FARM 13 / STICK MARSH FISHING REPORTS
FOR THE MONTH OF OCTOBER 2006
31 October 2006
We are continuing to try and get back up-to-speed at the Farm 13/Stick Marsh impoundment, after being gone for the summer. Here is what we found on 29 and 30 Oct 06..
Since I had found a few bass and crappie in the Stick Marsh a couple of days earlier, Lou Daniels and I took the drive around to Kenansville Lake the other day. That sure was a waste, unfortunately.
The water is two feet low and very dirty. Of course, the fish are still there. But, we spent two hours without even getting live minnows bit one time. So, until we get some rain and the water levels come up, I suggest we write Kenansville off our list. Additionally, it is a 114-mile round-trip drive from Palm Bay!! It has been a fabulous place in past years. But, between the hurricanes of 2004 killing off all the grasses and the drought of 2005-2006 dropping the water levels, it is just tough fishing.
Be sure to keep in mind that, with that low water, it is next to impossible to get a boat of any size out into Kenansville Lake, itself. You are basically confined to the three perimeter canals. If you ground out, you cannot get out of the boat and push your rig free. The bottom is mostly pure muck and you’ll sink right into it.
Here are a couple of other things associated with Kenansville Lake that have changed recently. The small canal at the northeast corner of the lake (the one that connected the lake to Big M canal and eventually to Blue Cypress Lake) has been plugged up. So, you no long can run to and from Blue Cypress. Plus, the overflow culverts in the connecting canal will no longer drain excess water from Kenansville. A new overflow structure was built next to the ramp to control lake water levels. Basically, just dug out the levee just east of the ramp. So, the level of the lake, whenever it fills again, will be the overflow level through that opening.
Another note for safety and convenience is appropriate, along with a word of criticism for the people who made these modifications. It appears that the dirt dug from the levee to construct the overflow was dumped right into the canal at the boat ramp!! The water is now only 1.5 feet deep for about 20 yards and until you get to the overflow mouth. I realize that this will not be a problem when (if) the water levels ever come back to normal. But, it seems a little ‘fetched’ to fill the navigable canal in. The same situation exists at the northeast corner where the connecting canal was plugged. The water in that corner was 11 feet deep at normal pool, and should be around 8 feet now. It is actually 3-4 feet. I really don’t know where that fill dirt came from unless the construction folks missed the plughole a lot. It sure messes up the deepest place in Kenansville and one very good crappie location.
Lou and I left Kenansville and went around to State Road 60 and eventually to the Stick Marsh. No need to waste the entire day, we figured. We decided to try and pinpoint more crappie locations. Plus, with all the queries I have been getting about guide trips for the big bluegills, we were going to evaluate that, as well.
We only had a few hours, so we started on the east/west canal across the Farm 13 section. I had connected with some giant crappie in that canal two days earlier, so we figured to just work a few hundred yards more on it and see if the crappie were present there, too. The water still looked dirty. But, I now think it is actually just a stain from the decayed vegetation. There appears to be no sediment or suspended particulates in it. Sure enough, we found them home. It was not the school of giants, though some were good sized. But, it let us know with confidence that they are inhabiting the canals.
We then moved over to the Farm’s east wall and tried working the small canal that runs along it. All the crappie we found were very small. BUT, we stumbled on a school one-pound (+) bluegills and shellcrackers the impoundment is so famous for.
The school was in a location just off the rocks in maybe 2 feet of water. They sure were big suckers. You can see the size in the photo of Lou and two of his 'friends' at the top of this report! I don’t know why they were there, but they were very active and jumped on the cinnamon/chartreuse PERFECT Jig like it was to be their last meal!! ‘Gills and Shellcrackers the size of these will put a permanent bow in an ultralite rod. Pound for pound, these are some of the strongest fish you can catch. We caught a half livewell full for Lou’s freezer before the sun dipped low.
The next day (yesterday as I write this), I made the drive to the Stick Marsh and resumed trying to get back on the fish well again. Lots of people have called about crappie trips and I have been telling them to let me be sure I can get them on the fish before we pick a firm date. I DO NOT like to take someone out if we don’t have an excellent chance of doing really well. The Stick marsh is just too darn good a fishing hole to have to put up with mediocre fishing days.
Since I had already found I could probably get the crappie pretty well from the canal depths, I decided to work on last year’s fantastic pattern that produced so many giant crappie (2-pounds and up). That pattern was simply to drift the open waters of Farm 13 with minnows, keeping the live bait just off the bottom.. I tried this on my first trip out last week, without success. That’s what had forced me to develop the canal pattern. This time, however, I went to the area that had produced the best last year and that was the northeast section of the Farm.
With the 15-20 MPH winds from the northeast and east, I would start of drift from the east side. To keep the drift speed reasonable, I used two drift socks/sea anchors. At times, the wind laid some and I would pull one sock in. I used a good amount of weight to keep the minnows down 1-2 feet off the bottom, leaving 10 inches of line for the hook and minnow to trail behind the weight.
My first drift started at about coordinates G-6 (see the interactive map on our web site) and terminated at the submerged canal at approximately F-5. That pass brought 14 crappie to the boat, with 3 being huge and 2 being small throwbacks. I made 2 more drifts, one north of and one slightly south of the first drift trail, with generally equal results. As I drifted, I tried to toss a jig, as well. Just as last year, the jig would draw some strikes, but minnows were best.
So, I would say we have it made with crappie for this season. With no grass to hold the baitfish and the crappie, they are all still schooled out in all that open water, just as before. They are constantly moving and you will just have to drift to catch them. But, it is easy fishing and very productive.
I don’t think the crappie are only in the areas that I fished the past few days Last year, we found them everywhere in the open water of the Farm. The northern half seemed best for numbers, while the areas closer to the center east/west canal seemed to turn more giants. It all open water over an old farm, with no grass and no wood. Drifting that live bait is the way to go.
I made the calls to our waiting list last night with all these results and advised that I think we can schedule firm dates now. November is now about full, with maybe 6 days still available. If you have the equipment and boat, you can do this fishing without the benefit of a guide. Just have a drift sock to slow your boat in windy weather. Plus, I suggest a GPS to draw your drift routes so you can always go back to one that was exceptionally productive.
27 October 2006
As promised, we made it to the pond yesterday to check out the summer reports of poor fishing. Here is what we found.
First and foremost, the Farm 13/Stick Marsh is a dangerous place right now. The water is approximately 20-24 inches low. That's just slightly lower than when I left for the summer in late May. If you are not intimately familiar with the impoundment, you and your boat are at risk navigating it. Since we are about past the normally-wet summer months, I am not sure there is any hope of the levels coming up. I don't think the low water will effect the fishing at all. But, it sure effects the locations you can operate a boat safely.
Plus, the bottoms of boats working the south end of the Farm are going to take a beating. To minimize that, always operate the trolling motor on very low speed. That way, you won't drag up on top of one of those submerged stumps to hard or too far. Second, to protect the trolling motor, its prop and shear pin, raise the trooling motor as high as you can get it and still push water. Mine was actually blowing out at low speeds yesterday. That's how high up I set it.
The water looks dirty and visibilty is only 1.5 feet, or so. I don't see the sediment in the water that we had last year. It just looks 'colored', if that sounds right. Maybe it is tannic acid from all the decayed vegetation. I started in the SE conrner of the farm and worked over to the section west of the center north/south canal (coordinates F-2 to C-3/D-3 on the interactive map on our web site). I just fished certain places as I moved across the area. 3 shiner bass came from a big pile of submerged logs vicinity E-2.5. Then, nothing more until we got to about C-3/D-3, where we filmed the ESPN show last May. Had four blow-ups on the shiners, with one fish caught. The, we got a couple on the 3/8th oz. jig and one on a Texas rigged worm.
Whatever, the basses would chase the shiners a little for me. They even blew them up on the top. But, it was not up to par, at all. That was in maybe 4 hrs. One was close to 4 lbs.; the rest just 2-3. It might be that we could drag the shiners behind the boat and cover a lot of water until we find a concentration.
I spent the last two hours looking for crappie. I tried drifting the minnows and PERFECT Jigs in the open water of the Farm. First two places were bummers. The third place I tried was the east/west canal taht runs across the farm. I was in the eastern-most section. It was full of them. Well, 12 anyway. One weighed 2.2 lbs., even with no eggs. (see attached pics). When that quit, I went down to the SE corner spillway and worked the grassy side on the east bank. There were a lot of 4-8 inch crappie along that grass, but I found no size to speak of. maybe one keeper (12 inches). I suspect the larger ones where out a bit deeper off the grass. Now, what I need to do, is find more crappie in concentrations. I get enough parties for crappie to offset the bass, I think. Just become 'Little ole perch-jerker me'.
I will be back out Mon and Tues to try and get back in the groove. If Monday goes well, we will have Mr. Bennett and son out on Tuesday for the first real trip of the fall season.
More reports to follow.
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