Casitas Nights

Lake Casitas 3.5 Pounder on a Yo-Zuri Knuckle BaitHad an opportunity to fish a rare legal night session on Lake Casitas on Saturday with my good friend and fellow fishing fanatic, Rick “R2” Raives. We were allowed to check-in at 4pm and launched by 4:30, with an off-the-lake deadline of midnight. There was decent chop on the fairly-stained water from the 8-12 mph winds, with mostly clear skies overhead.

Rick started out throwing a Don Iovino Little Slugger in Purple Phantom while I was tossing a brand new Yo-Zuri 3DB Knuckle Bait, which is a just introduced hybrid wire bait I am field testing for a review. The action was good on the points. I got a good hit on the YZ-KB with just my second cast, but couldn’t connect. Meanwhile, R2 got the ball rolling with a couple of nice 3 pound-class battlers and lost a 4+ pounder in the weeds.

Action in between the points was surprisingly slow. But, then we came across a nice rocky point that flattened out a bit at about 8 feet. I ran the Knuckle Bait across the flat and got hammered by this nice 3.5 pound leaper.

4+ Pound Lake Casitas BassWe scrambled around to several of our usual spots, but just couldn’t find a consistent bite. Finally, dusk finally began to set in. Which had both of us scrambling for some reaction baits. When I couldn’t get any love on the hardbaits, spinners, and chatterbaits I tried, I went back to the old faithful Little Slugger, and was rewarded with a couple of nice tournament sized 2.5 pounders.

Rick opted for one of our favorite, and most underrated, small cranks … the BPS Lazer Eye. He was only about half a dozen casts in when he got hit but wouldn’t stick. But, only a few casts later, R2’s rod was doubled over, as he battled this fat 4 pound-class beast into a quick “lip, pic, and git”.

4+ Pound Lake Casitas BassWhen darkness really set in, we were on the other side of the lake from where we wanted to be. So, we no-waked ourselves over while munching on some turkey, roast beef, and swiss sandwiches. When we arrived, I suggested we try a technique that had worked years ago with fellow bass addict, Mike “MikeyB” Berens, the last time I had fished Casitas at night … a c-rigged 5″ Junebug Senko. As we came across another long extended point, “R2” got absolutely hammered. His rod, once again, doubled over as he hooked into a big fish. After pulling some line, the 5+ pounder did an inverted 360, and was gone.

As we came down the rocky side of the point, I picked up one of my favorite nighttime baits … a Norman Little Deep N crankbait in Black and Blue Fleck. On my second cast, I got nailed on the 5th crank and quickly boated a nice 3 pound-class fish. I immediately tossed it back to the same area, and at the exact same point in the retrieve hooked up with this 4+ pound grinder. A third cast also got hit at the exact same spot, but almost immediately came unbuttoned.

Rick managed a couple more 3 pound-class fish on the c-rig, while I added one, as well. Before we knew it, it was time to get off of the lake. We ended with 11 fish boated, and a great time had by all. We’ll be hitting the next Casitas night session they offer, for sure!

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First Beast of 2017

6-3 Lake Sherwood BassGot out for an hour Thursday and couldn’t buy a bite. Since that didn’t sit well, and I had a 2.5 hour window, I went out again Friday. Scored four using a “finesse vibe” technique with the Yo-Zuri America. Inc. Rattlin’ Vibe, including this 6-3 beast.

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Pre-Spring Cleaning

Pre-Spring Reel CleaningCan you guess what I’ve been doing the last couple of days? When the Winter bite is slow or, in some regions, non-existent, it’s a great time to clean, lube, and tune-up your gear.
Since there are already some great tutorials, both written and video, on the internet regarding how to clean/tune your rods and reels, I won’t repeat the processes here. Though, I must say that Simple Green is great for cleaning your equipment. It’s safe on almost all rod and reel surfaces, and is environmentally safe. As for the lube part of the equation, I have become a big fan of Cal’s Reel Grease and Liberty Reel Oil, in recent years. They are quality lubricants that don’t break down in harsh marine and freshwater environments.
Sure, you can send your equipment out to someone who will charge you a not-so-nominal fee to get them ready for the impending fishing season. But, for a few bucks invested in lubricants and cleaners, a couple of basic tools, and several minutes spent learning the proper procedures, anyone can do it themselves. You’ll feel great about being able to care for your own gear. Plus, you’ll save a ton of money that you can now invest in some more gear. I call that a win-win!

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2016 Top 5

Another year has come and gone. Yet, it also gave me some incredible fishing experiences that I will never forget. There were no new personal bests, but that doesn’t make them any less memorable. Like a 24 fish day on the always tough Lake Casitas. Not to mention some of the big bruisers I was able to land. Here’s my Top 5 bass from last year, in reverse order:

2016 Top 5 #5

2016 Top 5 #5
There’s no doubt that I caught some of my best fish of the year on a Yo-Zuri Rattlin’ Vibe. This 5-11 bruiser was no exception.

2016 Top 5 #4

2016 Top 5 #4
I could barely walk, but I stayed upright enough to land this 6 pound Lake Casitas Bass on a Tailspinner.

2016  Top 5 #3

2016 Top 5 #3
A Yo-Zuri Rattlin’ Vibe got this 6-4 Lake Sherwood hawg to chomp down. It was reassuring to look into the net and see that I was matching the hatch.

2016 Top 5 #2

2016 Top 5 #2
This Lake Casitas six pound, five ounce fatty fell for one of the smallest baits available … a Don Iovino Little Slugger.

2016 Top 5 #1

2016 Top 5 #1
6-9 pound beast that nailed a Yo-Zuri Rattlin’ Vibe back in February on Lake Sherwood. My best of the year.

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Beating Friday The 13th

Broken ToeMy “Friday the 13th” (FTT) actually started last night when I took a 60 MPH heater to the toe while catching my son in the bullpen. Not sure if it’s broken or not. Though, as you can see, it is quite painful and feels like it is broken. That would have been bad enough, in and of itself. But, I also had another Lake Casitas fishing trip planned for today with fellow UFC fishing fanatic, Rick “R2” Raives. Of course, upon seeing my discolored digit, the Cavewoman offered her usual sage advice when she said, “Do you think you should cancel?”. Yes, the smart thing to do … on the other hand, I am a gamer. The only way anyone is keeping me on the bench is if I can’t walk. While, ambulating is suddenly simultaneously difficult and painful, I figured I would spend the majority of the day sitting in the backseat – allowing me to stay off of my angry appendage and still enjoy some big bass hunting. FTT had other plans, however. Lake Casitas No Boat Entry

When we arrived, just before sunrise, there was this lovely sign waiting to greet us. Apparently, the already precarious lake levels had dropped even further, rendering the makeshift launch ramp unusable. While a new (old) launch ramp revealed itself on the other side of the lake with the precipitous drop in water levels, the lake staff was still in the process of rigging it since the traction racks had just arrived yesterday. In fact, they planned on opening the ramp around 4 this afternoon … too late for our purposes. I was starting to think that FTT was going to squash my hopes for the day. Though, R2 is a gamer, as well. So, we weren’t going to be denied our fishin’ mission. We just looked at each other and exclaimed, “Shore fishing!”. No, not the best idea, considering my limited and pained mobility. On the other hand, Neanderthals have never been known for their smarts.

Six Pound Lake Casitas BassWe headed for the marina of the now defunct launch area and went at it. The shad balls were thick and plentiful – sizes ranging from “Good ‘n Plenty” caliber to solid four inchers. The fish were blasting them every ten seconds, leading us to assume topwater would be the ticket. Yet, neither of us could manage any interest. That’s when I decided to tie on a shad colored tail-spinner to attempt to match the hatch. It didn’t take long for my slow-roll retrieve to stop dead in the water and my rod to double over. The way the fish fought (a steady, yet hard, pull), I wasn’t sure what I had hooked into. And, when several diving birds surfaced near my line, I was sure I had hooked into some fish-eating fowl. Suddenly, a huge hawg exploded from the water and quickly allayed my fears. After, a tough tug of war I finally lipped, clicked and liberated this 6 pound beast.

Rick utilized a tail-spinner to nail a nice 4+ pounder, along with a chunky 2.5 pounder. I also managed another four keepers on Don Iovino’s Little Slugger baits, while R2 was able to add another with the shad-imitating plastics. While we would usually stay on the boat until late in the afternoon, 5+ hours straight spent on my hobbled hoof had me ready to call it quits before noon. We ate our lunch with a beautiful view of the lake and then headed home. And, though my toe feels like the late Keith Moon is banging out a drum solo on it as I type this, all I have to think about is that first fish of the day for the pain to begin to wane. Who knew a big fish could be a painkiller, and Friday the 13th beater?!?!?

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