Courtesy photo This bass must have seemed like bait to Scott Grady, a musky fisherman visiting from Wisconsin, on his Sunday outing with Don Norton.
published: Friday, March 15, 2013
Wind, Wind and more Wind
Most fishermen would agree, falling or rising temperatures, heavy rain and hot, muggy days are all a nuisance when trying to get a days fishing in, but wind is one of the most difficult elements to deal with.
Too much or too little; strong cold winds coming out of the North or East or even the warmer sea breezes from the West and South play havoc for the fishermen when they approach 12-15 mph.
Three days on the water last week, Friday, Saturday and Sunday were just such days.
Friday afternoon, the winds were stiff but I was able to find a few spots on Lake Glenada, in Avon Park, where the wind had little effect and as a result, I boated a couple of decent bass on square-billed crankbaits and a Carolina rig.
Too much wind for flipping the reeds.
By Saturday, the winds picked up by mid-morning and every spot I tried on Lake Istokpoga seemed to be a target of the Northeastern gale.
Although I tend to cover an area pretty quickly, whether I'm flipping or casting, too much wind at my back moves me through an area much to fast to fish it properly.
Attempting to slow down and go against the wind will work for a short time but ultimately wears down your electric motor batteries.
The action was pretty slow as I searched out known areas for a guide trip I had the next day.
Bass didn't appear to be holding in the reeds or the pads, although I did catch a couple of yearlings along the eastern block of reeds across from the Big Island.
Working the top of the water column, above some older hydrilla with a rattletrap, I scored a couple more small males, but the action was slow.
With no set game plan for my trip on Sunday, I stopped by the Lorida General Bait and Tackle to get John Woods opinion.
He agreed the fishing had slowed down a bit and suggested using wild golden shiners.
I agreed and told him I'd be stopping by in the morning to get a few dozen.
Often, when nothing else seems to be working, golden shiners will make for a great day of bass fishing.
Sunday morning I met up with my neighbor, Ken Garner and his buddy Scott Grady who was visiting from Wisconsin.
Two hard-core muskie fishermen from up north, they were both anxious to try their hand at flipping for bass.
I let them know that the fishing had slowed down a bit and that we'd probably be facing some pretty stiff wind, so I suggested that we pick up some shiners just for insurance.
They both agreed that they'd prefer flippin' and casting with artificials, so we loaded up and headed for the lake.
Ken is a recent addition to our neighborhood and plans to live in Florida part of the year and at his Wisconsin home through the summer months.
An avid muskie fisherman, Ken met Scott years ago at a club meeting for other fishermen addicted to the fish of a thousand casts.
Ken became a member of the club and together the pair has spent countless hours in pursuit of the muskellunge.
Scott built the fishing club into one of the largest muskie organizations in the country while combining his passion for fishing with becoming a master bamboo rod builder.
Although neither had "flipped" for bass before, both were flipping their baits like professionals when Ken scored with the first bass of the day, a feisty pound-and-a-half fish that I'm sure looked even smaller to a guy who fishes for 4-5 foot monsters.
In the meantime, I managed to hook up with a grass pike that shook off my hook boatside as I fought the strong winds to keep everyone in position.
A few more missed opportunities and we decided to move down the lake and try some different strategy.
Casting spinnerbaits, rattletraps, frogs and bass assassins, Scott scored with his first bass of the day, followed by my first on a bass assassin.
None of the bass were worth bragging about, but they were welcome after hours of fishing.
Finally, Scott had a nice hit on his Horny Toad, and as he brought the fish in, I could see he'd finally gotten a larger fish to strike.
But just when I thought things were going our way, the fish broke the surface and tossed the bait.
It was a nice fish, probably in the 4-5 pound range, but apparently it was camera shy, so we all agreed it was just a "quick release."
Still trying to get out of the wind, that by then was blowing at a brisk 14-16 mph, we motored back into the south side of the Big Island and found some refuge from wind and waves.
I scored with a big mudfish, something that neither Ken or Scott had seen before and we continued working the area.
By 4 p.m. we all agreed, it had been a long, tough day on the water and it was time to call it quits.
Ken and Scott both agreed that "flipping" might be something they'll try when they get back up north for muskies.
I've caught a few muskies in Canada and Ohio and I was trying to imagine flipping for them and having one of those giants strike my bait with only 6-8 feet of line out.
As a bass fisherman, I live for the thrill of a 10 pounder picking up my bait, imagine a fish of 25-40 pounds.
That's gotta be a real rush!
Of course, they have to wait for the ice to melt!
Don Norton is a professional tournament bass fisherman, bass fishing guide, and custom rod builder. He has also taught a few fishing classes at the South Florida Community College. He lives in the Golf Hammock area of Sebring with his wife Lexie, mother-in-law Ruth Charvat, Ranger, a huge black lab and Riley, a large golden retriever and is the owner of a custom rod building company appropriately named "The American Fisherman". He can be reached at 863-273-4998 or 216-339-6571 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. His website address is theamericanfisherman.com.
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