Welcome to Warmwater Fishing!

Well, Blow Me Down


By Tim Lunceford, (MoturkE)

I've never had so much time for fishing as I have this year. I've been off work for several weeks this year because construction is slow right now. I hadn't been off work since 1983. Sure, I've taken a vacation day here and there, missed work due to illness, but I hadn't been unemployed since 1983. I went from one job right into the next one without missing a beat. And, after getting into the union, I worked the last five years non-stop. Then in January things slowed down and I was out-of-work. I went back for a few months and now I'm off again, with no idea how long.

The first time I was laid-off I felt a little guilty and depressed, so fishing wasn't something I wanted to do then. Now, I'm going out as often as I can. I'm over the depression stage and have moved into the "gotta-get-outa-the-house" stage. I figured I'd take advantage of this opportunity to have a little fun and help reduce the grocery bill by putting meat on the table at the same time. But, they don't call it fishing for nothing.

Last time I was out on Lake Jacomo the carp were causing a little mischief, you remember? Well, this time out wasn't any better, but the carp weren't the problem. In fact, short of seeing a couple of fins barely break the water's surface in the shallow end of the cove I chose to fish, there was almost no sign of carp this day.

I got to the water a little later than I wanted, but I thought that would be all right. I had all day to fish. I watched the weather report the previous evening and the forecast was for a high temperature of 94 with a 20-25 mile per hour wind. I figured the temperature, though record-breaking, was no real problem because there would be shade along the bank. The wind was another matter completely. If I was going to be out in the kayak on a 970-acre lake in a wind like that, it might not be worth going. Maybe that's why I didn't hurry to get out that morning. But, when I went outside to load the gear, it wasn't very windy, at least not at my house.

When I arrived at the lake I noticed the wind was blowing fairly strong but concerned myself with locations, more than conditions. I looked at the Parks and Recreation Department's map of Lake Jacomo, showing the locations of the fish habitat buoys and decided to head for one near the main boat launch. The map showed the buoy was just inside the mouth a long cove near the shore. I chose this particular one because I prefer fishing coves; the others were along the main shore or far across the lake. I drove into a small gravel parking area that provides access to a fishing dock inside this cove, but decided to launch the kayak from the ramp instead. I still hadn't evaluated the effects of the wind.

I drove down to the ramp and walked to the shore next to the docks to find a suitable launch site. The top of these concrete docks are all very high and were intended to serve the pontoon boats and ski boats, no kayaks or other small craft were considered when this ramp area was built in the 1950's. There's a small gravel beach beside the ramp where I unloaded the kayak and gear, leaving it high up the bank out of the water so I could park the Jeep in the nearby lot. Only then, did I really look at the conditions on the lake. The photo below doesn't give a real perspective of the waves, but the trees are pretty.

Jacomo Lake

It looked more like a sea than a lake. I was in England when I was in the U.S. Air Force and we'd walk along the North Sea and this looked just like the North Sea. The waves were white capping and building very high. The kayak was being pounded as I prepared to enter it; the waves smashing against the hull just under the opening of the cockpit. Finally in the kayak, I pushed off, pointed her nose into the wind and the waves and began to paddle slowly. I didn't want to try to go too fast, I wanted to get a feel for these waves and see if I should abandon this trip due to weather (or sinking). I don't own a spray skirt, yet.

Wind on Jacomo

The waves didn't seem to be causing any serious problems and the kayak really moved along without much effort. I paddled past the cove so I could quickly turn the kayak with the wind and wave direction, thereby avoiding the possibility of the waves hitting me broadside as I entered the cove. Once inside the cove, the shoreline rose above the surface of the water and created a very effective windbreak leaving the buoy in calmer water. Things were looking very promising, I thought.

My intention today was to target crappie, again. That was my intention last time I was on this lake, and we all know how that worked out. Today would be different; I was at the official fish-habitat buoy, I was at the crappie's front door. I pointed my nose just to the right of the buoy about three to four yards away. This would allow me to cast off my port bow, which is more comfortable for straight-on casting, and yet I could still cast off my port side toward the weedy shoreline about another three yards away. I decided if the crappie were slow, I could pester a small bluegill or two.

I started out using a gold-ribbed hare's ear nymph. I've never used it much and have been interested in the results others have had with it, so I picked it first. I tied this one with a little lead weight along the shank to get down a bit; my WF4F line still floats well after two years. I'm considering a sink-tip for this kind of fishing, but that's another story. The hare's ear sinks slowly as I force myself to sit still and leave it alone. I know my little diver has a way to go before it sees any really good fish, so I wait. There's no way for me to tell when long enough is long enough, but I tell myself to leave it alone three times before I give it a little jerk and then wait again.

Nothing happens. I wait and I wait, and nothing happens. I pick up my line and cast again, farther away from the buoy because there's an outflow current on this side of the cove caused by the wind-driven waves at the other side. The current pushes along the nymph and line and I leave it to sink slowly, resisting the temptation to pull the line in for another cast. When the fly line gets close to the buoy I pull it in for another cast. Nothing has happened with this nymph. I give it a few more tries and nothing. I know I'm doomed to eat chicken for dinner, yet again.

I decided to turn my attention to the weedy shoreline. I figure, even a three-inch bluegill would be a good fish caught. I pitch the HEN over near the weeds and let it follow along the shore with the current a few times... Nuttin'! Now I'm beginning to become restless. I've got to catch something. I know there's at least one fish in this lake; I've seen it! I pulled up anchors and began paddling farther into the cove. I headed for some tree limbs that had fallen into the water. They were mostly submerged and just close enough to the bank to catch the shade from the trees on shore. Maybe a nice spot for a big old gill.

I decided to play it safe and tied on a size 12, white foam spider. I'd just seen a fish leap up for something after putting down anchors here, if the fish are top-feeding the spider might be what works today. Well, after a little time I was able to land my first catch; a small bluegill that might push five and a half inches. My ropes are wrapped on a five-inch cleat and here he is beside it.

Bluegill

I fished along the shoreline into the cove as the morning turned toward afternoon without much activity at all. The folks on the dock weren't having any better luck than I was, but they were enjoying the weather and one another's company. The wind was warm and strong, but shielded by the trees on shore it felt a like a summer day. A couple of motorboats came and went, they tried the buoy, too and got nuttin'.

Fishing Jacomo

I continued to fish the shore using a size #8, deer-hair caddis and caught a small, green sunfish. He wasn't much more than five inches when held near my cleat for perspective.

Sunfish

I've begun to wonder if I'm wasting time with this lake. But, I like to try and find a reason the fish don't catch well, and this was a great chance to do that. On my excursion through this cove I noticed a large number of damselfly shucks on the water being driven along by the outflow current from the weedy shoreline.

    Reason #1, a damselfly hatch probably happened earlier this morning.

    Reason #2, I noticed some brown insects, possibly mayflies but I couldn't catch one to verify, dropping eggs on the surface all around the cove.

    Reason #3, I began to see very large midge spinners on the surface being pulled along in the outflow, some still showing the last signs of life.

This was just before I decided to leave, but not before I gave it one more shot. I decided to try a size #18, yellow-bodied crackle back as a midge spinner imitation. Sometimes you just have to hang in there until you get it right. ~ Tim aka MoturkE

About Tim Lunceford:

Tim spent nine years in the U.S. Air Force, with three years working on the F-117 A Stealth Fighter, and is a veteran of Desert Storm. He lives and fishes near Kansas City, Missouri. He's been fly-fishing and fly tying two years now. He's been married 23 years and is the father of four kids - three of whom have Fragile-X syndrome, a genetic disorder that causes mental retardation and autism. He now works as a Heat and Frost Insulator for Local Union #27 in K.C. Tim also enjoys web design, graphics and digital image manipulation, watercolor painting, playing guitar, and writes contemporary Christian songs - none of which have been recorded, ...yet.

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