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Blake Warren – ON THE HOOK

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Tuesday, November 22, 2016
Trout time in the city
Wednesday, January 04, 2017
Creek Dreams – A short story

‘All Quiet on the Bassin’ Front’
These are some relatively tough times if you’re a Southern California bass angler. I mean, there’s nothing truly catastrophic going on or anything, but in general, bites have been pretty tough to come by at most SoCal lakes these last few weeks here. I most recently experienced this first hand last week at Canyon Lake. Eight hours of fishing hard and throwing at least 10 different baits, all for…three lousy bites and a pair of 2-pound fish in the boat. Tough day. But after all, the water temperature at Canyon did drop about 14 degrees in 14 days — so yeah, that likely had quite a bit to do with things to say the least.

And that’s as likely a culprit as any for the slow bassin’ at many of our lakes at the moment. With all the glory of El Niño came what essentially boiled down to the lack of a legitimate “winter” season these past two years. Eighty-degree days in December and January without the usual cold nights of the wintertime kept things about as status quo as they can get during the shortest days of the year. This year it appears those days are coming to an end, as we’re already starting to see those night temps sink like they were loathe to do when Señor El Niño was hanging around. This may just be an “ old normal” winter once again.

For now we’re merely sitting in a holding pattern. Even lakes that have been rock solid for much of the year are experiencing the lull. For example, Lake Casitas has been about as steady and consistent for both quantity and quality as anywhere most of this year, but things have even ground down to a crawl there now, too. But Casitas surely isn’t alone. Lots of SoCal watersheds are finding themselves in these transitional doldrums.

Only adding to the challenge is the fact that there haven’t been any real significant swimbait bites to break out across the Southland yet as they usually do by this point, despite the vast majority of these lakes having already received their first load or three of trout for the season. Generally, the annual introduction of “Vitamin T” will get at least a few lakes popping off with the big bait, but alas, it just really hasn’t happened yet this year. Sure, there have been some nice bass caught on the swimmie in recent weeks, but nothing to seriously rave about. It will almost certainly happen at some point. It just hasn’t yet — and that’s at least just a little odd now that we’re into the final month of 2016.

It’s not all doom and gloom, however. The tables will turn here eventually in the near future and the bite will be on, numbers will go up, big largemouth will start hammering big baits and there will be some epic winter flurries of action for those putting in the time and effort. But for now we’re just going to have to settle for waiting it out and grinding out a few decent fish a day until the script flips. It all just serves as a reminder that this bass game is always an extremely fluid and ever-changing deal. It’s the nature of, well… nature.

But isn’t that what drew most of us into the sport in the first place? The challenge of it all, adjusting to whatever conditions are thrown our way, putting the right puzzle pieces together and maximizing your opportunity and making the most of whatever the lake deals us on a given day? It’s the challenge that makes it all so rewarding when that big bite does come our way and what keeps us getting up well before dawn and coming back to the launch ramp time and time again. We just don’t want to miss it when those tables finally do turn and the switch flips.

Otherwise, we could all just make things a whole lot easier on ourselves by just threading a red worm on a hook or putting a gob of dough bait on a treble, cracking a cold one and waiting for the rod to bend. But that’s not what we’re in this for, is it?

For now, it’s all quiet on the bassin’ front, but it’ll assuredly start to get noisy again sometime relatively soon, and these scratchy, grind-it-out days will make it all the more sweeter when it finally does…

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