It is usually safe to assume that a fishing trip the second week of August would fit the mold. However, a cold front passed through with much fanfare. Heavy rain, lightning, and thunder, shook my motel room in Gadsden, Alabama the night before.
The next morning, we met at the Rainbow City ramp on Neely-Henry Lake. The coolness in the air was noticeable as Gil and Sonny Sipes rolled up. We quickly launched and headed out. “We should probably skip the shallower water this morning. But I want to try a spot with eight-foot of water first…I think we got us some hocus-pocus going on.” shouted Gil over the outboard as he pointed skyward. Remnants of the front were still racing overhead.
Sure enough, the shallow water was thick with gar. We moved on after a half-dozen of them stole minnows, lures, and hooks. Normally, some crappie will move onto a deep flat to feed before the sun bears down on them. That was not the case today.
Brush stacked in 12-feet of water looked more promising at the next spot. Sure enough, the first bite was quick. An undersized crappie bit the minnow tipped Road Runner within just a moment. Then another that was smaller still took the bait. “Uh-oh said Shannon. “ I think we just found the nursery”. Gil eased the boat around the other side of the brush pile. Four more small fish bit again. Gil did not say a word and began to stow the poles. Shannon took the hint and started to pack too.
We raced down river to another pile in about the same depth. The bite was slow and what took the bait was again, small. Gil said, “Let’s try another spot closer to the channel” and we moved on.
This spot had a little less wind on it but a little more boat traffic. We quickly caught a keeper fish, then another. The bite stopped. We moved off the pile for about three minutes and returned to catch two more. We waited again and returned from the other direction. We boated two more and they stopped yet again.
Seizing the slow time to shoot some photos, I asked Gil how the fishing was before the front. “You can always pull a dozen or so off that first spot we were on this morning. This hocus-pocus has got them off the bite,” he said as he took off his cap and scratched his head.
We continued to fish another hour, boating a keeper for every four small fish. It was easy to see that the barometer and clearing skies were affecting the larger fish.
I cannot wait to return to Neely Henry Lake, hopefully without the irony of a cold front on an August day.