This will be my 36th year as a full time fishing guide and ya know, a person doesn’t get very much exercise sitting in a boat all those years for eight to twelve hours a day, six to seven days a week. That was my excuse I gave my wife for getting fat and I’m sticking to it! I decided along with a little prodding from my wife and my doctor that I should join a gym and so with nothing much to do in the off season other than doing expos and seminars I did just that. Now knowing how I would also slack off or quit when I got a bit tired I asked for a personal coach to keep me going. I went in the first day thinking my coach would be like the one I had way back in high school, a big, loud, blustery man, but I found out soon that times have changed. My coach is a young lady about one third my age and about one hundred times more fit. She is very professional and knowledgeable in knowing how hard to work this old body of mine without having to call in the paramedics. She always starts me out with stretching exercises which included a version of touching your toes! When she first told me to do this I couldn’t help but to laugh a bit. She asked what was so funny, I told her that I haven’t even seen my toes for 40 years let alone touch them from a standing position! For the first two weeks by the time I got home my butt was dragging and all I wanted to do is take a shower followed by a nap. Seeing how I was struggling and to cheer me up my dear wife suggested that we should take a before and after photo like you see in the magazines from time to time, I told her at this rate the way I feel my after photo would be in a pine box. This has all passed now and I got to admit I do feel better and my casting arm will make it at least another season.
In looking back over the last season we had a total of 7,612 documented fish caught and released by me and my clients. That may seem like a lot of fish and I guess it is, however it was well below our average of 10,000 fish per season. The reason could be many but I really don’t think that it was because there were any less fish or that my clients and I were poor anglers since eighty per cent of them were with me in previous years. It was most likely that we had some very tough extreme fishing conditions to contend with through out the season. We had ice blocking the river access until the second week of April even though the river was fishable. The river was very dirty and muddy up to and through July, then it went from that to being the lowest water I’ve ever seen on the river for September. My boat bottom acquired many new scuff marks along with a good dent that I had repaired during the winter. Oh we always caught fish, just not the numbers that we were used to in previous years. We had only one month that had traditional water and that was August where we caught and released 1451 fish. Even parts of November were high and muddy and the water should have been clear by then! The one fish species that I thought we caught too many of without even trying was the channel cat. We caught twice as many as last year and we were not trying to catch them. They bit on everything we used even fast moving crank baits and spinner baits. The channel cat is very active in dirty water and with the constant dirty water conditions we faced that might have been one of the reasons for the high count.
We’ve got some new and exciting things on the planning list for 2016, in a nut shell. We will be finishing up the buffalo DVD “Western Plains to Eastern Waters”, where I went out to Wyoming and shot a free range wild buffalo bull on a 117,000 acre ranch with a single shot 1885, 45-70 caliber buffalo rifle, came back and had Dave from JJ’s Jigs make me up some hair jigs from the buffalo hair with which we will catch and release river smallmouth. No folks, buffalo are not an endangered species and I found out wild buffalo are much tougher to hunt than Pennsylvania whitetail deer with an open sighted rifle. That DVD should be finished by mid summer.
We are also planning to film a fishing trip to North Maine with a good friend of mine and Master Maine Guide, Randy Flannery, who along with his wife Sharon,(in my opinion the best cook in Maine), owns the Wilderness Escape Outfitters. They also have a world class smallmouth fishery which will be exciting to fish and a lot of fun for I get to be the client and not the guide! I have fished some of those waters in Maine when I’ve gone up for a fall bear hunt. When you see the DVD you will also want to take the whole family and go! Now just one tidbit of information for you. We will soon be starting to fish the river again, some have already done so. In cold clear water I always start out with a smaller finesse jig either in hair or thin plastics that will move easily in the current without moving the jig very much such as a hair jig made of marabou or bear hair, a Rage Baby Craw with it’s claws flapping in the current, a small finesse tube such as the Campground Specials, or a drop shot rig. I’ve been using the small 3”Keitech Swing Impact swim jigs on the drop shot rig and it works well. Remember a true fishing guide holds no secrets, he fishes for the success of his clients and the best complement he can get is to hear a success story from someone they have shown or suggested a pattern to catch more fish. I always start out my seminars by telling the audience that half of you already can fish better than me and the other half of you are just as good as me, it’s just you don’t know it yet and I get to fish everyday, but I will show and teach you if you want to know.
Well that’s all I have for this month. Remember to catch and immediate release your fish for the future of this great sport. Boat safe, and I’ll see YOU on the water! For further reports, photo’s, and charter information, please visit my website at www.ldguideservice.com and on Facebook. Good Fishing!
This article was courtesy of Lance Dunham of L.D. Guide Service. See more of Lance at his website and at the L.D. Guide Service Featured Guide page on FISH THIS.