FARM 13 / STICK MARSH FISHING REPORTS
FOR THE MONTH OF JANUARY 2007
26 January 2007
Wow, we just finished up a fine session with Doug Stange and the IN-FISHERMAN TV crew on the Stick Marsh/Farm 13 impoundment. Doug, a true “fisherman’s fisherman”, caught a number of those big bass, and it made for some great video. You can expect to see it in March of this year. We will advise you of the date and network of the airing. It shows the Stick Marsh/ Farm 13 impoundment at its best. You don’t want to miss this one!!
We started out on Monday, 22 January, with a few shiners and a LOT of artificials. The bass absolutely refused to chase the trolled shiners, a real oddity in that they were so wild about blowing them up for the Circle Bar racing crew the week before. So, we anchored on a few select spots and let the shiners swim. This produced bass to maybe 4 pounds, but nothing really to write home about. Finally, we moved onto Jim’s ‘ SUPER SECRET HAWG HOLE’ (which everyone sees us fishing, by the way, so there’s not much ‘secret’ about it; in fact, another guide was anchored there when we first started trolling our shiners).
It started very slow and got even slower as time progressed. But, it only takes ‘one bite to get the big bass’. After two small fish, that ‘one bite’ came and Doug latched onto one of those big old gals! She obliged by showing off for cameraman Dave Penning’s camera, with some hard runs and a lot of flying water. Soon, she came over the submerged net and was hauled aboard for a few more camera angles and poses. As Doug carefully release the big gal, she decided to even things up a little. She lay still for a moment, so Doug gave her a little push to get her swimming. Suddenly, the bass came alive, dropped her head for the depths, and gave Doug a face full of water with a flip of her broad tail.
From there, we decided to work artificials, specifically the ‘Rattlin’ Rap’ (a free-running, vibrating crank plug by Rapala). Doug chose a Red Crawdad color, while I went with the Silver Gold version. I had two bass in excess of 10-pounds blow off that Silver Gold lure during last year’s filming, and I was looking to get even!! Both color finishes were shiny and reflective, chosen specifically to show up better in the clean, but dark, water.
We worked across an area of possibly 300 yards of water, getting an occasional fish here and there. Finally, we found a spot that appeared to hold a concentration of bass, in that we had five go on the plugs in rapid succession. Nearly all these bass were in the 3 to 3.5 lb. range, solid and heavy-bodied. This gave us hope there might be some larger bass mixed in. Sure enough, there were large bass in that location and Doug got one that was nearly a duplicate of the big sow he had caught earlier on the shiner.
With two big bass on film, we decided to spend the final hour of the day trying to get a few of the giant crappie. We did not originally plan to chase the panfish on the first day, so we had no minnows aboard. But, having done well on the bass, we took the PERFECT Crappie Jig to a good spot for an occasional 2-pound slab. Fortunately, the crappie were schooled on one prime spot. Unfortunately, they were all too small to be what we would call ‘giant crappie’. We tossed the PERFECT jig at them for awhile, getting a few good ‘keepers’ and a lot of smaller fish. But, the true big crappie just were not there.
Our second day of filming was intended to try and get a real trophy bass, so we started with some of the leftover shiners. Again, the bass were very reluctant to chase the shiners. Doug did land one big bass on a trolled shiner. But, for the most part, the bass just seemed uninterested in them. We finally caught a few by anchoring and letting the shiners do all the work. But, most of the time, you could just about imagine the shiners doing the back-stoke and just lounging without a care in the World. So, we went back to the artificials.
Having marked the first day’s concentration of bass on our Lowrance GPS, we decided to start elsewhere in hopes of locating another school, or perhaps an area with giant bass dispersed in it. We also decided to try a few different lures, knowing we could always go back to the Rattlin’ Raps, if necessary. I went with a big Texas-rigged plastic worm, while Doug experimented with a big, six-inch swim bait.
(NOTE: A word about ‘swim baits’ is in order here, as the majority of bass anglers have not been exposed to this relative new fishing concept yet. Swim baits generally evolved from a start in the trophy bass lakes of southern California. In the Los Angeles and San Diego areas, there are a number of small, very deep lakes created as water reservoirs for the huge metropolitan areas. Controlled fishing is allowed on most and nearly all of the reservoirs are heavily stocked with rainbow trout. A number of years back, the California fisheries management people decided to obtain and stock the Florida strain of bass in the waters, hoping to provide a larger bass for the fisherman. It wasn’t long before it was noted that the Florida bass were growing at an unprecedented rate. 12-18 pound giants began to be caught regularly (as of today, there have now been numerous bass caught in the 20-22 pound classes). After some study on the phenomenal growth rates, it was concluded that the hatchery-raised rainbow trout were the cause. Hatchery trout are raised on a diet of very high protein food and are fed continually to make them reach release-size in a short period of time. It was not uncommon to find these trout with a quarter inch of fat under their skins. Being raised in a nice safe hatchery environment, it also appeared that the trout were not quick to recognize what a predator was and were easy prey for the ravenous bass. Once anglers found out that the trout would be great bait for catching giant bass, they were confronted with the problem that it was illegal to use the small game fish for bait. One way around it was to purchase small trout from a hatchery and be prepared to show the law enforcement folks the receipt. But, the small rainbows were extremely hard to keep alive and were expensive. So, someone came up with the idea to make a lure replica of a rainbow trout. Since the sole objective was to catch those giant double-digit monster bass, some of these lures are up to one foot long! They are usually soft-bodied plastic and have a flexible tail section of sorts, allowing them to give the impression of actually swimming. Fished slowly, many are uncanny in their realism. As a spin-off to this new lure and fishing technique, many manufacturers have begun to market swim baits, both hard-bodied and soft plastic versions. The sizes of the lures range from a couple of inches to around 10-inches, targeting the size bass available to the general population, in most cases. The discriminator separating swim baits from most other lure types is their realistic look, both in finish and action. With some of these lures, the angler imparts the action. With others, the lure design provides the action during the normal retrieve.)
Stange’s chosen swim bait was a ‘Kickin’ Minnow’, manufactured by the Storm lure company. Since this was my first real exposure to these lures, I looked it over and asked questions about it. I even fished one for a short period. My first impression was to fish it slowly, in that the segmented soft plastic tail section of the lure undulated back-and-forth in an extremely realistic manner. However, because of all the submerged wood we were fishing over and fact that the lure is somewhat heavy, we were getting hung a lot. After he advised that I should speed up my retrieve to hold the lure up higher, we found that solved the majority of the snagging problem. By keeping the right amount of forward momentum on the lure, its near-vertical, plastic lip guarded the single treble hook on the lure as it impacted wood.
Stange, in the meantime, proved the swim bait’s worth and ability by catching three bass on it. I went back to my big worm, with only three hits and no hookups. Pretty soon, we decided things were going too slow and it was time to change back to the high-production Rattlin’ Rap. We could fish that lure fast, cover a lot of water quickly and induce reaction strikes with the lure speed.
Doug’s first cast with his Rattlin’ Rap produced what would be the largest bass of our multi-day excursion, a huge, fat female obviously near to spawning. It was an exciting moment or two, as the angler worked to control the giant bass, while keeping her from diving down into the thick, submerged timber remains. Dave was hopping around from side to side and got the entire sequence on camera. She had totally engulfed the lure, it appearing small within that huge mouth cavity. What a fish!!
Continuing to fish, we caught more solid 3-4 pound bass until we finally wrapped up the day.
With plenty of big bass action stored on tape, we opted to try for crappie on our third day. It was a bit windy, but the drift socks controlled the big 19-foot Lund boat well. We lined up to drift the live minnows in places that have been very productive in the past. But, after three long drifts, we only had a couple of ‘keepers’ and a lot of small crappie to show for it. Considering the great crappie action we have had all season, it was very disappointing, as well as a bit embarrassing. Moving near the east side on Farm 13, we set out on yet another drift. The winds had shifted a bit and we were drifting nearly parallel to the east shoreline. A couple of small crappie came and went and, then, we got one of those giant crappie on. But, all we got to do was see the big fish for a moment and then it was gone.
Bottom line – our crappie fishing was a bust. The good news is that we will get another shot at it in late February, when the IN-FISHERMAN crew will join us again.
SPECIAL REPORT ITEM
At the risk of bragging, I must say that your friendly guide had a catch that was the longest, as well the largest in girth. But, I can’t get the maximum length and girth at the same time.
I’ll bet that’s got you confused!
In the Stick Marsh/Farm 13, I have 'caught' three fish nets, an old wooden boat, half a dozen rods/reels, miles of old line, a minnow bucket, two anchors with ropes, a zillion mussel shells, two zillion snails, a dozen hand towels, one shirt, and a blonde who walked behind my rod.
While out with the IN-FISHERMAN bunch, I accomplished what only a very few anglers will ever do in their lifetime!!!
I caught a fan belt. A Green Belt, Model 5270.
It was structure-oriented, along the levee of a submerged canal. Feeding, no doubt. I was so excited, I almost lost it on the 2nd jump. A fantastic fight, twisting and turning in every direction. But, I had the skill to overcome its lightening fast runs and stupendous stamina! Yes, only through sheer professional experience did I manage this feat!
Hey, don’t laugh. Have YOU ever been so lucky as to catch a genuine Green Belt, Model 5270??
We're talking Pro stuff here. We might even get to that 'legendary' status.
20 January 2007
First off, we wish the best for fellow Stick Marsh guide, George Welcome. George had a medical problem scare recently and we hope it is not serious. He is a top fisherman whom we greatly admire.
Boy, am I going out on the proverbial limb, or what? I really should NOT write the following. But, all you folks who have fished with us and done so fantastic have shown that great fishing is really attainable – IF you have a super place like the Stick Marsh/ Farm 13. ‘So many fish and so little time’, I think the man said.
In preparation for IN-Fisherman TV back with us 22- 27 Jan 07, we have been sorting locations and fishing techniques to assure successful filming. That is a bit like selecting prospective transplant donors to get a good heart or liver. You make your best decisions and then hope Mother Nature did not slip you an anomaly not anticipated.
Going out on that proverbial limb, I advised IN-FISHERMAN Senior Editor, Doug Stange, that we would be pitting our best ‘lucky fishermen’ image against Mother Nature on this one. Monday, 22 January, promises 15-20 MPH winds from the SW, with a strong cold front coming in on Monday night. Monday’s winds are not a problem. We will be in the south end of the Farm. BUT, with a forecast of 10-12 degree lower temperatures on Tuesday, we can see that this is a strong, fast cold front. Cold fronts, we don’t care about. Fish never have needed a jacket. BUT – those NW and North winds will possibly blow out the south end of Farm 13, our bass Mecca at present. We could have that ‘dirty water and big waves’ issue!! I sense a ‘Stan Daniel fishes the mudfish hole’ episode here. Maybe, just maybe, we will get that giant before we get blown away.
So, here is our ‘fearless prediction’ --- things will be easy on Monday, as the SW winds will not affect us much on the south end of the Farm. Whether we get that giant bass depends a bit on skill; but, it will also depend on that variable of all fishermen –‘luck’. We will make a LOT of casts in a LOT of right places. Will the odds give us that giant bass? I sure hope so. We had her on twice in front of the camera last year, only to see her toss that plug back at us at the last minute. My prediction is that having two anglers totally consumed with the ‘fishing bug’ in the same boat at the same time will cause the fish to simply give up and surrender (heck, we’ll put them back anyway!! Come on, bass. What’s better than that? Don’t you want to be a TV star?!).
And, after we get the giant bass, we plan to go get the giant crappie. Heck, I already know where that fish is. Well, I know where he/she ‘was’. From the picture, below, you can see I caught him/her a couple of days ago. I sure hope some of them are still there!!
19 January 2007
I went looking for giant bass ready to eat the end off a rod and a TV camera. What I found was a LOT of bass in the 3-5 lb. range. They would simply and jump and do those American Idol auditions quite well. But, they were 5-6 lbs. shy of a ‘TV bass’. Maybe, just maybe, they are waiting on the camera. I sure hope so. We caught them on 10-inch worms, JuneBug RIPPIN’ Sticks (some on the surface!!), ˝ oz. jigs with e 4-inch RIPPIN’ Stick trailer, and a loud chartreuse spinnerbait. So, the lure choice appears VERY flexible. It will be ‘location’ that counts.
We plan to film some of those giant crappie, too. So, I checked a hole that I did not show Mickey Arbogast, Sam Carmicheal, and Chuck Adams on recent trips. They caught a lot of crappie, but I saved one place for Doug Stange. The problem is that I caught the TV fish this day that I checked it. Dang!!
It was 2.4 lbs. That fish would have made me famous. A TV star! I could have had free beer and pretzels at the fishing club meeting, too. Might have had my picture somewhere other than my ex-wife’s ‘Most Wanted’ list. I tried tying the fish to a bush, but the line broke. Oh, well, she is still swimming in Farm 13. I know where she WAS. Sure hope I know where she IS NOW. She’s pretty, isn’t she??
18 January 2007
Sam Carmicheal and I went looking for big bass. We did not find the ‘big ones’. But, we did find a good number of 3-5 lb. fish. Sam fishes mostly for crappie these days and we had got him ‘fished up’ on them back a short spell (see the Fishing Report for 1 Dec 06.
This time, we took a few shiners and let Sam see what the bass could do. All the bass we what we term ‘good quality fish’ – fat and mean. Maybe we saved the giants for Stange and company!!
17 January 2007
We’re back at the fishin’ grindstone after a couple of weeks of R&R. The Doctor said we were just a bit overexerted and needed a B-12 boost. About 72 hours after that hypodermic of B-12, I came to believe that he was right. I feel much better and even thought about running in the next marathon (only though about it, though).
Getting back to Florida last weekend, I did some research with guides Mike Grubner and Stan Daniel, who had been taking some parties out for me while I was gone. Then, I spoke long distance with a few visiting anglers from around the country who had just fished the Farm 13 Stick Marsh impoundment.
One of these, Jim Urbanski from Maryland, is a past acquaintance who comes down every year and brings havoc to the Stick Marsh bass. He and his buddies may be ‘northern boys’, but they sure know a lot about fishing in the ‘deep south’. I have sat and watched them catch 50 bass and not move their boat. You’ll read Jim’s detailed report of their multiple-day visit below.
Yesterday, Stan and I guided a two-boat trip with a great crew of guys from the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series circuit. The fishing was excellent, with lots of bass on a series of artificals and on those poor old shiners. The top bass was a nice 8.1 lb. gal by Jack Johnston. Tim Harris (a.k.a. ‘Motor Man’ on the circuit) had a close 2nd. You’ll read all about that trip below, as well.
Now, rolling together all the above ‘G2’ data from above, it is extremely safe to say that we are absolutely CERTAIN that there is NOTHING wrong with the impoundment bass population. They are still there and in great numbers. And, there are MANY giants. The problem during the summer months was just that they were never pinpointed in 3500 acres of open water. Stan and I proved, last November and December, that nit could be done. But, it was not a thing that could be done consistently, in that they were in different locations every day. Now, I heartily recommend you make that winter pilgrimage to fish the place. So long as the weather doesn’t do you in, you WILL have a great time. Just remember, Garcia Reservoir, 8 miles down the road, is a solid backup if you get blown off the Stick Marsh. Lots of fish; just not as big.
16 January 2007
It happens every winter – racing at Daytona!! NASCAR gets hot and heavy and the devotees to the sports come in droves. Many also take advantage of: 1) being in Florida in the winter; and, 2) being close to the Stick Marsh to also plan one of those fabulous fishing trips it is so famous for.
While we have a LOT of the NASCAR fans waiting for openings in our February schedule, our first season trip was a race team down at Daytona for the January testing. The Circle Bar Racing Team is a part of the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, running trucks number 10 and 14. I’d mess up if I tried to detail what each member does, because this is a very detail-oriented crew. To illustrate that, I will say that team member Marc Smith’s job is to build the shocks for the race vehicles. And, he told me that no two shocks on the same truck are the same. That’s how fine-tuned and engineered the equipment in the sport is.
So, early mid-morning found Stan and I loading up Marc, Kevin ‘Cowboy’ Starland, Tim ‘Motor Man’ Harris, and Jack ‘I’m gonna catch the big one’ Johnston at the ramp.
Zipping our big rigs to the south end of the Farm, Stan started at the outer edge of the wood line and I choose the more southern area in the dense wood cover. Stan’s boat immediately caught a big bass on a spinnerbait and lost another on a shiner. Marc, Jack and I did not get a bite. (But, we WILL get even!)
Stan was on the move, drifting shiners behind the boat and tossing artificials off the sides. Since our shiners were just enjoying their ‘vacation’ with no bass to chase them, I took Marc and Jack pulling those shiners behind the boat, too. And, I knew where to go!
It wasn’t long before our shiners were being blown up constantly. But, for some odd reason, the bass just wanted to toy with the shiners and not eat them. Stan and his crew came into the area and their results confirmed this. So, we decided to try and let the bass try and take the bait from us without setting the hook at all. This involved just letting the fish go to the end of the tight line and then make him pull hard on it. It was a sort of delay to allow them to just ‘get a better grip on the shiner’. It worked and we started to catch fish.
Stan’s crew, ‘Motor Man’ and ‘Cowboy’ had done a LOT of bass fishing, so they kept at the artificials, too. Spinnerbaits and soft plastics worked, along with their shiners. The best plastic was a big Texas rigged worm worked slowly in the wood.
Our action was constant and exciting, as shiners were knocked into the air and caught coming down. Sometimes, the bass would hit the shiner 6-8 times before it was taken. That kept hearts pounding and hair on end at lot!!
As the sun started to set, I asked jack and Marc to ‘buy into’ a plan. I wanted to go back to the exact place we had started at the first of the trip. It was a big bass hole that has given up maybe 50 bass over 10 lbs. for my customers over past years. With 30 minutes as our agreed-to time, we set up on the spot. Two shiners went out, one for each angler. Absolutely nothing happened. The shiners just cruised the area, having a grand old time. 20 minutes of the 30 went by with not a twitch by a shiners.
I took a third rig and hooked a shiner to it. Just as I got the shiner on, Jack’s shiner got blasted! Sounded like a quarter-pound block of C-4 in a manhole!. The bass hit three times and took the shiner. Jack set down on her hard. She came straight to the surface and tossed the shiner back at us. It was a giant bass!
I came to my senses pretty quick and realized I had a freshly baited shiner rod in my hand. Within 10 seconds of Jack’s fish blowing off, I had that new shiner right on top of the same spot. I told the guys that the fish had not been hooked and was probably not scared off, so maybe she would hit again.
Boy, sometimes it is sure better to be lucky than good! And, that’s what it appeared to be. Whether it was the same fish, or another, that new shiner took two quick hits and then went away. Jack worked her to the boat and an 8.1-lb. beauty came aboard. We were within 5 minutes of our planned stopping time. It just doesn’t get much better.
11 January 2007 (submitted by Jim Urbanski)
It was nice talking to you the other day while I was down there on Stick Marsh and Garcia. I wondered where you were since I did not see you on the lake at all when the fish were "on fire!!!" Your heath is most important, so make that your first priority. The fish will always be there.
Saturday: Weather was warm and we fished Garcia with artificials only. Lots of small bass, mostly on Senkos. Later in the evening, I started flipping the floating vegetation (hyacinths, not the lily pads). The 1oz weight was barely enough to break through, so I tied on a 1.5-oz tungsten weight and flipped a blue/black creature bait through the mats. All the large fish up to 5.5 lbs. came off that pattern. No monsters, but consistently bigger fish.
Sunday: We lit the BIG fish up at the south end of the Farm. We started by entering the Nursery, where we only saw one other small aluminum boat. It seemed nobody knew about the flats turning on, since Garcia was crowded and the south end of the Farm was nearly vacant. That changed within the next day or two. As we entered the Nursery, we started with very large prop baits (topwaters) and large super spooks, hooking fish nearly every 3-4 casts. 90% of the fish were over 5lbs on the scale. As the topwater bite disappeared over the next two hours, we dragged two shiner lines and continued to throw artificial baits at the bass. The 8-9" Senko rigged on an Owner 11/0 wide gap hook was the deal!!! The bites were coming off both the stick bait and the large shiners being dragged behind the boat about the same. We ended up with dozens of bass over 6.5lbs on the scale, and a few over 7, 8, and even 9lbs. The evening bite never produced any topwater hits as we hoped for.
Monday: Despite the foggy, warm, calm conditions that were favorable for topwater, we couldn't get the bites like we did the day before. I couldn't tell you why they didn't feed the same! The hits that we did get on topwater were still big bites, but only about 10 hits total, hooking only about 5 fish on topwater. Most of the action for both days seemed to be in the heavily wooded areas of pinball alley and east, heading toward the spillway. We continued the same afternoon pattern and fished both artificial and live bait, having to anchor briefly due to wind gusts. While anchored, large stick baits produced just as many (if not more) fish than the shiners. Total catch was several in the 5-7lb range with 2 over 8lb and 2 over 9lb on the BogaGrip scale. No 10 LB bass on the scales, although we did see one caught and weighed next to us on a shiner.
Tuesday: Wind and cold weather moved in and forced us out of the south end of the Farm early after only catching 2-3 bass, which were smaller. We moved to the canal with vegetation to the right of the ramp and used our shiners. The highlight was 3 bass over 6lbs on shiners in the channel. Some smaller fish came also.
Wednesday: We had absolutely no chance at fishing the south end of the pond with water turned up to look like coffee filled with tons of creamers!!! The water temps when we first started fishing the south end of the pond ranged from 72 degrees up to 75 degrees. By today (Wed), the temps were all the way down in the low 60's!!! I couldn't imagine water dropping that quickly, but with the combined murky water, it made it impossible to catch anything on the flats that day. I went into the spillway at the southeast end of the pond and started with shiners around the main gates despite no moving water. No fish on shiners. While I was anchored to the steel cable, I managed to hook a 5.5lb bass on the same large stickbait at the edge of the vegetation. We pulled up the shiners and proceeded to catch two more bass up to 6lbs on the stickbaits. Punching the mats with 1.5oz weighed plastics did nothing, although it looked good as the weight sunk into deep water under the vegetation.
Thursday: Our last day down in Florida due to the cold front and murky water conditions. We spent in on Garcia and started on the canal leading to the Stick marsh. Jim, you were right about that canal. It does hold some fish in it!!! It was really easy to catch them, but mostly all small. We threw Lucky Craft Sammy lures at them and wore them out after the morning. Most were only 1-2lbs, but a few in the 3-3.5 range were caught also. We dragged one shiner rod behind the boat on the grass edge and that produced a few fish, but they were the larger of the fish we caught. We probably could have stayed there and caught a ton of fish, but we went looking for the big ones. As we tackled the white caps in the main lake areas, we focused on the lily pads and the grass on the flats. Only a few small bass and nothing to speak of. Finally, I wanted to punch some heavy mats, hyacinths not lily pads. We looked for the densest patches and we found them at the corner or the canal when you take the left turn away from the road. That again produced the biggest fish of the day, but still not monsters.
As we left the lake and headed back to Maryland around 2pm, we were only filled with memories from earlier in the week when the weather was great and the winds didn't blow. When the conditions were good, the fish were chomping! That is how we had hoped Florida would be for us this week. As we left, we heard the weather forecast for Saturday and Sunday. Beautiful conditions! It sounds like pinball alley, and just east of that in front of the creek are going to be loaded up with MONSTERS. I wish I could have stayed down there longer to see that bite turn back on. We definitely did see the big ones LOADED in there!
On a side note....
The day we arrived down there and fished Garcia the first day (Saturday), I discovered I had engine problems before I even had the chance to leave the launch ramp. My shifter and throttle cables were worn out on my 250hp Merc. At that time, I thought I was doomed. Through a few phone calls, I came across a local marine dealer/service shop that saved my entire vacation!!! I would like to give them the highest compliments, especially to the owner who called me back after leaving a message on the business voicemail. Although they are closed on the weekends, the owner, Vinny Magliula happened to be in the shop cleaning up the place and heard my phone call, reviewed the msg, and immediately called me back on my long distance cell phone number. He agreed to stay at the shop and wait for me as I pulled my boat out of water at Garcia and drive it to him located just one exit south of Stick Marsh in Vero Beach. He was an incredible mechanic and fixed the cable issues and even ran some other tests and fixed an alternator issue that I have been having for over a year that the local mechanic up here in Maryland could not figure out. The problem was in the wiring, not the alternator. While Vinny could have charged me just about anything he wanted for emergency repairs, he didn't! He was extremely reasonable and did very clean, good work! I want to send him my very best regards and highly recommend him to the locals!!!
Complete Marine Services
Owner: Vinny Magliula
2915 Aviation Blvd
Vero Beach, FL 32960
Take care of yourself. Sorry to miss you this time around, but I'll keep in touch. It was good to come home to a few funny emails from you. I laughed at them.
Keep in touch.
NOTE: I would keep that boat dealer’s name handy. There aren’t many like him.
08 January 2007
Here it is 2007 already. And, we think the new year is bringing some VERY good news! We may have the Stick Marsh’s fantastic bass fishing back on track! It all came together on our 31 December 2006 and 1 January 2007 trips with Tom Giordano and Fred Deening. We’ll cover the details in their trip write-up, further below.
We have been anticipating the bass moving towards the wooded shallows for the start of the spawn and it appears to be happening right on time and right where we had expected. Most any shallow zones may harbor pre-spawn and spawning bass. But, we chose to concentrate on the wooded south end of Farm 13 because we know it so well and know three locations where we will be able to see some beds, even in the darkly colored waters. We never fish for bedding fish we can see, preferring to leave them alone to do their thing. But, by seeing beds, we know we are in the correct location and that there are other aggressive pre-spawn (and possibly post-spawn) bass in the area.
In past years, the bass have been known to spawn all across the south end and along the western-most side of the Farm. The Nursery area (coordinates B-2, B-3 on our website’s interactive map) is where we usually find them first. But, with the majority of those shallow reed stands on the south end of the Nursery now gone, they seem to have no specific starting point any longer. The ones we recently found with Tom and Fred, plus those Stan Daniel and I have located earlier, have been spread all across the south end. Other places that should be anticipated for bass spawning activity are the submerged north levee of the Stick Marsh (particularly the western half). This is the levee with the palm trees growing all along it. The western wall of the Stick Marsh is also a top place. The depth along that west side tapers out from the rip-rap covered shoreline, allowing the fish to select a preferred depth for their nests, plus it shields them from the turbulence of the strong west and northwest winds of cold fronts. The south side of the levee separating the Stick Marsh and the Farm is also a good spawning location, but few have ever discovered it. The sandy bottom that tapers out from the levee is a prefect spawning location, with a hard clean bottom and protection from the northerly winds. In years past, when there was still grass in the farm, this levee had a nice grass bed that ran its entire length, east to west. The bass would spawn just behind the grass line and in the holes in the grass along it.
I believe that, if we work at it and let the bass show us what to do, we will have great bass fishing on through the April/May timeframe. When the heat of summer returns, the fish may go back to the open water rambling. But, until then, look for the fishing to be fine.
The crappie fishing continues its torrid pace, falling back only when major cold front pump through. I, personally, have subscribed to the philosophy that cold fronts affect the fishermen more than the fish and that is why the fishing slows. But, our recent crappie outing with the Bolton clan (see later below) made me re-think that a bit. The strongest cold front of the year just stopped the crappie bite dead in its tracks. We had boat control, location, bait and bait presentation totally under control. But, the fish just would not cooperate. In fact, no one we talked to did anything. Two days later, with warming, stable conditions, we hammered them again. It just HAD to be that the front killed the feeding urge.
One thing of significance appears to have changed a bit in the crappie chase and that is the location. Where we normally like the NE section of Farm 13 for drifting live minnows, we now are finding more fish out in the vicinity of the center north/south ditch, but still in the northern half of the Farm. What I am doing is going to the center ditch with my depthfinder and drifting away from it in the direction the wind takes me. If I had to pick the best drift, I would say the west side of the center ditch seems to hold a bit of an edge.
The impoundment’s crappie will start to think ‘spawning’ in a few weeks. It usually starts around mid- to late February. Since there is NO open water vegetation any longer, the crappie will look for ANY growth of ANY kind along ANY shoreline. The area around the boat ramp, to include the “Back 40’ area and the northside canal leading to the exit gate, will all produce well. Plus, the wood at the south end of the Farm and along the west wall of the Stick Marsh will have crappie spawning. They don’t all spawn at the same time, but do appear to spawn by school. A spawning school is usually dispersed across some 75-125 feet of space. So, when you catch one, search the immediate area thoroughly. Spawning crappie are VERY aggressive and protective of their chosen location and will be fairly easy to find, if you cover enough water.
On a personal note, the fishing reports will probably drop off a bit for the next few months. I plan to increase the frequency of the reports, but the actual number of trips may decrease. My doctor and I have agreed that I am getting a bit too old to fish like a teenager, so I am planning to cut back somewhat. However, my two very good friends and EXCELLENT guides, Mike Gruber and Stan Daniel, are taking up the slack. These guys are both the BEST you will find at their trade. Mike is actually the first guide I ever knew of when the Stick Marsh was brand new and knows the place intimately. Stan is like me in one respect – he’s about he luckiest dang fisherman I have ever seen. He ALWAYS catches fish! Plus, he now guides over at the Walt Disney Resort lakes a couple of days a week (talk about a soft job!).
01 January 2007
Tom Giordano had, indirectly, fished with us before. Last year, he signed us on to take out two of his friends (Joey and Rich, 9 Feb 06 report). While Tom tagged along in his boat and watched, we got Joey and Rich ‘fished up’. This year, Tom decided to bring his buddy, Fred Needing, to the Stick Marsh for New Year’s fishing bash. Boy, did he get his wish.
As you know, we have told all about the poor quality of fishing on the impoundment experienced since
last summer. Once in awhile, we have rooted a few out. But, overall, it has been tough. Now, the bass migration from all that open water to the spawning shallows appears to have started. And, Tom, Fred and I were there to greet them! Our two half-day trips produced excellent results!
We started our search for fish in the south end of Farm 13, setting up still-fished shiners under bobbers along a couple of the ditches and locations along the outer wood lines. Basically, we struck out with this approach. We had a few ornery catfish worry the bait, but the bass just were not there.
So, we decided that, instead of letting the fish find us, we would try to take the shiners to them. We rigged two rods with bobber up about three feet and no weight. Hooking the shiners up through the bottom lip and out a nostril hole, we tossed them behind the boat and began a very slow troll. Low and behold, we got a couple of fish while dragging the shiners from the outer edge of the wood line back towards the south shallows. They blew the shiners up pretty good, too. Rather than change a good thing, we re-baited and kept on our course towards the south shore. The closer we got to the dense wood at the south end, the more strikes we had. We got the boat hung on a good number of the submerged snags, but we also caught a lot of fish. An important point we noted this 1st day out was that ALL the bass we caught appeared to be males. That made sense, in that the males always move in first to prepare the spawning area. It also means the big females should not be too far behind, just in slightly deeper water.
The 2nd day, we knew exactly where to start fishing. So, with a more shiners in the well, we headed to farm 13. As the day before, the fish would blow the shiners up on the surface, sending shivers down all of our backs. We noted that the fish seemed to want to play around a bit before taking the shiners, though. They would stalk them, causing the shiners to panic and go into all sorts of action under the bobber. Then, the bass might roll on the shiner 5-6 times before finally taking it fully. It actually made the excitement last longer, too!!
One thing we did differently this 2nd day was to tie an anchor off one of the front cleats on the boat. When we got a fish on, I would immediately stop the boat and toss the anchor over. Once that fish was landed, we would then sit and cover that general location well with more shiners to see if more fish were in the area. In three instances, we found we were stopped on small schools of bass, ranging in sizes from 3 to 6(+) pounds. That indicated they were still grouped and not breaking off to build individual beds just yet.
These two short trips were very significant in that they proved that the bass are still alive, well, and very mean in the impoundment. I am pretty sure artificials are going to work fine, too. It just may be after the spawn when that gets right.
29 December 2006
This trip for crappie was a very significant outing, in that it just about made yours truly eat crow. I am hardheaded and don’t want to accept that cold front really effect the fish much. I always subscribe that it’s the fisherman who can handle the cold and/or winds a front brings and that the fish really don’t care about the weather.
As you will see in our trip of he 27th, below, a cold front really appeared to stop everything. But, with two days of warming weather and light winds, everything returned to normal as we took Larry Korzon and Bob Wills out chasin’ those big crappie.
Still smarting from getting beat up by the fish a few days before, we decided to try a different section of Farm 13. We moved to the center north/south ditch (vicinity coordinates D-6) and drifted with the northeast breeze down to the vicinity of coordinates C-5. In this general area, we found a good number of crappie. There was not as many as we had been catching in the past, but the overall sizes were very good. Per the usual approach, we placed the live minnows down 12-18 inches off the bottom. In that the water was up a foot, or so, over the past period, we adjusted our line lengths to compensate. We also had a good amount of weight to keep the lines down while we drifted, allowing 10-12 inches of line below the weights for the minnows to trail behind.
This was another sort, half-day trip. So, after a couple of successful drifts, we took the PERFECT Crappie Jig down to the south end of the Farm to ‘do its thing’. Both gentlemen were very adept with the jig, although it took Bill a bit of time to get his retrieve speed and depth control just right. Larry starting popping good crappie right off the bat. He actually fished his cinnamon, w/chartreuse tail, PERFECT Jig right at the bottom and very slowly. Bill was doing a slow burn for awhile, seeming to have that fishing jinx we all get sometimes hanging over his head. Then, just as quickly as the supposed jinx had come, it went away in Bill’s triple catch of good slabs on three straight casts.
It was a great fishing day, with fine weather, excellent companions and plenty of cooperating crappie.
27 December 2006
“Into each life, some rain must fall”, some philosopher once said. He must have been a fisherman to be so pessimistic. And, he must have been foreseeing this fishing trip with our old friend Glenn Bolton, his son, Rob, and his grandson, Andrew.
The rains had come and gone a few hours earlier, but the first really strong cold front to breech the Florida east coast was upon us. The temperatures dropped significantly and the north winds were howling! As we headed out, I was not overly concerned. The cold was not that bad and my pair of drift socks would handle the winds with ease. I figured it would be just another full livewell of crappie fun.
Boy, was I wrong.
We drifted minnows and drifted minnows, until the minnows knew which way to go all by themselves, without our help. They appeared to be on vacation, with no fish to bother them. We moved our drift pattern a couple of times, without any improvement. A few fish came over the side, but nothing that we would constitute as ‘normal fishing’.
Since we were on a short, half-day trip, we decided to try the reliable PERFECT Crappie Jig down in the basin in the southeast corner of the Farm. While minnows seem to work poorly in that basin, the PERFECT Jig has been turning easy limits, once the schools are located.
As soon as we started with the jig, I turned a small one down deep. I sure hoped that was a positive sign. But, about the only thing positive about it was that we would catch no more. I don’t even think we got another bite, much less a fish.
When we made the ramp, we may have had a dozen keeper crappie, with a few big ones in the bunch. But, it was hard fishing and those few fish only came from being very persistent. We had Andrew hold up his largest for the camera and that was about it. I think the fish won this contest.
17 December 2006
We are now transferred over to a new Web server, so you will see the frequency of fishing reports return to normal. The dead space created by an uncooperative provider, coupled with his continuing efforts to nickel-and-dime us to death, kept us from being able to make any changes to our web site.
At the Top of the News, so to speak, is the continuing difficulty with Stick Marsh bass production. As noted in our 10 December report, fellow guide, Stan Daniel, and I were able to ‘luck onto’ a few bass during a search trip. There were no large fish and it was really a fluke accident, in that Stan spotted the fish chasing baitfish on the surface. We moved around in the area that we had seen the surface activity and would occasionally hit the fish.
Taking it up from there, we’ll start this new report. I returned the next day and found those bass to still be in the same location. They only pushed the baitfish to the surface once and then it involved only 3-4 fish breaking. But, the fact that it was in open water and that the baitfish and bass remained there for at least 24 hours indicates there may be a bit of new grass trying to start in the location. I never pulled any up, nor could I make it out on the depthfinder. But, baitfish will not stay in a spot that does not provide some type of cover to get away from predators. I found that moving parallel to the outer woodline and tossing rat-L-Traps and Carolina-rigged worms north into the open water made for a reasonable amount of continual action. But, again, no big fish at all. The location was about 50-100 yards north of the wood line of Farm 13 and in the vicinity of coordinates E-3 on the interactive map on our web site.
I have checked that location twice since and managed a few bass each time. But, it did not appear to be a school – just miscellaneous fish. I just kept moving and cranking the Trap. Stan and I have concluded that the best approach for bass right now is to drift just north of that woodline crank Rat-L-Traps until you locate fish. Last week, I picked up four dragging shiners across the area of F-3, again north of the woodline in open water with a clean bottom.
If you attempt this approach of working just north of the Farm 13 woodline, take note that the distance the woodline is from the south bank of Farm 13 INCREASES as you move east-to-west. The locations of change correspond to the north/south canals.
We have had a bit of rain recently and the spillway in the SE corner of the Farm has been running at a slow to medium rate. During the past few months, water flow from this spillway has produced very few fish. However, there are a few moving into it now. I was there on a Tuesday trying to find bass for the next day’s fishing party. One guide was fishing in the water flow. But, I only saw his party catch 4 catfish and one small bass in an hour. After that guide left, another boat confirmed that the guide and his party had not caught much. That guide knows how to fish that moving water location very, very well. So, it indicated a lack of fish, not ability.
I continued to move around the edges of the water flow, trying to get a bite or two using other techniques. Then, I saw what might have been the start of some bass moving into the area. I did not see bass, but I DID see a large school of small gizzard shad. They were just the right size to be prime bass forage. Previously, all I had seen were the large shad that the Ospreys prey on, plus gar, needlefish, catfish and mudfish rolls. I watched to see if I could see the smaller baitfish again and soon found they were generally confined to an area of the water flow next to an eddy area. I anchored the boat and actually caught 10 bass, with one being 6-7 lbs., and all the rest being 3-4 lbs. Considering how tough fishing had been on the Farm 13/Stick Marsh impoundment, that almost seemed like a miracle to me.
Taking a chance that the water would continue to run, I took my party to that spillway location the next morning. The other guide was there once again. But, he was not close to where I had seen the schools of small baitfish and did not do well at all. Having the advantage of baitfish location, we went through our six dozen shiners and caught some nice bass. There were no monsters, but all were good fish and one was better than six lbs. An interesting thing was that we caught no chain pickerel or mudfish, and only a couple of catfish. Usually, those fish pester you badly when using shiners in moving water. This pattern may hold up for awhile, since the rain is continuing for a few days. And, if the bass continue to move into the basin, it may get to be easy fishing again.
Speaking of moving water, that pump station on the east wall of Farm 13 has run a good bit lately. However, I am yet to find bass using it. That is an odd circumstance, when compared with past years. I really don’t know an answer for it, unless the bass are just clustered too far away from that area to sense the water flow. However, if catfish are your thing, that location is loaded with them when the pump is running.
Good old Garcia Reservoir. What a beautiful place – loaded with grass and loaded with fish. There are not as big as the ones in the Stick Marsh, but there are sure LOTS of them. On one trip, we worked the ditches and the submerged levees of the ditches and caught lots of bass, bluegills and a few crappie. The best lure was a small spinnerbait. Then, we started to work the old farmland flats between the ditches. These old fields have a nearly 100% coverage of mostly submerged grass. In some places, the grass tops out. But, most locations have 2-3 feet of open water over the grass. We found a lot of bass and pickerel using these open water areas. And, they appeared to be grouped in some locations. An unweighted RIPPIN’ Stick jerk bait, in JuneBug or Green Pumpkin, worked great. The standard ZOOM Super Fluke was also a top producer. The small spinnerbait worked well where the grass thinned at bit, and a Mann’s Minus One would draw them to the top. Stan Daniel advised us that he did well on a ChugBug out over the grass on one recent outing.
We also found fine jerk bait and fluke action on the shallow, wooded side of the canal connecting Garcia to the Farm 13 spillway.
In every case in November and December, we have had winds. Don’t forget that drift sock Tipster. It makes or breaks your day. Plus, remember that Garcia is ALWAYS fishable in the worst of winds. You have to adapt a little, based on wind direction. But, Garcia has enough windbreaks and grass to buffer nearly all the waves. The drift sock is a big help on Garcia when drifting the old farmland. Just tie it off short so it rides above the grass a bit.
15 December 2006
Gary Atwell is an old friend and we were once members of Virginia’s Old Dominion Bass Club together. Finally retired, Gary is striving to catch-and-release all the fish the World has to offer. He has fished with us many times in the past, as our fishing report diary shows.
This time, we opted to go to Garcia and just have fun catching lots of fish. With both of us fishing, it soon became obvious that the bass were ready and willing to work on a fluke and a RIPPIN’ Stick. It also became obvious that I had a jinx on me and Gary had been practicing that ‘clean living’. I think he easily caught five bass to my one, and had many, many more strikes that I did. He was a master with that fluke that day. We fished the open water between the north/south ditches in the north part of Garcia. It was cloudy and cool and the bass were right up near the surface, it appeared. Many strikes came as the jerk bait touched down. We later moved into the canal that connects Garcia to the Farm 13 spillway and found fish along the south side flat. There are some BIG bass in that location.
14 December 2006
Ron Bartley and Marc Bergerman had heard so much about the extraordinary crappie catching going on in the Stick Marsh this year that they just had to experience it for themselves. I advised them that a half-day trip would provide all the crappie action they wanted, so we booked it accordingly. We had a two-day window to work with and finally selected the one that gave us the best chance of staying dry!!
Obviously, when we met at the ramp, it was raining. But, it quickly stopped and just spit at us most of the time. Not enough to get wet, but enough to make you keep the FroggToggs at hand. Thinking it might start to rain hard, I suggested we start our with the PERFECT jig right around the ramp area. We never did locate a bona-fied school of crappie, but still managed a 10 keepers in 30 minutes.
About that time, the sky lightened up a lot and we decided to take the minnows to Farm 13 and try for the giant crappie out in the open water. Hey, no guts no air medal!!
We were lucky and did not get rained on much. Just light stuff and light winds. Only one drift sock was required even when the wind did blow. Our first drift was great and put a dozen crappie in the livewell, with 6-8 of them being really big slabs. We had nearly one limit in the boat by then. Our second drift started out OK, with some quick bites on the minnows. But then the strikes stopped and we only had one every 10 minutes, or so. We tried another drift and still the action stayed slow. We all agreed to go back to the jigs.
Firing up the BLAZER, we hustled down to the SE spillway basin. That location is FULL of crappie. But, for some reason, they are hard to catch on minnows. I have learned to just go with the PERFECT jig and find the fish. The key is to get 2-3 strikes in one spot. When that happens, the rest of the school will get competitive and the action gets wild. This day was no exception. We worked 10-30 off the banks and started to catch crappie quickly, but many were small. So, we would move from the smaller fish and keep looking. Sure enough, we managed to get two schools to work for us, with one being large crappie in the 12-13 inch range. This was Ron’s day to dominate with the jig and he had those big slabs coming over the side in a steady stream.
When all the foam on the water had settled, Marc had landed the largest fish, a 2-LB (+) beauty and the guys had filled a big cooler with limits of the great eating crappie. Factoring in all the small fish that were released, I suspect there were 80-90 crappie caught, with most of them on the PERFECT jig. Now, that’s fun fishing!!
13 December 2006
John Czodli is in the construction business and wanted to take some of his clients out for a day of fun and fishing. We worked hard at finding a window of good weather and good fishing for John. I believe we re-scheduled this trip 4-5 times due to high winds, poor fishing, or rain. This time everything came together. I found some good fish on a small section moving water at the Farm 13 spillway and the weather stayed comfortable. Plus, the fish really cooperated for us well.
We met John, Steve Elder, and Kevin Lund at the ramp right as the early morning rain ended. Arriving at the spillway, we found a boat sitting right where we wanted to fish. He wasn’t fishing where the bass were located, but he still blocked our preferred boat position. Luckily, we have enough experience on that impoundment to know how we can adjust to that. So, we anchored off just a bit down from our primary location, but still we able to place our shiners in the ‘sweet spot’. Another guide was also fishing the moving water. But, he had fallen on ‘Catfish City’ and did not do well with bass. Our location was a bit ‘special’, in that I had found schools of small gizzard shad holding right on a eddy of the moving water right out from where I anchored.
We rigged the shiners in a free-line manner, with just enough weight above them to give them incentive to stay down near the bottom. It wasn’t long until the fish bass walloped a shiner. Then, another and another. . Kevin boated the first three or four. Suddenly, Steve set the hook on a fish and we all thought he was hung for a moment. Then, a big 6-lb. (+) bruiser came to the top and swirled. Steve held on and soon she was safely in the net. Soon thereafter, John had a fish on, which was obviously the giant bass of the day. She came partway out of the water on the jump and tossed the hook, but we got a good look at her huge body. John said he wanted the other guys to catch the fish, so he was just being a gentleman by letting the bass get away.
Steve had the ‘an odd thing happened on the way to the pond’ event this day. Setting he hook on a good bass, he hooked and played the fish for 5-10 seconds. Suddenly, the line went slack and she was gone. Reeling the line in, we were all very surprised to see not one, but two shiners on Steve’s hook. One was the one I had originally hooked through the lips and it was still on by the lips. On the hook outside that shiner was another! It was a little deteriorated, as though partially digested, and was hooked through the body. We could only assume the bass had swallowed Steve’s shiner sufficiently far enough down his gullet and to allow the hook to catch onto another shiner he had recently eaten. Strange things sometimes happen when fishing!!
Before long we had burned up all the shiners and everyone was about spent from jerking bass. It was such good fishing, the anglers even bypass a scheduled lunch break!!
1 December 2006
Sam Carmichael signed on for a half-day of big Farm 13 crappie. Being a local guy, Sam and I played ‘musical dates’ to try and find a day of good weather.
We left the ramp and made our way to the east side of Farm 13. Checking with our trusty GPS, we lined up our first drift on a track that had produced some of those 2 to 2-1/2 lb. slabs recently. We put a number of 12-foot fiberglass poles over the side, each weighted to stay down near the bottom and baited with live minnows.
The winds worked on us, so we put out our drift socks to slow us down. It worked like a charm. The crappie were plentiful. Even though we caught a large number of small fish, there were lots of the big crappie spread out across the open water. Sam had some real giants in this catch.
28 November 2006
John and Diane Leyczek are old friends and have been out with us in the past. Both love to fish, but work keeps them from being on the water sufficiently to stay up with the current fishing conditions. So, they called a guide who fishes nearly everyday!!
We delayed John and Diane’s trip a couple of times, trying of miss bad weather and our unusually strong winds. Finally we had a day that worked, even though it did spit rain at us a couple of times. Thankfully, no one got wet. But, thankfully, John and Diane DID get ‘fished’!
We started out over in the open waters of the NE section of Farm 13. Our method was to drift minnows just off the bottom. As has been pretty standard in the past, this method of fishing turned some big crappie. The livewells began to fill.
Looking both south and north, we saw some heavy rain showers develop and move across east-to-west. But, we were ‘living right’ and they missed us entirely. This kept up for some time, with our luck holding out well. (I later found out that my friend Lou Daniels and his daughter were way south of us, at the spillway, and got drenched.) As we tossed crappie into the livewell, I kept watching the weather. Soon, a big area of rain developed out on the coast and started to move right at us. It was not too wide, so I suggested we run south to the SE corner of the Farm and its spillway for awhile.
That worked well and again we stayed dry. In the spillway basin, we broke out the PERFECT Jigs and started searching for a school of big crappie. It took possibly 30 minutes of hit-and-miss with small fish before we connected. There, about 40 feet off the east shore grassline, we found a big school suspended at about 6 feet. We would count the jigs down a couple of counts and then use a slow, steady retrieve. Those crappie we so plentiful and easy to catch that we never went back to the minnows.
24 November 2006
If you don’t know it yet, fishing with kids is ‘where it’s at’. As a guide, I really look forward to Fathers and their kids and Grandparents with grandchildren. I don’t think I have ever had a bad trip with these sorts of groups either. Young kids usually have a short attention span, which often makes entertaining them and keeping their attention hard. But, I have found that it only takes about two fish to get and hold their attention all day. The Farm 13/Stick Marsh is such a great fishery that catching those first two fish is usually a quick and easy task. The kids take over after that. They watch for strikes and see those even we experienced adults miss. They want to bait the hooks, take the fish off, and even put them in the livewell. Pretty soon, they are having ball and I have nothing to do but watch. I love it!!
Such it was when Terry Merrion brought his grandsons, Parker (10 years old) and Stuart (12) Bell to fish with us on the Stick Marsh.
We went for crappie and it was crappie the group got! We drifted those minnows in the open water of Farm 13 in the vicinity of coordinates F-6. There have been lots of big crappie in and around that location all year. Actually, the crappie seems to be all across the north half of the Farm. It is all flat, open bottom, except where the old north/south canals ran. Nothing to get hung on and no grass yet. Just a lot of baitfish running for their lives and a lot of predators chasing them.
The boys got started pretty quickly, with some big crappie coming aboard right away. Then, we hit an area where the crappie were small. I almost pull up and started the drift again, when the big fish started to hit the minnows again. We made 4 or 5 drifts, catching good numbers and sizes of fish each time. Soon, we had all the fish Terry wanted to clean, and then some.
Those kids liked that fishing. Stuart and Parker will probably be worthless as husbands some day. All they will want to do is fish all the time. Important things like jobs, money and wives may all take second place to fishing!! Darn, they may turn out more like me, rather than their Grandpa! One of them had better go make good friends with 10-year old Lindsey Adams (see the pictures with the 17 November 06 report). She has been bitten by that same fishing bug!
10 December 2006
"On 30 Nov, my fellow guide, Stan Daniel, and I decided to try and figure out
the problem with the Stick Marsh bass.
We may have found the answers. But, it will have to work a couple of more
times to be sure.
We caught, or had on, 8 small fish in real shallow water in the wood at the
very south end of the Farm. Worm, jig, spinnerbait.
Then, we were out in the open water of the Farm when Stan spotted a huge
school running baitfish everywhere. It was possibly the largest school
either of us had ever seen. However, as we managed to get on them, we think
it could have been multiple school of different sizes of bass. The winds
were 15-25, so there was a good chop on the water. But, the surface action
was so strong, you could see the fish and the baitfish clearing the water.
We drifted down through the area three times using a wind sock to slow us.
Each time, we'd get 2-3 small bass. We decided to try an anchor just upwind
from the estimated location of the main breaking activity we had seen. The
first time we tried, even 2 anchors would not hold in the wind. We moved a
bit further over and finally got the anchors to hold. Every 15 minutes, or
so, there would be 2-6 breakers come up on the baitfish. A Rat-L-Trap was
fine. A Carolina-rigged worm also worked well.
There appeared to be three separate schools of bass in range of the boat.
The one to the north side was 8-12 inch fish. The one to our west was 2 to 3
lbs. There were some larger ones that broke too far for us to reach them and
we ran out of daylight before we tried to set up on them. I expect we caught
25+ and had another dozen come off the Rat-L-Traps when they jumped. At one
spot, Stan must have caught nearly a dozen small ones in 20 casts.
Using the Carolina worm, we determined the bottom in the open water area to
have a LOT of shells, probably big shell beds. We are sure because we
snagged large shells off the bopttom 3-4 times when we let the crank plug
get to close to the bottom.
Whether we can do this successive times remains to be seen. But, it does
give a very positive indication that the previously 'uncatchable' bass
population in the Stick Marsh/ Farm 13 is probably just fine. And, that they
are exactly where we had anticipated they would be -- out in the open water
working the baitfish.
A good point to remember is that these bass will be moving into pre-spawn
modes by Christmas. So, we should see more and more return to the shallow,
wooded areas of the south farm and the north and west walls of the Stick
Today's Weather for
the Stick Marsh Area
Past Stick Marsh Fishing Reports
Farm 13 / Stick Marsh Information Guide
Email questions to email@example.com.
Recommended sites by The Fishin' Tipster
A common question that we get: "Is there somewhere close to get bait and tackle?" This is where we get our bait.
Pete and Tina Heinz / 9 South Mulberry St. / Fellsmere, FL 32948 / 772-571-9855
Get your site listed here
Let us help you drive more targeted traffic to your site.
Rank our Site
©Copyright 2001-07 All rights reserved by Jim Porter, any reproduction, quotation or other use of this site or its elements is prohibited without the express written permission of Jim Porter
FROGG TOGGS RAIN GEAR
THE BEST PRICES AVAILABLE!!