Beat the heat and head for the creeks
Aug. 17, 2001
When it comes to catching fish during the dog days of summer, nothing beats fishing a small stream or creek. While the temperature soars, the creeks maintain a nice cool temperature that keeps the fish in an active feeding mode all day long. And most of the time the overhanging trees will provide shade to anglers brave enough to venture forth. Whether it's panfish or bass you're after, there's sure to be a creek or stream somewhere nearby that's received little or no fishing pressure this summer. On a recent trip, my fishing partner canceled at the last second, after he was called in to work. Having heard of the many different types of animals and sights that we had seen on previous trips, my wife Kathy volunteered to go in his place. I rigged a rod for her and we headed out to a stretch of Okatibbee Creek that I fish from time to time.
Our watercraft for the day was a canoe. The craft is a boat built like an ordinary canoe but with a triangular bottom that allows for much more stability. This allows an angler to control the boat better than a canoe while still having the mobility of a canoe.
Our gear for the day consisted of small bass and pan fish outfits. The short, light versions allow anglers to cast light baits into tight places. Naturally we were looking for any spotted bass that might be in the vicinity. Our lures of choice were too often overlooked relics of yesteryear, the Beetle Spin and H &H spinnerbait. Both of these lures were crawfish colored. Whether the water is stained or clear, it seems that the Kentucky spotted bass really love them. Pound for pound these feisty creek dwellers provide some of the toughest and most exciting action to be found in this part of the country.
As the boat rounded a narrow bend in the creek, I cast a 1/2 ounce Beetle Spin beside a sandbar and a nice spot almost took the rod from my hands. After a series of acrobatic jumps I finally landed the bass. On the next cast another bass hit like a ton of bricks and jerked my rod down until it slammed into the side of the boat. In an instant he had me tangled up in a mass of roots. If you're not ready at all times the spots will make a monkey out of you.
After making another bend or two in the creek, we came upon another of my hotspots, a long shallow shoal that is submerged half way across the creek. The shoal is about 50 yards long and culminates where it forms some minor rapids. The key spots are just before the water hits the rapids and just below the rapids.
Time to wade
Just as we came upon the upper end of the shoal, we pulled the boat to the side and tied off onto a tree limb. By doing this we would be able to wade and cover the hot spot thoroughly without missing some prime territory. On my first cast I caught another spotted bass that hit my lure just before it got to the shallow shoal. Seconds later Kathy caught her first ever spotted bass. The small bass put up quite a fight.
As we worked further down the creek the bass kept on hitting. After I caught a couple more, Kathy switched to an H&H to give them a little something different. On about the second cast she had a ferocious strike that was just short. Quickly casting out into the deep water she worked the bait towards the shallow shoal again. Just as the bait crossed the shallow vertical drop, another bass savagely tore into the lure and almost took the rod out of her hands. This time she was up to the task and landed a nice 2-pound spot. She had been given the royal welcome to creek fishing by the spotted bass, and on her first trip no less.
If the summer doldrums have you down, then head to the nearest creek, stream or small river and get ready for some of the best fishing action that you'll ever find this time of year.