The streak is over
Wow, what a relief! My streak since July 28, 2017 has ended, and I've caught another largemouth bass. I'm back in the fishing game, not just the kayaking-with-fishing-equipment game!
The sense of belonging wore off a bit as I tried to catch more and came up short. It seems that whenever I am catching it's strictly a 1 fish day. So be it. I fish again soon, so let's hope I've started a new kind of streak. One per day is plenty good for me.
I have to credit a good friend who helped me more than he knows, both with new ideas and confirmation of old ones. Carl Snider, a bass master from the North Florida Christian Bass Club, gave me ideas and info about how to change my luck. At his suggestion I bought 6-inch Zoom Watermelon-Red Shakey Tail soft plastic lures, attached a 3/o hook with a small in-line bullet weight, and let it rip. Carl also suggested a trip to Lake Harris, where the NFC Bass Club is hosting a tournament soon.
Lake Harris is in Lake County near Leesburg, and is part of one of the best lake clusters for bass fishing in central Florida. Carl suggested launching from the Venetian Gardens boat ramp and fishing the shallows immediately to the west (i.e. at the Gardens themselves). I opted to launch from the western end of the lake, with the intention of paddling all the way to the Gardens if necessary. I'll visit the Gardens area of the lake the next time I go.
The day was cloudy, rainy and a cool 65-70 degrees. The surface water temperature started around 51 degrees and rose to about 54 later in the day. The very shallow restricted areas had warmer temperatures near 58 degrees. Standard logic for bass fishing in Florida when it gets "cold" is to try for deeper areas with sandy bottoms where there may be warmer pockets of water. I was using my Iphone to view the Navionics bathymetry of the lake bottom, and most of the bass boats on the lake seemed to be fishing in the deeper depressions and potholes (note that later in the day more boats made their way to the shallows). I tried the deep water tactic myself for about an hour, but wasn't feeling any action and the wind and rain were both increasing.
As a novice angler I often question my decisions about where and how to fish. This uncertainty and lack of confidence was supported by the absence of bites and catches. Now I feel a bit better about it. I know that a fishing spot is good when I can see surface activity, the environmental indicators are there (weed lines, bottom structure, submerged trees, etc.), and there are nibbles on the bait. Presentation is always a challenge, and may be the biggest variable for hooking a fish or not. I can live with that and learn how to present if every once in a while something will bite.
After trying the deeper depressions in the middle of the lake, I retreated to the shoreline and the cover of the cypress trees as the rain came down hard.
I knew from my sonar that there was a pretty steep slope from the 2-3 foot depths where I was sitting during the rain down to depths near 12-14 feet just a little bit out. The Navionics map didn't show the bottom contours I was seeing, so I thought it was a fairly recently dredged alignment. There were grasses nearshore and suspended weeds in the deeper water, and I suspected bass were cycling between the two looking for things to eat. Every once in a while a large fish would breach and swirl the surface of the water.
Such was the case for the bass I caught. It made it's presence known with a swirl, nibbled at my first or second cast, and bit strongly on the third or fourth. I set the hook sharply after a short pause, and prayed it was still on. I was not disappointed as line rolled off the spool. I let it run a bit and then started working it back toward my kayak before it got too tangled in the cover. Bass #2 was a pretty good size - perhaps in the 4 pound range.
My confidence is renewed and I'm ready for more. Thank you Carl and Lake Harris!