Lake Columbia

Friday, March 22nd, 2019 | Author:

Lake Columbia is a 3000 acre lake near Magnolia Arkansas. Since it is about a 3 hour drive from Greenville, Jackson and I fished Wednesday, spent the night and fished Thursday. The water has a brown tint but had about a 2 1/2 foot visibility. Lily pads are everywhere as are stumps in the upper end of the lake. The stumps/trees are so bad in the  upper end of the lake there are boat roads marked by white pvc pipes. If you were in 20 feet of water you were still not completely safe. The “word was out” as, even during the week, the landings were well populated. We started shortly after 8 in pretty cool air temperatures and 57 degree water. Our first spot was a shallow bank with some pads and a few stumps. Jackson started with a spinner bait and I started with a “swim “O”, a fluke like bait with a swimming tail. We each caught a small one in relatively short order. Another fisherman was across the cove, and seeking some knowledge of the lake, I observed him intently. You could go so far as to say I spied on him. He was close in to the bank closely fishing each log he came to, giving me the idea that logs close to the bank should be inspected thoroughly.  We crossed the lake, gingerly because of the stumps, and fished a nondescript cove next to a landing which had 15 trucks in the parking lot. The cove had no pads in it and no apparent logs, but upon inspection, there were a few logs that were not very apparent. Jackson threw his paddle tail swim bait at one and set the hook. “It’s a big one”, he said and I could see it was when the fish came up the first time. The fish looked tremendous in the landing net and testimony of  “that’s the biggest bass I’ve ever caught ” and “that fish is over 10 pounds” was heard. We decided to take pictures first and weigh later. When the scales came out, mine said 8-11. ” Surely that’s wrong, must be a low battery. Get yours out”. Jackson’s scales read 8.66. I will have to admit I was completely fooled, way off on my weight estimation. It was 10:30.  Here is the pic:

We motored to the next cove to the North and started fishing again. This cove had pads everywhere but Jackson caught one right on the point by a log. As we went into the cove we caught some throwing into the pads, but in the back of the pocket there were a good many small fish. The water temperature had warmed to 62 degrees in the back of the cove. By now the wind was beginning to blow a little more and the wave action was beginning to affect any exposed banks so we explored and found a sheltered pocket in the shallow end of the lake. It was full of pads even out a good way from the bank. I threw the swim bait into the thicker pads and as it came over a pad a fish grabbed it. I hesitated, then set the hook and it was on. The fish was large, my line was only 12 pound test, and it was in the middle of a bunch of pads. Somehow I finally extricated the fish from the pads and got it to the boat. Seeing Jackson’s fish had tempered my estimating so I was not surprised at 6-7, very happy actually. I noted how the fish almost hit the bait on top and was immediately thinking Ribbit frog. I even put one on for a short while but there were no takers.Here is the pic


We caught several more fish in that spot. You can see in the photo that it was getting cloudy. Rain was in the forecast and due to the stumpyness of the lake a quick run to the landing was out of the question. The air temperature changed, the wind changed direction and the fish quit biting all a signal to us to start making our way back to the landing and fish closer to the truck. We made it back and fished the cove right at the landing with no luck. As the first light rain hit the water we loaded the boat. We caught 18, plus two of those were biggies and a couple more were in the three pound range. The best 5 were 24-10.  A great day of fishing in a new lake!

We retreated to Magnolia to find a spot for the night. All of the good hotels have inside access to the rooms only and no outside plugins so we could charge to batteries. We hunted and finally found a “no tell motel” with plenty of parking and a door you could run the extension cord out of and still close the door. It was not bad.

After a good night’s sleep and a shower we were ready to go the next morning and reached the lake at a little after 8:00.  We explored another large cove. I got a bite on my swim bait but the fish was swimming toward the boat, so when I set the hook, the hook didn’t set and about a 4 pounder came up and spit the bait out. Not a good way to start. After that nothing was happening. It became obvious we were fishing on the day after the cold front came through and the bite had throttled way back. We didn’t catch a fish until around noon. By then, we had figured out that we were going to have to really go slow with our baits. In a cove where we had good luck the day before, I was fishing with a fluke on my frog rod. It has a spinning reel with 40# Ardent Gliss line on it.  I threw it and pulled off a loop. As I tried to untangle the mess before it tied a hard knot, the boat was moving slowly dragging the fluke through the small lily pads. I thought it was hung and held the line to keep the knot from pulling tight . I could feel a tug on the other end. I made to decision to wind the mess onto the reel and try to catch the fish.  It worked and the first fish of the day came to the boat, a 3 3/4, by trolling a fluke. I threw the mess out and finished untangling it. I started just dragging the  fluke through the pads and soon caught another around three pounds. When fishing that slow you can’t cover much territory but we both slowed up. We continued fishing slow but later started using the swim bait like a fluke fishing it slow but the weighted hook helped to keep the bait down in the cover. We ran upon a cove within a cove that the wind was blowing into. There was a school of small fish in it. We were lucky to catch the 4 we caught there. Because of the wind at our backs we could cast a mile and the fish were hitting the bait when it hit the water. On a long cast a hook set is suspect but the Suffix Advance line I just started using did a good job. It is supposed to have little stretch. The wind was blowing hard, the bite became slow, we were well past our time we said we were going to leave, and facing a long drive home, we decided to call it a day.

It’s fun to go to a new lake and have a great day. It is also great to discover a new spot that is going to have some  Ribbit fishing and some big fish. All of the pads in Lake Monticello were killed by the draw down and the fishing there is nowhere what it used to be so finding a new place gives me hope. Fishing here is the pits because of the high river as is turkey season here. I predict I will have another visit to Columbia soon.

Edit: We chose to go on Wednesday because the Fishing Times website had the highest rating on that date of four stars and said “good all day”. It was dead on. Sometimes that thing is accurate as are the major and minor periods. The little front coming through right on the same day really helped too.

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8 1/2 and still 8 3/4

Wednesday, March 06th, 2019 | Author:

Hal caught this fish in the same place that he caught her this same time last year. Same fish? Note the small red tag sticking out behind the fin. He said he bounced the scales but could not get them up to nine. He said ” Stef enhanced the pic for me but failed to make me look any better”.

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Lake Monticello

Wednesday, February 27th, 2019 | Author:

Jackson and I started fishing this morning late, just before 10, in an effort to let things warm up some. The water is still about 1 1/2 feet lower than normal but it is up in the grass that grew up last summer while the lake was low. Temperature was 52 degrees to start and warmed to as much as 57.  Clarity was about 18 to 24 inches and there was a good green bloom. All that didn’t help us much as we only caught one and that was on a on a swim bait. We had two other bites with one of those coming to the top before it escaped. We rummaged through our tackle boxes but could not find the bait that would unlock the puzzle. Going to get cold so we will have to wait before going back. Lake Chicot is up 8 feet and is closed to boating, so it is out too.

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Foggy Misting Rain

Friday, February 15th, 2019 | Author:

That was the weather on Lake Chicot. Jackson and I caught 3 with Jackson doing the catching.  First we looked for the deep school that I saw the last trip but could not make contact. Then we tried shallow and of course I had on my trusty Booyah but it could not get a bite. Jackson put on a black and blue jig and caught 3 in relatively short order. I put a jig on but could not get a bite. If the fish had been cooperating the day would not have been so bad but with the weather so bad we cut it short.

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Shallow At Chicot

Thursday, February 14th, 2019 | Author:

The first bite came at 11:15 after two hours of fishing. The water temp started at 53 and saw 61 before the sunny day was over. Where I have been fishing, with very scattered success, was muddy with not even a foot of visibility. Farther down the lake it cleared up and was pretty normal clarity. The fish were shallow and on the bank (especially with rocks present) except for one on a secret sunken tree top in 5 feet of water and one on a cypress tree, the first one in three trips. All five fish were caught on a ¼ ounce Booyah spinnerbait, one of my favorite baits of all time. FOD was 3 ¾ pounds. Others were 2, 2, 2 ½, 2 ¾.

Pulling in to a good looking stretch of rocky bank I saw a good dropoff with a large group of fish down at about 12 feet. All were within 2 feet of the bottom. I guessed they were bass but continued to the bank. When I caught one on the bank, I forgot about the deep fish. The wind was blowing too and would have made fishing in that spot difficult. Thinking about it later I surmised that the fish in Chicot are mostly deep but come in to the bank thinking about a spot to spawn in a few weeks. All the fish I caught had a fat belly full of eggs. I marked the deep spot for the next trip.

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Lake Chicot

Tuesday, February 05th, 2019 | Author:

Jackson and I met at the State Park on the North end of Chicot at 9:30 and were fishing at 10. It was so foggy I had to navigate by the GPS on the depthfinder. A short while after we started it started to rain pretty hard so we retreated to the shelter of a friendly boathouse for about 45 minutes. I believe Jackson had caught a four pounder  before the rain started. When the rain subsided we went right back fishing and had caught a total of four by 3:00. I thought both of the fish I caught were a stick at first but turned out  to be fish. The fish just were not “on it” today . The water was getting muddy because of the runoff from the rain. We called it a day at 3:00. Water temp 54 to 56 degrees.

Hal called to say he and Richard fished Beaverdam today for the first time this year and caught 24. After Richard went home at 2:00, Hal went to the Flower Lake borrow pits and caught 2 more, one over 5  and 1/4 or 3/4, I can’t remember which. They caught all the fish in one area that had some relatively clear water. They caught a few there and left to try some other places with no luck. Then they returned and caught some more.

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First Fish of the Year

Saturday, February 02nd, 2019 | Author:

I went to Lake Chicot this morning and started fishing about 9:30. I wanted it to start warming up before I started fishing in hopes the warming would start the fish biting. No bites for the first couple of hours even though the pad stems and cypress trees where I started looked like a great spot and I have caught fish this time of year there before. To start, it was a little cloudy which impeded the warming of the water by the sun. It was looking like it might be zero number two. About 11:15 however one “glommed” up on it right at the boat. Was glad to welcome her aboard. 3 3/4 . Tried to take a picture but did not want to keep her out of the water too long. It was fat with eggs. The guys on the fishing TV shows love to hold them and look at them as if they never have seen a fish before. They need to hold their breath when the fish is out of the water and then they would know how it feels. That really burns me up.  It was another hour before I got the next bite. This fish made my line sing in the water. That always brings on a little adrenaline. 3 3/4 made in the same mold as the first . I took a quick photo of that one.

As I went down the bank the water temperature was rising, 48 at the start and reached 57 before the day was over. The next fish swirled on top as the Booyah came over a stick. 3 even. It was obvious, things were picking up. Finally I caught two in the same spot and they were 2 3/4 each. After I had caught 7, I saw one hit on top and threw the Booyah to the spot. I was on a hair trigger and as soon at it hit, I set the hook and of course I missed it. My time was up so I had to leave but the fish were still biting. I really would have liked to go where I started after the fish had commenced to bite but time would not allow. The best 5 weighed 17 1/2 pounds. Not too shabby.

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New Line

Wednesday, January 30th, 2019 | Author:

All was not lost the other day on Lake Enterprise. The fluorocarbon line I have been using was great for everything but casting. Least bit of wind in your face or a light bait and it’s a backlash guaranteed. To start a new year I decided to try a new line. The one I chose was Suffix Advance. It is a slick low stretch line. When I put it on I had to go out into the yard and see how it would cast. First three times = backlash each time. After making some adjustments it did just OK but it still worried me. On the lake it did much better maybe fuzzing up only a couple of times. The distance with it was good but I didn’t try to get the maximum. It’s going to be good after a little fine tuning.

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Zero to Start

Monday, January 28th, 2019 | Author:

“Bad start makes a good ending” is what one of my employees told me after we had a terrible first day of fieldwork on the farm. I took it as pure rationalization of not doing a good job of preparation. Bad start is what happened today and preparation had nothing to do with it. The fish just did not bite on Lake Enterprise. Jackson and I went even though we knew that the winner of a two day tournament had two fish that weighed 3 pounds. We also knew that Tom fished there five times recently and caught only two fish and he is an ace on Lake Enterprise. We must be a little hardheaded.  Three years ago there I went with Tom and we caught 20 with a water temperature within a degree of what it was today. We caught them in the same places and with the same baits we tried today and in the same spots as we tried today. Recency bias, if you want to call three years recent, may have come into play. Desperation played a part too as I haven’t been fishing in two months. With Tom three years ago:

The bottom line is no fish and even no bites. A bitter pill to swallow on the first trip. I WILL be back!!

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No Fishing Lately But Some Fun Has Been Had

Wednesday, December 05th, 2018 | Author:

On November 24th I ponied up to the hospital to have a hernia fixed. It all went well and was much less painful than I had imagined. I am on the mend but still have to pay attention to doctors orders, lift nothing over 5 pounds. So I am laying low. My tackle bag weighs 18. A couple of days before the operation, I took Mary Grace White, Harley IV’s girlfriend deer hunting in the rain. We drove into the woods in my truck that has street tires and had no problems as the rain had just started. We chose the last covered stand that was available and made the 400 yard walk without getting soaked. Pretty soon a doe walked out and crossed the disked up lane that had a good stand of wheat on it. The deer was at a 90 degree to the way we were pointed and time was spent scooting chairs around to get in the right direction. The deer took that time to cross the lane and get behind a bush. Mary Grace is from Seattle WA and had never held a rifle before. Some instruction before we set out on where to shoot the deer, safety, and how to hold the rifle was accomplished. I felt confident of her competence because his summer she did shoot a crossbow with a scope and bulls eyed the target offhand.

The doe was turned the wrong way and would not cooperate by turning around. About that time a hog, that I estimated at 75 pounds, came out into the other lane.  Again we scooted around and she got lined up for the shot. It was dead on and the hog dropped dead in its tracks, at which time there was much happiness. There was conversation about how good the hog was going to be after spending some time on the grill. Then some smaller hogs came out and one of them bit the dust, or rather mud as it was still raining. After about a minute that one scuffled off into the woods. We stayed a little longer, went back to get the truck, and drove down to the spot, spinning tires all the way. When we drove up, after the first try to lift, I had to go up on my weight estimation to 175 pounds. We struggled, tried a rope and anything else we could come up with to get the hog into the truck without even coming close. Finally as it was getting dark we gave up in disappointment and decided to try to get back to the camp. I was a little worried about the condition of the muddy road but we encountered no trouble. Back at the camp we reported in and when asked where was the hog we said it was still in the woods with a pair of deep ruts leading right to it. A couple of young boys said they would go down and get it for us.  How wonderful ! We went back to the cabin to change clothes and have a celebratory pop. By the time we made it back no one was visible except Rob, that when asked about if the boys found the hog said “its in the cooler”.  Again, how wonderful !

The next day I came and butchered the hog and put it in my freezer. On the day they returned, I had wrapped 1/2 of a backstrap, put it in a ziplock and put it in the checked luggage. It was still frozen on arrival.

What a great time we both had! Just don’t let me judge the weight of the hog you are about to shoot.

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