Not this day.
I watched as white caps broke over the center of the lake and waves lapped across the rocks on the shore near the east boat ramp. The crowd for the first opener was made up mainly of salty old anglers like myself — I may be 30 but I fish like I’m 65 — with only one person under the age of 18 that I spotted. Again, polar opposite this time.
Kids ran up and down the bank, crossing lines, throwing rocks and the like — you know, things kids do when they’re fishing. Probably the same stuff I did when my dad took me to my first trout opener. He still laughs to this day about how many lures I put up in the trees that day.
Speaking of my dad, he was supposed to join me that day, but he went out super early that morning and just about froze as the cold air whipped across the lake, so he went home early with a pound-sized trout on his stringer. I got there around 9 a.m. and stayed pretty warm as the sun was high enough to heat the air a bit by that point.
I fished the east side for about two hours using mostly Balls o’ Fire Yellow Jacket salmon eggs salmon eggs and Power Bait on hooks and jigs under a float. I got a few bites, I think — the water was so choppy I really couldn’t be sure — but I decided to get some breakfast at Sonic and try to get out of the wind on the west side.
I tried near my favorite bridge and briefly tried inside the heated dock before deciding to walk out onto the boat slips outside the dock and cast along the shoreline with a bright, chartreuse Rooster Tail.
It didn’t take long before I felt some weight on my line — it felt more like a snag than a fish battling — and I kept reeling until I spotted my bright chartreuse lure with a flash of silver trailing it.
I got the small rainbow trout up on the dock — I would say it weighed less than a pound, but I was happy to catch something nonetheless — and snapped a quick photo before releasing him and heading to work.
Sure enough, I dropped it down to about 17 feet and had a big school of good-sized slabs suspending near a tree.
I tried a few minuscule ice jigs I’d purchased — we’re talking 1/64th of an ounce tungsten fly jigs from VMC with a single Crappie Nibble attached — and got several good thumps on my ice pole, but couldn’t get a hookset. I fished higher up in the water column for trout with my other pole, with a pink and chartreuse feather jig rigged up with salmon eggs. I had that running about a foot under a panfish bobber, and the jets from the heated dock danced my bobber around for some good motion. I saw a solid 3-pound rainbow swim through the green-tinted water and out into the sunlight, which had crept out from behind the gray clouds to warm the frigid air outside considerably.
After the crappie took off, I got my gear and headed out into the sunlight, fishing off the east side of the dock to keep the wind off my back. The temperature difference between the east side, which took direct sunlight and had no wind, and the north side (no sunlight and direct wind) had to be at least 15 degrees.
I used the jig-and-bobber setup, slowly jerking the bobber toward me in short snaps. On my third cast, once the bobber hit calm water where the wind was blocked off by the dock, the float slid underneath the surface. I yanked back, but he spit the lure out and took off.
That’s fishing for ya.
Note: Ruben Ramirez also sent a photo on some nice rainbow trout he caught. Congrats on the nice haul, Ruben!