Happy Monday Spacefish,
After hitting the road and spending MLK weekend out of town, I was able to fish on Saturday. I went to a place I have been wanting to go for sometime – Lake Toho. The coolest part about this trip was I got fish with someone that I connected with after linking up on Spacefish. We’ve been in touch since the first of the month, and because he has had a few trips out to Toho, I wanted to get out and follow his lead and fish with him. Kayak fishing can be a lone wolf, solo type experience, which at times makes it very enjoyable in its own way, but it was great to fish with someone, especially when exploring new waters!
I was really excited to fish this lake, and had really high expectations from the stories we hear about this legendary Bass fishery, but also I felt like after a cold snap the week before the weather and lunar cycle was shaping up for an epic day of fishing. Sometimes everything looks aligned for an epic day, and it just doesn’t quite work out that way, and that’s ok! In fact, those days that I feel like “shoulda” been epic and weren’t can turn into great learning experiences. To be clear, the trip wasn’t a bust, I caught 7 total Bass, which wasn’t a great day for numbers, but I did catch 2 fish I was able to place into my top 5 for this month’s Kayak Bass Federation (KBF) State Challenge Tournament. The person I fished with ended up catching 10 and provided us both with a great moment of excitement when he landed a 24 inch Bass, that we both guesstimate to have been over 8 pounds. We had our measuring boards, and not a scale. My fishing partner on this day was not entered into this month’s challenge but to put things into perspective there have been 142 kayak anglers entered into this challenge, there have been over 650 entries this month, and his fish would have been the 3rd biggest fish caught in the entire tournament.
This is my first time doing one of these virtual kayak tournaments, and it has been a fun experience to this point. I’ve never done anything like this before, I entered with a goal to finish top 10, how this deal works is you take your top 5 Bass in length caught over the month. Anglers are required to catch-photo-release, but the photo has to be taken with a tournament ID card on a KBF. I have only been able to fish 3 times this month; with family trips and my 3 year old playing soccer on the weekend (and me coaching, what a wild experience it is to coach 3-4 year old soccer!) I’ve been limited as far as the opportunities to maximize my chances. But after a good day at the Stick Marsh on January 8th that gave me the opportunity to list 5 good fish, and being able to cull out 2 and add in some, I’m currently in 8th as I write this. I am hoping to go out this weekend and hopefully have a chance to compete my way closer to the top 5, or be able to hold in the top 10. But for any Kayak angler that likes to target Bass, and wants to go see where they stack up against some absolutely phenomenal Kayak Bass Anglers, it’s a cool opportunity, and something I have enjoyed thoroughly!
So let me talk about my day at Toho a bit, we fished the southeast part of the lake. There is a lot of hydrilla in this lake, but there is a lot of emergent vegetation and lily pads to target fish in. Within the first 30 minutes of fishing I had my black hollow body frog taken under twice, but missed both fish. Then I started fishing a speed worm into the grass, and within a few casts had a fish on, but lost him at the kayak while trying to get him in the landing net. At this point we were fishing some offshore grass and lily pads, I spent an hour fishing up closer to the bank and came back with nothing. Working back out to the offshore stuff again, I caught and landed my first of the day. I then went through a long lull period where I had another bite, hook up and then near the kayak shake off, and landed a dink that I didn’t even bother measuring. With this being the only thing I had to show for several hours of fishing on Lake Toho I felt pretty defeated, and to be honest, slightly embarrassed at this point. But I was able to link back up with my fishing partner and asked him for his advice and pointers. I contribute my non-success to being too stuck on throwing my confidence baits, and not having a better plan to adjust to new waters and conditions
I didn’t start kayak bass fishing, and bass fishing in Florida until last May. To be honest, it came pretty easy, maybe a little too easy. And maybe that ease led to a certain degree of stubbornness. If you’ve read my Bass reports here you know what I like. I throw Frogs on top, Gambler Swimbaits and Speed Worms. On days that haven’t worked I throw Trick Worms on shaky heads, and Texas rig Ribbontail Worms and drag them along the bottom. That’s pretty much it. Well, the Trick and Ribbontail Worms have been able to bail me out and put fish in the boat on slow days before. I’ve never had a need to find another alternative to my big 3. That day came on Saturday. There was so much hyrdrilla, both alive and dead in the water that I couldn’t fish the bottom without catching a bunch of vegetation….so what in the hell do I do at this point?
That’s where I was very thankful to have had a buddy with me on the water, he even gave me a sampler pack of his baits that he’s been catching them with out there. Gambler Slim EZ’s, and Yamamoto & Yum brands version of the Swimming Senko, rigged weedless and weightless. Throwing these baits out into the vegetation, letting them sink and fall into holes and slowly pulling and bumping and bouncing them out. Well, I never caught that big mama like my buddy did. But I was able to catch 5 in the last hour and walk away with some confidence that I can come back to this lake and succeed, and that in the future, I have another trick up my sleeve when its a slow day.
I’ve covered the aggressive baits I powerfish and cover water with, and if those baits are working it’s probably going to be one of those outings that result in 20+ fish. But if they’re not, then it’s great to have answers. Just because it saved me, doesn’t mean it’s what you should fish with, but if you’re looking to beef up your winter arsenal, then Senkos, Swimming Worms, Trick Worms, and Ned rigs have been baits that have put finicky fish in the kayak for me on tough days. Color schemes, I keep it similar to how I select speed worms. Watermelon Red is a must have, but Bitter’s makes colors called Okee Magic, Toho, and Sprayed Grass that have all been producers for me. The swimming worms my buddy gave me out on the water were in watermelon red, and Junebug. The Junebug was what nabbed 4 of those last 5 fish for me that day.
I am looking to get out this weekend, try and finish this month-long challenge on a strong note. After this, I am looking to get back into more inshore fishing in February. Bass fishing this winter has definitely been a learning moment for me, I’ve had the best of times, and I’ve had the slowest of times but I have enjoyed the struggle and the opportunities to grow. If anyone reading this has had similar experiences and has some great winter Bass confidence bites to get out of a slump in real time, I’d love to hear about them in the comments below!
Have a great week everyone, until next time!