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From my last entry, the area went through a high water period (a few days over flood stage). I did attempt a trip, as I figured I needed to fish in all conditions if I wanted to gain a true understanding of the waterway.

It was a bust.

Then we had snow...............record snowfall that kept us away from any fishing. When we did see a window, we took it. Following is how the few hours played out:

I really don't know what to report from the trip Z and I took to Saginaw today. Other then.......................Yeah!
We planned an afternoon/evening trip to simply "go fishing". There was to be no notes, no measuring, no weighing - just plain and simple fishing. That is exactly what we did - well, at least everything but the note taking part. I took plenty of mental notes from this one!
I fell again...............twice, the second of which aided in cutting our trip short along with a wader filled with water and entirely too much whining for my liking. We managed to get 2hrs. and 24 minutes of angling in. Within that time we cut triple digits for the first time in 2010. 102 panfish came to hand before I had had enough, and the best part of it..................they all came from the first area we fished!

Z decided to take our Leopard Gecko's food along for bait - waxworms. He fished these under a float threaded on a 1/64oz. jig head. He struggled with rigging them the way I wanted him to, and that was the start of his complaining. I take the worms and push the head inside out with the hook, then thread the entire worm on the hook much like the way we rig Honey Worms. This makes the jig head become the "head" of the waxworm while putting the hook right in the middle of the worm - making a very efficient rig.
We didn't seperate how many each of us caught seperately, but it was very obvious my choice of baits well outfished this livebait simply because of time spent in the water.

We started fishing a blind area, simply on a gut feeling. There was no visible structure, but a very visible current change from the main flow. I decided to stop and fish it figuring any slower current area had the possibility of holding 'gills. My decision was much better then I ever thought it would be, as the panfish were stacked along this seam like cordwood.

I started fishing a 1/80oz twister tipped w/a Crappie Nibble. There was a lot of time spent missing fish with this bait. A few 'gills were caught by bouncing it along the bottom. The first surprise was during a trial retrieve of swimming the twister. A small crappie inhaled the jig.

Z's live bait setup was on fire............when he had it in the water. It became obvious he would be hooked up on every cast. I mean every single time he landed a cast, his float was disappearing. There was no finesse watching the waggler style float - it simply disappeared. I had modified this style float for him by weighting the lower stem. This additional weight allowed him to cast further and more controlled then he could with a plain waggler and jig head. The problem he had was with deep set hooks and the need to constantly re-rig the live bait. I was getting 10-12 additional casts in the amount of time he took to release/re-rig/cast his setup.....................but it was catching fish at a higher ratio to cast then I was.

It was the change I made that really set the stage for catching.
I was given a sample bag of Maki plastics from a customer a few years ago. I liked the way they looked and "flowed" in the aquariums, but never really paid much mind to them after that. I had grabbed the baggie on my way out the door with the mindset, "maybe I'll try one today". Well, I'm very glad I did, and may actually replace my twister tails with an assortment of these plastics from here on out. They fished GREAT! on their own today; meaning they didn't need tipped with anything to draw committed strikes. The only way I can communicate the strike experience was, the fish annihilated the baits. There was no additional weight when the rod was raised, no line watching for a subtle tick.................it was a rod-yanking strike.


While Z continued to bring 'gills to hand with the waxworms, the new-to-me plastic bait was working it's way through multiple species.

'Gills, Redeye, Green sunfish, a few hybrid crosses, and the most crappie I've caught from the river. It seemed the more crappie I caught, the larger they got - which is odd for this species of fish.

The only thing I can't say I liked about these plastics is the direct result of what I really like about them. They are not impressively durable. It didn't take but 2-3 fish to tear them up that they needed attention after a retrieved cast. They still worked fine, but were torn up enough that they wouldn't stay straight on the hook. I understand this is due to their construction to be unbelievably fluid in water - they are as top shelf with action response to movement as they can be without being real. They just can't deal with the amount of fish they were being credited for catching. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing - I just expect more.

I made one last change......"just to see". I was curious what a larger bait in a different color would do, so I switched to a:

You can see from the picture what I am talking about in regards to durablity. The left side "arm" has the end bit off, and you can see the numerous times I had to reset the hook placement to keep the bait rigged straight. However, it brought many, many fish to hand...........and they tended to be a bit "beefier":

Z had enough of this spot, I had enough of Z so we decided to try another area. We found the crappie tree mentioned in previous reports. It may play a part in future reports, but only if the water is high. It was moved 90 degrees from its original location. Rather then laying out into the river like it was before, it is now parallel to the shoreline; on the shoreline. Z and I waded out to fish the deeper water that I know is there, but I took him a bit too far. Seems as if I misjudged the top of his hip boots by a few millimeters. He made his first cast and announced, "Dad, my feet are getting wet."
I hushed him, figuring it was a continuation of his complaining from the previous spot. He had never been this deep in water before, so I explained to him that water pressure on waders makes it feel as if they are leaking sometimes, but that is was merely the chill from the rubber he was feeling.
I was wrong.
He insisted his one foot was getting wet. We weren't getting any strikes within the few casts we made, so I pulled the plug on the trip. On the way home I kept hearing water sloshing around from the backseat. Asking Z what that was coming from (thinking it was a water bottle that fell on the floor), he said: "It's the water in my boot."
I emptied approx. a half gallon of water out of his one wader when we got home..................

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Comment by Bruce Condello on February 27, 2010 at 11:11pm
Mesmerizing...
Comment by Zig on February 27, 2010 at 7:45pm
At the risk of sounding arrogant, Jim.............it's not as easy as we make it look. If anyone can enjoy the panfishing, I know it's you!! Give me a call when you're headed down, I'll see if I can't give you a boosted start.
Comment by Jim Gronaw on February 27, 2010 at 5:40pm
That's it...I'm going there...the secret is out!!!
Comment by John Sheehan on February 27, 2010 at 3:21pm
Woah!!!Another great marathon Zig read!!

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