Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Week of June 3, 2018

We headed out to Lake Fork again this weekend and Mrs O. tagged along for the festivities.  I was happy to repeat the Sunday evening rib and beer festival on Rhandy Simmons' back porch but this time my Mrs brought along a home made blueberry pie and a home made lemon meringue pie.  We pitched a few crappie jigs from Rhandy's dock as the sun set, but quickly decided the beer and shade were more important.
Monday morning we met David Pippin with his wife, Kim, and son, Tyler, for a morning crappie trip with Rhandy.  We picked the perfect day, which also just happened to be David's birthday!  Temperatures were in the low 80's with cloud cover and a nice breeze.  Conditions could not be more perfect for a trip in June.  Rhandy drove us around to a few of his many crappie piles and everybody caught fish.  David's son Tyler caught the big fish, around 2 lbs, but everybody caught a mess and we had a great time.  I think we ended up with about 50 crappie, and a lot of very nice slabs.  I added about a 4 lb catfish to the mix.  That sure was a fun fight with light 6 lb tackle.
We came in a little early due to an approaching storm front (The Lake Fork Rain God strikes again) and David and Rhandy filleted up the catch.  We ended up with 2 gallon bags full of nice filets.  Rhandy's cat Bud supervised the cleaning activities.
After a short nap we headed over to Dale Stokes' place to take him some ribs and let Mrs O. pet some cows.   She likes to pet cows.  I prefer eating them.  Thanks, Dale!
 That evening my rain making powers were proven once again.  Don't doubt my powers!

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Week of April 29, 2018

It had been almost a year since I had been out to do some fishing and I was long overdue.  When I called Dale Stokes he told me he had retired from guiding after some medical issues.  However he said he would take me out one last time but would not be able to fish the long 12 hour days I like to do.  He set me up with Lake Fork legend Hollice Joiner for Monday evening and long time Lake Fork guide Jeff Steele for Tuesday and Wednesday.  I planned to do some fun crappie fishing with Rhandy Simmons on Sunday evening.
I made it out to the Lake with no problems around 3:30 pm, checked into Hook, Line, and Sinker, and wandered down to Rhandy's place for some crappie fishing.  Unfortunately Rhandy had injured his back jumping out of his boat.  Dr. O. prescribed internal application of beer and pork ribs while watching the sunset from his back porch.  The miracle healing occurred, but we were in no shape to go out in a boat after that.  Bud got some extra petting instead.  We'll get the crappie next time.
Monday morning I met Dale down at the Minnow Bucket and we headed out to a main lake point.  My first fish of 2018 was a nice one a little over 6 pounds.
That poor fish had swallowed a shakey head at some point and was passing it out his ass.  It fell out while Dale was weighing the fish.  I'm sure that was a relief for that poor fish!

We spent some more time on that point chunking split shot flukes, then headed up into Little Caney for the rest of the day to avoid some high winds.  We caught a few more here and there, then Dale hooked a 9 lb 10 oz monster that pulled like crazy.
We caught a few more through the day, mostly nice little chunks in the 2-3 lb range and ended up with 15 for the day.  I went back to the hotel at 2 pm and got a nice siesta before joining Hollice at 4 pm.  We spent 4 hours poking around the island and park shoreline north of the 154 bridge and caught another 8 fish.  I did catch a fish on my first cast with Hollice.  I hope I get a chance to fish with him again, soon.

Tuesday morning I met Dale again at 6 am and we were off to Little Caney again to get out of the wind.  I caught a fish on my first cast and told Dale we should just go in now because that was bad luck.  Fortunately he just laughed and we kept fishing.  We hit a bunch of good spots catching fish here and there and ended up with 12 for the day.  We mixed things up a bit throwing split shot flukes, baby brush hogs, senkos, shakey heads, and worms, mostly shallow, but never found a killer pattern.  I did love the color, markings, and black spot on this one Dale caught.  That's a pretty fish.

After repeating my most excellent siesta pattern at 2 pm, I met up with Jeff at 4 pm and we were off for some more fun.  Jeff actually went straight back to the same spot Dale and I had finished at, and again I caught a fish on my first cast.  Jeff said that was bad luck, but I reminded him I had already been casting for 8 hours earlier that day.  That broke the ice.  We fished that same area a little differently than I had with Dale earlier and we had a few more fish.  Jeff had me pitch down a shoreline at about 6 feet and I got a nice 6 pounder right where he had called the shot.  It was 6 even on the scale.
We switched back and forth between split shot flukes and carolina rigs and ended up with 6 or 7 more decent fish before dark.  When we went in Rhandy was waiting at my truck with a cold beer.  I could get used to that!

Wednesday morning was dark and cloudy and remarkably the wind was a bit lower.  Dale took us over to the hog ditch and we worked that bank for awhile and caught a couple.  After that we headed up to a high spot near the dam where we had a double.  We saw lots of big fish moving around, but couldn't catch another near the dam.  Chainsaw hump was next and we worked our way around til I caught a nice 7 lb 1 oz fish.   She was a fightnin' son of a gun.  That was a fun fish.
We poked around a few more places and ended up with 11 for the day.

I met Jeff again at 4 pm and we headed up in the northeast arm to get out of the afternoon wind.  Jeff caught a 6 pounder on his first cast and hardly fished at all after that.  He worked really hard to get me bit the rest of the trip but the fish were just being ornery.  We hit some great spots and used several techniques but the fish weren't playing.  That never bothers me, it happens sometimes, but it always drives the guides crazy.  When I was ready to go in at 8 pm, Jeff insisted we make one more stop, but the fish remained stubborn.  I think we ended up with 3 in the boat, but I still had a great time.  We did have a few sprinkles of rain so my reputation as the Lake Fork Rain God remains intact.  Sadly, the beer girl was not waiting at my truck when we went in, but my fridge at the hotel room made up for that.  I really enjoyed fishing with Jeff and I hope we get to go again, soon.  He is running to become mayor of Wilmer (again) and I hope he wins!

As  always we saw lots of wildlife around the lake.  Raccoons, snakes, buzzards, nutria, deer, and lots of song birds.  The soundtrack was awesome and we even found some banks with sweet smelling honeysuckle.  I did get a surprise when I looked at this photo I took of a pretty yellow song bird.  Notice the 6 foot banded water snake on the log behind the stump?  I didn't til I saw this photo on my computer!
Lake Fork is full of surprises and I hope to get back for some more at the end of May or early June.  I don't know if I'll get to fish with Dale again, but we have had a lot of good times on the Lake and I really appreciate him coming out of retirement for a couple of days to fish me one last time.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Week of May 7, 2017

I finally managed to get out to Lake Fork this week and had a grand time as always.  We never caught any big fish, but we did catch a good number of bass and had beautiful weather to do it in.  Temperatures were in the low 80s all week and winds were mostly light.  Rhandy was booked all week so Dale volunteered to fish me 14 hours a day on Monday through Wednesday, plus a half day on Sunday.

I got out to the lake about 3:30 on Sunday afternoon and found Monty had forgotten to leave me a note telling me which room I was in.  I was able to get into room 2, it was clean, and moved my stuff in there.  When I came out Dale was sitting in the parking lot.  He said there were 3 tournaments happening down at the Minnow Bucket and it was a zoo with no parking.  He decided we would use the ramp at Hook Line and Sinker.  I asked him to call Monty to tell him which room I was in and he said Monty had said I would be in room 2.  I guessed right!

We put in at the ramp and headed out for 4 hours on a beautiful Sunday afternoon.  The 3 tournys had shied the fish so we only caught 4.  We headed in about 8 pm around sunset.  It was a slow start, but it sure felt good to have a rod in my hand again.  We fished mostly split shot rigs with senkos and baby brush hogs working pockets and banks.

Monday we headed out about 20 minutes before sunrise and started out on a main lake point.  We had about 20 by 8 am fishing Carolina rigs with flukes and baby brush hogs.  I tell you the fish know when it is not the weekend anymore.  After the morning bite ended, we moved around fishing banks and pockets throwing a combo of split shot rigs and Carolina rigs.  We did find one group of trees that produced 6 fish, but mostly it was ones and twos around different spots.  We ended up with a total of 39 for the day, which is a pretty good bunch of bass.  Nothing over about 3 pounds.

Tuesday we headed out around the same time and again had good results on a main lake point using the same techniques.  I think we had 18 by about 8 am.  After that we spent a lot of the day back in Little Caney throwing split shots and wacky worms.  We did try one deep water spot with Carolina rigs but the fish either were not there or not interested.  We ground out another 15 fish over the rest of the day, with the best bite coming exactly at 8 pm on my last cast.  We were back in a pocket pitching wacky worms and I had pitched out to one side of a tree with no bite.  I decided to try the other side of the tree and was rewarded with a nice fight with a 6 pound bass.  The fish had a huge gut and looked like she hadn't spawned yet.
Wednesday one of my wife's work buddies, Keith, came out and joined us for the day.  He's a much more experienced fisherman than I am and he and Dale got along great.  We headed out about the same time but found another boat sitting on our usual point.  We headed over to another point and caught a few, but not as many as we had been finding on the other point.  After awhile, Dale realized that was a buddy of his sitting on "our" point.  When he checked his phone he found 5 messages from his buddy inviting us to come over and join them.  We did, but after the main bite had slowed down.  We did see an 8.1 caught in the other boat, but we found only solid little 2 and 3 pound fish and dinks.  We moved down the bank for awhile and added a few more with Carolina rigs before switching to split shots and heading back to pockets and banks.  Around 2:30 a small thunderstorm blew up west of us and we ran off the lake and sat it out in the parking lot of the Minnow Bucket.  I am the Lake Fork rain God!  We headed back out after about an hour but found the wind had picked up a bit.  We tied up and threw at a windy pond dam and bank for awhile and caught a few.  Then we motored inside the pond dam and worked the banks til the wind started to lay down a bit.  We ended up the evening hitting some pockets and finished with 33 bass for the day.  Keith hooked about a 7 pound drum in the belly, but we won't count that one.  It was a good fight, though!  I think Keith had a pretty good time for his first trip to Lake Fork.

As usual we saw lots of wildlife along the banks. 
109 bass over 3 and a half days makes for a pretty good trip.  Thanks to Dale for fishing me sunrise to sunset, 14 hours a day, for 3 days straight.  That's an extra effort and I sure do appreciate it.
Yes, I have started using a sun mask and I know it looks goofy as hell.  However it is a lot nicer than slathering my face in greasy sun cream.  Plus, if I'm only catching small bass I will be able to maintain my secret identity!

While sitting out the storm on Wednesday we heard that Tony, who runs the Minnow Bucket in the mornings, had suffered a heart attack and was in the hospital.  Please keep him in your thoughts and prayers.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Week of November 13, 2016

Only my second trip of the year and a short one, too.  Rhandy was booked so Dale fished me Sunday evening and all day Monday and Tuesday.  Pippin joined us on Monday. 

Sunday evening we decided to go for a big fish and spent the evening pitching jigs at stumps.  I caught a couple of small ones and jumped off a few more.  No big bites.  Monday we left out at sunrise and stayed out til sunset.  We pretty much threw the tackle box at them and boated 28 small bass and a few bar fish.  We tried Carolina rigs, shakey heads, split shot flukes, tail kickers, jiggin spoons, and a few other techniques but never caught a fish over 3 pounds.  We had some fun though.  I think Pippin caught the most this trip.  I did hook what I thought was a very nice fish.  It wrapped me up so it felt even bigger than the 7 pounds or so it weighed.  Unfortunately, it was a drum.  Darn.  Got me excited for a minute there.
As usual we saw a lot of wildlife.  We found a herd of deer on the bank and saw several bald eagles flying around.  The weather was beautiful if a bit warm for November.  The wind slicked off a few times but other than that it was very nice.
The so called "super moon" was out but it didn't seem to help the fishing!
Pippin went home Monday night so Dale and I played Captain Ahab and hunted Moby Bass again all day Tuesday.  I fished a jig for 6 and a half hours with only 2 bites.  One broke me off and the second was just a small fish.  After that we switched to shakey heads and caught a few small fish before the sun set.  Dale did catch one that went about 5 lbs but that was the biggest fish this trip.  Hopefully I can get back out again before the end of the year for some bigger bass and maybe some crappie.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Week of June 5, 2016

I went out this week not really expecting to do well.  Every bad juju the guides seem to complain about was in full effect.  The week before had seen heavy rains and the water was stained.  The lake was over pool and the gates were open.  There was a light north wind.  There was a new moon.  You name it, every sign pointed to a poor week of fishing.  However we actually did pretty well.  We never saw any big fish, but we caught lots of little ones in the morning and late afternoon.  In between it was mostly hot, especially when the wind laid down, which it did too often.  I jumped off one about 6 lbs and Rhandy caught one about that.  Those were the two biggest fish we saw.
I fished 3 full days with Dale, 4 half day evenings with Rhandy, plus a half day morning crappie trip with Rhandy.  Dale counted 66 bass combined for our 3 days and I think we were close to that with Rhandy.  My buddy David came along on Monday and he caught a few, too.  David also caught the biggest drum and the biggest catfish when he forgot we were fishing for bass.  My biggest bass this trip was about 5.5 lbs.  We could usually catch some fish between sunrise and 9 am and again after 5 pm.  In between it was very slow going and often very hot.
This was Rhandy's last trip for his Bee Line boat and he'll have a new center console boat on my next trip.  I'm not sure if he'll still have "sponsor" stickers from the Banjo Minnow, Popeil Pocket Fisherman, Helicopter Lure, Flying Lure or Snoopy Catch 'Em kit.  Not so serious, indeed.
Thursday morning I went out with Rhandy and we hit 5 or 6 of his brush piles before we had to go in at 11.  We ended up with 21 crappie keepers which I can testify are very tasty.
If I head back out anytime soon I will definitely be doing split days.  The summertime switch has definitely been flipped.