When Don Wirth, Senior Writer for Bassmaster Magazine, first contacted me to do one of the "Day On The Lake" articles, I was thrilled, to say the least.
The "Day On The Lake" series has been one of my favorite on-going articles in Bassmaster since they began.
Put a guy on a body of water with fish in it he's never seen before, give him seven hours and see what he does to catch fish while tracking his every move throughout the day. Over the years, it's been interesting to watch different pros and how they approach new water. Now, I had my shot.
First I had to pick a month from several options. My first thought was to pick one in the fall, due to the fact that is usually when I have done some of my best work on the water. Then I found out that the articles were done a year in advance (duh) and the trip we took in October of 2009 would not make the pages of Bassmaster until October of 2010.
Screw that, dude, I want some instant gratification.
Such is not the case with magazine work. Instead of October, I switched to the first available month, which happened to be January. That's cool; I can catch them in the winter. Boy, can I.
Don and I got our schedules together to make a day of it during the first full week of January, weather permitting. The weather did not permit. Fortunately, we both had a pretty loose schedule that early in the season and were able to shuffle around to where we had a break in the weather for a few days.
In fact, I can't speak for Don, but I was just lying around the house, making trips to Starbucks for Chai Lattes and packing on the pounds.
The day we picked to dodge the weather turned out to be the only sunny day that part of the U.S. had seen in several weeks and would see for several more. The stars and planets were coming into alignment.
I drove over the evening before our trip so that we could get an early start the next morning, which is highly unusual for the way that I fish in the winter. Usually I will take my time getting to the pond in the a.m. and stay until dark, as the better bite normally will occur in the last few hours of the "heat" of a winter day. It was to be an O-early-30 day, as DW was calling the shots and I was just the hired hand.
I don't do hotels well anymore. After spending two Elite seasons in the Lance camper, I've gotten very spoiled. The Hampton Inn is OK, but it's just not the Lance.
There's no place like my home on the road, there's no place like my home on the road; all I need are some ruby slippers to click the heels together. Tried that in the Hampton (without the ruby slippers) — no joy. I tossed and turned and finally dozed for a few hours. I rolled out at 0545 to hook up with DW for the "Day."
We were greeted that morning by high, bluebird skies, temps around 40 degrees, and a steady breeze out of the west.
After our meeting at the local Shell station, I followed DW down a little windy, country road out in the sticks to a turn onto a gravel road. Up the gravel to a small lake nestled between two hills. Very nice setting. A mature bald eagle sat in a tree on the opposite shore of the lake looking for breakfast. It was going to be a great day.
DW informed me that the clock started at 0710 and I had seven hours on Lake B to see how I would fare. I was nervous as a chicken in a Tyson plant. Scared to death that I would blank.
Maybe I'd catch 50 fish and have five swimmers that weighed less than 5 pounds. How embarrassing. Hey, fishing in the winter is not always a friendly bite. I just hoped that I had one or two big bites.
I shouldn't have worried.
I had crankbaits, jerkbaits, jigs, swimbaits, little Kriet worms and way too many rods out on the deck. I was rigged, locked, and loaded for anything and everything. Looking around the lake, I see some submerged timber, a steep bank on one side, looks like a creek coming in the upper end and maybe an underwater point on the near shore.
Hmm, water temperature at 44 degrees and fairly clear with just a slight stain. Bluebird skies and a stiff ripple on the water; sounds like jerkbait to me.
For the rest of the story, you'll have to read Don's version in January's issue of Bassmaster.
For those of you with BASS Insider accounts (and if you don't, why not?), the digital version is available now.
Hey, that's his J-O-B and he does very well with it. I'm not taking anything away from the man. I will give you a hint: All-time Day On The Lake heavyweight champ.
For more info on Kevin Short or to contact Kevin, check out his Web site at www.kfshort.com.