Tag Archives: bass

The bass weren’t biting

August 22, 2011


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.

Nice start

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.

Action slows

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.

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Time for bass

July 25, 2011


Photo by Jonathunder

I finally got my first taste of bass fishing last Friday, July 22. I usually start earlier in the summer, but my schedule has been busy, plus the cold, wet weather made me think it would be better to wait until we had a stretch of hot, stable weather.

I’d love to be able to say that the bass were biting aggressively and that I plopped lots of them into my livewell, but that wasn’t the case. I had to work very hard, and many of the fish I caught were small. I did manage to catch two 18-inchers, one of which was nice and fat.

But, I had higher expectations than this for the lake I was fishing that day — Cedar Lake on the Calhoun chain in Minneapolis. I have caught fish all the way up to 21 inches on this lake, and hoped to get something in at least the 19- or 20-inch range.

What I saw on my way over to the lake made me wonder if the fishing was going to be tough. There was a noticeable lack of weed growth on all three lakes — Calhoun, Lake of the Isles and Cedar. Usually, by this time in the summer, there is a thick carpet of eurasian watermilfoil on all three of the lakes. But, for some reason, that’s not the case this year.

I have always found on these lakes that the more weeds there are, the better the fishing. So, once I saw the sparse weed growth, I figured I would be in for a tough day.

Turns out, I was right. I worked my way around the lake and tried to fish the edges of any weeds I found with Texas-rigged plastic worms and baits. I had some success, catching a fish here and there. But, I did not encounter any schools of fish. I wasn’t surprised. When the weed growth is scattered, so are the fish.

The hot bait of the day was a Berkley Crazy Legs Chigger Craw. I caught most of my fish on this bait after starting out with a Berkley plastic worm. Unfortunately, I only had four of the Chigger Craws with me and the fish tore them all up.

I’ll be sure to buy another package before my next outing. I hope to fish Lake Calhoun in August. Even though the weed growth is thin on this lake, I usually can catch some fish. Generally, when the sweet corn is showing up at stands across the state, the bass are going on Calhoun.

Bring on the corn, and bring on the bass!

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