Sunday, March 4, 2012

Washing Off the Skunk

Today started earlier than other recent trips fishing with my friend Dan (Pondboy).  I had to get to his house at 5AM to insure we could get to the first pond we intended to hit under the cover of darkness.

When Dan was really a Pond BOY he worked with some friends to stock a pond in the middle of no-where.  Their fishing trips would end up being stocking-runs for the pond.  The friends waited a year and found the fishing to be awesome!  The next year progress reared its ugly head in the form of a manufacturing company which began construction of their factory on the land which was part of the parcel that the pond was on.  Pretty soon there were security guards asking you to leave and signs posted No-Fishing/Trespassing.

We ran across the four-lane road in our dark colored clothes carrying two rods each, 2 wading packs for gear, and a minnow bucket making a break for the bottom of the berm.   Dan wore snow pants so he could sit right down on the ground.  I layered on top of jeans but had a plastic pad to sit on the in snowy soil.

Fishing sitting on the ground is not all that difficult, it's casting while sitting on the ground that proved tough.

We had been there for around an hour and it was pure exhilaration.  Not because we were catching tons of fish but simply the act of defiance that could at any minute get us kicked off of someone else's property.  It got better though when Dan's float went down and he got a small largemouth bass up to the shore before it spit his hook.  No-touch, no count so still no fish.  In short order his other float went down and in came a beautiful crappie!

Crappies were the quarry so this was a good sign.  What proved to be a not good sign is a shift break that put a couple of guys in a car directly above where we were fishing.  They just came out for a smoke and to hit the food-truck that pulled up but they saw our floats, and saw us, and we didn't want to hang around for them to finish their break and mention to security that there are a couple of guys laying down by the lake fishing so we packed up and headed to another pond.  

We fished eight ponds total in the suburbs near where Dan grew up.  Snow was on the ground and strange-shaped snow flew in the air around us that looked like the styrofoam beads you find in bean-bag chairs.  There was only one more fish caught in this trip and that was another crappie, smaller this time that didn't get a picture.  

On the way home I finally could feel my toes.  Dan didn't want me to get skunked.  Two more quick stops at two more ponds yielded the same results; more bait killed, no more fish caught.

I normally don't get obsessed with insuring I catch something.  Generally I am presenting bait to a fish in a way that will get them to eat it and I don't have to think about catching, it just happens.  When I left Dan's I made a beeline to a pond that was close by.  I've fished it in the warm weather, I've ice fished it in the very cold, and now in the open water with a low-pressure front present I was going to fish it again.  

I took only my ultra-light rod; a 5'6" thin graphite shaft paired with a Pflueger President spinning reel.  Still rigged up for crappies I had a slip bobber set up with a button pattern of split-shot.  Departing from my crappie rigging I tied on a bit larger octopus hook (size 4) and wacky-rigged a night crawler.  

I moved around the near side of the small pond.  The wind whipped in my face and made casting more challenging but not impossible.  My bobber twitched twice and I was hopeful but received no commitment from the fish.  I reeled in to find most of my worm gone.  No worries, this meant some fish wanted to eat my worm.  I have plenty.  Let's do this.  

Walking to the far side of the pond the wind was at my back and my casts were nice and long.  The wind would keep my line fairly tight and I could move the bait around by using river floating techniques; raising my rod up above my head so the line was out of the water let the float move in the current created by the wind.  

I was rigged at about 6 feet of depth on my slip stop.  All of a sudden, after eight hours of float-watching my float went down and away from me, getting pulled to the bottom.  A quick but firm pull set the hook and I got to work this fish around for a few minutes with my light action rod.  I had strung it with 4# Trilene mono so I had to dial back my instinct to work the fish too hard and break the line.

I snapped this quick picture with my rod as a reference so I can measure it later.  I'm guessing it's in the 2-2.5# range and a nice way to wash off the skunk.  Fishing and catching for the week had been accomplished.  Now bring on the time change so I can hit a pond or the DuPage River in the light of the day left after work.

Catching!  It beats the skunk!