Fighting Windy Weather, Floating Debris Creates Tough Fishing Conditions
Written by Doug Wynn - Published on April 6, 2021
If scratches and bruises were $100 bills, I would be a rich man right now. A guy my size and age isn’t any longer built for laying on a boat deck with my arm stuck thru a small slot, trying to loosen or tighten bolts at arm’s reach that I can’t see.
I’ve been changing out trolling motors for the last week. I won’t name brands since the company is a sponsor and they are working with me the best they can. Same can be said for Matt and the crew at HiTec Outdoors.
Failures and warranty issues are just part of the game. My issue is I can’t wait for parts that may not exist in the supply chain at the minute to arrive several days down the road. I must get back on the lakes tomorrow. That scenario happened to me last August and again last week.
My only recourse was to buy the only trolling motor available and make it work to get me back on the water. I’m starting to build a supply of spares once they are repaired.
A dead electronics battery Saturday cut our trip short. I fished for years with nothing more than a Humminbird Super 60 flasher and caught fish. I, and most others, have become so dependent on our multi-unit electronics set-ups, we feel helpless on the water without them. A new 100-amp Lithium battery will fix the issue, I hope. You know the old saying about B-O-A-T, break out another thousand$$! That’s been me lately.
I won’t get into politics here, but this country is going to be on its knees if companies can’t start getting the spare parts and new inventory they need immediately. Container ships loaded with valuable parts and gear, sitting idle in ports on our coasts, waiting to be unloaded and distributed to companies of all kinds, is killing the marine industry and is starting to be felt elsewhere.
I see posts on social media from consumers who have new boats or other marine accessories ordered but the manufacturers can’t give delivery dates because they have zero idea when engines, electronics, interiors, etc. will arrive so the boats can be finished.
I just received the top for the Storm Cat that was ordered in February of 2020. Similar stories are all over the place. Covid shutdowns, people being paid more to sit at home than if they were working, and international politics all play into it. Consumers have short tempers when the store shelves are empty of their favorite lures and tackle.
Pointing fingers at the retailers isn’t helping. They want the tackle shelves stocked just like we do.
Fishing has been all over the place lately with weather fronts and fluctuating water levels. The lakes are forecast to stay at summer pool for the next few days. Lets all pray the powers that be at TVA find it in themselves to let the north end of the lake have stable water levels during the upcoming crappie spawn. I would say that the spawn is in full swing south of the Tennessee line.
With rising water comes floating trash. With floating trash comes tangled lines and frustrated fishermen. I was in a cove last week on the LBL side with clients. I was marking stake beds with lots of fish, but the entire bay was carpeted with a thick mat of everything from leaves and pine needles to limbs and logs as large as my leg.
The first marker buoy I threw out on one bed never started to unroll. It just sat there, tangled up in all the trash, then floated away with the breeze. My second marker unrolled and then was overrun by debris. We finally just picked up and left for cleaner surface areas. High winds with these conditions have made my life miserable.
The crappie I have been targeting are in depths of 12-16 feet and close but not necessarily inside cover. These are fish that are waiting for water conditions and temperatures to hit optimum for the spawn. I’m getting reports every few days of crappie being caught shallow, some very shallow.
My only concern is what I see at the cleaning station many times doesn’t jive with what is being reported on social media. Many guides have had the same struggles I have with multiple clients in the boat. Some of the great tactics like Livescoping don’t translate well to 3-4 clients in the boat.
Trolling jigs, doing what I call Power Trolling with heavy weights and jigs tipped with minnows, and even pulling crankbaits have all been putting some fish in the boat. I will normally start at depths of 8-10 feet then work deeper if I have to.
Since I love to pull cranks and many clients come to me to learn, I get to target the crappie as they move towards shallow water in anticipation of the spawn, then again as they move back out to deep water after the spawn. Monday we also caught some on medium runner cranks along with the deep running Pico INT baits.
Colors were mostly toward the darker hues. Don’t rely on those who say that pulling cranks is a summertime, water above 75-degree, tactic. Sub 60-degree water is giving up some nice crappie on cranks. We even had a keeper sauger and a 5-pound flathead catfish Monday on Picos. The flathead on a 14 foot Southern Crappie Rods SCR143T, with the boat moving 1.6 mph, was quite a fight. Thank goodness for the Kevlar rods from Southern Crappie.
Thankfully the fiasco of Covid and 2020 is soon going to be in our rear-view mirrors. I’m starting to see a lot of pontoons and recreational boat traffic already. Many folks are just now getting their boats out of storage and on the water, many for the first time in over a year.
Keep an eye out for those who might be having motor issues or other troubles. Be extra careful of floating debris. I hit something submerged in 25 feet of water as I was approaching the Jonathan Creek Bridge last week. Thankfully I was at idle speed, but it jarred the boat and when I looked back, nothing was showing. No damage was done but it brought back memories of hitting something submerged years ago on Barkley in deep water that sheared 2 blades off my 4-blade prop. Gremlins are out there everywhere.
Be careful and observant of those around you. Help any who might need help. It could be you needing help next time. Wear your PFDs. The water temperatures are still cold enough for hypothermia to set in shortly.
I still have a few days available for May and several for June and later.
Welcome to our slice of Heaven!