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Al Agnew

Sometimes the big ones disappear

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Got on one of my favorite stretches of the river today, 12 miles or so float, usually produces a few 17-19 inchers and once in a while a 20 plus.  I really had high hopes.  Water clarity was perfect, about 3-4 feet visibility, water level up enough to float easily but not so much that it moved you along too fast.  I started out with a topwater, and caught a couple fish, so I knew it would work.  But I had gotten a late start and had to cover some territory, and working walk the dog topwaters is a little more time-consuming that fishing cranks and spinnerbaits, so switched over.  Both cranks and spinnerbaits were picking up fish now and then, but the fishing wasn't really fast.  And I was catching far more spots and largemouth than smallmouth.  I've seen that game before--at some point the smallies usually turn on and I had plenty of water to cover waiting for that to happen.

But things just kept steady, fish now and then, most of them right up against the banks.  And they were nearly all small.  Usually at some point I at least get a strike from a big fish.  Not today.  It was like the bigger ones, those over 14 inches, had disappeared.  I got into the best part of the float and decided to concentrate on the topwater fishing.  At a few points I'd get into several smallmouth, and finally caught one that might have made 16 inches but was probably closer to 15.  A 15 inch spotted bass.  Maybe a couple 15 inch largemouth.  When they did hit the topwater they were vicious, but the big ones just weren't wanting to play.  To be honest, I can't remember the last time I floated this stretch in warm weather without even getting a sniff from a big fish, but that's what happened today.  35 spotted bass, 25 largemouth, 29 smallmouth.  Good numbers, but I gotta admit I was a bit disappointed.  Oh well, any day on the river is a good day.

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That sums up how my fishing on the Gasconade has been the past few weeks as well. Can't buy a decent fish in areas that have traditionally been good for a decent fish at some point during the day. Plenty of 12-14" smallmouth and little largemouth to keep a guy busy though.

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In a lake/river full of big fish it isn't uncommon for me to go out and not catch one.  

Smaller fish race around eating and pooping constantly.  Bigger fish generally ease around slower taking bites less frequently, possibly managing their energy levels more efficiently.   It is odd though how individual fish always seem to operate simultaneously.  Makes me wonder what specific element (or combination of elements) controls their behavior.  

A highly schooled and skilled fisherman can work through an area and not catch a quality fish.....but then some kid with a Beetle Spin making pathetic casts can come behind him and catch a toad.   This kinda thing shouldn't be allowed to happen.  😅

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1 minute ago, fishinwrench said:

In a lake/river full of big fish it isn't uncommon for me to go out and not catch one.  

Smaller fish race around eating and pooping constantly.  Bigger fish generally ease around slower taking bites less frequently, possibly managing their energy levels more efficiently.   It is odd though how individual fish always seem to operate simultaneously.  Makes me wonder what specific element (or combination of elements) controls their behavior.  

Biggest thing I learned from watching MLF is how they go back to areas that produced and keep catching them.  They sure reload in good areas.

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2 hours ago, Gavin said:

Timing is at least 80% of the equation. 

 

Yup. That is one thing I've learned the past few years. I used to only hit a spot once in a day and keep moving on. Now I will hit my confidence areas multiple times in a day. Sometimes they bite early and other times they bite early in the afternoon. I've personally had my best luck later in the morning or in to the early afternoon, but that could just be due to my style of fishing. Most seem to prefer the first few hours of the day over the afternoon bite. Of course if you're floating, you really don't have much choice in the matter.

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Some summers it gets a little weird on Big River.  There will be a particular time of day that the fish turn on like a light switch.  About the same time every day.  But the time varies from year to year.  I've seen summers where daylight was the magic time, but more often it's sometime in the early afternoon, and it will hold true for weeks, as long as the weather and water levels are fairly stable.  But that ain't the case so far this year.

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