Courtesy photo Jacob Van Der Meer holds up his whopping 7-pound bass caught from Lake Istokpoga over the weekend.
published: Friday, April 12, 2013
Big day on Lake Istokpoga for Jacob
I had the opportunity last week to take one of my column readers, Bob Cummins of Lake Placid, and his 16-year old grandson, Jacob Van Der Meer, who was visiting from Atlanta, on a bass fishing trip to Lake Istokpoga.
Bob had indicated that he had fished Lake Istokpoga in the past, but had had limited success and he was anxious to take his grandson, Jacob with the hopes of catching a few bass.
Neither Bob nor Jacob had ever tried "flippin" for bass, so for them this was going to be a new experience.
We met at the boat ramp around 8 a.m., with light winds and a fog alert.
The fog lifted pretty quickly as the sun burned through and the wind picked up as we made a short run to a favorite spot of mine where I felt confident we could catch a fish or two.
Rigging Jacob up with a flippin stik and a Zoom Baby Brush Hog, blue/black, blue tail, I demonstrated how easy flipping was and within minutes, he was flipping like a pro.
Anxious to catch the first bass, Jacob was working his bait in and around the reeds while I rigged Bob up with another flippin stik and selected a Baby Brush Hog in pumpkinseed, figuring we'd try some different colors.
I'd had great success just two days earlier using a brush hog and a 4" blue/black Yum Dinger.
It seemed as though we'd just gotten started when Jacob set up on a big fish, and although I think he was a little surprised to be tangling with a big bass so quickly, he muscled the lunker alongside the boat as I slid a net into the water and scooped up his catch - 7.4 pounds of largemouth bass!
A new personal record for Jacob, almost doubling his previous big bass of 4 pounds.
After a few pictures, Jacob released the big bass back into the water and didn't hesitate to send the picture along to his Dad on his high tech phone.
Minutes later, we were all flippin' looking for bass number two.
The second and third bass came quickly, apparently liking the looks of my Yum Dinger, but both seemed pretty small compared to Jacobs 7 pounder.
The water temperature had moved up since my last trip a few days earlier and even on the northeast side of the lake I was getting 70 - 71 degree water readings.
Jacob managed to pick up another bass along that stretch and as we approached another bass fisherman, I decided to move further south and try our luck in a little deeper water flipping the reed islands across from the Big Island.
I'm always asked if the guy in the front of the boat has an advantage over those fishing behind him and I'm not really sure how to answer that question.
The obvious answer is yes, but on this day, it didn't appear to be true.
I tend to work an area fast, or at least much faster than most people would fish an area.
I suppose it's my personality, or lack of patience, but unlike other fishermen who methodically flip and pitch into every nook and cranny, I assume if a bass is anywhere near my bait, he'll take it.
But I've also fished behind other fishermen and quite often, caught more fish - as have other fishermen behind me, so I sometimes wonder if the first fisherman actually has an advantage at all.
I really think what happens in many cases is the sound of the first bait attracts the fish, but by the time they move into where the bait was, I've already picked it up and flipped to a brand new spot.
If that's true, it may actually work in the favor of the guy fishing the area behind me.
Or it may simply be that they flipped into an area I missed.
It seemed to prove true fishing with Jacob and Bob.
We caught a few more fish across from the Big Island, Jacob scoring with a couple of 3-4 pounders, while I managed to catch smaller fish in the 1 1/2 - 2 pound range.
Jacob must have been doing a pretty good job of cleaning out the fish before Bob got a chance since he was going hitless in the back of the boat.
By early afternoon, we moved to a wind protected area and switched to Bass Assassin Silver Phenoms and Horny Toads and again, within minutes, Jacob nailed a nice 3 pounder on his Bass Assassin.
Bob and I found no takers topwater.
Our final move was over to the west side of the lake where a long stretch of reeds in a little deeper water looked inviting.
I hadn't fished this area in a few weeks, but again, within minutes we scored a couple more fish.
I pointed out to Jacob that often when you're flipping the reeds you'll actually see the reeds move when a bass is coming towards your bait, or chasing another baitfish.
He was a quick learner, confidently flipping into an area of movement and being rewarded with a hefty 4 pounder.
As we neared the end of the reeds, I lifted my bait out of the water only to see a large "boil" and before I could tell Jacob to drop his bait into the spot, he'd seen the boil as well and was holding on for dear life as another big fish was racing sideways with his plastic bait.
As he reared back, the bass made a nice jump and we hustled to get the net for another good sized fish.
Landing the bass, Jacob was grinning from ear-to-ear as he watched the digital scale register 5 1/2 pounds.
A couple more pictures and this bass had earned his freedom as well.
That bass brought Jacobs total for the day to six or seven bass, with his best five weighing around 22 pounds.
Not a bad day for a 16-year old, who had never flipped before and who's biggest bass in the past was 4 pounds.
We finished the day around 2:30 with 14 or 15 bass. A pretty good day of fishing on Lake Istokpoga, and a few good memories for all of us to share.
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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