Spent a really pleasant Wednesday morning with David Wratchford and Artin Marootian at the Castaic Lake chasing LM Bass and Stripers.
It was still dark when I rolled into the Mickey D’s parking lot. Artin and David were already there and their enthusiasm was infectious as we trooped into the restaurant for a quick bite. My usual breakfast, these days, is a bowl of granola with yogurt but, today, I treated myself to a Sausage McMuffin, Hash Browns and a coffee. It’s been years since I had one of these sandwiches and, I have to admit, that it was delicious. Maybe it was because of the anticipation of a fine morning on the water or the fact that I was cheating a little but that damned thing tasted great.
We soon completed our fast food fix and headed to the lake to wait for the gate to open. At this time of year the gate opens at 7:00 a.m. which is about a half hour too late to really hit the morning bite, but we would have to make do. We had intel that the bass had been pushing bait against the shore along the west side of the lake.
We rigged our rods with Threadfin Shad imitations, all the time staring at the water for signs of activity. We saw a few small, scattered eruptions as the predators ripped into the hapless bait schools but not the frenzied activity that we were looking for. We began to work our way along the shoreline, which was accessible because of the extremely low water levels, casting our sinking heads into likely areas and counting down to try and find the schools. I spotted some fish breaking in a deep cove and alerted the guys who spread out along the shoreline and began fan casting as we moved along. Artin was rewarded with a fiesty LM bass in the 12 inch size range and I got a hard pull but didn’t hook the fish. David made his way carefully along the loose boulder rubble on the opposite shore toward a small but persistent school of busting fish. His efforts were rewarded almost instantly with a 3lb Striper that slammed his fast-stripped Electric Deceiver. I was feeling left out. David soon landed a LM and another Striper and I decided I needed to move. I had had some follows and short strikes but no solid connections. I worked my way around the cove and shuffled along the steep unstable slope, past David and finally, down to the water’s edge, but still no love. It was one of those days when the fish were breaking were my fly wasn’t. I would cast to the left and the fish would come up to the right and vice versa. That was the way the morning went. Dave ended up with four Stripers and two LM Bass, Artin had three LM Bass and I had zilch. Still, it was a fine couple of hours and we were well satisfied with the morning.
My chores were waiting to be completed when I got home but I took the time to tie a couple of flies that more closely matched the size of the Shad that we had seen. After the chores were completed I decided to head back up to the lake and see if could get rid of the skunk smell on my rod and reel.
The wind had pick up to a stiff on-shore breeze that made casting a little more challenging but my reel was loaded with 30’ of Rio T8, a tungsten impregnated, sinking line followed by 110’ of Rio Slickshooter and I was able to blast out 80’-90’ consistently without too much effort. My persistence paid off when a 10” LM Bass jumped on the fly and was soon followed by another about 12” a few casts later. Goodbye Mr. Skunk. The full-on bite, however, did not materialize and I had to be content with those two small fish. I took heart in the fact that the guys fishing with live shad as bait were skunked and a young man fishing a silver Kastmaster lure caught the only other fish I saw. I did run into Larry Kurosaki who was walking the shore with his little dog Katie and he reported catching a few fish in an adjacent cove.
So, take this as a heads-up to get yourself out on our local lakes before the colder weather drives the shad deep. This is prime time to get hooked up with these hard fighting fish and in good numbers. So, no excuses! Time to get out there!