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October 21, 2004

Outdoor Corner

by Chris Feeney

Back in April I was wishfully looking toward October and the baseball playoffs. My Cubs were the preseason pick to be in the World Series. I was so excited by the prospects of ending the jinx that fishing was taking a back seat to the ball diamond.

Funny how the tables can turn -we are in the midst of the playoffs and here I am braving the wind and the cold to get in a few last chances at that big bass.

My Cubs have once again went south with the warm weather and Iíve had to endure a couple months of all the local Cardinals fans rubbing it in. While itís been painful to admit, these Cardinals look destined to challenge the Yankees for a World Series title. Donít count out the Astros just yet, however as the National League Series has been extremely exciting, thanks in large part to former Kansas City Royal Carlos Beltran. I sure hope the Cubs can sign the free agent this winter, then maybe I can write that April article again next year.

But since my team is out, Iíll focus on the fishing instead. My family members looked at me like I was crazy when I picked up my fishing pole and headed for the water Saturday afternoon. Sure it was cold, and the wind made it even worse, but Iím not much for just sitting around, especially when there is fishing to be done close at hand.

Iíll admit I wasnít sure what to expect. Bass are feeding hard as winter approaches, but all that rain and the cold front that was upon us made conditions questionable. That was until that big lunker snatched my crankbait on my third cast to let me know I had made the right choice.

I never brought the fish in, as he threw the hook a little while later, but it was the start of an entertaining afternoon. In between a couple of breaks to go help unload the corn wagons, I hooked into a number of good fish.

One had to be somewhat of a glutton for punishment, because the best bite was coming on the south and east shores, in the face of the wind. The breeze was steady and biting, leaving me looking as if I had fell asleep on the beach. My face was bright red at the end of the outing with a harsh windburn. Next time Iíll wear a face mask.

The fish were cruising relatively shallow, close to the shore and structures, letting the wind blow their food to them. The water was too rough for my favorite choice this time of year, top water, so I went just below the surface with a shallow diving crankbait. These lures have a short, rounded lip that causes the bait to dive two or three feet deep and waggle while it swims. Most have a built in rattle as well.

It was truly simple fishing - cast and retrieve. I fished the lure pretty quickly, as most strikes came on a rapid retrieve. As the water cools down further, it often works to allow short pauses on the retrieve. The bait will start to float to the surface, often triggering strikes from less active fish.

But right now the bass were busting the quick retrieve as they obviously were actively feeding. Iím not sure if color made much difference, but I used a bright green chartreuse lure, well that was until I stopped at a new pond to ďcheckĒ on the fish. A couple ofdecent fish welcomed me to my new surroundings. I didnít realize we stocked this particular impoundment with whales, but apparently there are a few big swimmers in the pond as my next cast came back with only a frayed end on my line. I fought the big bite for only moments before it ran for deeper water and snapped my line.

I kind of felt the same way I did on the day the Cubs were eliminated from playoff contention. I was anticipating big things, but the opposition had other plans for me. Wonder which will make me feel worse, the Cardinals winning the World Series or someone else mounting that fish they caught with my lure in its mouth.