Last Saturday, I took the scenic route home from a family get together. I was flying solo as Julie and the kids were scattered about doing their things and I had borrowed Dad’s truck for the week. My drive took me to the Knox County public strip mines with the intent of scouting the conditions to decide if a lengthier return trip would be worthwhile. I had my tackle in tow and a couple of hours to do my research. Read on for the results.
Date: July 22
Location: Knox County public strip mines (2 lakes)
Time: 6:45pm-8:25pm (1.50 hours fishing, the rest walking)
Totals: 12 bass (and six ticks)
Weather: Partly cloudy to overcast/calm, 80F
Lures: 5” Yamasenko wacky rig (cream/green laminate) – 9 bass, Whopper Plopper 110 (bone) – 2 bass, Spro Flappin Frog 65 (albino) – 1 bass
Top Bass: 2-7 Senko
Top 5 Weight: 7-2 (2-7,1-10,1-5,0-14,0-14)
Notes and Nonsense
Crunch Time – I pulled into the parking lot around 6:30pm and faced a ten-to-fifteen-minute walk depending on which of three potential bodies of water I chose to fish. I walked to a rise where I could see the farthest destination and determined that the remaining walk was not worth the questionable weed covered water. Backtracking, I decided that my casting would begin on the middle of the three lakes. From there, I would divide my time and finish on the lake closest to the lot. And by “closest to the lot,” it was still a ten-minute walk back to the truck.
6:49pm – First bass at 0-14 (12″) on a Spro Flappin Frog
First Stop – This lake is a miniature version of the larger prototypical strip mine cuts. Longer than wide with a “V” profile except for flats/ledges on both ends of its length. Surface weeds covered both ends along with the bulk of the shoreline. The middle of the lake consisted mostly of open water with scattered subsurface weeds. A hefty cast can nearly cover the entire length while the width only requires a partial cast. I planted myself on a ledge at one end and was able to land five small bass in forty-five minutes with two being “keepers” (12” or better). The Whopper Plopper and a wacky rigged Senko each produced a pair of bass and the other hit a Spro Flappin Frog (which I would lose later in the evening on a busted hookset).
Top Bass clip below, a 2-7 on a Senko wacky rig
Second Stop – The next lake features a series of fingers, points, flats, and several islands. Much of the lake is shallow and by this time of the year over half of the surface is covered by vegetation. In addition, most of the remaining water features weeds just under the surface. My aim was to hit a couple of the deeper water, open pockets that were devoid of weed growth. Armed with a Senko wacky rig, I made casts onto the weedy borders of those pockets and then reeled the Senko to the open water edge where I let it drop along the weedy wall. It doesn’t take long to determine if a bass is present and seven of them showed up during my forty-five minutes working two such spots. The overcast skies and dusk limited visibility but my perch on top of a slope about ten feet above the water’s surface was beneficial in effectively casting to such areas. On days with brighter skies, you can clearly see the weed edge to target along with bass cruising in the open water. This results in a unique version of sight fishing that I call “cliff fishing.” More on that approach in an upcoming post.
The outing was a success in terms of bass as well as assessing if a return trip would be worth my while. The jungle of terrestrial weeds was a pain as expected while the aquatic vegetation was manageable and set up well for a variety of presentations. Periodic tick checks were needed but at least the pests did not outnumber the bass (twelve bass to six ticks). In the end, a dozen bass in ninety minutes of scouting was more than enough to convince me that a return trip was worth a shot. Two days later, I was back for another hike. Stay tuned for that report and talk to you later. Troy