When I launched my boat on Lake Calhoun yesterday, I was hoping to find some big bass with my son, Joe. It had been almost two years since I landed a bass longer than 18 inches — too long, in my opinion.
I know the problem last year — the summer was so cool that many fish never went to the deep weedlines like they typically do in mid to late summer. Instead, they were shallow, scattered and very hard to find.
I was sure that would not be the case this year. We are experiencing an unusually hot summer and I figured the bass would be back on the deep weedlines. After all, yesterday was the fifth straight day the temperature had risen above 90 degrees.
Sure enough, when I put my hand in the water shortly after leaving the boat landing, it felt like bathwater. A good sign when you are hoping fish are deep.
Unfortunately, it seemed like the weedgrowth was down significantly on Calhoun this year. It was sparse on the spots I normally fish, which makes it harder to find fish. Plus, the numbers never seem to be as high when the weeds are not thick.
Yet, I was not deterred. I was determined to root out some fish from the sparse weed growth. It took a little searching, but I finally connected with a big bass. I really enjoy setting the hook and having the fish just sit there, like this one did. That’s a telltale sign of a lunker. When I got the fish aboard, I immediately put in on my ruler — 19 inches.
That made me very happy. But, I wasn’t finished yet. A little while later, I connected on another nice fish on the same piece of structure. This one measured 18 1/2 inches.
Meanwhile, Joe hooked several good fish, but they got off. I believe two of these fish were like the ones I landed. Don’t know why he had trouble keeping the fish hooked. He usually doesn’t have this problem. In fact, two weeks ago he hooked and landed a 19 1/2-inch smallmouth on Lake Mille Lacs. I think the fish were biting lighter yesterday and didn’t take our plastic worms down as deep in their throats.
He had to go to work, so I dropped him back at the boat landing at 2. Then, I headed over to Cedar Lake to try it there. That didn’t last long. The water was heavily stained and the weeds had thinned considerably since my last trip there. That is never good. Plus, it looked like the remaining growth of eurasian watermilfoil was turning brown, which means it’s dying. Fish spend very little time in dying weeds. That, combined with the overall absence of weeds, made it hard for me to know where to look for fish. I tried a few spots, but didn’t even get a bite. So, I went right back to Calhoun.
That proved to be a wise move. I tried a few new spots, then went back to the spot where I had caught the two nice fish earlier. Not long after I started, I felt a solid bite and set the hook on another big fish. This one measured 20 inches. Then, I caught another 18 1/2-incher not long after. Not bad — four fish over 18 inches.
That’s about as good as I’ve done on this lake, size wise. But, the numbers were down from other good years. Usually, there are some 16- and 17-inch fish mixed in. I caught one 15-incher, plus a few smaller ones, and that was it. I attribute that to the sparse weed growth and the inconsistent weather we’ve had throughout the summer. If we get a stretch of warm, sunny days, look out! The good news is, I now know the big fish are set up on the weedlines.
I hope to get back out on Calhoun at least one more time this summer. It has been good to me over the years. The quality of bass is very high, which is what keeps me coming back. I do hope to find some more good spots, but I’m not sure I can beat the one really good spot I have. I almost never see anyone fish it, which is unheard of when it comes to metro bass lakes.
To have a premium spot that is regularly inhabited by big fish… it doesn’t get much better than this!