A lake, blues skies, and fishing. There’s no better way to celebrate the birth of the greatest country in the world than by getting outside to enjoy it. Having largely neglected our favorite lake so far this season, we set out there in search of some Canada Day bass, pike, and of course, crappie.
It was heartening to see that the aquatic vegetation had finally gotten going, after a much later start than the previous few years. A quick tour of the lake revealed that the vegetation had changed. Where abundant water-milfoil had once snagged my lure, there were now great stands of crispy pondweed. As well, there was far more grass than normal. We wondered if this would impact our typical patterns for the lake.
We started the day in search of bass. I was longing to toss a frog and catch a big one on that adrenaline-pumping topwater bite. Starting with my favorite Scum Frog that had worked well on this lake in the past, I took several casts using a variety of retrieves, but there wasn’t any sign that my frog even turned a bass. With the wind gusting and causing the lily pads to fold over, I decided that the Scum Frog was too light and switched to a heavier frog that sat more in the water. It didn’t make a difference.
Darrell began the day by flipping an Attraxx JOBUg to pockets in the weed beds. The technique proved to be a hit pretty quickly as he landed a monster rock bass, followed by a pike. Eventually he starting landing largemouth bass, nothing big, but fun nonetheless.
As my attention started drifting away from bass and towards wondering where the crappie were, I rigged up a Berkley Micro Power Nymph. We hadn’t yet worked our favorite crappie spots, but going by last year’s success, we started working the edges of lily pads on a flat next to deep water. A bent rod and my line swimming sideways was enough to tell me we had the right spot. The crappie bite was slow at first, with tentative takes, and more than a few lookers. Quite often I would feel the tap-tap-tap of pumpkinseeds playing with the appendages of the nymph.
The sunfish were being landing as frequently as crappie, but as we started getting to the witching hour, around 5pm on this lake, the bite changed and it was all about the crappie. No longer was there any hesitation in the bite. Every couple of casts caught another fish, and they were fighting like bass – jumping out of the water and dogging around the boat. It was fantastic. The dominant vegetation change from water-milfoil to crispy pondweed did seem to make a difference as the fish were relating more closely to the lily pads than before. In the past, they would hang out in any good clump of water-milfoil.
We had a super crazy bite for over an hour, landing crappie on every couple of casts. I lost count after I reeled in my 30th little guy. Every single one was released so we could play again in the future. I see a lot of fish, especially crappie, getting kept on this lake, so I’ll never keep one out of here unless I have to. Given the harsh winter we had, I hope more people are practicing catch-and-release on these smaller, highly pressured lakes.
Before the action slowed down I had a few largies decide they wanted the nymph. Darrell flipped to an area where we saw something chasing minnows and had the bright flash of a pike slam his lure before it swam away. Those hits are easily some of my most memorable moments on the water.
Remembering that we still had to get home and feed the animals, we reluctantly called it a day and loaded the boat. It was the end of four straight days one the water, and despite some larger fish being caught on the weekend, it was the scrappy little crappie that left me with the biggest smile.
We are so lucky to live in Canada, where we have access to all of this great fishing, and the freedom to make use of it. Happy Canada Day!