WOLLITZ: Moonlight gorging creates daylight challenge
On a day when their bellies looked like the bass had each gobbled $50 worth of Canfield Fair corndogs, calling our shots became a bit of a game.
My enthusiasm was brimming as I pulled the BassCat out of the driveway to tow to Pymatuning Reservoir, but the beaming bright full moon put a damper on things as I navigated the predawn I-680 traffic.
A full moon during a clear and balmy August night means the lakes are the scenes of feeding frenzies. Predators take advantage of the moonlight to gorge on baitfish that are relatively easy to locate.
My experience has been that when the bass feed actively all night, they retire to their hideouts once the sun comes up. Catching bass with bellies bloated by a long night of eating typically is more difficult than when their dinner bell rings during daylight hours.
But fishing friend Tyler Woak of Niles and I were going fishing. Figuring out the fish is always a challenge and this day just presented a few wrinkles.
We launched near a massive flat with hundreds of acres of lily pads. There are few places on the planet that look more fishy, but after three-quarters of an hour we had failed to generate a strike.
A change of locations finally put us around a few bass that apparently still had a little room for dessert. I popped a nice fish on a Chatterbait and Woak whacked a keeper on a Strike King Red Eye Shad.
Make no mistake, however, our morning was a grind. Two fish after 90 minutes was better than nothing, but not much compared to our expectations. The relatively still morning just didn’t seem to be stirring the system enough to inspire the bass to eat our lures.
It was a day for perseverance. We knew that if we stayed focused and pitched our baits to the best-looking cover over the right kind of lake bottom, we would eventually prevail.
As bass-fishing days often do, our day began to reveal hints. A fish here, a fish there and soon it became apparent where and when we might expect the next bite.
Several times as the morning advanced, I started to mention a particular piece of cover looked like a perfect place for a bass, only to be interrupted by a largemouth swimming away with my Texas-rigged creature bait in its mouth.
Two of our day’s catch were chunky bass in the plus-three-pound size range. Most were respectable 14-inchers. All of them had bellies bulged by bingeing on the abundant perch, shad and crawfish that swim and crawl around the coontail greenery, lily pads and water-logged tree trunks that are prolific around Pymatuning’s perimeter.
Several fish proved quicker than our reactions as they bit and spit before our hooks found home. One particularly disappointing encounter ended when a thrashing lunker see-sawed under a drowned tree limb and broke my 20-pound-test fluorocarbon line.
Lessons learned. Even when the odds might seem stacked against us, Tyler and I read the day’s clues and finished with a fine haul of largemouth bass and another memorable fishing day for our memory banks.
Jack Wollitz is a lifelong angler who enjoys going fishing even when conditions are difficult. He also enjoys emails from readers. Send a note to him at email@example.com.