"The charm of fishing is that it is the pursuit of what is elusive but attainable, a perpetual series of occasions for hope." John Buchan

Friday, May 13, 2011

Friday the 13th @ the Knolls, Utah Lake

Well with the 3 days of info on how fishing, from the shore at least, was near Provo Harbor Jason and I were trying to determine where we should target for a Friday the 13th trip.  Weather forecast looked great, with 3 days previous of good to better conditions.  So we had high hopes that friday might turn into a fair, or better, fishing day.  We had talked about Lincoln Beach, Provo Harbor, Lindon Harbor and The Knolls.  We nixed Lindon as that was the location of our last 2 trips.  Both were poor days, though weather and conditions I'm sure gets the bulk of the blame.  So we were mostly dropping Lindon just to give us reason to go somewhere else for this trip.  On Wednesday Jason noticed a post on Big Fish Tackle from TubeDude saying that he was going to target the knolls on Friday.  Well that helped make our mind up and I sent TubeDude a PM to check to see if he would not mind some company out at the knolls.  We arranged to meet up between 6:30am and 7:00am to start the day.  Bit after sunrise (~6:12am), but maybe the sun being up would help get things moving in a positive way for us.

TubeDude and TubeBabe beat us to the knolls and onto the water.  TD was gracious enough to pause and pass us some of his infamous "blue eyed & left fined" minnows that catfish prefer over the standard everyday type minnow.  Anyway Jason and I finished getting setup though we were already down a few points as TD and TB had already scored a couple cats and white bass.  The promise for the day was looking up, though we had some catching up to do.  We got out on the water a short bit later and started kicking our way down south along the shore toward the rocky point where the two on the "rascal scooters" had already reached... ;)

Along the way I managed to catch a couple white bass, though I was not finding any sign of a concentration of them.  My second pole was dragging a bit of carp meat, fresh from the Wednesday trip to Provo Harbor, and snagging on anything and everything.  This was my first trip out with my new pole holders.  They are still the Scotty brand of pole holders with the Cabelas label on them, but this set works better with my new ultra light pole that has too short of a handle to work safely with the previous models I have.  Will save those to make pole holders for my pontoon for others to use.  Here is a picture of my new holder, note the string clip I attached in a similar fashion to the way TubeDude does.

This holder is a full tube with just a few cutouts up front.  It can be pulled up, as it has a hinge at the back, to let you set the hook as you pull your rod out of the holder.  I'm not really sure that is practical with the poles I have.  I think it is more for larger trolling poles where it might have some value.  So for me it is simply a stationary pole holder that works better with my rod assortment.  If you look close you can see the white plastic handle from a plastic knife electrical tapped to the left front part of the holder.  This lets you leave your bail open as you drag/drift bait for cats and to clip your string between the knife handle and the pole holder to keep string from just spooling out and to provide a minimal amount of resistance when a cat picks up the bait and runs with it.  The cool and unexpected twist is the rough texture this pole holder has on its surface mixed in with the clip produced a very audible tick tick tick and the string is pulled out of the clip giving you a bit more audible notice that something is shopping on that pole.  This setup for the string clip is superior to the way I had things on the other model of pole holders.  Not going to bother describing them here right now so just trust that this works better.

Back to the days activities though.  We moved along the shore near the rocky point where we finally caught up with TB.  TD was still further down the shore line playing in the shallows for some active whites he was finding.  I'm not sure really how many fish TD and TB each had in their baskets at this point but it was clearly more then Jason or I had.  I still only had 2 whites and Jason I think was still smelling the skunk.  So we worked around in that area for a bit.  Jason moved out deeper from the shore and I moved in toward the shore.  We both, with the wind that was still blowing a bit, started to drive/move down toward where TD was at.  I started to catch a white here and there along the shore.  Never really finding a concentration. Then Jason hollers out that he has something on his cat line and that it is big.  I watched him fight and then land a very nice sized catfish.  We estimated at the time that it was 24" + or - 2 ".  Later we measured it out at 26.5".  Took Jason some work to get that cat into his basket but he was all smiles and happy.  This was his biggest cat ever.

We kept moving along toward TD.  I had moved out some from the shore line into deeper water, yes I was jealous of Jason's nice catch and I wanted one (or more) too, and pitched out both poles with carp meat.  Jason kept position near where he caught his cat and I moved down toward TD.  As I moved down TD called out that he had a big one on his line.  I watched him work this fish for a long time.  Much longer then Jason had had to fight his.  So it set the level of anticipation higher as we watched the struggle continue.  After a fair fight, though fair is subjective ;), TD landed his healthy ~9# catfish.  Took it's picture and sent it back for another time.  Here his picture he took:

I spent some more time out in the 7-8' depth that both Jason and TD had caught their cats before one of my lines shot out with some gusto.  I closed the bail and set the hook and could tell this fish was bigger then the usual 'cookie cutter' cat.  Smile plastered to my face I fought the fish for a while, not as long as TD or Jason, but long enough.  When I got it to the surface I saw that I had a really nice cat as well.  Though after a try or two I found out my net was not up to the task, that and the cat would not politely curl up to fit into the net so I could retrieve it from the water.  Went to the backup plan and grabbed the lip grippers and waited for the cat to say "ahh" and locked onto this lower jaw and brought him up.

This is where my "newb" moment of the day came back to haunt me.  That being that I forgot to pack my tube apron that I use as a work surface as I'm on my tube.  Keeps things from falling off into the water and gives me a nice place to work on a fish.  Without that I was kind of having to work on my sides using the pockets as a minimal work surface.  So I carefully held the cat with the grippers and took off the fin spines and delivered the cat into my basket.  Much like Jason's this proved to be my biggest catfish ever. :)

Spent the next while waiting for a repeat of some sort with the cats.  We were kind of thinking the temps had turned the cats on.  The wind had died down and things were warming up.  It was really pleasant conditions to be out in.  Well it was slow going, slow as in nothing, for a while so I took the chance to snap a few "scenic" pics.

Well after enough slowness I headed in to where TD had mentioned the whites had been most active for him earlier along the shore past the rocky point.  I headed that way and started to find a white here and there.  I finally found an spot I could hold and cast in a few directions and land a white every few casts.  I think I managed a dozen or so whites in this area probably bringing my total up to the upper teens as far as basket contents.  TD was back with TB at the rocky point.  Jason was between myself and them.  TD reported that the whites were on fire at the rocky point and that he was landing doubles on his tandem setup.  I modified my line for a second jig but did not seen any doubles where I was at.  It did seem to help though in getting a bite in the first place.  After a bit Jason joined me where I was at until that spot died down.  We then moved back up toward TD at the rocky point.  Once there we got into some good white action and everyone got to add more whites to their basket.

I should admit though that my basket was shy of about 5-6 whites that somehow I fumbled getting into the basket of the coarse of the day up till now.  Have not had that much of a problem in the past....  I blame it on the missing tube apron, threw off my whole game..... :\

TD was showing us some of his hand painted crank baits he had been using with the whites.  So he pitched it again as he spoke and thump and bend went his pole.  He seemed a bit perplexed a the fight this white bass he figured was on his line was giving.  His drag was going bonkers as he fought in this fish.  I kept thinking to myself, he is pulling one on us and has his drag turned down to near nothing and this little white bass is getting the advantage of an easy run on the line....  Well no wool over eyes was involved after all.  Somehow TD had pitched the crank bait and hooked up on a nice carp.  The carp volunteered to join the ranks of 'cut bait' and in a basket it went.

Well it was getting close to time to head back so TD offered his tube towing service and threw me a rope to hold onto.  TB provided the same for Jason.  Well with their 'rascal scooters' going full speed we started the journey back to the vehicles.  Along the way TD stopped to help TB with a technical issue but we got back underway quickly enough.  This time though we had attached the tow rope to the drinks at the front of my tube.  This left my hands free to do some fishing as we went along.  I think I put 4-5 more whites into the basket along the way.  Proved to be a fine way to fish :)  Minimal effort and lots of water covered.  Past a fellow BFT'er along the way that TD knew.

Then it was final photo & cleanup time.

TD Basket:

TB Kitty & Basket:

"Da Boyz" with our silly grins and jumbo cats:

Well after that we finished cleaning up and headed home.  We felt pretty good for the day.  It was kind of a surprise to me as I had spent most of the day "feeling" like the day was going ok at best.  It wasn't until we got back to the vehicles and seeing everyone's basket that I realized how good the fishing had really been.  TD & TB had the most in their baskets, but Jason and I didn't embarrass ourselves with the baskets we had.  So we headed out feeling pretty good about things....

After processing the fish, quite the undertaking, I think we concluded that we had my one catfish, Jason's 2 catfish (he had landed another in the ~17" range), 1 carp (cut bait), ~36 white bass (not really sure how many each of us got as we dumped everything into the one cooler for the ride home).

So somehow this day turned out for fishing to be pretty darn good.  As I said before that kind of snuck up on me and surprised me.  Nice surprise if you ask me... :)

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