Exploratory Trip 14MAR2021

We said to heck with the weather and went to a nearby river to see if the White Bass had moved upstream on their spawning run. Of course we were checking to see if the Neosho-strain smallmouth had decided to come out as well.

The stream was in great shape with a decent flow, but it was still in the low 50F’s. Still a bit cold for things to start properly moving but that will begin to change soon.

Unfortunately, no fish were caught, although we did run across a few fingerling smallmouth bass romping around in the shallows.

Needless to say…we just needed to get out!

First Bass of 2021…

The wife and I drove down to one of our local lakes after getting new tires put on her vehicle. It was 65F and sunny when we arrived. The water is still about 3 feet high but its clear at least.

I decided to take the Major Craft Finetail Works Tune Area Spec FTA-582UL rod coupled with the Shimano Soare Ci4+ 500 spooled with Sunline Troutist Area Meister 3# mono line.

She opted to try throwing a spoon while I chose a jig.

The jig head was a Cultiva JH-85 in 2.2 gram and for a soft plastic I chose a Euro Tackle Micro Finesse B-Vibe in Green Pumpkin. And that’s what the bass hit.

It was a little bass and put a nice bend in the ultralight rod, but I never felt underpowered. I was hoping the bluegill were moving into the shallows since the water is starting to warm up but it’s still too early.

The next mission is to help her wash the “skunk” off her hands by catching a fish!

A Donkey!

This is a picture of my wife holding the largest Velox smallmouth I have ever seen. I would consider it a trophy size Smallmouth Bass for the streams that we fish.

In the background, over her left shoulder, where the water next to the bank is the deepest, is where she caught it.

I had moved past that section to make room for her and was casting when I heard her drag go off. As I turned to look I noticed her rod was bent really deep. Decent sized fish! I put my rod down and broke out the camera and started snapping pictures. It was great to see the process from almost start to finish, especially when she realized it was a BIG Velox!

We kept the fish in the water and marveled at its size, I checked lighting and background and we snapped a quick picture before releasing it back into its natural habitat.

We fished that section multiple times during 2020, but that spot was gone…dry as a bone. The main portion of the stream is much further to her right and it was a fluke that we decided to explore this little branch.

Definitely a great day and a lucky day at that.

Average Size of Velox in Our Favorite Streams…

As I’ve stated before, the Neosho-strain Smallmouth Bass does not grow to the same size as the Northern-strain Smallmouth. Habitat and other environmental conditions severely limit the growth potential of the Velox (Neosho-strain Smallmouth Bass.)

Our local stream conditions vary greatly during the course of a year. Floods and droughts are the biggest factors. Some years there is barely enough water to get your ankles wet and other years you are pushing the limits of safe wading. Yet the Velox perseveres!

I have spoken with biologists and have read various papers on the Neosho-strain Smallmouth Bass (Micropterus dolomieu velox) to gain insight into this magnificent little fish. How they over-winter, seasonal stressors, forage and feeding patterns etc. etc.

And that’s also why I refuse to fish a stretch of river to death…I just pick a few prime spots and move on so that I am not negatively affecting a larger proportion of fish.

Knowing what this fish endures during a one year cycle makes me respect it even more. And the fish in the picture above is estimated to be between 8 and 10 years of age! Long live the Velox…

Managed to Get Out for a Bit Yesterday…

The wife and I managed to get out to an area lake for a bit of fishing yesterday. We had to wait for the morning fog and mist to burn off, but it was good to get out.

With all of the snow melt and recent rain, the lake was about 4 feet higher than normal. This made it very difficult to fish from the shore due to there being about a 12 foot swath of weeds/reeds extending out from the shoreline. Normally we are fishing from the edge of the weeds and have no problems casting.

We ended up walking about 3 miles around the perimeter of the lake and only managed to find 4 openings to cast from. Tough conditions!

This was the first time the wife was able to use her Major Craft Troutino rod and her Shimano Vanford 1000 reel. She was amazed at how light the setup was and how easy it was to cast light lures for distance. All in all she was very happy with it although we both noticed a little bit of a grinding sensation coming from the Shimano Vanford 1000. I may crack it open and apply some grease to the micro-gears to see if that helps.

With the fish still being in their winter pattern, they were down deep in the holes and too far for us to cast too, we got skunked. We managed to still have fun and tried out various lures as well as being able to get a feel for the new rods.

We left when the sun came out and the wind kicked up making casting more difficult. I was glad to see her enjoying the new rod and reel and seeing her smile…