Every year I go on a fishing trip. I’d say an annual fishing trip, but that seems a bit redundant with “every year”, so, it’s just a fishing trip. It is usually the only thing I have to look forward to each year. I think four days of fishing and drinking beats the hell out of a couple hours of video games and drinking, which is pretty much what I do every night; so you can see why adding fishing makes it so exciting.
Sometimes we go to exotic locations like Canada. Lately we’ve been going to a little place in Alpena County Michigan called Fletcher’s Pond, or alternately known as Fletcher’s Floodwaters. Sometimes we don’t feel like driving very far, so we go to a lake a little closer and just tell everybody we’re out in the boonies. Why risk co-workers calling us to come in and help because we’re “only and hour” away.
The latter was the plan this year. With gas prices as high as they are and our limited time frame, driving for half a day always seems like a waste of time. People are always coming our way to fish, too, so we figured we might as well see why everybody from the city areas come out to us in the summer.
Our target, Arbutus Lake, a small chain of lakes near a bunch of other chain lakes.
It beat our ass.
First of all, the trip was still great. It takes a great many things to ruin 4 days off work, fishing and just not being home. None of those things happened, but the fish were too smart for us. To be specific, the lake was too smart for us.
All of the lakes that make up Arbutus are very, very clear. It also got deep very, very fast. I could see the bottom in 20 feet of water. Indeed, it wasn’t until about 25-30 feet that the water was too dark to see into. It wasn’t uncommon to find weeds 5 feet offshore in 15 feet of water.
It was also very, very sunny for about 3 days prior to our trip and the first 2 days of the trip. Normally not a bad thing, but fish in clear water don’t really like the sun. It makes them feel vulnerable, even if they’ve got weeds to hide in.
These are all conditions we weren’t used to. Our previous locations were shallow lakes with little structure, lots of cover and stained water. Arbutus is just the opposite. We just didn’t know how to fish it.
We caught fish, sure, but not that many of them. Mostly smaller bass, in shallow areas. I had plenty of ideas. I’d crammed enough fishing books into my head to know these bass didn’t want me to walk up to them with a 3 inch crank and just ask them out, they wanted to be “finessed”. Unfortunately, the drop-shot and shaky head are techniques I don’t use a lot. We gave some of these ideas a try, but the fish just didn’t seem to be going for it.
The other problem was we had no sonar. No “fish finder”. It had somehow gotten “lost” (likely pawned by house-mates). We couldn’t look for the fish where they were most likely hiding and ready to bite; in the depths.
So, we stuck to trying to catch the fish from weed beds we could see, staying as far off as we could and trying finesse tactics. We probably could have slowed down our presentation even more. However, it is hard to convince people who just want to catch fish to stick with something that doesn’t seem to be working, also. After all, we had a limited amount of time, and limited patience. I love a challenge when it comes to fishing and I love to learn how to catch fish in situations I’m not familiar with using different techniques.
Not everybody else is like that. Some people just want to throw a crank all day and sip brew.
I can respect that.
So, we went out to a different lake for the last two days of our trip. A shallow lake with stained water and lots of cover. We caught quite a few fish too, before they suddenly cooled way down with a cold front that came through after 6 days of bright sun.
I entirely believe with the right knowledge and techniques, fish can be caught everywhere, all the time. However, there still are slow days of fishing; even for the pros. I think maybe we caught a few of those slow days.
Still, the trip was great. We had some fun being frustrated. As I mentioned, I brought my camera to record anything crazy that happened, and so nothing crazy did happen this year. It was actually one of the most “quite” trips we had. No sleeping in lobbies. No wheezing, shirtless ogres.
I’m working on putting together a video of the trip, but in the meantime, here’s a little clip of the smallest bass I’ve ever seen being caught on line.