FARM 13 / STICK MARSH FISHING REPORT
October 30, 2001
We had a half-day with our Watts Bar, Tenn. friend Johnny Hyde and his brother-in-law, Tony. Johnny said he wanted 2 things - to see that Swimming Worm thing work and to get Tony on fish (because Tony had to go back to the cold hills of Tenn. today).
Winds were still tough and out of the NE. But, I think both goals were well accomplished. We played the winds to our advantage by getting into an area where the wind funneled water currents into grass beds and also through openings in the vegetation. We also got big grass flats between us and the on-coming winds and waves. By doing these things, we situated ourselves for the most probable active fish and also assured the calmest water we could find. It worked well and in 2.5 hours of fishing, Johnny and Tony had 40 bass on the funny lure (actually, I think it was 44; I did not count at the start and then not until they had hit 6 fish from one small spot). None were big fish, but they were ready and willing to 'get with the program'. I believe Tony also caught the most, which was probably the way Johnny wanted it. Through all those fish, I never had to replace any of the lures. They got a big roughed up, but kept right on bringing in the fish.
Totals for three full days and 2 half days in the past week are 155 bass (approx), with 1 at 10lb, 1 at 8lb, 1 at 7 lb, 6 at 5lb, and a whole passel of small ones. Which just shows that the tough weather doesn't necessarily stop the fish (usually it just stops the fishermen).
October 29, 2001
Fishing success continues great at the Marsh. Our final two parties of last week were a half-day and a full day trip. The weather cooperated fine for our half day on Thursday, but was really rough for Saturday's outing.
Rick Nemeth and his son, Brian, scheduled half a day to have a Father/Son outing. Brian just finished his advanced individual Navy training at the Great Lakes Navel Station and is on his way to assignment on the USS Eisenhower (carrier). With the Eisenhower presently in dry-dock at Norfolk for maintenance, Brian was able to take a few days leave enroute. Our small batch of domestic shiners proved a bad batch, in that they had no stamina and quickly put down by the warm waters. (NOTE: Before you purchase domestic shiners, ALWAYS check the tank quickly to see if there are dead ones and if they are lively.) But, they managed to turn some fish and everyone got into the 'catching' act (see photos). When the shiners ran out, we went to a canal grass line for an introduction to the Swimming Worm. The lure did not let us down. Although no big fish were taken, the quantities were good. As we went to try and find a few crappies, Storms started to move in in advance of a major cold front and ran us off a little early. All in all, it was a fine afternoon.
On Friday night, a major cold front moved through. Saturday morning found us in the middle of a cold air mass and 40 MPH winds. Ted Reynolds and his friend, Crawford Flynn, were undaunted, however, and opted to go on out. Armed with 8 dozen shiners and some warm down jackets, we headed for the SE corner of the Farm and whatever windbreak we might find in the big floodgate basin. Hugging the west side of the basin with 2 anchors, our brave shiners fooled the bass into thinking it was not really a cold front, but that someone had just left the refrigerator door open. Swimming with wild abandon, the shiners did their jobs and a lot of bass came over the side. Ted even fished a shiner in the small opening between the boat and the shoreline grass and took a nice fish (see photo). Alas, there were no giants. But, a good number were in the 4-5 pound class.Crawford put it on Ted pretty good with the shiners, something Crawford swore had never happened before. And, Crawford said it was the largest quantity of bass he had taken on a single fishing trip. Considering Crawford is getting along in years, I thought he did a heck of a job hook-setting and wrestling those fish in (see photo).
After about 4-5 hours, the shiners ran low and, amazingly, the wind slacked to a 'comfortable' 20 MPH. Since it was still blowing out of the NW, Ted, Crawford and I decided to try the SW corner of the Farm in hopes it might provide some windbreak. Sure enough, the direct winds were blocked by the Big M canal levee and its trees and all we had to contend with was some eddy wind gusts. The heavy grass beds also helped by knocking down the waves (actually more like rollers in the surf!). After a quick introduction to the Swimming Worm method of fishing, Ted managed to beat Crawford to the first cast. And, sure enough, he took a bass. From then on, both Ted and Crawford took fish after fish on the Swimming Worm, only stopping occasionally to adjust the arc of the body so it would 'swim' the way they preferred. Even with the large quantity of fish being taken on the Swimming Worm lure, neither angler managed a large fish. In fact, most of the bass dispersed in that area were small. All the good fish must have been at the shiner hole awaiting the next anglers to come and hand-feed them. But, our small fish were very aggressive and plentiful and all had a great time.
The prime fishing period of Nov - March is filling fast. So, if you plan to make a reservation with us for a specific date, I suggest you do so soon.
October 23, 2001
Great fishing! The Stick Marsh is off to a great Fall season for our clients/friends.
[NOTE: I want to use those words ('clients' and 'friends') together so we denote guide trips vs. just our own fun fishing. But, in all the guide trips we have had the pleasure of doing, I think we have made new friends of each and every 'client'. I cannot recall a one trip where, at the end of they day, it did not seem as though we had been fishing together for years. Fishermen are a good breed of folks and give positive meaning to the statement that "A stranger is just a new friend you haven't met yet."]
We just finished up great trips with brother teams Bill and Von Molen, from Brandenton, Fl., and Don and Charlie Lane from Michigan. Both teams did excellent!!
Bill got his giant bass during the trip, and we got great pictures of the whole thing. The action photo shot you see with this update shows Bill keeping the big girl out of the grass behind the boat. The hold-up photo shows the giant bass is all her glory before Bill released her. She was Bill's largest bass ever! Her mouth would have swallowed a volleyball. She came on a swimming worm-type lure, but not mine (darn it). Von was a less-experience fisherman than brother Bill, but adapted quickly to a spinning rod and our Swimming Worm rig. And, by the end of the day, he was whacking them like a pro. As I recall, he caught his first bass on his third cast with the lure. Armed with that new confidence, he caught just about as many as anyone from then on (see photo). Von did not get his giant, but did catch some nice fish.
The Lane brothers drove 1200 miles from the cold (and getting colder every day!) North Country to fish the Stick Marsh with us. They were not disappointed! The first shiner tossed into the water was immediately chased back to the top and blown up on three times before the bass got it (see photos; Don has the hat on). That really got our hearts racing!!! Charlie's end of the boat was the lucky seat and wound up with the larger bass boated, to include one true giant (see photo; no hat). She was Charlie's largest bass ever! Two other really big fish tossed the hook before getting to the boat. The last shiner fish of the day also drove the shiner to the surface and blew up on it 3-4 times before hooking up. Great action!! But, alas, it was also the last shiner. We took Don and Charlie over to the area where Bill Molen had gotten his giant bass on the artificial lure. We found the concentration of fish was still in the same general location, but had moved just slightly to shallower water. These were mostly small bass, with an occasional decent fish to keep it interesting. Both Charlie and Don caught good numbers on the Swimming Worm and lightly weighted soft plastic lures, but the giant bass eluded us. The 'biggy' catch of the day, though, was approximately 40 inches long and tried to share the big STRATOS with us. His name was 'Cotton J. Mouth' and he actually broke a fang trying to bite the windshield. We gave him a permanent headache and sent him to Davy Jones' locker.
We even managed to help a fellow guide with some located fish. Randy Sanders indicated he had a client who wanted to catch crappie, as well as bass. So, we told Randy right where the crappie were. Luckily, the fish had not moved (the usual story of my life) and they got 40 keepers. Later, when we went to catch a half dozen for supper, we found them to be a bit 'thinned out'. However, we found another big school dispersed along a grass line about 50 yards away. What this tells us is that water has cooled enough now to really start the crappie-catching season!
Water is normal pool level and clean. Grass is matted and dense on the surface in most of the Marsh and on the north end of the Farm. Some open water on the west and east ends of the Marsh, and a lot of good open water on the south end of the Farm. With the big rains this past weekend, expect the gates to run some starting Wednesday. We saw a lot of logs caught in the thick grass mats, so take care powering across the vegetation. The road is fair, at best. Lots of tax money was wasted on that so-called 'improvement project'.
October 18, 2001
Following up on yesterday's 'just back in town' report, we took a young man (son of a co-worker) out for a few hours yesterday afternoon to check the status of the crappie.
As predicted, the cooling water temperatures have moved the crappie from the dark beneath the thick grass mats to the edges of the grass in many places. Remember, this is a very predictable pattern, as we have said before. When the first good Fall cool snap hits Florida and affects the water by 10 degrees, the crappie will move. It happens just like the sun rises and the moon sets daily.
In this case, we targeted submerged grass in 4-7 feet of water right along the dropline into some of the old canals. The canals we worked were 10-12 feet deep in their centers, with grass growing down to 7-8 feet along the edges. Most of the crappie we found (see photo) we VERY aggressive and would hit the small 1/16th oz jigs almost immediately. That placed them in the 3-4 foot range in the grass, itself. We presented the jigs right at the edge of the visible grass at where the water was around three feet deep and could occasionally see the flash of the crappie as he went on the jig. Aggressiveness like this is normally associated with protection of spawning area, but the eggs in the crappie have not even started to develop yet. So, possibly, Mother Nature just causes a 'dry run' for practice purposes. We really have no way of knowing for sure.
NOTE: Minnows are going to work even better than jigs, if you try for these fish now. Set your bobbers at 2-3 feet and stay just outside the visible grass.
October 17, 2001
Been in the mountains for 2 weeks and am way behind. You NC folks sure have got cold weather in them thar hills!! Caught a ton of rainbow and brown trout.
We made a 2-inch Swimming Worm derivative that was absolutely devastating to the rainbows and other river fish in NC. Guess we will have some made to sell. Really looks like something great. Will have a story on it and some pictures on the web site soon so you can see the lure.
Also, went to a trout farm that held 800,000 rainbows. Does the heart good to see that many fish in one spot. See the pictorial and story here on the site now.
Dropped by the Marsh late yesterday. Road had been graded (Tues) and was OK. But, it will be garbage again by Friday, so plan accordingly. Really gets rough now; the old washboard thing. Drive slowly and protect your stuff. Water is down from the earlier super high levels and it at normal pool. That means you can run in all the normal places, with due care taken on the Marsh side (if you don't know the area consult the interactive map and note where it indicates stumps and timber areas on both the Marsh and farm sides). The grass is tough now. With the water level drop, the grass is now thick and matted on the surface of both the farm and the marsh. It will bog down smaller motors and overheat them. It will also reduce the water flow to the cooling system on big motors, so avoid running across the thick grass areas. Also, lots of floaters lodged in that grass.
No gates were running and the present cold front coming through has little to no rain to help that condition. Water was clean and looked good. Some open water at the east and west ends of the marsh side and on the south end of the farm. South end of the Farm is a best-bet, in my opinion.
Take note: it will be bad windy from the North and NW on Wed as that front clears. The north end of the marsh will be fishable, as well as the exit canal northwest of the ramp.
Remember the submerged grass lines along the sides of that exit canal. Good bass use it. Plus, there have been good groups of large shellcrackers and small crappie on the same grass. The larger crappie are probably suspended in schools in the open water in the center of the canal.
Expect some wind in the AM on Thurs, but it will drop by noon. Also, expect the temp to drop 7-10 degrees, with Thurs morning being the coldest.
Yesterday, we fished fast and moved quickly for only a couple of hours, but never found any schools and only hit a few singles. The Swimming Worm did most of the damage. It is really in its element with all the grass to toss around and over.
Word is topwater has been good. I can find no one to support this, so I would not count on it every day. Crappie were unbelievable when I left last month. And, with the cooling weather, we can expect them to move to the edges of the grass and the canals. That always happens every year when the first fall cool-down comes. You have to hunt them up. But, when you find them, there will be a lot. Remember, crappie (like most fish) school primarily by year group and size. So, if all you are getting are small, move on and find another bunch that is bigger. Bluegills are doing really good on crickets and will work on small jigs once you find a good concentration.
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the Stick Marsh Area
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