Random thoughts on a winter day

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JerryS
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2020/03/01 12:58:48 (permalink)

Random thoughts on a winter day

First post in 7 years.  Just thinking how some things have changed over the years and wondering if others have seen the same.  First off, I've been an Erie smallmouth fanatic since the mid 80s.  Back then I was launching my small boat at the Shorewood ramp or the old concrete dock at Shades.  Those of you that used those launches know that getting in and out was often quite an adventure. 
 
Anyways, there have been a couple of changes over the last decade or so and was curious what others have seen.  I have had to change my tactics over the years, initially drifting hair jigs, changing to tubes, then the last few years I've primarily trolled plugs.  Is it just me, or has the smallmouth population dropped over the last decade?  While we still catch our share, it is nothing compared to the good old days   Fortunately, the recent near-shore walleye bite has filled in the gaps. 
 
Another change I've seen is a significant drop in the rock bass we catch while targeting smallies in the bay or lake.  Years ago we had a ball catching loads of rockies while fishing the bay in the spring for smallies.  Also back then, probably 20 percent of our catch in the lake was rock bass.  Today, it's rare for us to catch a rock bass in the lake.
 
I'm assuming the fish numbers are still there, but I have not adapted to the lake changes.  Any opinions on my observations would be appreciated.
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    tribster
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    Re: Random thoughts on a winter day 2020/03/01 19:32:59 (permalink)
    The small mouth good old days are gone sorry to say.  Gobies are killing it and when the asian carp get in everything will be gone.
    Good luck this spring.
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    solitario lupo
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    Re: Random thoughts on a winter day 2020/03/02 10:31:42 (permalink)
    Pollution, overfishing, invasive. They all got a part to play in it. I’ve been reading some stuff on the Great Lakes and the more I read the sad stuff comes out.
    https://www.bagheera.com/blue-pike/
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    CAPTAIN HOOK
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    Re: Random thoughts on a winter day 2020/03/02 12:18:51 (permalink)
    Your absolutely right on the Rock Bass disappearing . Back in the early 90's I fished the bay rather steady from my boat with my kids.  Big red eye rock bass were abundant almost every trip ,some were the size of small smallmouths easily over 10" . We kept a fair share of larger ones because they were and are excellent eating ! One day we landed over 60 Rockies along with over 20 smallies plus other varieties of fish....the Bay was epic every spring !  
     
    The Bay on those warm days of May was the best small boat fishing ever . I live near Pymy and in those days it was a direct trip to Presque Isle Bay every Sat . for years . Many a day we tried to fish two poles each and with the hot bite going on some days it was impossible .  My best day I landed 22 nice size Smallmouths in about 5 hours....never kept a one ...ever. 
     
    I have fished the bay a few times later in years and maybe it was just bad days I picked but the fishing was way down as compared to past days. I'm like you and wonder where did all the Rockies go ?   I think the S. Bass are still stable but I think the big schools are depleted and gone.
     
    Everyone says Smallies are feeding and doing well on Gobies but they fail to understand what are the tons of Gobies eating .....young smallies and rockies ? ...you bet !   
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    JerryS
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    Re: Random thoughts on a winter day 2020/03/02 23:32:53 (permalink)
    Thanks for the feedback.  Yeah, back then, those May days in the bay sure were special with the non-stop action from smallies, rockies, perch, and the occasional pike.  Once June hit, we would move to the main lake where 30-40 fish days were common.
    Still having fun though with the current mixture of smallmouth, walleye, and sheephead in the lake.  Hopefully the near-shore (small boat) walleye bite sticks around for a few years.
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    Big Tuna
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    Re: Random thoughts on a winter day 2020/03/04 02:58:12 (permalink)
    Small mouth definitely took a dive.....I'm not going to tell you my all time one day number because no one would believe me....my buddy and I would be waiting for the park rangers to open the gate.....put in at the lagoon s by the Perry Monument.....drop anchor by the first pier by the channel, 100' anchor rope catcht 15-20 let out 10-15 feet of rope.....repeat all day. Had the whistle blown at us many times at sunset..all catch and release.....we would ice a cooler full of big Rockies......10-12" fish where common.
    post edited by Big Tuna - 2020/03/04 02:59:58
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    DarDys
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    Re: Random thoughts on a winter day 2020/03/04 06:47:55 (permalink)
    Agreed on the numbers, and the size, were ridiculous, to the point point of being unbelievable.

    If we could get out on the main lake, we would. The number caught was less than the Bay, but the size was better. I recall a three fish winning total for a tournament (I fished, but did not win) that went 19 pounds, 15 ounces. That’s an over the top average.

    It wasn’t hard to catch bass on the lake — it was hard to catch the right size. They tended to school by size for the most part. So if you got over 3 pound smallmouth, you left them. If you got over 4 pounders, you left. When you got over 5 pounders, you put two short of the tournament limit in the live well and went looking to finish the limit with a couple of over 6 pound kickers.

    The lake fishing was typically blade baits, jigging spoons, or jigs, either hair or curly tail.

    When forced to fish the Bay because of waves, it was usually grubs or jerk baits. Since we were sponsored, we tested new lures during these trips all the time. On one occasion, in the Bay, when it was flat, I put 74 smallmouths in the boat on a certain surface bait. It was incredible watching them smash it, sometimes one on both hooks.

    We usually fished two tournaments, with practice days and the Memorial Day week. Bought Garcia Cardinal 3 spinning reels with the rear drag Knob just for the “Erie” season. Threw them away after returning home because the gears would be shot.
    post edited by DarDys - 2020/03/04 19:44:05

    The poster formally known as Duncsdad

    Everything I say can be fully substantiated by my own opinion.
    #7
    CAPTAIN HOOK
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    Re: Random thoughts on a winter day 2020/03/04 19:37:04 (permalink)
    One of our favorite technique's back then was waiting till the sun dropped near evening . My son would stand at the bow with pole ready to cast as I would motor around the bay real slow . We were basically sight fishing .
     
    Those bigger smallies would come out of the thick weed beds and start to cruise near the surface in search for baitfish. Sometimes you could see 3-5 nice fish packed up just under the surface searching. All's one had to do was toss any minnow style plug up ahead and crank into their direction and fish on ! Nothing better than watching the fish chase and strike to lure .
     
    After the weeds got too thick in warmer weather we moved to the lake and fished the shores once again fish were plentiful on bait and artificial.  Lots more sheepshead too....lol
     
    Hopefully the walleye bite near shore will continue ...I enjoy drift fishing over trolling and it's been good when I can get up.....not many years ago it wasn't this way for walleye....so take nothing for granted into the future.
     
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