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Making Hay While The Sun Shines


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My winter fishing guru friend called last week.

"Hey, next week should be perfect for a jerkbait bite. What day can you go?"

I'd already been looking at the long range weather forecast, and knew that Tuesday (today) was going to be the warmest day of the week, so I immediately said so, and affirmed that I was free on Tuesday. As Tuesday neared, the forecast for the rest of the week kept looking worse and worse, and I kept getting gladder and gladder that we'd be going on Tuesday. With snow on Wednesday evening forecast, and highs in the 20s the next two days, it was looking like Tuesday might be the last good day to fish for quite a while.

We met at the boat ramp at 8:30 AM. The Meramec was still a bit higher than normal for this time of year, but down considerably from the last few times I'd fished it. Water clarity was beautiful, about 4-5 feet. My buddy's temp gauge said 47 degrees.

At that temperature, we knew the bass would be in fairly slow to very slow water, near or in fairly deep water. On the stretch we fished, that limited somewhat where we could find them. So we motored to the first pool. I was trying a crankbait just to see if the fish would take it at that temperature, while he was fishing a jerkbait. Nothing happened until we reached the end of the pool, where I caught a small spotted bass.

The next pool was one my buddy said would surely produce some fish. Did it ever. By the time we'd fished it thoroughly, with a combination of jerkbaits, jigs, and weighted Senkos, we'd boated 17 smallmouth. All but a couple were over 14 inches, and they included a couple 16s, a couple 17s, and an 18.

On to the next pool. In this one, the fish were in two spots. One was off a submerged sandbar on the log side of the pool, the other in big rocks on the bluff side. Another 17, couple more 16s, and three smaller ones.

From then on, the fish in each pool came more slowly, but we kept catching them. Found a group of largemouth in some slow water logs. Some more in a backwater. Each good pool had at least one or two willing smallies.

As it got later in the day, we started back toward the access, stopping to re-fish some of the more productive pools. In the pool where we'd caught all the fish earlier, we added 8 more, including another 17 incher. And in that first pool we'd fished with only the one dinky spotted bass to show for it, my buddy caught the best fish of the day, 19 inches and change.

Altogether, we probably caught well over 50 fish, mostly smallies. And at least 30 of them were over 14 inches. The jig was the most productive lure, with jerkbaits catching some nice fish but not the magic lure we'd expected them to be. The weighted Senko caught quite a few, but not many later in the afternoon. Two fish, including my buddy's big one, had lampreys on them.

So now I'm sitting here not knowing whether to be elated because we got in such a great trip before the weather blew up, or to be bummed because I can't go and do it again tomorrow.

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My winter fishing guru friend called last week.

"Hey, next week should be perfect for a jerkbait bite. What day can you go?"

I'd already been looking at the long range weather forecast, and knew that Tuesday (today) was going to be the warmest day of the week, so I immediately said so, and affirmed that I was free on Tuesday. As Tuesday neared, the forecast for the rest of the week kept looking worse and worse, and I kept getting gladder and gladder that we'd be going on Tuesday. With snow on Wednesday evening forecast, and highs in the 20s the next two days, it was looking like Tuesday might be the last good day to fish for quite a while.

We met at the boat ramp at 8:30 AM. The Meramec was still a bit higher than normal for this time of year, but down considerably from the last few times I'd fished it. Water clarity was beautiful, about 4-5 feet. My buddy's temp gauge said 47 degrees.

At that temperature, we knew the bass would be in fairly slow to very slow water, near or in fairly deep water. On the stretch we fished, that limited somewhat where we could find them. So we motored to the first pool. I was trying a crankbait just to see if the fish would take it at that temperature, while he was fishing a jerkbait. Nothing happened until we reached the end of the pool, where I caught a small spotted bass.

The next pool was one my buddy said would surely produce some fish. Did it ever. By the time we'd fished it thoroughly, with a combination of jerkbaits, jigs, and weighted Senkos, we'd boated 17 smallmouth. All but a couple were over 14 inches, and they included a couple 16s, a couple 17s, and an 18.

On to the next pool. In this one, the fish were in two spots. One was off a submerged sandbar on the log side of the pool, the other in big rocks on the bluff side. Another 17, couple more 16s, and three smaller ones.

From then on, the fish in each pool came more slowly, but we kept catching them. Found a group of largemouth in some slow water logs. Some more in a backwater. Each good pool had at least one or two willing smallies.

As it got later in the day, we started back toward the access, stopping to re-fish some of the more productive pools. In the pool where we'd caught all the fish earlier, we added 8 more, including another 17 incher. And in that first pool we'd fished with only the one dinky spotted bass to show for it, my buddy caught the best fish of the day, 19 inches and change.

Altogether, we probably caught well over 50 fish, mostly smallies. And at least 30 of them were over 14 inches. The jig was the most productive lure, with jerkbaits catching some nice fish but not the magic lure we'd expected them to be. The weighted Senko caught quite a few, but not many later in the afternoon. Two fish, including my buddy's big one, had lampreys on them.

So now I'm sitting here not knowing whether to be elated because we got in such a great trip before the weather blew up, or to be bummed because I can't go and do it again tomorrow.

Al, will you please take me fishing with you. .... lol. ...that's a good day fishing there. ... wader

wader

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