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
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.
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.
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,
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.
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'.
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.
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 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
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.
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.