Fishing with Noble Smith: Fair Weather Fisherman

I hate to have to admit it – I think I have turned into a fair weather fisherman. After all the years of making fun of Pam for her definite desire to fish only nice days, I think I have fallen into the category. I believe age and the battle with illness are definitely contributing factors. Like any true fisherman, I have a lot of good excuses.

Back in the early ‘80s, I can remember fishing a bass tournament with my dad on Isabella Lake. The temperature remained in the 40s all day long. The wind blew all day, and it was an eight hour tournament. We did not get a bite all day. One team caught two fish for a little over five pounds and won the tournament. We were not discouraged. I said to my dad, “One six-pound fish, and we can’t wait until the next one.” I was in my 20,s.

I can remember my hands being so cold I could hardly tie a knot on my lure. One time I remember backing my boat down an icy launch ramp and the boat sliding back and forth. One thing about fishing tournaments – it inspires a person to fish because you have a teammate relying on you, and there are no refunds for wimping out. I remember one tournament Roy and I fished, it was in the high 20’s at launch time. A few hours into the tournament, it started to snow. We looked at each other, a little discouraged. Within an hour, we were drinking coffee and eating bacon and eggs.

Since the mornings are still pretty cool, it gives me a good excuse to attend the Fred Hall outdoor show. That’s almost like a day on the water. Talking to other fishermen, watching fishing demonstrations is almost the real deal. Did not make it to the show; a friend of mine was taking his boat out to get ready for the season. Since the back seat was open, I figured I would hitch a ride.

We fished pretty hard for about six hours. I believe the lake is a few consecutive warm days from turning on. We saw a shore fisherman take in a nice bass in Kissack Cove. I also heard from a fellow fisherman that caught a 10-pounder using a Huddleston Swimbait from shore. This tells me the fish are staging to spawn. Look for fish in around 10 feet of water around points leading into coves with gravel bottoms. I like the coves on the west side of the lake this time of year. Jerkbaits with the stop-and-go retrieve is a go-to this time of year. I also like to Carolina rig a soft plastic lizard or creature bait.

Crappie should definitely be on the move. There have been a lot of fish taken recently. Not a wide bite, just enough to get interest up. I suspect a lack of fishermen to be the reason we are not hearing more. The lake coming up so fast is bringing water into some crappie hot spots. Joughin Cove, Brown Cove, Freear Point, Boulder Gulch and Pine Point are my favorite spots for a crappie bite this time of year.

As far as catfish go, they should show up to spawn about the same time as bass in about 70 degree water temp or better. All this water moving up into the flats should provide some great catfishing. Throw the strong scented baits, mackerel, anchovies and shad to name a few.

The river is still moving pretty quickly. It has cleared up a bit. I look for slack water on the down riverside of big boulders. I will work my lure for a couple of cranks until it catches the current, then reel in and cast again. You will not be able to cover a lot of water, just be selective. The fish are going to be in current breaks. There are a lot of fish in the water due to lack of fishing pressure and difficulty to fish effectively.

Water temps in the mid-50’s, air temps in the 70’s…I will definitely see you on the water.