Well on Mar 26th me and my good friend Sean Brodie aka Bruiser decided to go give it another shot, even though the weather forcast was calling for late afternoon scattered thunder storms and the possibility of strong winds and lightening. We were hoping the storms would stay to the north of us or at least hold off until late and let us get in a few hours on the water before we had to call it a day. Right from the start I had my first challenge of the day. I ran into a major traffic jam on the interstate on the way to meet Sean caused by a major accident with fatalities that had the highway shut down. I had to cross the median and make a 28 mile detour causing me to be over an hour late. As I drove I was wondering if this was some kind of sign that it was going to be either a bad day or a awesome day..Hummm ???
I finally met up with Sean at the agreed location which was a new put in location that we had been surveying for a while that looked to be promising. This location was directly below a major hydro electric dam. I had called the dam to check the generation schedule for the day and although there was no generation schedule for the day they were releasing 1000 cfs additional water thru the spillway. This had the water churned up a bit and murky but not so much so that it was unfishable and the current seamed safe enough to navigate in the kayaks so we geared up and launched the boats.
After a couple of hours and covering about 200 yards of river I had only managed to get one short strike.
It was not looking very promising until Sean hooked into a nice Largemouth that weighed in at around 4 lbs.
After a couple of pictures the fish was released and we continued to fish down stream for another hour so. We finally decided to pack it up head for our back up float down stream a few miles and try and find some Shoal bass..That was a nice Largemouth that Sean caught but Largemouth were not what we came for..We had to get into some Shoal bass territory before the afternoon storms moved in..The weather had cooperated so far but it would not be long before all that would change..
Here is a picture of Seans Largemouth..
So we packed up our gear and headed for the honey hole as we like to call it. After a breif stop for some lunch we were back on the river..We were in a little town called Valley AL and little did we know that a Tornado watch had been issued for the area and some strong storms were headed our way. Things were about to get real interesting. We paddled up stream to a spot on the river which is right below a head dam where there is a large area of shoals that is known to hold some large Shoal bass.. Just as we started fishng it began to rain some large drops and we could see some lightning off in the distance but nothing close.. We could also see an area of blue sky off to the south so we decided to pull up on the bank and wait it out hoping it would pass us by in a few minutes.After about 20 minutes or so the rain stopped and we got back in our boats and headed up on the shoals.
It was not long before I looked up stream where Sean was and noticed he had hooked into a good fish and I thought ok here we go... Maybe that storm had turned them on and we were about to have the day we had hoped for. Sean was at least 100 yards away in swift water so I did not try and paddle up to see his fish but I later learned he had caught a 4 lb Shoalie and a few minutes later a good size Striper.
So I positioned myself up in the shoals and decided to tye on something I had not tried that day. I tied on a silver and black back slash bait and started ripping it through the shallow water in the shoals.. On the second cast I finally hooked into my first fish of the day a 2 lb shoal bass.. Right at the same time is when the weather started to make a change for the worse.
After that fish was photographed and released I noticed some black clouds had moved in and we started seeing some ominous lighting strikes headed our way and the wind was starting to pick up. I made another cast and WAM another fish hit and this time it was much bigger but I lost it after just a few seconds.. Holy cow I thought.. Is the weather change getting these fish fired up? The lighting was getting closer and the wind stronger.. I made a couple more cast and hooked into another shoal bass around two pounds. I landed the fish and while I was taking the picture lighting strikes were firing off repeatedly and getting closer.
In this picture you can see I have my eye on the storm that is quickly aproaching.
I could not believe what was happening.. I honestly believe that this storm or maybe the lighting had turned on these fish and we were about to have one of those days we all dream about, but should we risk our lives to stay and find out? That question was about to be answered when we heard the sound of Tornado sirens going off in the town of Valley. Sean looked over at me and I raised up my hand and made a twisting motion with my finger. He knew what I meant..Its time to get the hell out of here.. Sean paddled over to where I was standing on a rock and asked me what I thought? I said I want to keep fishing man!!! But I knew it was time to go.. Thats when we stated hearing a roaring sound much like the sound of a jet engine on a plane reving up for take off. There was no question what needed to happen at that point so we started paddling for the take out which was a good 200 yards down stream. My heart was pounding out of my chest and I kept looking back to see if I could see the funnel cloud.. I kept running into rocks and getting hung up and having to get out and get unstuck and back in my kayak.. I was wondering if I was going to end up climbing under a rock to keep from being blown away.. We finally made it to the take out and quickly loaded our gear and got out of there.. Wow..What a scare that was..
On the way up the highway I was thinking about what had just happened and wondering what if? What if we had stayed and rode out the storm and had one wicked day of fishing? It could have been the trip of all trips or I guess it could have turned deadly.. I don't know but it sure did get my old heart ticking for a few minutes.. I think we did the right thing and left and probabaly should have done that before it got so bad.
On the way home I came across an area on the highway where the strom must have passed though because there was hail piled up on the side of the road and a thick erie fog in the air..
I took a couple of pictures.
I guess I can chalk this trip up as a hell of an experience if nothing else.. Taking that kind of chance on the river is probably not the best idea in the world and I would not recommend it to anyone but I can't help but wonder what would the fishing had been like during or after that storm. It sure seemed like the fish all of the sudden became very active... I guess I will never know. One thing I do know is that Spring has arrived and if we can catch a break from mother nature and rivers remain fishable then right now is my best chance to catch a monster Shoal bass so I am going to keep on trying.
I would like to thank my good friend Sean Brodie for joining me on this day.
Sean is a great guy, a master fisherman and is also an awesome photographer.
Be sure to check out Seans web site http://www.canepoleadventure.com/ for some great articles
and information and also Seans awesome photography.
Until next time folks. Stay safe and be careful out there. There is no fish worth risking your life over.
Only I can do that.