Friday, July 22, 2016

A kickin' bass summer on the river

RTWO photo by Richard Schindler
So along came a kayaker and we began shooting the breeze under the River Raisin bridges in Monroe, which all started when I explained to him I wasn't trying to photobomb his pictures. Next thing I know I had a nice one on and I asked Richard Schindler of Monroe, who had paddled down from the state park, if he wouldn't mind snapping a picture for me since it's hassle while canoeing by yourself. Thanks, Richard.

By Mac Arnold
RTWO Editor-In-Chief

How's the bass fishing this summer you might ask?

Pretty doggone good I would reply back.

At least in the spots I've been fishing, which have been nearly exclusive to Monroe County, Michigan's River Raisin. I've also heard of friends and others doing well around the state.

It is obvious now that how the river flows dictates the action. Like last summer for instance, when June rains turned the River Raisin into a River Wild and caused a longtime friend to swear I nearly killed him when we were turned upside down in our canoe and pulled into its swirling chocolate waters.

Before that episode and after, the fish were tough to find. And other than a time when I found a couple real nice smallies along rocky bank near where I've been going at the end of the Raisin this year, it was pretty fruitless.

But that was then.
RTWO by Mac Arnold
I can't even explain how this
happened. I know longtime bud 
Bill Brisebois would have howled
with delight had he witnessed this snag,
turned into a massive bird's nest, 
and then a catch.

This summer the waters are clear green and tame, and comfortably warm on my feet and ankles when I've been forced out of the canoe to traverse shallow spots, which has been often upriver.

The biggest problem has been dealing with all the grasses and weed beds more easily snagged because of lower water levels. It's required diligence when choosing what lures to throw.

Another of my goals this bassin' season was to try and diversify the arsenal, which is part of the reason for subscribing to "Bassmaster" magazine, to see what the pros offer up as suggestions. A couple of the tips have worked -- the wacky-worm delivery with three -inch Senkos rather than four and five-inchers, and the other being Shad Raps by Rapala. Both caught fish but really became more of a nuisance to toss because of the constant mine-sweeping of grass piles and the re-setting for the next cast.

By far, as always, the best bet because not only can it be weedless but because it can get down to the big boys at deeper depths has been the drop shot with Senkos. And speaking of exclusivity, nothing else works like they do, so that's all I use. Mostly, it's a matter of determining what color to choose.

It's funny. There was one day with the shade darkening the waters under the bridges and trestle foundations,  that I couldn't throw enough of the red shad laminate ones. But it clicked! Darker lures for darker water. Then the next time I was patrolling in and out of the pillars, it was nothing doing with those, and the best fish were caught with old standbys, blue pearl and chartreuse.

A surprising nonfactor has been the buzz bait, which has always been a sure bass buster, but with the fish apparently hanging in the deeper depths from warmer, shallow water it seems top water is out. But again, that is fine because I would like to get away from the usual go-to lures and try new stuff.

As far as equipment goes, paying some bucks for a St. Croix rod to help replace the three lost in last summer's canoeing debacle, has made a world of difference. Out of the four to seven fish I've been averaging when out this summer, two to three are pretty nice, and as we know, those bigger smallmouth bass can really fight. But where maybe one or two of those get off in year's past, they aren't this year.

Can't wait to get the next one on. Hope it's a big one.

There's plenty more season left with it still being only July, and August likely will continue to be productive, at least for anglers like myself who cruise the rivers in a canoe. But summer as we all know also tends to fly by and then it'll be closer to the time for getting ready for deer.

Oh no, did I just say the "D" word?

Still a little early for that but might be getting time to begin practicing with the bow.

RTWO photo by Mac Arnold
First catch with a Shad Rap. Had a good feeling about the color when I bought it at Bass Pro Shop in Rossford, Ohio. It ended up being one of the better fish on that day.