Editor’s Log: Perfect Doesn’t Always Pan Out - The Fisherman

Editor’s Log: Perfect Doesn’t Always Pan Out

I’ve written a lot about the effects of weather on fishing; and all of what I have written on this subject is rooted in facts that I learned through experience. One of the patterns that I am most confident in is that a strong front approaching, accompanied by a wind change to northeast seems to always get the largemouth chewing. Make this a dark night in October or early November and my experience has been that the fish will be eating with anger.

I wasn’t planning to fish last night, but I also hadn’t been paying close enough attention to the weather. Around dinnertime, I took out my phone and brought up the local radar. Out over the mountains of upstate New York there was a ribbon of, what appeared to be, strong thunderstorms.  The future radar estimated that this frontal boundary would pass through my area around 2 a.m.

Without much time to plan, I opted to take the easy route and fish in my waders instead of loading up the Crawdad. The lake I wanted to hit had a long history of nighttime success under these conditions and, as I stood at the sink doing the dishes, I started to get excited about fishing. When 8:30 came, my wife and daughter went up to watch a show in bed; I walked in to announce my plans and my daughter begged me to stay and watch with them, but I stayed focused on the task.

The parking at this lake is closed from dusk to dawn and the local police are pretty serious about these rules. Trust me, I’ve been there. I parked at small shop about a quarter mile down the road and walked to the water. The wind was light and coming from the south, the sky was clear and dark. I have to admit I was expecting clouds and a deeper stillness ahead of the front, but I still felt that I had a good shot.

I fished the eastern shore first and cast around all of my favorite spots. A shallow roadbed, a single large boulder, all along a 200-foot length of partially-submerged stone wall that parallels the shoreline…the most exciting moment came when the lip of my wakebait nicked a rock putting me on high alert for a full-on attack that never came. I fan-casted through a shallow stretch before coming to a river outlet with a deep channel. This place has been a near guarantee in the past and has often produced two to three nice fish in a night. Not even a touch there. On the way back, I fished the shallow stretch more carefully with a smaller bait, a Bull Wake. I finally had a timid hit with a hookup on a fish about 2 pounds. And then not another hit all the way back to the road.

I was faced with the choice to admit defeat or to try and will the fish to cooperate, I chose the latter. And after another 30 or so casts with one timid swing-and-a-miss, I found myself standing on a pile of stones that is the irrefutable best spot within walking distance of where I was fishing. Dozens of nice fish have come from this non-descript rock pile. Twenty more casts produced nothing, not even a whisper of something that might have been a passively interested fish.

This night sort of re-taught me something I already knew. If you can draw, even just a few, strikes, you can often profile the attitude of the fish in the area. My biggest mistake was trying to force the fish to eat a 7- to 9-inch swimbait. But at the same time, you won’t ever catch that giant largie if you always give in to throwing smaller baits for easier bites. But the two hits I had were very timid, almost shy. I should have known that the attitude wasn’t right for a swimbait that night. But instead I’m just extra tired today from trying to prove false, what I already know to be true.

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