January 25, 2012
By Matt Straw
Rick Hammer caught this one on a Lindy Bug. (That I gave him.) And a wax worm. To find him, we had to move several times.
When the most dependable spots from times past failed to turn up more than a couple bulls, Dave, "Shoggie" Shogren suggested we cross the lake to an area I'd never been on. We actually never needed to go very far from the entry point to this lake to find fish, but the coldest day of the year so far took place just a couple days prior. The fish we did find were very reluctant.
So we found some fish slightly less pressured. Almost virgin, you might say (if such a thing is possible, like being slightly pregnant). It was a sandy point or bar with cabbage around it. Now, finding a spot like that is one thing. But you then have to find the fish on the spot. Easy with a boat. Takes a lot of holes to find the right cabbage stalks on the right slopes at the perfect depth.
Actually, we never found much.
Cabbage, that is. And what I could find with my Vexilar was in water too shallow, disappearing at about 10 feet. The bluegills, this day, definitely preferred depths of 14 to 16 feet. We find them in 8 feet at times, but 12 to 18 is the general range.
The key is finding a bottom transition leading to those weeds. If you can. In the outdoor media, we tend to make it sound like transitions are narrow and everywhere and obvious. They aren't and, uh, they aren't. Not always obvious, either. Sometimes you have to train yourself to look for changes over an area 20 to 30 feet across. Barely noticeable changes in bottom readings on a flat can make all the difference.
A rise generally indicates harder bottom. Finding that "sharp break" is another key. In lakes like these, "sharp" describes a drop of three feet over a linear distance of 12 feet or so. Find that spot. If it has weeds on top (way up there — all three feet), ooh, baby.
Better to find these pug-nosed pugilists away from the cabbage, like they were the other day, 48 hours after the most severe cold front of the year. So far. To find them up on top (way, way up there, man) in stable, warm weather is to battle with many more than we did. But, to find them at all? And to find a few that can be convinced to bite with a Thorne Brothers Quiver Stick? Piscalicious.