wacky rigs, frogs, and jigs. All failed to entice any bass or even pike to go after them. As the heat was rising, I was still staying comfortable in my UPF Guide shirt, gaiter, and fishing gloves from Blackfish, but the heat was still on to catch something by mid-morning. Lots of moving, lots of lure changing, but nada.
Feeling very discouraged, I tried one last area where the weeds were high and thick and anything other than a frog thrown would have to be reeled back as close to the surface as possible and into any lanes in between weed patches. I decided to use an empty Northland Tackle spinnerbait and rigged it with a Salmo Slick Shad, one of their new plastics this summer. For the kind of control I would need to place it where it needed to go as well as pull anything that bit out of the weeds, I picked my St. Croix Mojo Bass rod paired with a Piscifun Flame reel and heavy braid line for the task out of my three rods. Locating areas to throw the lure, it was not long before I finally hooked into a pike. It was a small one, but at least the trip was not a skunking. Moving to another spot nearby, I kept casting as best as I could into openings and in corridors along the weeds. As I was just about to pick up the lure out of the water, a rocket shot up and took the bait! It was another pike but was a better specimen. It was not a trophy, but it gave a good fight and I got to give my Clam Fortis net a bath to retrieve it. After its release, I managed one more small pike before calling it a day as the heat of the day was getting a bit stifling.
Though it is tough going right now, there's still always that chance to catch some fish. I am happy this trip did not end the way it started, but I can only hope that once cool weather returns (the sooner, the better), that things will pick back up. I for one am ready for ice season to get here after this heat wave. But until then, keep swinging for the fences and maintain our eternal hope for that fish that makes it all worth it!