Not only is the lake shrinking, it also shrinks fish. But more on that issue later.
TubeBabe and I anticipated that the long rock finger that runs out parallel with the shore at Rabbit Gulch would be completely out of the water. We planned to drive out on it and launch, as we have during other low water periods. But we didn't anticipate that there would be so many others with the same idea. There were more campers, trailers, tents and boats along the Bunny Gulch shoreline than we are used to seeing even on weekends. The last weeks before school starts get busy I guess.
The exact spot we usually launch was controlled by a trailer, two tents and a power craft boat all used by one big group/family. The only positive was that they were typical power squadron folks and slept late and did not hit the water until noonish. But we had to find a different spot to launch...in between their boat and another big one on the other side. Kinda intimidating launching two wimpy float tubes between a couple of battleships.
Water was calm and 69 at launch. A slight breeze off and on all morning but never too bad. Water temps warmed up to 71 by the time we got off the water about 1ish. Water up in the shallow end of the gulch was murky...from wave action on the exposed mud flats. Looked like low tide at the Bay of Fundy. Main lake water is still pretty clean.
TubeBabe headed for deeper water and I started by working along the shallow channel edges. Couldn't find any fish deeper than about 15 feet and only got bites in water between about 12 to 13 feet.
I had thought that the dropping water would push the fish out deeper. Probably did in many areas but in the upper end of the Gulch the fish were shallow. I guessed that a lot of fish were coming in to feed on all the crawdads being flushed out of the rocks and weeds by the dropping water. There were mudbug carcasses all over the shoreline.
Got a lot of rattle rattle dink perch bites and kept moving...looking for bigger fish. About 8:15 my flig (floating jig) rod bounced and then pulled down hard. I pulled back and was bendo on something with more shoulders than a perchette. Turned out to be a 21 inch walleye...that turned out to be only 20 inches later. Starvation shrinkage.
Worked west up into the shallowest part of the gulch and then across the arm to the north side. Found a newly exposed rocky hump off the shoreline and worked toward it. As the depth dropped from the 15 foot mid channel mark into about 12 feet I began to see small humps with lots of fish on them. And the fish were active.
I quickly scored a dozen dinkster perch and then a couple of larger ones. Even got a footlong...that shrunk a couple of inches before the end of the day. I hate that. Then I scored my second walleye. It was an honest 18 incher...measured on my Bass Pro Shop ruler. They don't lie. No shrinkage either.
TubeBabe was getting no love in the area she had been working. Just a few shrunken 8 inch perch. I radioed her to get her (tube) down to the fishy condo I had found. Before she got there I had caught a bunch more small perch and another walleye...this one a sixteen incher that shrunk to about 14.
All this action in fairly shallow water. Many of the fish hit in only 11 feet of water and the bottom was rocky...crawdad central. The bigger walleyes and perch all had bug parts in them at the fillet board later.
When TubeBabe finally cruised into the zone I clued her in to the depth and pattern and moved off to leave it to her. She was able to score plenty more dink perch but also brung in the biggest perch of the day. Started out as a huge 14 incher but shrunk to only 12.5 inches. Definitely better than the dinksters to which she had become so accustomed.
Da Babe also got into a couple of teen incher walleyes and got our only smallie of the day...a 16 incher that shrunk all the way down to about 10.
After moving off from the ZONE I continued to whack the bitty bite perchies and I did manage one more teen incher walleye. Neither of us hooked any trout. Probably fishing too shallow. I did see a couple hit the top out in mid channel but we did not rig with flies or spinners to chase them.
TubeBabe's zone turned cold and she moved south across the water to the other side of the Gulch. She never did get anything more than a few more small perch...and one "seegar" wallie.
I worked along the channel edge back out toward the eastern end of the Gulch. More of the same. Lots of dink perch. A few between 8 and 10 inches...after shrinkage. No more wallies.
As I headed back south across the deeper part of the channel...about 26 feet at deepest...I saw lots of schools of perch. Some extended from the bottom to within a few feet of the top. Whenever I dropped a tandem jig rig into them it was instant doubles. But nothing big enough to get excited about. I am sure there were bigger fish in the schools...as evidenced by the larger marks on sonar...but the dinksters beat the big ones to the jigs every drop.
As we were winding down our trip I heard a boat motor and a familiar voice saying something snarky behind me. Old fishing buddy BFTer TopH20 had been camping with wifey for a couple of days and recognized the overdressed float tubes as maybe belonging to the Tube family. He advised that fishing for larger walleyes was slow but that he had scored a couple around 20 the past couple of days. Also mentioned that fishing for decent smallies had been good on large tube jigs...and crankbaits.
Poor TopH20. He was also hit with the Starvation shrinkage syndrome. The 24 inch rainbow he had been bragging on suddenly turned into a mere 20 incher when he took it out of his livewell for me to take a picture. Still a purty fish. Love those Starvy steelies. And Mike turns them into smoked heaven in his Masterbilt.
As TubeBabe and I brought our lightly laden craft into shore the power squadron was tuning up. A couple of jet skis handled the prelude to the noise symphony...followed by the bass music of the big boats towing big water tubes. The music was not so wonderful but the scenery suddenly improved. That is for the male half of our family.
Fishingwise, the trip was only so-so. A few nice walleyes made it tolerable but the combination of stinking exposed shoreline, overall poor fishing and the long drive is likely to put Starvy on my B list for a while.