Mrs. Swimbait says I am a meteorologist not a fisherman. That's probably because I'm always looking at the latest weather images and trying to correlate the weather to the fishing. Fish bite on different days for a lot of reasons, but this time of year it does pay to follow the weather patters. This year has seen a lot of rain early in the season in Northern California. No real big downpours but a consistent lineup of fronts have combined to bring lake levels up much earlier than last year.
With all the rain the question is, what should I do? Well like many things, it depends. What does it depend on? I would say two main factors, water clarity and size of the lake you are fishing. Two examples:
At the Quarry ponds in Fremont, the water is still quite clear and the ponds are not very big. Clear cold water keeps fish away from the bank and I have seen this my past few trips out. Try to infer from the shoreline cover where the fish would like to be, and then look out from there. I've been doing well by fishing very slowly using a small 1/4oz jig and a small piece of pork. Tube baits and baby brush hogs are working well also. The other extreme is on bigger lakes where muddy water comes in and blows everthing out. Margarita would do this when it rained hard. It sounds like from Nicolo's reports that Coyote is doing this right now as well. These can be tough conditions and some days you are just not going to catch much, but things that I look for are:
Recently flooded wood cover, pockets of trash in cuts and coves, banks that get a lot of sun on a warm day between storms, and I try to stay away from the river end of a lake when it gets like this. Baits to try would be jigs, but bigger bulkier jigs. I love the brush hog as a trailer on my jig in muddy water like this. Spinnerbaits on those sunny banks can be good too. Bigger gold blades are definitely in order. And sometimes, if it's sunny and cold and the bite just stinks, it's time for muddy water finesse like a baby brush hog split shot rig or a smaller jig fished out deeper. Bass have to eat even when it's cold and if you go and learn the lakes you fish, you will find them and catch them.
The spawn is coming and it's time to think about Moon phases:
You still need to be looking at the weather fronts and the jet stream.
The generic trout bagged and 18.0lb lake Perris record. If you need one, you need to go to Umaxco.com.
Well there aren't too many games left in town, but one game that is going strong is the SB bass bite as made popular by captain Larry Heron the Calico Hunter II. Larry and his assorted crew ( myself included for one 51 fish outing ) have been thouroughly whacking the bass lately. I thought we had a good trip until Larry took Brian and Pete (Leapinbass) out and exactly doubled our total of legal calico and sandbass with a whopping 102 fish in one morning. One thing to understand about this bite is that despite the great numbers of fish being caught, it's not as if you can just chuck out a bait and wind it in and expect to get bit. These bass are in the lower part of the water column and mostly near the bottom. Long casts away from the boat on the drift, coupled with the patience to keep your lure down there and work it very slowly along are the keys. Larry has really opened my eyes to this type of fishing, and really and truly he spills the beans in his Calico 555 article. I re-read it myself recently and it was one of those duh! moments where you realize you had been told what to do, but just needed to see someone else do it to understand.
So while I am on the subject, I have to confess that I have been "fishing the web" as Larry describes it more ways than one lately. But I haven't been doing it in saltwater, I've been doing it in freshwater! As unsporting as it may sound, I have been using 2 rods for freshwater bass fishing. With the water so cold and the bite so slow at the Quarry ponds, I have been taking either a 4" tube or a baby brush hog and casting it out. I lay that rod across my tube and let it drag on the bottom. Then I work a jig with my other rod, actively fishing it. I kick very slowly along and pause from time to time. Like drifting a swimbait across the one mile only I'm in 10 to 30 feet of water. Sure enough, that rod in the holder has gotten bit at least a third of the time! I believe that the fish are cruising very slowly across rocky bottom areas and looking for crawdads. A craw that is moving slowly ( maybe even shivering a little in the cold :) is just what they are looking for. They aren't looking for jumping scooting craws. Just like the calicos aren't in the mood to chase anchovies up in the water column. They would much rather eat an octopus or a little sand dab or some other "reef critter" as Larry calls them. Just think, I am a cold fish, I am a cold fish, I am a cold fish. I didn't tell you to say it out loud, people might look at you funny. But think it when you're out on the water next and see what happens.