You know… Trout Diva doesn’t ALWAYS fish the White River… I spent my childhood on a small lake outside of Kansas City, MO called Lake Tapawingo. My Daddy taught me how to fish when I was about 6 years old, and I spent many a lazy day down by the water, soakin’ up the sun in search of crappie and bass. Now that I’m all grown up, and living smack-dab in the middle of 2 lakes & 3 rivers, I have lots of fishing options!
Well, yesterday, Steve & I sneaked away from the resort about 2:45 in the afternoon, and went to the Fairview public ramp on Bull Shoals Lake. I’d been hearing about the great lake fishing that’s been going on, and my husband had already been out a few times (without me!) doing some “product research” as he calls it… So, we hit the water about 3:15 to see what we could find.
You’ve probably heard this before, but the first thing that always strikes you about Bull Shoals Lake is the crystal clear water. We had 20′ water visibility – easy… it was about 65 degrees, light breeze, blue sky… perfect!
We quickly scanned a few coves with the Humminbird to look for larger schools of baitfish, hopin’ that what we wanted would be close by… Wind was blowin’ from the west, so we stayed on the east side of the lake, figuring we’d have better luck, as the baitfish will usually be found in the direction of the prevailing winds. The third cove we got into had significantly warmer water, and we had more initial fish sightings, so we decided to take a closer look here. It was about 4:00.
As we cruised the shoreline staying at a 30 – 35′ depth, we saw several larger schools of baitfish concentrated on the sides of a larger point, in the general vicinity of some brush piles that had been added by AGFC. We had to wait awhile for another gent to clear… Didn’t have the heart to tell him, but he was in too close to the shore! After he moved on, we came around of the north side of the point and set up.
While Steve was riggin’ us up, we had a fair breeze to contend with — about 20 mph or so… not extreme, but enough to put my trolling motor skills to the test, to be sure! I hadn’t been lake fishing in some time, and my skills with the trolling motor were… well, shall we say, somewhat “rusty”…
Anyway, I set up to fish off the back of our bass boat about 4:30 or so, rigged for about a 24′ depth. Not long after that, I caught a pretty small largemouth. Then, I caught that brush pile that AGFC had so conveniently placed there for me, and, much to my husband’s delight, I completely lost my rigging… (Just a note here: Your Trout Diva does not make these kinds of mistakes without assistance, thank you very much! My husband should have been holding us 5′ deeper as we went around the point — just wanted to clarify that!)
Anyway, I got rigged back up and started coming around the point. Caught a few nicer smallmouth, and 2 more largemouth. They were from last year’s successful spawn, and for “yearlings”, they were actually quite large and very fat! This is really exciting news for the lake fishing in the next few years to come.
You know that reminds me… There’s an article in the March-April 2009 Arkansas Wildlife magazine talking about what the high lake levels did for the spawns. In a nutshell, water up into the treelines, which we had most of 2008, provided nutrients and cover and blooms of the small invertebrates eaten by crappie fry. The combination of the additional food and cover ensured the survival of 2008’s bumper crop of crappie, and other fish, too.
The samples taken last year were 4 times greater than any spawn since biologists began sampling the lake for spawning success in 1972. Did I read that correctly??? 4 times greater than ever measured??? Yes, folks, the lake fishing is going to be phoenomenal for quite a few years to come!
And speaking of crappie…
We came around that long, slow drift the second time, and I had my minnow surgically removed from my hook twice in a row. I’d missed fish twice already… Something smarter than the average fish… Something more stealthy… So, I was payin’ attention to any little twitch or movement in my line — I wasn’t going to be embarrassed a third time! I felt just the slightest little tug and I set the hook like I meant it!
It felt like a snag for a couple of seconds, and I was about to start yakkin’ at my husband for drifting me through yet another brush pile… After all, it IS his responsibility, considering HE was operating the trolling motor at the time, and HE had the other depth finder at the bow, right by his feet! If there was another brush pile — I should have been notified!
But, before I could make a snippy comment, I felt that line pull back hard! And I grinned… I knew whatever it was… it was GOOD! Steve asked me if I was snagged up again, and I just smiled at him as I shook my head, no… He asked me if I was sure? I just shook my head, yes…
As I got it close to the boat, we both thought it was a big bass for a second or two, just because of its size of the silvery flash down in the water. I had the drag set fairly tight, and when it got a look at us, it decided to go back down — smokin’ my drag along the way… So I was patient, let it tire itself out a little, and then brought it to the boat — and we both had our eyes pop out of our head! It was probably the nicest crappie I’ve ever caught… I wore it out pretty good, so about 30 minutes in our aerated livewell gave it a good chance to revive before taking a quick picture and releasing it.
We both caught some more fish, including some more nice crappie, but none like that one! Anyway, it was about 7:30 by now, and I didn’t want to load the boat in the dark, so we headed back to the ramp… nice afternoon on Bull Shoals Lake!
By the way, did I mention that I caught 6 more fish than Steve that afternoon??? Well, I didn’t remember mentioning it to you… I do, however, remember mentioning it to my dear husband… maybe several times, actually…
Your White River Trout Diva — (Crappie Queen in my spare time…)