On Friday, I went on my annual fishing outing with my good friend, Dave Altman. We’ve had some great bass fishing trips over the years, and I was hoping this would be another. I like going out fishing with Dave because not only is he lots of fun to fish with, he’s also a very skilled angler.
I planned on putting his skils — and mine — to work on Lake Calhoun. By the time August rolls around, the bass are in their predictable summer pattern, which means they are schooled up on the weedlines.
It’s a pattern I have been able to count on year after year, except in cool summers like 2009, when temperatures never got very warm and the fish stayed shallow all summer. Fortunately, this year’s heat in July should have been enough to push the bass down deep.
We tried our first spot on the south end of the lake, and Dave caught a nice 16-inch bass within the first 10-15 minutes. Just after he landed his, I hooked one and battled it for a few seconds before it spit the hook. I figured more fish would come after that.
Dave and I kept casting our jigs and plastic worms to the weedlines, hoping to get into a school of bass. We threw a marker buoy out near this spot, in the hope that there would be a bunch of fish to catch.
To our surprise, that was the best — and only — flurry of the day. We plied the waters on the south end, hitting spots that have, in years past, yielded fish in the 19- and 20-inch range. The best I could muster was a 16-incher that matched Dave’s first fish. I caught a smaller one and lost a few others, and Dave never landed another bass.
I think there were three contributing factors to the tough fishing:
1. A cold front came through right as we were fishing. The wind shifted from the southwest to the northwest, and the cloud cover lifted, leaving a clear blue sky. Cold fronts are notorious for shutting down the fishing, and this outing was proof.
2. The weed growth was way down. I’m not sure why, but the growth of eurasian watermilfoil was extremely stunted on all of the Minneapolis city lakes this year. Even though it got very hot in July, and the usual milfoil harvest did not take place because of the government shutdown, the weedgrowth was very thin. In fact, I did not see any that had reached the surface, which is a trademark of this weed. That has been the case the last three years, which makes me think it is dying out on the lake. The sailing enthusiasts are happy about this, no doubt, but not me. The more weeds, the better the fishing has been for me.
3. The water clarity has diminished. Normally, I can see eight to 10 feet down in the clear waters of Lake Calhoun. Not this year. When we pulled out of the boat landing, you couldn’t see two feet down. At least for now, this is a stained lake. I’m sure that changes the pattern, too. And, unfortunately, I was not able to figure out what the pattern is.
Overall, the fishing has been tough for me this summer. I have had to work hard on every trip to catch fewer fish. I’ve got one fishing trip left this year, my annual trek to Lake of the Woods in the fall with my friend, Pete Wolney. Hopefully, I’ll finally hit the bonanza I’ve been waiting for.
In the meantime, I’ll continue to shoot my bow and get ready for the fall archery hunting season.