I hit Hagg on Sunday to meet up with someone I had corresponded with on another forum and hopefully get the skunk off of Hagg. I got there first and launched at ramp C, fishing by about 8:45am. There were not many people on the lake at that point and there was a misting rain falling. I started trolling towards the Sain creek arm, figuring that I would fish not too far from the ramp so that I would be able to see when my new fishing friend showed up.
The water was a little dingy so I decided to try adding dodgers to my usually roostertails with1/2 nightcrawler. Normally when I fish Hagg the water is clearer so I thought that perhaps this would be helpful. As I trolled towards the back of the cove I had a hit on one of my rods - this was already a better day than my last trip. I kept trolling towards the back and I saw someone hauling out a huge brooder from the shore. I was not all that close but it looked like a really pretty fish and added even more hope for the day.
I trolled towards the back and I was marking what looked to be groups of fish here and there but I was able to successfully pass by them without disturbing them in the least
Once I was out of the cove I started trolling along the no-wake zone buoys and met up with the new guy. We headed towards the dam since that is where I have had my best late season success at Hagg.
Once we were past ramp A I started to mark quite a few fish again but once again I could not buy a bite. I made two passes through that area varying depths and speeds but nothing seemed to interest the fish. I kept going on towards the dam, and then along the face of the dam and back and forth. I tried with flashers, without flashers, lure depths from about 50' to the surface but nothing seemed to make the fish want to bite.
The day was gorgeous, calm and sunny, and there were tons of midges hatching but I only saw a couple of rises all day long. The fish just seemed to be in a stupor. I talked with a handful of other folks and everyone told the same tale. One boat did have a nice brooder that I believe that they said they caught jigging a spoon, but I don't think I spoke with anyone who landed a fish while trolling.
Around mid-afternoon, I decided that I'd had enough of the trolling. Even though I don't like to do it I decided to try bottom fishing with some powerbait (power eggs). I moved to one of the spots where I had marked fish earlier (and was still marking fish) and dropped anchor. I cast out and set my rod in the kayak and started fiddling with my depth finder to pass the time.
I was about 3 menus deep when I heard a scraping sound and saw my rod being dragged over the edge of the kayak. I grabbed the rod and felt the weight of a decent fish. I had been running my camera for a lot of the day but had turned it off at some point. I reached back and turned the camera on when I got the fish close to the kayak. I would guess it was about 13-14" and nice and fat.
I was pretty pumped to have broken the skunk! My next few casts did not produce (I only let them sit for a few minutes each - using sturgeon fishing like tactics). On the third cast I was rewarded again with another nice fish. It seemed like if I cast on top of them I would get bit within a minute and otherwise it was crickets. Sadly, the batteries died in the camera somewhere between that first and second fish and I did not notice until I went to turn the camera off later.
That second fish was a nice one just like the first. I quickly unhooked it and cast back out. Once again I had to move my cast a number of times before I got a bite. This time the fish swallowed the hook so I just cut it off and let it go. That is the part I hate about bait fishing for trout. They often swallow the hook and since I am out there for C&R fishing that is a bummer.
I decided that perhaps if I pulled the anchor and slowly drifted that perhaps I could do a better job of hooking them quickly and in the mouth. It took a while of moving here and there before that method paid off, but unfortunately once again, the fish swallowed the hook. At that point, I decided that I did not want to leave any more hooks in fish and to put away the powerbait. I had caught 4 nice fish all in the 13-14" range (and lost a couple more) in about an hour an d half. Not a blistering paste but WAY better than the earlier skunking.
I decided to end the day bass fishing so I went to where I had found them in November. I don't think that I really marked any bass but fished the spot anyway. I confirmed the lack of bass (or at least my inability to catch them) for the rest of the afternoon. I headed back to the ramp, bummed at the lack of success trolling but happy to have at least found success with the powerbait.
The guy who I met up with was loading up to leave when I got to the ramp. He had a similar story to mine. He had not had success trolling but did have some bites, including losing a big fish, dragging powerbait. This winter the fish have just seemed really inactive. I think if I make another trip out there I will not stick with unproductive methods for such a long time and try powerbait sooner. Use it to find fish that will bite and then perhaps try jigging a small castmaster or something like that. I think that would be a way to catch them more safely. Maybe tip the spoon with a crappie nibble or a piece of worm.
Anyway it was a gorgeous day on the water and I got to meet a new fishing friend, you can't complain about a day like that!