Do you love big bluegill?
Conditions were horrible from mid-day on. LOFR-BR nailed it.
In hot, hot weather - this place is a puzzle, wrapped in a mystery but the fish are there because it is jurassic!!!!
I took a stump in the rump on the way out (while it was described to me- I wasn't really hearing that we would be banging off stumps in the front, middle and motor). I nearly jumped out of my skin right after the stump hit when a 25 lb. - fish jumped up about 3 foot from me to my back and then smashed down in the water like a cannon shot, dropping spray over the bow where I was sitting. I peed a little...
White caps off to the left coming all the way across the lake and sending current into the canal spillway we were fishing gave a few fish the wake-up call. No matter where you fish, this can happen and 2 days can be bad with one day good - that is fishing. We never really got to the really good but I know this lake is magical.
I got to see it all while I was there - giant jumping fish (still need to catch one in a net), boat-bumping travel across fields of submerged stumps and a really swampy-look'n cyrpess paradise along with some of the best Southern hospitality you could imagine. I am still full from all the food that LOFR-BR (Lord of the Fly Rods & BBQ Ribs) prepared for us before the trip started and during the trip!!! The members that shared their passion for fishing, lots of stories and even a tackle-swap you could find no where on the planet, this was a really great time. Adventure!
Fishing Reel Foot in Slow Bite
Reel Foot has a lot more to offer so we will have to visit it when the temperatures haven't reached 100 or when they have started down in the 60's because it should offer up monsters on structure consistently. I didn't set a personal best there for fish, but I did for BBG.com adventures.
I think I cracked a little bit of the code late on the last night - and I caught one hump-head mixed with 8 cats or so. I had a Green sunfish earlier so I got to see them.
These fish were literally on lock-down. They were deep in the base of those stumps and not coming out. We switched sides of the lake for the evening and the temperature came down 15 degrees, wind-whipped shores on the South end got the fish going a bit. This is where the spillway was.
We should rotate back on this lake during a slightly better fishing period (later September, early October or in Spring) because I know this lake has beast fish hidden in it. In order to fish this you have to snag up on cypress root - if you aren't snag'n - you aint catch'n. That said, I did have some success with chumming the fish to bring them up a bit. This is tricky business because if you do it wrong- you will actually drive the fish deeper down into these roots (rooty fish cribs). If you do it correctly - you can put some interest above the roots and get the fish to slowly come up to the root edge and strike.
This would have to be done anchoring at each stump this time of year with the most delicate gear you can use. I picked up on some local posts where they were talking about going to 1/80 oz. jigs and, I think a 1/1,000th ounce hook was the way to go. I had a chance to fish my prototype hooks and they held on some small and medium-sized channel cats- I didn't get a hook to straighten up. I had one hook pull out early, but I think I only got a tiny piece of lip on that fish (guessed it was a bullhead from the fight). The hook points didn't dull too fast, of course, I caught as many cypress stumps as I did fish so the hook got a little work-out. We can do better on a mission hooking a volume of gills to test these hook points but early returns are that they are very good.
Where I fished that evening, I was able to do two things that I couldn't on the boat. I used the tree I fished to hold the rod tip in place. This kept the bait still down below - despite some good surface current. If you are not controlling your float by holding back on the pole tip or float tip (I used both a rod and a telescopic pole the same. Using the longer rod 10' with a spinning reel, I was able to hold onto some bigger fish). I did land a small 2 lb. cat on the telescopic pole. The extended pole lengths gave me enough reach to get to the outside of the tree trunk where I could hold the hook bait in place. If the hook bait is still below- the fish can easily "sip it in" - see the video on my page. If the hook is moving and the fish are in a funky mood- they won't chase.
Chum + Loose-Feed - Draw Them Out
One, I was able to feed a small area with a very, very little bit of loose grub and tiny amounts of ground bait. The ground bait was imported and was cut down to simulate how I normally fish. Imported ground baits are very rich! Too rich for our fish. Exotic flavors are not needed. I add some crumbs to the bait to both cut down on my cost (crumb is 1/4 the price of some ground baits) My ground bait had freeze-dried grass shrimp and bloodworm in it. The fish really dig this in the water column - it perks them up, gets them moving around and looking instead of just sitting and sulking. The fish activity above the roots then attracts the fish to look and move closer. Note that I was catching channel cats about 8" off the bottom. I was going for bream - but I am not picky when a chunky cat is going to take my hook bait. Eventually I did draw a hump-head gill out of the cover so - they were in there. Now I think back at all the stumps I could have chummed when I was there!!
Return to Reel Foot
Well, I can go visit them again because they have been there for several hundred years. I will again pack fresh grubs and try to really crack the code of Reel Foot Lake. With another day and some good weather, I think we could have seen some more gills and more cats. Keith had put out a bunch of jugs - really cool foam jug lines he made and the fish were just picking at the hook bait. We didn't get a single bite to stick on those lines. This was telling as to how little the fish were feeding and how light the bite was under the conditions. The lake had several weeks of high 90's so these fish were sulking and melting in that water. A front came through very late in the day and actual cool winds started changing the game. This happens on trips. My next trip I will plan three days on the water to make sure I get one real good day and hopefully a chunk of time on the other two days.
Reel Foot- you have not beaten us, we are plotting and rigging. A plan is forming.