|The yak- fully loaded
with 3 rod-holders, depth finder, PFD, and tons of gear
After an intense day at work, I decided to get the kayak out and hit some water. Who am I joking; my day at work had nothing to do with it, I just wanted to go kayaking! I was originally going to go on Monday, but 30 mph had me thinking otherwise. Glad I hit the Salt instead; that fish I saw for a split second has been fueling fish fantasies about that little body of water…
It was still windy last night, but for whatever reason I went anyway.
Got to Mallard, parked the car, unloaded the kayak; Mallard is a bit strange in that they allow boating, but it’s a “carry-in” only lake. Meaning if you want to boat there, you’ve got to get the Dupage county boat license and you’ve got to carry your boat to the water.
That’s part of why I love kayaking- it’s a boat, it will get you around any lake just fine, but it’s light and human-powered. I can launch from anywhere, paddle in 6″ of water, and leave no gas fumes or anything else in my wake. I must say, however, carrying the kayak on one shoulder and carrying my depth finder*, rod holders, water bottle, ropes, and other stuff in my other hand is something of a workout. But take that with a grain of salt, since I’m a guy who doesn’t exactly “work out.”
* My buddy Sam reminded me that it’s not a “fish finder” but a depth finder. It doesn’t find fish for you. Agreed!
Where I launched I saw tons of little bluegill in the water. I thought that might be a good sign. Once I pushed off into the lake, I realized it was going to be one of those outings. The wind, ferociously wipping past my ears in a deafening roar, quickly pushed me to the opposite shore. To say there was a chop on the water would be a huge understatement. It was more like 1′ waves crashing into my boat. I kept thinking “I want to kayak on Lake Michigan, I better get used to it.” I’ve never gotten so wet from waves alone! It was incredibly intense.
I paddled around, struggling against the wind; when I paddled directly into the wind I felt like I was dragging the lake bottom behind me, my arms burned and my midsection worked to give me torque. I had no idea how to fish a situation like this. Where would the fish go when it was this crazy at the surface?
I tried jigging some jigs and spinners, throwing some deep-diving crankbaits; I even busted out my 3/4oz casting spoon I assembled the other day, complete with a treble hook hand-dressed with bucktail. It cast like a bullet, sank quickly, but did not entice any fish.
Exploring the lake, fighting the wind, I was doing a lot of corrective paddling and not a lot of fishing. Eventually I found a spot near a quick dropoff- 4′ to 25′ over the course of about 20′- where I could “park” my kayak in the bullrushes and cast into the dropoff. All I caught were weeds, although I was convinced there would be fish there.
I saw some interesting structure on the bottom of the lake, in the middle of a 30′ deep hole- it looked like a big tree trunk laying at a 45° angle. My depth finder told me there were tons of fish around it. My lures dropped down as close to the spot as I could manage told me otherwise.
The wind was relentless. Just when I found a good spot, I’d cast, and in a matter of moments I found myself fifty feet downwind. What calm areas I found seemed to be devoid of life, although they gave me a respite from the intense paddling.
|Mallard is quite a pretty lake|
Finally I decided to head to shore, maybe do some shore fishing, give my arms a break. I saw a bunch of guys fishing, throwing giant crankbaits and topwaters, doing figure-8’s in the water. Fishing for pike? Musky? Maybe they should fish Salt Creek…
I beached the kayak and threw out a bobber while I cast with some cranks and spoons. I’m liking this spoon thing. It casts super far, even into the wind, and wobbles like nobody’s business. I could have sworn I got a few follows retrieving it quickly just a few inches under the surface, but didn’t connect with anything.
Once it got dark, a big bullfrog hopped on the shore just a few feet from me. Eager to learn more about these animals- in case I do actually go hunting for frogs- I struggled to find my headlamp in my bag. Spinner hooks and stray jigs dug into my hand; I stifled my sighs of pain so I wouldn’t startle the frog.
I put the headlamp on my head, turned it on, and shined it directly on the bullfrog.
It froze; as I approached, it made no sign of moving. I slowly reached down and grabbed it- it was in my hand! It made no struggle, it was simply frozen.
As soon as I shined the light somewhere else, it jumped away with it’s powerful legs into the water. To test this whole “frogs freeze when you shine light on them” thing, I shined it again. Again it froze, again I picked it up. Then I set him (her?) down on the shore, still shining the light, and it didn’t move at all. As soon as the light went elsewhere, the giant bullfrog scampered away. Interesting!
The sun set, and I continued fishing.. for fish. Some bass took a few swipes at a Heddon torpedo, and while it was nice to get some action, it would have been nicer to get a fish or two. But it didn’t matter too much- it was a pretty but windy evening, had a little adventure, and caught a bullfrog with my bare hands. Not bad for a Tuesday!