Bucket Mouth wannabe

I crossed paths with this guy this morning while on another test run with the boat….

Largemouth Bass

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California Contrasts: Salton Sea

I found myself in the desert of California with a meeting in Indian Wells, California this week.  Indian Wells is a delightful community, the commercial areas are carefully landscaped and well groomed as is typical for southern California communities.

Indian Wells - California

Many beautiful desert flowers were in bloom in the landscapes – agave,bougainvillea, sage, cactus and the native Red Bird of Paradise.

Red bird of Paradise - Caesalpina pulcherrima

Before driving back to the coast for my next meeting, I took the opportunity to visit the Salton Sea.  This water body was unintentionally created by water from flooding canals and the Colorado River in 1905.   A strong fishery developed over time and the area was became a popular recreational destination.  As it has no outlet and very few inlets, salinity and levels of other naturally occurring and agricultural chemicals has continually risen.  Much has been written about the current dismal condition of this formerly strong fishery, but it is still a shock to see it first hand.  The recreational development initiated decades ago on the western shore is incomplete, frozen in time and the shores now remind one more of a ghost town.  The stench of baking dead fish fills the air.

  As I approached the beach area, my attention was first drawn to the myriad fish skeletons, bleached white by the sun, indicating that this is not just a recent phenomenon.  In the dry desert heat, decomposition is very slow.  Many of them reminded me of fossils.

I was focused on the skeletons as I continued to move toward the water. The closer I got, the more intact the corpses became.  Most seemed to be Salton Sea Tilapia (Oreochromis mossambicus). I was actually startled when I looked up to see the condition of the water’s edge.

As I drove away, I caught this last glimpse of the Salton Sea.

Bay Minette Creek Topminnows

I recently took my boat out on Bay Minette Creek to learn a bit about some water that should prove quite productive for the fisherman interested in multiple species.  I did not have a lot of time, but explored enough to know that I’ll be back.  I caught a few different fish, some of which fit into my Lifelist.  I brought my phototank, but upon reviewing the pictures, I’m going to have to change a few things to get the quality of pictures I seek.  In the past, I’ve primarily used the tank while fishing the shaded banks of the local creeks with good success.  This trip I was out in the bright sunlight while photographing and the scratches in the lexan tank were much more evident.  I’ll have to play with a shade screen and maybe more back lighting in this environment….  I might even consider building one with a glass front.

The first Topminnow I caught was this female Russetfin Topminnow (Fundulus escambiae).  I first thought it to be a Bayou Topminnow, but the lack of pigment between the horizontal lines makes it a Russetfin.

Russettfin Topminnow - Fundulus escambaie

The next topminnow caught was a young male that I’ve identified as a Western Starhead Topminnow (Fundulus blairae).  Identifing marks on this guy are the irregular rows of red spots and the lack of vertical dark bars along the side.

Western Starhead Topminnow - Fundulus blairae

Near the boat ramp I caught this plain colored female Gulf Killifish (Fundulus grandis), locally known as a Bull Minnow.  They are used extensively as a bait fish.  This picture demonstrates well another challenge I was having with the phototank… focus issues!

Gulf Killifish - Fundulus grandis

I also caught a small Bluegill while fishing the main chanel.  Being too large for the phototank, I used a new net I made, just for photographing fish a bit larger than the standard minnow.  I think the net will work out well for some interesting pictures.  I made the frame from a seedling Water Oak after the fashion of the Tamo used by the traditional Tenkara fishermen.

BluegillThe final fish I’ll share from the trip is a Golden Shiner (Notemigonus crysoleucas).  This guy was a hoot to catch as I saw him approach the boat and he took a free falling morsel with barely any weight.  He put a nice bend in the Soyokaze with his lively fight!

Golden Shiner - Notemigonus crysoleucas

Dawn Topwater Speckled Seatrout

Speckled Trout with topwater plug

My Brother-in-law, Gordon, and I got out at dawn this morning on Mobile Bay.  Reports from recent days have been good so we were anxious to get into the fray.  We launched at about 5:30 AM and crept out to our spot in the darkness.  We both fished topwater initially, Gordon with a new noisy Rapala Skitter Walk in white and red and I with a wooden plug I had made last year but not field tested.  Gordon got the first activity with a nice fish, but it came off very quickly.   He had several other strikes and blow-ups in quick succession, many times knocking the plug out of the water.  On close inspection as it got lighter, we discovered that the top treble hook was missing, obviously lost on the first fish.  After replacing the missing hook, Gordon was able to catch two more nice Specks before the topwater bite shut down.  I did catch a nice Speck on my plug too, which pleased me immensely!  Being new to plug making, this is the first fish I have caught on a plug of my making.  ……now I just need to get some rattles inside to compete with the noisy Rapala!

This fish is about 21″ long and was not the largest fish we caught.  As the daylight shut down the top water action, we switched to jigs and soft grubs and finished out our limits for a fish fry…in preparation for the approaching Hurricane Isaac!

Speckled Seatrout

Multi-State Sunfish

While driving through the countryside of Michigan last week, I stopped at a bridge crossing the Shiawassee River near Byron, Michigan to give my Soyokaze 31SR a try.  The water here ran clear and I managed to get access in an area with tall grass edges and floating aquatic vegetation.  I could see small fish and with the 10 foot pole, easily reached them with my 7X Tippet line.  By sight fishing I could see the take and set the hook appropriately.  I caught several small sunfish before I had to get back on the road.   The 31SR did give me the reach advantage for this situation, but it’s backbone renders it less sensitive in the hand than the 6 foot 6 inch 20SR.   Here are a couple of the baby fish from the Shiawassee.

Pumpkinseed

Pumpkinseed Sunfish - Lepomis gibbosus

Bluegill

Bluegill Sunfish - Lepomis macrochirus

Green Sunfish

Green Sunfish - Lepomis cyanellus

A couple months ago I bought a boat from my wife’s uncle’s estate and have been struggling getting it to run right.  It had been setting inside for about 15 years without being run.  I just got it back from the shop yesterday so wanted to run it a bit to insure all was finally well.  I took it out on Fish River this morning before the thunderstorms built too much.  It ran great, so I stopped and fished the river’s edges for some sunfish.  I caught a couple Bluegill and a Spotted Sunfish.  Here is a nice shot of the Spotted Sunfish in the water.

Spotten Sunfish - Lepomis punctatus

Common Shiner – Luxilus cornutus

I found myself in Detroit, Michigan this week with a few hours of free time one evening. As I usually will pack my Soyokaze rods, (I recently received a 10 foot 31SR to join my 6 foot 6 inch 20 SR) I was prepared to pursue some Metropolitan micro fishing.  About a half mile from my hotel in Southfield meandered a small stream with the interesting name, River Rouge, so with a ittle effort I found access and was in business.  A nice river walk park is being developed which provided for a very pleasant evening.

River Rouge - Southfield, MI

This stretch of water was generally quite featureless with a slow flow.  It was here that I encountered a new life lister for me, the Common Shiner, Luxilus cornutus.  I also caught several Creek Chubs from the same water.

Common Shiner - Luxilus cornutus

My shiner catches varied in size from under 3 inches to 5 and a half inches long.  I used the Soyokaze 20SR as the water was small enough for me to reach the far side if needed, and I like its ultra sensitivity.  I probably caught a dozen in the two hours I fished.

Common Shiner - Luxilus Cornutus

Common Shiner - Luxilus cornutus

Common Shiner - Luxilus cornutusWhile photographing, if I kept the angle of sunlight just right, I could easily see the true colors under the scales.  Some had dark blotches on their sides.  The bright green was quite stunning!  In normal sunlight angles, they were a bright shiny silver.

Common Shiner - Luxilus cornutusCommon Shiner - Luxilus cornutusCommon Shiner - Luxilus cornutusCommon Shiner - Luxilus cornutus

Here is one of the Creek Chubs I caught that evening.

Creek Chub