So it has been a long time since Jason or I have been able to be out on our tubes. So we made plans to get out this last Friday, May the 1st, and hit Mantua. We considered Willard or Mantua as both have had good reports, though Willard is clearly the focused hot spot at the moment, and opted for the past less taken both in the sense that Mantua was not the focal point to the general public right now and also in the sense that Jason and I have yet to hit Mantua except for on the ice.
We got to the lake at about 6:30am as the sun was just rising. We drove around the the parking lot along the south dike road where the spring inlet comes into the reservoir. We looked around there to see how to launch our tubes and found a fisherman already fishing on the platform at the water. The stream itself was not deep enough to launch on and the walk to the platform was longer then we thought we wanted to try so we "thought" we could just go launch at the main ramp and kick over to the east side. I should state here that the goal was to fish the east side as the info we had gathered suggested that was the right place to target. So we will chalk this one up for both Jason's and my "poor judgement' in that we figured the distance from the boat launch to the east side to be "reasonable" to make.
So we did just that, we launched at the main launch and started to work our way along the southern shoreline east....
While we were just launching we did notice another pair of fishermen getting setup with their toons. As we were just kicking out one of these two fishermen started to kick out as well. He was between me and the south western shore. At first I didn't think much of it but as Jason and I reached the south shore line it had become clear that he was intent on "getting there first"... Well he didn't, but then really we all got there together but we were still a bit apart from each other so while this was odd right then it was no harm no foul.... I started to cast in toward the southern shore though to work the shallows there and he started to encroach on where I was casting. He would look my way once in a while but spent most of his time looking like he was trying hard to not see me.... Anyway it didn't take long and he kicked right between me and the shore where I had been fishing....
Figured it was worth letting him get his picture taken for the "special" way he treated others. Aside from taking the pictures I just held off casting and waited for him to pass and go along his way. I then moved out a bit deeper where Jason had been watching it all. About this time the fishing partner of this guy showed up on his toon (with trolling motor) just down the south shore east of us a bit. They looked like they were going to setup to fish there so we moved out further to get ready to just kick to the east shore, though we guessed wrong and they were setting up a rope from the toon with the trolling motor to the guy that had raced us to the south shore line... We got a good laugh watching these two. I'm not sure if this was their first time pulling someone around or not but it looks like they just tied the line to the frame on the second tube and it ended up pulling him at a 90 degree angle to the direction they were going. Well they then headed out but instead of working the southern shore they cut across the lake to go to the point. So that kind of kicked me in the ribs a second time that for that whole race to the south shore to beat us, then cut across me as I fished and then they didn't even really fish the southern shore line... Well not to look a gift horse in the mouth we noted that well that story is done and they are gone now somewhere we were not heading to. Happily that was the end of that part of the story.
Well it was not fast moving but we crawled our way to the east shore (btw looked it up later that's a solid mile and some change from the boat launch to the east shore) having stayed in about 7-9' of water most of the way. We both marked some fish but neither of us had had any bites at all. We had both changed up our offerings and depths we offered at. None of the marked fish suggested perch or a reason to work a specific area either. Though to be fair we are both soft water Mantua newbs running off some nice maps others (TubeDude) had shared before and some recent reports suggesting Bluegill an LMB on the east shore line.
Anyway, we finally made it to the east shore line in the south east corner. That was when we took inventory of how many other boats or craft were near us. There were 2-3 other boats working the east shore line south of the point. None though were right in the corner where we were. Then we noticed how shallow the water looked as we saw the weeds only a foot or two down. Well it wasn't as shallow as we thought as the depth was 5 feet deep but the weeds were 3-4' tall. Plus there were the nice globs of the bright green stringy and slimy moss growths mixed in with some of the other weeds. So this made casting anything that would not run just at the surface really hard. Made kicking through some areas hard too. Figured this might be why the other boats were not in this area. Well we got past this big garden of green just as we got into casting range of the tree lined shore. I figured we would have to turn north and work up toward where some of the other boats where when we had a first fish hit.
After this first one hit we worked this area and did well for us for the next 30-45 minutes. I ended up landing 6 (one released itself at the tube) and I think Jason landed 2 or 3 (he was slower to get over to my spot after I reported fish were hitting... :) ).
Just as things were looking bright the wind decided to change from the ever so slight and gentle breeze from the east that we kicked against to get across the lake to a more then you want to deal with lets go fly a kite type wind coming now from the west.... We tried to sit it out a bit over there hoping to keep the fishing going but the fish were done as least where we were and we knew we needed to start back with the time it would take to get back... As we were starting to head back I did get a bonus of seeing in the tree line a larger bird perch on a branch. It was a fairly large bird but it did not look like any of the other birds we had seen out on the water. It had it's back to me at first and I could not see anything other then the blue grey color to it's back and wings. It did turn and look my way a bit and gave me a better profile view that I snapped these pics (sorry it's a cell phone grade pic but I used what I had...)
Still not sure what kind of bird this was but it was cool to see. Anyway lets save the drama for the rest of the trip. Lets say Jason and I got the biggest workout we have had on tubes (and that includes multiple stops to rest letting our anchor's hold us while we rested a bit) and in the nest 2.5 hours we only made it about 2/3 of the way back to the boat launch with the wind fighting against us. We finally cried uncle and cut to the south shore line where we could see a spot that would let us get to the road fairly easily. Then I walked around the lake to get the vehicle from the parking lot at the boat launch.
Was a fun day even considering the extra workout we got from the bad distance judgement call as well as the wind from the west. It was nice to be able to be relaxed and out on the water and taking the time to make fun or yourself for the silly choices made and still smile for the fish caught and the time spent having fun. BTW all fish caught were returned except one fish a person. Though we can't take credit for being total conservationists... Chalk this one up for poor cell phone data coverage when we went to look up if Mantua had any specific regs for LMB. Though just about when Jason had finally downloaded the guide I had managed to call my Dad and get him to relay info from his proclamation. Now we both have the guide saved to our phones for next time.... :)
We both agree'd that this was about the most physically taxing day yet we have had on tubes (not nearly as bad as our slush adventure at Strawberry 2 winters ago) and the sore muscles and aches will linger for a couple days. But the smiles for the fun seem to made the soar and the ache seem well worth it.