Friday, June 30, 2023

Barret Lake Rented Out All For Ourselves- A Bit Diappointing

 June 23, 2023

Barrett Lake is typically only open Wednesday (not all Wednesdays though) and weekends from May through September.  On Wednesday June 21st I see a Facebook post from a friend if anyone wants to fish Barrett Lake on Friday.  His casting club had rented the lake out and now it's open to nonmembers.  I hadn't fished this lake since Sept of 2014, quitting after that because of a multiple reasons: drought, low number counts, fish die offs, and the complexity of getting to fish here.  Given my nearly decade long absence and with the all the water we received this winter I was intrigued to see how the old place was fishing.  So I called my fishing partner to see if he might be interested but stated I only will go if we can find a battery for my trolling motor.  Mine has been sitting idle for the past nine years and likely dead; I was not about to spend money to buy a new one.  After a few calls he said his friend had one we could use.  So we were in and place our reservation online for $100 for the boat and an additional $45/angler.  

By Thursday I get a text stating he can't get the battery in time as his buddy is in Lancaster all day and will not be home until late.  So I go through the Rolodex to see who I could possibly ask.  Then I see Roy's number. He's got to have one if not we could pull it from his boat.  I call him and he says his boats are docked in Cerritos but he's got a spare in the garage.  He puts it in the charger and tells to come over and pick it up whenever.  I run some errands and go to his house a couple hours later to pick it up.  Go home put it in my charger and prep for the next day.  I soon realize that Barrett is barbless only and they are militant about it.  I had already placed a bunch of boxes in my tackle bag so I go through them to see how many have been debarbed.  Maybe 50/50.  I decided to start taking flies I know I want to fish out and putting them into a separate box.  I know while fishing I'll forget to check and end up fishing a barbed hook.  Last thing I need is a $500 fine.  In addition most of my bass flies are tied on Gamakatsu B10S hooks and they don't debarb by crimping.  The barb breaks and leaves a burr so they must be filed.  I spent the next hour or so dremeling all the flies I planned on fishing.  After dinner I look on the battery to see how its charging, I notice that it is missing a wingnut on the positive terminal. I remove the wingnut on my old battery and see if it fits.  It does not.  So I remove the remaining wingnut on Roy's battery and go to Home Depot.  I'm home in about half an hour and test the fitting.  It doesn't fit.  WHAT?!  I test both wingnuts, new and old.  Neither fit but both fit in the negative terminal.  The positive is larger.  I'm pissed.  Not wanting to go back to HD I start calling neighbors to see if they have a spare but none do.  After several calls I give up and head back to the store battery in hand this time.  I didn't want to do this as it costs me about of half an hour of charge time on a battery that needs very bit of time on the charger.  I get the right size rush home put the battery back on the charger.  I prep my lunch for the next day and finishing loading the truck.  I head to bed at midnight with the expectation Chul will be arriving at my house at 3:15am.

At 3am I get a text saying he's running late.  This irritates me somewhat as Barret has specific entry requirements as the road goes through private property.  Lake staff open the gate at specific times and escort you into the lake.  If you miss the specific train in you must wait until the next one usually an hour later.  Not sure if this is still the case but it used to be this way and since I've not been here in so long I have no clue.  I just wanted to make sure we aren't waiting around an hour just because we were five minutes late.  I planned some wiggle room in our time frame for such issues but not much.  The other issue is I've completely forgotten how to get there, I checked my iphone and it gave me an alternative route than I used to take, supposedly shorter and quicker.  I know from reading past threads that certain gps will lead you astray.  I didn't save the thread so I don't recall which ones do that or if that bug was resolved.  This was another reason why I gave ourselves more latitude in time in case we got lost.  These concerns though proved unwarranted as we make the gate in time.  Much of the club were already lined up waiting.  I checked in with the club lead and then spoke with Steve.  The club had rented the place from 6am-3pm.  Start time is an hour later than on normal working hours.  Which meant the very little topwater time will be even less.  Forecast called for a sunny day so we maybe only had at best an hour of popper fishing.
Luckily the staff let us in at around 5:30am.  I parked the truck and began offloading.  Chul was ready and I told him to start loading the boat but make sure to pick a boat that starts up easily since we basically have the pick of the litter.  Only three or four other anglers rented boats.  The rest were on float tubes or kayaks.  Only 14 anglers showed up for the day.  The marina staff let him know that any boat with a Yamaha motor is good and will start up fine.  Recently I purchased a mobile fish finder and the suction wouldn't stay on.  One trick I learned from my old man back in the day is to put Vasoline over the suction.  It prevents air and water from breaking the suction.  Problem is I totally forgot it on my desk.  I was pissed.  The suction simply wouldn't hold.  I decided to deal with it later and it was time to get going.  So I ripped the cord on the motor and buckled over in pain.  For the past year I've had a shoulder injury (on both shoulders).  For a long time I wasn't able to lift my should past a certain height.  Up until this week it started to feel a lot better.  Good enough to start a very light weight lifting regime.  Now I just reaggravated it.  I was in so much pain I jumped out of the boat onto the dock and leaned over the storage box that contains the life jackets. I told Chul he'd need to start the motors now.  I was worried that I couldn't cast for the day.  I began messaging my shoulder and the pain slowly dissipated.   I got on the motor and went to my usual starting spot for poppers.  By this time it was about 6am, not much time left before the sun will be shining on most if not all of the lake. 
We fished for just under an hour and I managed my first fish on a popper.  I was using a SW crystal popper 2/0 body on a 3/0 hook.  It's been my go to this year.   Finally I was able to get my first fish on my new set up- TFO BC Big Game 10 weight rod and TFO NTR reel.  When the sun was cresting above the mountains I manage another one much smaller that came loose.   Once we made our way into the Hauser arm I switched to my nine weight and an intermediate line and a spinnerbait fly but with no success.  Eventually I moved to my Scott seven weight paired with a full fast full sink line and a Iwai Minnow.  With this set up I felt a bump and set the hook.  It was a bluegill that I hooked in the head.  By this time Chul switched flies to imitate a bluegill.  Few moments later he was on a nice bass that he lost at the boat.  I then switched back to my 10 weight and changed out the reel to my other NTR lined with a sinking line.  With that set up I tied an EP bluegill fly.  It wouldn't be long before I would be on my next bass.  By around 10 am the winds began to be problematic.  By this time the trolling motor died. 
I would end up with around 10 fish for the day.  My shoulder would act up throughout the day and around midday because he hadn't landed a fish yet I spent most the next few hours trying to get him his first landed fish.  I would have to maneuver the boat with the main motor now the trolling motor was useless. By around noon in a protected cove bass began exploding on damselflies.  Of course neither of us had any damsel dries with us anyways.   So we tied on some unweighted wooly buggers to see if we could entice them.  It didn't work.  All my old spots were not producing. The lake is at 90% capacity last I checked.  I've fished it this full in the past at this capacity and still had memorable days.  This time it was much harder.  Chul would eventually get his landed fish around 2pm.  He went one for three or four for the day.  We'd quit just before three and headed home.  Around the lake fried egg poppies were in full bloom which was quite pretty to see.  On our way home we'd stop at Dana Point at Jon's Fish Market for fish "n" chips and clam chowder.  I haven't been here in ages while still good it wasn't as good a s I remember it.  It was a long day and I'd be home around 7pm where I'd shower and hit the pillow for the night.  Given we essentially had the lake all to ourselves I was extremely disappointed how poorly it fished.  Not sure why.  It's making me want revenge on the place but I doubt that will happen this year.  The hassle of the reservation system and the long hot days in the coming months will likely prevent a return but we'll see.

Sunday, June 18, 2023

Was It A Fluke?

 June 12, 2023

After my last trip Luc went out again with Justin and had him fish the fly I gave Luc.  The night before I looked through my inventory and I told Luc I only had two of those popper bodies left.  I get a text that afternoon and Luc tells me if I ever want to fish with him again I'll need to bring at least half a dozen of those with me.  Justin apparently managed 3 five pounders with that fly that day.  Marriott's didn't have any of those foam bodies in stock but did have the hard body versions.  I picked those up but also placed an order online for some soft bodies as well.
I tied the last soft bodies I had and a couple of the new hard foam ones as well.  I ran out of mylar tubing so I'd have to wait until my order came to tie anymore but I had enough for the day.  The morning started out with a bang.  I already had four blowups within the first 10 minutes.  Missed the first three but connected with fourth with a four pounder.  Four minutes later I had another blowup.  After that Luc started to get in the actions. 
Early in the outing Luc commented that he liked these flies since the seem to rarely go unbuttoned.  I tended to agree as on the last outing I had a hard time removing the flies from the bass.  On several occasions I had to use pliers to get it out.  Not sure if Luc's comment put the jinx on me as several good fish of mine would become unglued after he mentioned that.  Not sure if it was the jinx or if it was because I had dremeled the barb off the hook this time to aid in a quicker and safer releases.  After the first two hours the fishing slowed down a bit but we'd get fish here and there.  I rewatched the GoPro footage I shot for the day and I counted 19 blowups before my batteries died and that was before we crossed the lake to fish the other side while making our way back to the launch ramp.
Between the two of us we'd get another half dozen or so and that was with Luc sitting most of that fishing session out to rest some nagging injuries.  It was one of the best outings we'd had in a long time.  Fish were upwards of four pounds.  All quality.  All hard fighting.  On the way home took to a new burger joint to try it out.  Wasn't bad. 

Thursday, June 15, 2023

Old is Now New

June 7, 2023

Sometimes we get so caught up into the new thing, we often forget the old is often the best choice.  The last few outings I've been experimenting with various flies.  This had resulted in some mixed bag of results even when my partner Luc was doing fantastic.  Being sick of not doing well I decided to forgo experimentation and go back to fishing  proven patterns.  With that in mind I decided to to tie an old bass patterns that did me so well 20 years ago.  I'm not sure why I quit tying them but I did.  Most likely because they were so simple.  Back in the day I tied them without weedguards so I made a few with them for added protection.  Also the old flies were epoxy coated and they've yellowed over time.  Still fishable but ugly so I wanted a fresh batch.
While rigging my fly set up the night before I thought of starting with the CJ Freaky Frog, the fly I landed my hog on the last trip, but decided against it and try old faithful.  On the ride to the lake Luc told me on his last outing he caught a few bass that spit up shad in the 5 inch range.  Since my fly was within this range I thought I made a good choice.  It proved to be the right choice.  Within 25 minutes from when we launched I was on my first bass of the day.  It took so delicately and didn't fight much I thought it a small fish but once landed proved to be much bigger that we initially thought.  A few casts later I was on another fish that took explosively and fought much harder for its size.  The rest of the day takes and fights would be more like this.  I would get fish after fish for the first hour or so. When I tied this fly I rushed it and forgot to super glue the body to the hook and only the mylar tubing was holding it to the hook.  I forwent the epoxy but put a small bead of UV resin around the eyes and base of the fly.  After each fly I have to readjust the popper body back into place.  It was some apparent the fly wouldn't likely last the day.  In one cove I hooked up on one that felt heavier than the previous four or five and after a brief fight the hook flew back at me without the popper body.  I had only tied two flies for this trip and by this time Luc was fishing the other (this one glued properly).  He gave me his fly because he wanted to try something else.  Fishing slowed when the wakeboarders came out and started to create waves.  Manged to get at least a dozen blowups landing at least half of those with fish ranging from 2lbs to pushing 4lb.  Luc went one for three.  Losing two very good sized ones from bass breaking off on structure and the other on jagged boulders.  We had a short session less than four hours.  I was beyond satisfied and since my shoulder was acting up I didn't mind calling it early.   I left the fly for Luc to use on his next outing and promised to tie more for the next time.

Sunday, June 4, 2023

Top Water Bass on the Fly Personal Best

May 24, 2023

My past few outings I've been testing new flies.  Some work.  Some are fails.  I decided to test one more but I planned to switch early if I wasn't feeling it or if Luc hooked up before me.  After a few casts, when Luc landed the first fish, a two pounder,  I gave up and put on a CJ's Freaky Frog I tied the night prior.  I have several of these in my box but I tied this one specifically for this day.  It took me over an hour to tie it.  Not because it is particularly difficult to tie but because I could not find my rubber legs. Late last year I rearranged all my tying material into a more "organized" boxes.  Having not tied much in the past few months I've forgotten where some of the materials are despite labeling the boxes.  It took me forever to find those damn legs but I did.  Like I said I have plenty of freaky frogs in my box but none have weedguards so I tied one with it.  I knew I would need it on this outing.  I only had time to tie one so I better not lose it on the first cast.  It was still alittle too dark when we started but just as it began to brighten up I was on a fish.  It was big.  At first by the bend of my rod Luc thought it might be a catfish as it refused to come up and just dug down.  I managed to get him to surface and he saw it wasn't a catfish but a lunker bass.  With help form Luc we landed the pig and weighted it with the digital scale.  6lbs 11 oz my personal best on topwater beating out my previous 5lbs best. 
Shad were spawning and splashed around banks with occasional chase from bass.  That stopped after an hour or so of light.  The rest of the day we'd get strikes here and there.  Missing more than landing.  Did end up with a fish in the 3.5-3.75lbs range.  On the previous day Luc and his partner for the day had over a dozen blow ups by very few connections.  We fished the lily pads and it was there I finally lost my fly despite the weedguard.  Once the sun was out it was tough fishing adn we quit around 10am. 

Saturday, June 3, 2023

Canyon Lake Sloooooowdown

May 17, 2023

Got another shot at Canyon again with Luc. I was excited to see what was going to happen this time as the fishing has been excellent. Unfortunately this day was slow. Not sure why. The day before it was slow for Luc and he wasn't too motivated to go out fishing in this day. We had action early. Luc's came off at the boat. I had a blow up but the fish didn't hook. I was fishing my new popper with a swimbait hook so if the bass doesn't gulp the fly it won't hook up. That would be the story of the day for me. Two more blow ups and none hooked. Luc had at least a dozen blowups and two or three to hand. All takes are early morning. Once the sun hits the water its all but over even in the shady parts. No other anglers on the water the day before and only one angler later in the morning. Do they know something we don't? We spoke with that conventional angler and he only had 5 and he's a good angler who is also fishing jigs where we are only fishing topwater. He should have done alot better.

Friday, June 2, 2023

Location X with Luc

May 10, 2023

Luc fished Location X yesterday with his brother and did very well so he invited me over to try it.  Launching here in darkness is a bit sketchy especially if you are unfamiliar with the ramp.  There is little room for error and if you do screw up you'll be thrashing the boat onto jagged boulders.  But after a couple attempts we got the boat on the water.   It's nice fishing natural structure again.  Casts though need to be accurate and flies definitely need weedguards.
Luc did well again and had at least a dozen blowups with a 3.5 pound bass in the mix.  It took me several hours and toward the end of the day for me to finally get on some fish.  I was still trying out new flies and all of which failed to provoke.  I switched to one of Luc's poppers and then and only then did I get into some action.  First largemouth was small maybe a pound.  The second was much more respectable but still hardly impressive. All in all a fun place to fish and a welcome change.

Thursday, June 1, 2023

Scouting Raging River

 May 7, 2023

Initially we planned to fish Dixon Lake but we had a change of heart since the weather moved toward the cold side.  So we decided to do some local mountain scouting to see if the water is fishable yet. Not surprisingly the water was still raging.  I think its going to be sometime before we wet our feet and catch some local trout.