Yesterday, my good buddy and fellow UFCer, Mark “Chief” Torrez and I hit Westlake for four hours of fishing fun. Conditions were mixed with mostly clear skies, 67°, slight breeze, and slightly stained (but, still cold) water. I was hoping that the recent warming trend in So Cal might have gotten some of the more frisky fish in a pre-spawn, or even full on spawn, mood. But, no such luck yet.
We started at a usual spot, though we quickly realized the fish there were in lock-jaw mode. So, we made tracks for the other side of the lake. There, I quickly worked my way down to a point with an underwater channel that has been working for me lately, especially with rattle shad baits. Sure enough, on the 5th cast while really burning the lure back, my line suddenly goes limp as if I no longer have a bait on my line. The fish has hit the lure so hard, while coming straight at me, that I can’t catch up to him for about 15 turns of the reel handle. When I finally do catch up, he has dropped the bait. So, I continue my retrieve and just before I pick it up to make another cast, I see the fish has followed it and is about to strike again when he sees me last second and aborts his attack. 😦
A couple of minutes later, Chief makes his way down to me and casts near the same spot I did with his Crawfish colored rattle trap and hooks up with a nice fish. We both quip that it’s the same fish … but, who knows. Nonetheless, he battles this nice 3-pound class Bass and get us on the board!
We were working back down the bank to where we started, and as we approach a dock that hadn’t produced at first, Chief says that he had earlier spooked a fish hanging under the dock’s gangway and that I should pitch my Mad Melon Kinami Flash under there. I skip a sweet “dinnertime” cast into perfect position. Halfway down on the sink I get a little tick on my line and then the line just loads up on it’s own. BOOM! I hammer the hook home and start a tug of war with this 4-13 beast who was even trying to jump free while under the dock … she must have had headache from some of those thumps!
Despite working the area hard, we found no more love there. So way make our way over to another beach not far from where we started our day. Again, I’m tossing my BPS XPS Rattle Shad in Emerald Shiner and working it back over a submerged depression when I get slammed, yet again with no connection. So, Chief gives it a shot with a Craw colored square-bill crank and whacks another nice fish. This one easily topping the 4 pound mark … and, almost assuredly, is the same fish I missed. 👿
Shortly thereafter, Chief had to hit the road. I figured I’d hang for another hour and catch the “sunset bite”, and I headed back to the beach where it all began 3 hours earlier. I tied on a Strike King Red Eye Shad in Orange Belly Craw and made a long cast parallel to the bank. I’m bouncing it along the bottom when I get hung up in the muck. When I rip it free … BAM! Big hit, but no connection. So, I keep the retrieve going. About 6 feet out I get into the muck again, and again get slammed as I rip it free, and again it’s a swing-and-a-miss. However, I can tell it was a BIG fish as evidenced by the huge tail-wash.
I continue to fan cast for about 10 minutes and then make a repeat of the first cast. About halfway home my bait feels like it hit a brick wall – WHAM! For a moment, I thought I had found real estate. However, the wall began to pull back. HUGE fish on! She didn’t jump at all, but she bulldogged me up and down the bank a couple of times. Finally, I got her to shore and saw that she was only precariously pinned by one of the barbs in the bottom lip. I readily jumped into the water to keep her pinned against the bank while I struggled to get a grip on her without getting impaled. When I eventually wrestled her onto shore, she tipped the scales at 5-13 (my best rattle shad fish, to date).
I finished out the hour casting the Red Eye Shad and a couple of other reaction baits to no avail. I picked up my trusty Kinami Flash, called “Last cast!” and winged it to the last piling at the end of the dock. As it settled in perfectly next to the pole, I began singing “Dinnertime, dinnertime, din, din, dinnertime”, but only got halfway through the 2nd “dinnertime” when my line abruptly straightened out. KABOOM! A solid hookset!! Several aerials later I got this 3 pound classer to say “Cheeeeeeese!”.
That was a good way to end a tough, yet great day. Using my Neanderthal math, Chief and I combined for a 5-fish sack right around 21 pounds! I’ll take one of those every time!!