Catching Casitas Fire

I should have posted this 2 days ago. But, the Caveboy’s birthday celebration got “in the way”. Oh, well! ;)

Lake Casitas Day StarterAfter being on the DL for nearly a month with a major muscle tear on the back of my ribcage, I finally hit the water again. Thanks to the generous invitation by fellow UFC member and fishing fanatic, Rick “R2” Raives, to join him on his cherry red Skeeter for a day of fishing on Lake Casitas near Ojai, CA. It looked to be excellent conditions with high air temps at 78°, little or no breeze, overcast grey skies, and tons of Shad in 4-14 feet of water. Our expectations for a good top water bite, and incredible action overall, were very high.

We started our day about 6:20am on a particularly fishy bank … usually. We could see and graph bait everywhere. But, for some reason, the fish were nowhere to be found. Nothing busting the Shad on the surface and very few marks on the electronics. Though, we kept hitting the banks and secondary points along the shoreline. Finally, after about 40 minutes, Rick got bit on a split-shot Don Iovino Little Slugger. Unfortunately, the fish wouldn’t stay hooked. However, it only took a few more minutes before I was able to get this tournament sized day-starter on the same set-up.

4 Pound Lake Casitas BassAlthough, this definitely emboldened our outlook, the fish still weren’t cooperating. The bites were few and far in between, and the few we did get were nipping at the tail. We switched over to the other side of the channel and, about halfway down, we entered a little cove. As we came to the back of it, R2 mentioned that he had gotten some fish in the middle of the bay as his cast settled into that exact zone. I turned to him and said, “Well then, you ought to get bit right now!”. Not three seconds later I saw him reel down and lean back into the hookset. Six pound line immediately began pulling off of his reel … this was a nice fish. I grabbed the net and anxiously waited as the fish repeatedly dove to the depths. But, Rick stayed calm and expertly fought the fish into submission before holding this 4 pounder up for the victory pose.

After a couple more fish that weren’t photo worthy, we decided to make a run to another area we often find success. It starts with a nice 3+ Pound Lake Casitas Bassrocky bank. Unfortunately, the few fish we found there were on the diminutive side. Though, I did score the one fish we would get that wasn’t on the Iovino finesse bait … it inhaled a shad colored Markey Tommy Tailgunner. After working a long stretch of secondary points and banks, we came to a huge bay that had a boat fishing the far side. As soon as he spotted us, though, he pulled a 180 in an attempt to cut us off and keep the massive spot to himself. We didn’t come within range of each other until we had reached the very back of the cove. As we went to move around him some 100 yards clear, he kept casting at us to ensure his dominance of the area. R2 and I kind of laughed to ourselves until we were well clear. Suddenly, Rick hooked into a nice 2+ pounder, which clearly pissed off our fishing neighbor. He must have been livid, however, when Rick tied into this 3+ pound jumping and thrashing beast just two casts later.

We were still enjoying the instant karma rebate we had bestowed upon that guy when my day took a sudden painful turn. We were coming to the far point of the bay, where the flies and other insects were plentiful. I had been buzzed by what I 2+ Pound Lake Casitas Bassthought was a fly that stealthily landed on my hat. I was too busy trying to get my own karma fish when that “fly” climbed down to my hat’s edge and planted a stinger right into my left temple. I swung in vain at my attacker as it flew off, revealing itself to be a large wasp. Needless to say, it was quite painful … other than your eyes, lips, or genitals, I can’t think of a more sensitive spot. The side of my face throbbed the rest of the day. But, of course, it didn’t slow me down one bit. We continued on, catching a few more fish that weren’t worth a photo op. Even returning to our original area in the hopes that the bite had turned on there. It hadn’t. At least, not to the degree we were hoping.

It was getting late, so we decided to try one more spot that we can usually find willing participants. As we settled in to it, my very first cast got slammed. However, my hook returned with just a 1/4″ piece of my bait still attached. Though, it was a sign of things to come. A short time later, I hooked into another of the smaller keeper variety. Then, I got hammered by a fish that seemed to be of a larger model. Despite his dogged battling capabilities, this 2+ pounder’s lack of girth surprised us after sliding into the net.

3+ Pound Lake Casitas BassI hooked into a couple more before R2 finally joined in on the action of our new found honey hole. The further along we went, the more active the fish were becoming. We were even starting to see the first real surface busting we had witnessed all day long. As we turned the corner on this long stretch of bank, and I dragged my bait across the point, I felt the faintest of taps on my super-sensitive Big Bear finesse rod. I gave it a quick-snap hookset and watched as my rod went bendo. She instantly went airborne and really put on a show for us. It was my best fight of the day and ended up resulting in this 3+ pound fatty.

We nailed a couple more tourney-sized swimmers before we reluctantly had to leave them biting. When we tallied up our fish count on the way back in, Rick informed me that our 23 Bass total was the best his boat had seen on Lake Casitas. Certainly, my 14 fish score was my PB on that lake, as well. We didn’t land any monsters, but the action was good most of the day, and on fire at the end. It all definitely made the ride home enjoyable for us both … and, the throbbing in my head much less agonizing for me!

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Missed Opportunities

I know it has almost been a week since this trip occurred, but I have been very busy with the end of baseball playoffs and the beginning of the All-Star season (Yes, the Caveboy made it!). Such is the life of a Neanderthal Pony League manager, I suppose. With my excuses done, on to the story at hand.
My good friend and fellow UFC fishing fanatic Rick “R2” Raives offered to take me out on his red Skeeter for a day of fishing at Lake Casitas. We arrived at 6AM to temps in the 50’s, overcast skies, light winds, and warm slightly stained water. By the way, the lake is as low as I’ve ever seen it … the “marina” is about half a mile from where it normally is!
We started out on the North side of the lake. With the fish chasing the huge Shad spawn, I started out tossing a small Shad patterned Tommy Tail Gunner tail-spinner. On my third cast, my medium-heavy rod goes completely bendo on a nice sized fish. Unfortunately, halfway home, the fish just came unbuttoned without so much as a jump. Not the way to start one’s day! When I couldn’t get anymore action on that bait, I started tossing the new 2.75 Pound Lake Casitas BassDon Iovino Little Slugger in the Jorge Special pattern. It only took a couple of casts to get a taker … a very small keeper that wasn’t picture worthy. I followed that up with another cookie-cutter sized fish a few minutes later. This enticed my fishing partner to jump on board the pattern that was working and he quickly got the skunk off with our dinkiest fish of the day. Even though the fish were on not the biggest, they were really fighting hard for their size.
When that area slowed down, we moved to a rock-lined point and bank. I shot the tail-spinner parallel to the shore and got slammed a 1/3 of the way home. After a good tussle that felt like a 5+ pound fish, this 2.75 pounder found his way onto the boat and into the shot.
4+ Pound Lake Casitas BassI got hit a couple more times before we made our way to the back of the bay. As we cruised the back bank, I told Rick he was going to get nailed in this area. Not 30 seconds later, he was fighting a nice little keeper. He released that one without a pic. But, on the very next cast, he would tie into another fish … but, this one had some size to it. And, some fight. He battled the fish back and forth, yelling to me as I waited to net it “He’s sounding on me!”, as the fish repeatedly dove for deeper water. When the tussle finally ended he was posing with this quality 4 pound-class fish.
That was about the time the clouds broke and we began fishing under blue bird skies. Of course, it didn’t help the fishing. We got plenty of hits on the Little Sluggers, but they were tail-biting them and missing the hooks. I managed three more small keepers, while R2 got one more and a nice Rainbow Trout that actually chased his bait out of the water!
We both had afternoon commitments, so we had to end it earlier than we would have liked. However, as I called “Last cast!” and started dragging the bait across a pebble-bottomed point, I felt the slightest of pick-ups on my Big Bear worm rod. I set the hook and immediately thought I was snagged. Then, the snag started fighting back. My rod totally doubled over and I knew I had a huge fish on. But, just before I could get a secondary hookset on the fish, she raised her bowling bowl sized head up out of the water, opened up her mouth (which I could have easily fit my Caveman-sized head into), and with one flick sent the hook flying back at me. To say the least, I was crushed. Especially having started and ended my day in similar fashion. Though, it just leaves me with the desire to get back there ASAP to try it again!

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Bag It Up!

REVIEW: Wild River Nomad XP Tackle Bag with Solar Panel
Wild River Nomad XP with Solar Panel

For a number of years now, I have been a big proponent of tackle bags. With the many backpack-style offerings available, you can haul around all the tackle you could possibly need while leaving your hands free to carry your rods, landing net, all-important cooler, or anything else your day on the water calls for. During that span, I have used a wide variety of models and have seen many improvements and innovations that have taken the category to new heights. But, the Wild River Nomad XP Tackle Bag with the optional Wild River Clip-On Solar Panel has allowed parent company CLC (legendary maker of some of the best tool bags around) to take the tackle bag into the 21st century by creating a top of the line tackle toter, loaded with useful features and aimed at today’s electronically connected angler.

Wild River Nomad XP Tackle Bag Glasses Holder Starting at the very top of the Nomad XP is a hard molded eyeglass holder. It is a plus-sized zippered container that is large enough to hold the larger lens sunglasses most anglers use these days, tough enough that you can feel comfortable that your high-end shades will be well protected, and convenient enough that you can stash them away or access them quickly and easily. Hidden behind the holder, in a zippered compartment is the integrated fitted rain cover which, I can tell you from experience, works very well.

Wild River Nomad XP Lighting SystemJust below, is the built-in inside/outside rotating LED lighting system – perfect for those anglers who like to “Ninja fish”. With the click of a button, choose between low-level white, high-level white, or stealthy green light. Need to see inside the bag? No problem! Just fold the light down into the “closed” position and the inner compartment of the Wild River Nomad XP is illuminated.

Wild River Nomad XP Pliers Holder, Retractable Lanyard, and Side Pockets To the left is the removable tool-holder which is large enough to securely hold, both, needle-nose pliers and small wire cutters. It also has a belt-clip in the back for those who prefer having their tools closer at hand. Attached, find a removable retractable lanyard, perfect for holding clippers or any other small tool. Both sides of the Nomad XP are adorned with dual zippered pockets. The larger bottom pockets have internal dividers to help organize the contents. The upper pockets are smaller, but still roomy, and have exterior mesh pockets, as well. Under the bag, it is supported by thick heavy-duty base pads that help to reduce wear, and keep the Wild River Nomad XP clean and dry.

Moving back up, just below the lighting system, is a dual-function front pocket that can securely hold a mobile device or camera, and is where the integrated 5000mAh rechargeable USB power supply is located. Included are 4 different power adapter tips and a USB cable to help extend the battery charge of your small portable electronic devices. Wild River Nomad XP Rechargeable USB Power Supply and Solar PanelYou can also use the USB cable that came with your unit. Charging times vary by device, but my LG G2 went from 10% to full charge in about 2 hours. The USB power supply can be recharged by plugging it into a standard 110V/120V outlet, which takes several hours for the initial charge. Once it has that first charge, it can also be trickle-charged by the optional removable solar panel. Just have the panel exposed to sunlight while you are on the water and your power supply is always ready to go. This really sets the Wild River Nomad XP apart from all the rest of the tackle bags out there.

Wild River Nomad XP Storage CompartmentsOf course, storage capacity is one of the main concerns of anglers when it comes to tackle systems, and the Nomad XP doesn’t disappoint. The main compartment at the bottom of the bag holds four 3600 series tackle trays, while the upper compartment holds two more 3600’s with room to spare for up to four 3500 series boxes. The upper compartment also sports a clear zippered internal pocket.

Wild River Nomad XP Tackle Bag with Solar PanelAnyone who backpacks knows that a quality ergonomically designed pack is crucial for all-day comfort and an enjoyable outdoor adventure. The folks at CLC obviously know this from their years of manufacturing top of the line work gear, and they certainly have engineered it into their Wild River line of tackle bags. With strategically placed padding and subtle curves on the back of the bag, adjustable padded shoulder straps, and an adjustable sternum strap, a fully loaded bag is still easily carried and makes for a comfortable experience whether you are hiking to your favorite fishing hole, banging the banks or shoreline, or just hauling your gear to the dock. They have even thrown in small convenience features like a heavy-duty carry handle, an attached large carabiner clip, and small storage straps that I use to clip on a small flashlight.

Over the past several months I have really put this bag through it’s paces. During that time I have come to absolutely love the Wild River Nomad XP. I am also very hard on my equipment, and this bag has yet to show any signs of wear. Compared to my previous tackle backpack (made by a very familiar name), which started to fall apart after six months of use, this has been a true pleasure to use. It’s tougher, more comfortable, has more features, and carries just as much equipment. Yes, it is on the higher end of the price range. But, the old adage that you get what you pay for has never been more apropos.

MSRP – Wild River Nomad XP with USB Charging System $229.99 (seen for as low as $155)
Wild River Clip-On Solar Panel $49.99 (seen as low as $38)

Cave Club Rating: 5 Clubs
Cave ClubCave ClubCave ClubCave ClubCave Club

Cave Club Scale
5 Clubs = The Missing Link
4 Clubs = Rock Solid
3 Clubs = Better Than Sharp Stick
2 Clubs = Not Fully Evolved
1 Club = Should Be Extinct

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Sweet Solitude

I’m a pretty social Neanderthal … I just love being around people. Especially when it comes to fishing! Nothing better than sharing your on-the-water experience with another Homo Eructus. However, every once in a while, getting a solo angling session in can be just what the Medicine Man ordered. That’s where I found myself the other day when none of my fishing friends were available for a last minute two-hour excursion. Conditions seemed right, with a low front just beginning to move into the region, overcast skies, a very gentle breeze, and cool air temps. I must say that there was something magical about being outdoors at that moment and experiencing the mood swings of Mother Nature while also getting a chance to challenge some of her stealthiest creations. I was truly reveling in my private experience.

I threw most of my usual baits and wasn’t able to find any takers at my first stop … a secluded cove lined with reeds. I moved to another area near some boat docks and, again, wasn’t finding any love. That is, until I picked up a Malibu-rigged Gambler Baby Bacon Rind. I flipped it underneath a nearby boat and, before it could hit the bottom, my line started moving to the port side of the boat. I reeled down quickly and set the hook hard … BAM! I was immediately rewarded with a nice tussle from a 3.5 pound class fish. Unfortunately, the fish had swallowed the hook and was in need of the gut-hook removal trick. Even though she was successfully operated on, I had to get her back in the water quickly. So, no pic of my skunk-buster.

6+ Pound Yo-Zuri 3DB BassNot too long afterwards, I casted the same bait out toward some reeds and scored a fat 2+ pounder, and missed the hookset on another. The bite then swiftly died, prompting me to hastily move over to the last dock for some crankbait action before my short session came to a close. I worked the Yo-Zuri 3DB Mid Crank in the Bluegill pattern pretty hard and was down to one of my final casts when, halfway back on the retrieve, my lure just stopped. I set the hook and, even though my drag was set pretty tight on the 12 pound Yo-Zuri Hybrid line, my drag squealed a bit … making me think I had snagged the bottom. Suddenly, “the bottom” began pulling and taking even more drag! BIG fish on!! Despite the cold water, I got a great battle before finally getting her to the dock. This fat fräulein and I posed for a quick pic and then went for the official weigh-in … 6 pounds, 2 ounces! Best of the year, so far!!

Sadly, that was all I had time for. But, what a way to cap off my time of sweet solitude!

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The Fruits Of Frustration

After months and months of trying, I finally was able to get UFC Co-Founder Mikey B and my fishing friend and neighbor Fireman Sean on the water at the same time. We met up at Westlake to try our luck, but after just 30 minutes, we could tell the conditions weren’t quite what we had hoped for. So, we made the quick jaunt over to Lake Sherwood to give it a go. It was partly cloudy, totally windless, in the low 60’s, with cool stained water.

This was my first outing since a rare very quiet (ie. only one bite) skunk session the week before. Needless to say, I was raring to get my fish on. My very first cast with a Yo-Zuri Rattl’n Vibe got absolutely hammered halfway back on the retrieve. Yet, the fish stayed on for literally two seconds. My next cast got ambushed at nearly the same exact spot … with the same exact results. Then, I had the same thing happen with a small crankbait, and then a Senko. To say I was getting frustrated is a bit of an understatement.

Meanwhile, my two compadres had moseyed down the way to an adjacent cove. Mikey got his day going with a couple of 3 pounders. While Sean had found the honey hole and had already tallied 4 fish. Then, I hear some hootin’ and hollerin’. Next thing I know, I’m getting pictures texted to me from both of them. They had gotten onto a double hook-up with these two fatties. Fireman Sean & Mikey B Double Hook-up

While their fishfest was going on, my disappointment was continuing. I was now up to eight fish that had either come unbuttoned or were missed on the hook set. Wisps of steam were likely visible emanating from my ears. Finally, I was able to get the skunk stink off of me with a couple of two pound schoolers that fell for the Vibe. Then, we all decided to make a move to the front side of the lake. Darkness had set in … and, I was on a mission. My Denali Kovert spinning rod was adorned with a T-rigged Gambler Baby Bacon Rind. It just seemed like the right bait at the right time. 4+ Pound Bass On A Gambler Baby Bacon RindMy second cast settled in right at the water line parallel to the edge of the dock I was on. It only took a couple of twitches before I felt the lightest of taps and my line began to tighten. I reeled down and leaned back … BOOM! Nice fish on!! After a couple of runs under the dock, Sean finally put the net under this nearly 5 pound beast.

I got a hold of two more in the 3 pound class to get my total to 5 fish, while MikeyB and Sean nailed 6 and 8, respectively by the time we called it a day. The best part, was finally getting those two knuckleheads out with me for some fishing. Though, finally getting off the schnied with a fruitful session of my own wasn’t too bad, either!

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From our family …

… to you and yours, a wish for the very best this Holiday season, and always!
2014 Holiday Card

©2014 Caution: Caveman Cooking/Caveman Catching/UHearMe, Inc. All rights reserved. This originally appeared on the Caution: Caveman Cooking blog at authored by Caveman. This may be shared and reprinted as long as this entire copyright message accompanies it.

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They Just Kept Getting Bigger

3-15 Bass On A Cave Custom Booyah Boogee BaitYesterday was one of those days where everything just seemed to align itself perfectly. A beautiful late Fall day with ideal fishing conditions: a big approaching low system set to bring the first real northern storm to So Cal, high clouds giving off diffuse grey light, 70° with a slight wind putting a small ripple on the surface, cooling water temps with huge bait pods pinned into a small bay, and big hungry fish trying to pack on the “LB’s” with Winter around the corner.

I decided to take advantage of the situation by heading out to Lake Sherwood for a mid-afternoon session. Lately my Cave Custom Booyah Boogee Bait has been one of two “baits of choice”. So, I started by tossing it out into the cove. About halfway home on my second cast, the bait just came to a sudden stop. My rod doubled over and a tough battle began. When it was all said and done, I had my day-starter that came in a tick shy of 4 pounds.

4-5 Bass On A Cave Custom Booyah Boogee BaitWhile I was releasing that first fish, I saw some bait in escape mode over near the row of tulles to my right. I tossed that bladed jig as far as I could parallel to them and began slow-rolling it just off of the bottom. Again, at about the mid-point of the retrieve the bait felt like it hit a rock. Only this rock began moving and peeling some of the Yo-Zuri 12 pound Hybrid line off of the reel. I knew this had to be an even bigger fish. It was, as I discovered when she did a couple of airborne inverted three-sixties! When the show was over, the big girl tipped the scales at 4-5 and then was nice enough to pose for this publicity shot.

I threw the Boogee around for a bit more and felt a few fish swipe at it, but they had become wary. Since the Bass were still chasing the Silversides up to the surface I knew that the bite hadn’t died … it was just time for a change of offering.

5 Pound Bass On A Yo-Zuri Rattl'n VibeThe other hot bait, recently, has been the Yo-Zuri Rattl’n Vibe in my favorite GBO (Gold, Black and Orange) pattern. Of course, one of my rods already had it tied on. So, it was a logical choice. It also turned out to be a good choice. My very first cast with it got inhaled after just three cranks of the reel handle. They way my rod went Bendo and the fish was pulling I began to think that this fish was even bigger than what I had already landed. After a protracted tussle and a few heart-stopping runs towards the tulles and above-surface head shakes, I was finally able to gain the upper hand. With a quick grip of the lip, I had my 3rd fat football fish of the day … an even 5 pounds!

Needless to say, I was extremely stoked. But, also, extremely motivated to keep going despite the stiffness that was building up in my right shoulder from fighting these battling Bass. It only took another few casts before I felt the vibration 5-3 Bass On A Yo-Zuri Rattl'n Vibeof the rattling crank bait change as the fish came up to try and destroy it’s prey. It seemed like an eternity for the rod to actually load up. When it did, I leaned back and set the hook. Instantly, the fish went airborne. I couldn’t believe my eyes … it was another 5 pound classer! If it was possible, this fish fought even harder than the others … or perhaps this old Caveman was staring to feel the effects of going at it with four consecutive beasts. Either way, it was another fantastic fight. As I got her closer, I could see she only had one of the hooks keeping her pinned. So, I kept the pressure on her and horsed her to shore as quickly as possible. Got her on the scale after the photo-op … a 5-3 sow.

After the release, I did some quick shoulder stretches and then set out to get my 5-fish limit as soon as possible. My wait was extremely short. On the very next cast, I was only a couple of handle cranks in 6-8 Bass On A Yo-Zuri Rattl'n Vibewhen the bait felt like it got snagged on a brick wall. My rod hadn’t bent like that in a long time, and I was totally unable to move the big girl, at first. I knew this fish was HUGE! She made several line pulling runs and dogged me like an underwater tank. My heart was beating wildly while I thought to myself “They just keep getting bigger!”. Because of the light conditions, and the fact she stayed sub-surface, I couldn’t see her until the latter stages of the battle. Though, when I did, I could tell she was my biggest Bass of the year. My prayers for her to stay buttoned were answered and I finally got to get cosy with this 6-8 monster.

As I watched her swim off after our meeting, I looked down at my watch and realized that all this wild action had taken place in just a 45 minute span! I took a moment to share that last catch on my Facebook page and went back to the action. Could I keep the size progression going?
5-1 Bass On A Yo-Zuri Rattl'n VibeUnfortunately, not. Though, the action didn’t slow down much. I moved over to the opening of the cove and went back to the custom Boogee Bait to nail a couple more in the 3.5 pound class. I also got a pair of nice keepers on the Don Iovino Little Slugger, and another near 4 pounder on the Rattl’n Vibe. I was laughing, because none of them would cull the first five fish.

I moved back to my original spot and quickly hooked into what I thought was another monster fish, perhaps the biggest of the day. However, it turned out to be a tail-hooked 4 pound class fish. Yet, it only took a few more casts before I was hooked into yet another big fish on the rattling bait … and this one would cull! A 5-1 heifer that would give me my biggest 5 fish bag of the year – 26 pounds, 1 ounce!

I moved over to the docks before I left and landed another 4 pounder to get my baker’s dozen. I called it a day … a great day … and headed back home so happy to get an epic session like this under my belt before the fishing turns to the tougher Winter pattern. Though, the Spring bite is only a about 3 months away.

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