"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

Thursday, September 22, 2011

September 21st White Bass Action @ Provo Harbor, Utah Lake

Well it's been a while since the last fishing trip.  There have been a few that I've had to pass up due to schedule conflicts so after a much to long break we had a chance to get out again.  Originally I thought that it would be Jason and myself on float tubes.  However with the kids off track right now Alex, my oldest, wanted to come as well.  So that changed the plans a bit so that I was going to take the boat for Alex and me and Jason was going to still do the float tube.  Tuesday at work I was talking about these plans and Erik was interested in joining us on his kayak.  So we set plans in place to be at the harbor near sun up, about a quarter after seven in the morning.

When we got there we found the south dike still closed off.  That left us choosing with less choice for a launch with my boat so we settled for the southern ramp on the inner harbor with the plan that I would tow Jason out to where we were heading.  Our target was to get out into the open water just a few hundred yards west of the SW corner of the outer harbor where the Provo river water is mixing into the main lake water.  Erik passed on the offer of a tow and opted to paddle out on his own.  Well we all made our way out without much trouble.  Nobody even bothered trying to fish our way out, and while I'm not sure that we didn't miss out on some earlier fish it didn't prove to impact the day in any negative way at all.

We dropped Jason from the tow service as we made it to our target location.  There were lots of Seagulls concentrated in the area.  I figured maybe the knew something even though I never did see them doing much other then flying and floating.  The other guys told me later that they saw a few bring up small fish from the water.  Anyway Alex and I moved a bit south of where we dropped Jason off and put down the anchor to hold us in place as there was a slight breeze blowing mostly north.  Erik was arriving about this time as well so we all setup to get our lines out.  Alex got his line out first and also managed the first white bass.  Actually on the first cast he had a couple hits that I, being the skeptical dad, passed off as your dragging on the bottom, that's not a fish...  So right on the second cast as he protested my skeptical responses his pole went bend quite dramatically.  He pulled in the first white of the day and the biggest of our combined basket.  Well we got Alex versed on how to handle the spinney fish, remove the lure hook from the fish, and string the fish on the chains we used to hold them from the boat.

Jason shortly announced that he had scored a white and the game was on between Alex and Jason.  It was a contest to see who could catch more or brag more about the size of their catch or how often the got doubles ( I, being the bias father, rigged up Alex with a tandem setup to help increase the odds ).  Also I should point out that no radios were damaged, drowned, or lost in any inexplicable events today... ;)    So, back to the story...  Erik and I were a bit behind the other two in numbers at this point but we also were doing well.  I had a second line out for cat fish offering a nice piece of carp meat but never ended up getting any inquiries on it.  A number of times as Alex or I would bring in a fish on the boat we would lean our poles to the side of the boat and throw our jigs over into the water to wait while we put the fish on the stringer.  Then after putting the stringer back in the water we would see that our poles were dancing and pick them up to land another fish.

One thing we did talk about over the radios is that we were all impressed with the size the whites were coming in at.  Alex and I only had one that was on the smaller side while the rest were defiantly bigger then the past few years average size.  Fish were all much thicker in build as well with a lot of visceral fat that we found later while processing the fish we kept.  Well as we all kept at it for a while trying many different lures and presentations, most producing pretty well or really well, Alex and I were really getting to the point where you question if you need or even want to catch any more.  Well Alex clearly still wanted to abuse some more white bass, but I did manage to talk him into heading over to the weed line south of the river inlet area where on previous trips this year we have found good numbers or crappies.  So we pulled up anchor and headed over letting the others know where we were heading.  On the way over I talked with Alex about the difference between catching a white bass vs a crappie to prepare him for their less then aggressive strikes, inability to handle a strong hook set, and the likely chance that they wont put up much of a fight until you get them near the boat.  Mostly I told him to slow down the retrieval and if he felt some gentle bumps or light drag on the line to simply speed up the reeling without a real hook set.

Well, we dealt with a few poor casts that hooked up in the reeds and moved around a few places without much success for a while.  Finally we got ourselves anchored  in a nice spot that gave us a number of good places to cast with less risk of snags.  Alex again was announcing that something was working on his lure and after a few casts like that he did manage to bring in a nice sized crappie.  After a bit more both he and I had added a couple more to our catch.  Erik was heading our way to join us after we announced our find.  Part way to us Erik inquired to the type of fish he had just caught saying it had a huge mouth.  Some radio conversation was had about the characteristics of the fish to figure if he was just impressed with a crappie mouth compared to a white bass, if it was maybe a large mouth bass, or maybe it was a walleye.  It ended up being Erik's first walleye ever.  Not a had one either at about 16 or 17 inches long.

It was about 1:30pm now and the white bass action for Jason, still out near our starting point, was slowing down and the crappies were here and there but not often enough to keep the hunger pains of overdue lunch and the overworked arms from winning over and so we called it a day.  Heading back Erik was very willing to accept a tow so we pulled him over to Jason and made up our interesting chain of water craft that more like a snake swerved back and forth as we worked our way back to the boat launch.

As we were working back we discussed speculation on how well our day went.  Erik felt he lost/freed more then he had kept in his basket.  Jason was pretty sure he had put back over 30 white bass over what he kept.  Alex and I didn't end up putting any back over our catch other then fish lost before making it to the boat.  To help make the tow back easier we had put both Jason's basket and Erik's in the boat along with out stringers and it was very clear we all deserved the "happy harvester" titles today and maybe then some.

Turns out that the cleaning station at the Provo Harbor was literally boarded (boxed might be a better term).  So being that we were not prepared with cooler space to hold the fish as they were we found a picnic table in some shade and pulled out the fillet knives and the other supplies we had to do an on site process.  This is really where we learned that we had over done it in how many we kept.  So after the long process of filleting fish we finally were able to call it a day and head out about 4pm just in time to get some lunch... ;)

Oh and Alex had to help pose with Erik's walleye as we were working on the filleting.

In the end this turned out to be one of the best white bass "catching" days/trips I've had the joy of being on.  To top it off I got to do this with my son Alex.  Oh it wasn't bad that Jason and Erik were there too... ;)