Fall is almost here, but don’t think the fish have given up yet, because they sure haven’t! This past week I was fortunate enough to have Nebraska Fisheries Biologist Daryl Bauer meet up with me for some fishing in our canal system. We had talked about it for quite some time, so it nice to finally make it happen. I was fishing for a few hours before his arrival, and quite honestly, it was a struggle. But being a biologist, I’m guessing the fish were waiting for him. As soon as he hopped in, the fish started cooperating immediately! We only fished for about 3 1/2 hours, but it was a fairly productive time. We ended with a few catfish including a flathead, 2 saugers, a few crappies, and this real nice walleye that Daryl brought in.
The nicer sauger went 19 1/2″, and had some of the darkest colors I’ve ever seen. The bottom side of him was almost black. This tells you a little bit about how they try to blend into their surroundings. With this being the canal system and irrigation in full swing, I imagine this fish came from fairly dark water. I know he sure ambushed our bait, so he was clearly good at what he does.
Day 2 saw us meeting up at Johnson Lake. The water was about 5′ down at the time, making it somewhat of a challenge just to get to our fishing spots. Once there, we threw cranks and jigs for bass, and ended with 3-4 SMB up to 13″ or so, a nice black crappie on the dam, a couple decent white bass, and 3 LMB up to 16-17″, which were real fat chunks. We missed a few other SMB and LMB too, and had a guy tell us of a 7 pounder caught there recently. I believe him. A rare fish for Johnson, but they do exist.
We then headed for the canal system again. Doing more of the same techniques while trying a few new things, we were able to find a few more fish. We ended with 4 saugers, another walleye that was just a smidge bigger than the day before, a few crappies, a drum, and a couple of flatheads. Here’s Daryl with a couple of nice catches. The walleye, and another sauger that hit 19″. Great contrast between the two. It was great to have you out Daryl, and I look forward to it again in the future!
Speaking of flatheads, this is where things became real interesting. When Daryl and I were fishing Tues and Wed, we did lose a few baits. When you’re used to catching limbs and branches as we commonly do in the canal, you lose sight sometimes that maybe they could be a fish at rare times. I believe I had that happen to me as I tightened up the line a little on a ‘snag’. But when the snag pulled back and I had nothing left, that sure got my attention. So, when Thursday rolled around, I felt I needed some resolve. I grabbed my Dad and we headed out with a few new ideas. We ended with only one sauger, but I believe maybe they were scared out of the area! We ended with 7 flatheads, which was a real thrill as I’ve never caught more than 3 in a day in this area. For whatever reason, they really moved in and started eating everything in sight. We ended with some 2, 4, 4, 7, 8, 13, and 22 pounders. Now I can only imagine how big some of the other fish were that we lost. Even though our biggest was only 22, he sure gave Dad a ride that lasted a while! Was great fun to hear your drag just scream when one of these predators smacked the bait. Of course, these fish would explain the damaged hooks and others that were just plain destroyed. I can’t wait to get out and try a few new things to make sure my netting percentage is higher.
We don’t have long before fall arrives, water temps drop, and things change again, but there’s still time to get out for more fish. Just remember, there are many times in fishing when you never stop learning. This definitely proves that. Get out and fish!