If you go fishing for two consecutive days on the same lake, you expect to have similar results, right? What I did not expect at all was a rollercoaster ride by catching eight bigs on the first day but just two the second day!
On December 30th, my good friend Pablés, el Pájaro and I arrived at our planned rendezvous at Benageber Dam near Valencia, Spain. We arrived to the lake at 9 am in order to spend the whole day on the water, trying to locate fish which in theory should have been hard. You see, December is one of the worst months for catching our favorite species, the largemouth.
Ten minutes after we put the boat on the water, we realized that things would not be easy as the ambient temperature was 34 degrees and falling, numbing our exuberance, while the water at 46 degrees meant we’d have to coax bass that were lethargic if not complete zombies!
And to make matters worse, just as we started fishing, it started blowing a strong, gusty and frosty air, which rendered us totally frozen in a few minutes. Neither thermal clothing underlayers nor Gore-Tex outerwear ameliorated the pain; I thought my hands were going to crack and fall off my arms.
We immediately stopped griping about the cold when Pablés almost had his rod ripped from his frosty hands because of a violent and unexpected strike of a good bass assaulting his swimbait. We already had the first big fish of the day! The bite happened nothing more and nothing less than 15 yards from the shore, and in an area where the bank is a completely vertical wall. I mean, a fish hunting in deep, open water with an aggressive attitude, almost on the surface, in late December with the water at 46 degrees… Can you explain it, please!
We continued power fishing the area with a jerkbait, a crankbait and swimbait. If you’ve located one fish having a hunting attitude, there should be more. And we were not wrong. El Pájaro scored a great goal with a 3 pounder caught on a long lip jerkbait worked 9 feet deep, jerking it, and stopping about 3 seconds. It was becoming clear that one of the keys of the day was erratic stop-and-go movement.
I started casting in toward the bank, making 45 degree casts to the shore, so my crankbait would be traversing as long as possible in the impact zone. I picked a squarbill crank because I did not want to be constantly snagging on branches and stones, and I knew I was going to hit obstructions, counting on this lure to bounce perfectly off any obstacle, shooting away to avoid the collision, producing that desirable hit-and-run erratic action.
I definitely thought it was possible to find a fish waiting in ambush behind an obstacle along the bank, and if anything fast bounced through his area, I hoped he would react.
My first bass was immediate, on a long cast over several large stones. Just a 2 pounder! Well, I was not a lucky guy; in fact I was surprised to see a fish of such small size active in late December and with water at 46 degrees because normally in Spain at this time, only large and very large fish are kept awake.
As time passed, we were pulling a nice fish to the boat about every half-hour until we finally decided to pull the boat our around 4 pm. The temperature was lowering along with the sun. The wind was totally unbearable. The bitter cold had robbed too much battery power from the electric motor and we were 100% frozen.
Upon reaching terra firma, while el Pájaro (“The Bird”) was going to get the car to hitch the boat, I thought I’d make a couple of casts around the boat ramp with a Sebile Koolie Minnow 136LL. It’s designed to be cast long distances and it dives to around 25 feet deep. The launch area was in a spot that broke the wind and it seemed a good place to harbor a good bass. First cast, nothing. Second cast, while I was polishing the stones…BOOM! A great bass over 4 pounds to finish a day that had been amazing.
As the cold engine warmed up, the air inside our vehicle started to circulate the heat which felt like a vaporous golden flow of goodness warming us. We were elated to have caught 8 bass between 2 and 4 pounds, on December 30th and in this brutal weather. But that’s fishing and why we cherish it.
New Year’s Eve
The next day was to be the last day of the year, and as I rendezvoused with my good friend Cisco for fishing on the lake again, I could not imagine a better way to end the year and go into the New Year.
At 9 am we were putting the boat on the water. The ambient temperature was 41 degrees, the sky was clear and there was not a breath of wind. You might even say that it was comfortable, it was not cold, and that’s from a guy who’s very sensitive to cold!
We started the day in power fishing mode, looking for those crazy fish with the hunting attitude we had found the day before. We were fishing vertical banks with 45 degree sloping shorelines littered with stones, sand…Nothing at all! After the first three hours casting the rod, we had been unable to get one bite.
In the total absence of wind or breeze, we began to fish slower, using the electronics to look for fish a little deeper out from where we had located the bigs the day before. And there they were, on the screen, but totally inactive, as if they were made of stone. Cisco was able to get a couple of bites with a drop shot, fishing ultra-slow. Third bite, he managed to nab him. One pounder! Another active dwarf in icy water. Again this is unusual to catch small bass in winter. It shows I still do not understand anything.
We continued with the slow approach and suddenly, Cisco felt feeble taps on his bait, but he knew to wait until he ate it well. A lovely lunker over 4 pounds. Surely this is not my favorite kind of fishing, I had no bite all day long and I’m running out the little patience I had left in the absence of results.
Then God took pity on me and the wind began to blow, beating the banks and rippling the surface. This gave rise to the opportunity to capture some bass by fishing with hard baits. We switched to power fishing, and on the second cast I made with a shallow crank, I got snagged and landed a 3 pounder that hit as I freed the bait. Five minutes later, Cisco hooked a pike. A few casts later, he lost a good bass.
Twilight and New Year’s Eve had descended upon us as we motored toward the launch ramp with a bittersweet taste. We could only get two big bass, one small and one pike to end the year.
Two consecutive fishing trips on the same lake with such disparate results. I suppose you may have noticed by now what had been the major difference between both days.
The wind that we complained bitterly about because our bodies were frozen throughout the day was the reason to have such incredible fishing the first day. The second one, the total absence of wind discouraged the fish; they were most reluctant to bite our lures. This is one of the most decisive factors in the success of a fishing trip in any season. The strangest thing about the wind is that we always start out complaining about it, and we end up saying “Thank you for blowing!” as it makes fishing easier.
I hope you’ve enjoyed the retelling of my last two days of fishing for my favorite species this year. I hope you had a great season and I wish an even better one for everyone for the New Year.
Best regards and I’ll write to you about bass fishing in Spain again soon.