Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Down Rigger, Top Water Action and Fly Fishing on Conway Lake


A lot of the my fishing at Conway Lake had been mainly subsurface artificial lures for bass and pickerel, so I decided to try using a down rigger to get a lure down 15 – 20 feet for targeting the rainbow trout and landlocked salmon. The most completed use of a down rigger on a kayak is to monitor the water depth as you paddle or troll the lure at the set depth. This of it this way; a down rigger uses a heavy weight to get you to your desired depth. This weight for the Scottie down rigger that I use is not to exceed 3 lbs. Most anchors for a kayak will not be heavier than 3 lbs and with all the rocks that are in Conway Lake there is the chance of wedging the cable and weight between the rocks.

So I tried the down rigger for about a day and a half with no success. The only success I had was to anchor the kayak or losing the lure as the down rigger or the lure gets stuck in the rocks. I never had a bite but I did record some fish at the 15 – 20 feet depth range. After losing the lure on the second day I decided to give up the concept of using the down rigger and put my attention to the top water action for bass or pickerel.
After I managed to lose the lure, I had to head back to the cabin. I had to re-rig the casting rod and decided to call it a day for fishing. That evening Marian and I sat on the perch to watch the sunset. While we were talking the discussion changed from whatever to what happened to the swimming raft. The swimming raft was missing. We had some wind and the raft was missing. Uff da!! I told Marian that the raft was there when I got back from fishing for the rainbows and salmon. We decided to get into the kayaks and go for a search and rescue for the raft. In no time we discovered the raft at the neighbors. So Marian said that she would tow the raft back with the kayak. She got it back to Rose’s Cove for storage.
I decided to do more work on learning to use the ZMan Pop FrogZ lure on a Texas Worm style hook set-up as a weedless lure for casting into grass and lily pad areas of the lake. The reason I changed from the Lunker Frog to the ZMan Pop FrogZ is because I felt that the Lunker Frog was too big for the bass or pickerel that were hitting the lure. I finally figured that the ZMan plastic lure was more pliable then the Lunker Frog. At least I started getting some hook ups with bass or pickerel using the ZMan Pop FrogZ over the Lunker Frog.
Using the ZMan Pop FrogZ I managed to hook into several pickerel. The biggest pickerel using the surface lure measured 18”. I have to think that I managed to lose a bigger pickerel that day because the fish managed to bite throw the 15 lb fluorocarbon leader without a fight. Uff da this had to be a huge pickerel. Losing my lure at this time was a good reason to call off the fishing for the rest of the day.
That evening I re-rigged the Penn Fierce FRC4000 7-Feet Medium Heavy Spinning Rod and Reel Combo for top water action with the ZMan Pop FrogZ for tomorrow. I have still yet have managed to land a bass on a top water lure in the lily pad area of several of the Conway Lake coves so I will be working on achieving that goal on my last day of kayak angling.
The next morning I decided to paddle to a small cover with weeds and lily pads that I have had success at earlier on the vacation. I worked this area for a couple hours and managed to hook into a nice smallmouth bass with a white colored ZMan Pop FrogZ. There was some great jumping and fighting from the smallie. I hoped that I would be successful on my goal and land this bass into the kayak, be measures, photographed, and released. In no time the fish was in the Ego net, on the YakAngler measuring board, and photographed just short of 16”. After releasing the bass I decided to let this area calm down and paddle to a nice sandy flat that I came across early during my two weeks here on Conway Lake.
The shallow sandy area really interest me, prior to getting to this flat area the water is deep and rocky. I could just imagine the possibilities of small bait fish arriving or an insect hatch occurring on the flat towards the evening and maybe those rainbow trout, landlocked salmon, or some of the other species checking the flat out for something to eat. There are two small brooks or creeks that flow also into this flat. There are a lot of possibilities that I will have to concentrate on this area for next year. So I decided at this point that I would paddle back to the lily pad cove and try fishing the area again.
On the paddle back I noticed that the wind had begun to pick up. The water was starting to get a little choppy but I know that the cove would not be affected by the wind. Arriving into the cove I start working and stump with a good root system for structure that has several lily pads near it. While drifting closer I notice a couple of nice largemouth hugging the bottom but just could not get their attention. So I just keep working the lily pad areas of the cove with the ZMan Pop FrogZ.  Eventually I get a strike and it is fish on. The fight of this fish was a little different in my experience for fighting smallmouth and largemouth bass on Conway Lake had given me the impression that I had a small largemouth on the line. Finally I had the bass in the kayak and the species was a largemouth bass that was just short of 12”. It was time to head back to the cabin and start getting ready for the trip home.
With today being Wednesday, Marian and I do have a 4-hour guided trip for fly fishing for wild brook trout. So I convinced Marian that we should practice our fly casting at the opening of Rose’s Cove. So I set up her 5 weight 9’ Temple Fork Outfitters (TFO) Lefty Kreh Professional Series II Rod with a Ross Fly Rise 2 Reel and my 6 weight 9’ TFO Pro Special Rod with a Ross Fly Rise 2 Reel for some practice and maybe with a chance of catching some fish in the opening. Casting a small pan fish popper fly a few times I had fish on. This was not a sunfish but a bass. One jump I recognized the bass as a smallmouth. It took a while to get the smallmouth into the net using the 6 weight. Measured the smallie at 16”; uff da, what a catch on the fly. 

Now it was Marian’s turn to practice her fly casting. This is her second year of fly fishing and we really do not do it enough fly fishing so she is still inexperienced at this fishing method; not that my technique is perfect. As she kept working her technique improved. I just stood there observing, answering her questions, and providing some pointers. A few more cast; I watched a fish surface and took her small popper fly. Marian did not even see the fish take the fly. Uff da!! I had to inform her that she had fish on. Then for some reason she was taking line off of the reel.  After all the excitement she managed to start bring the line and fish in. In a while I was there to assist her in landing her first smallmouth bass.
This concludes my kayak journey for Conway Lake in New Hampshire. I would highly suggest that you add on your bucket list to go after smallmouth bass on Conway Lake. I do need to say that during this trip that I did miss my Jackson Elite Seat. Sitting on a piece of hard plastic took the toll on my lower back.

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