It was a bizarre midsummer, as both cold mornings and bluegills were found where I’d least expect them. The month of August usually means summer heat, keeping gills towards the deeper water. However, a cold snap sent me searching the shallows instead, as well as my boat for my sweatshirt.
I went to bass terrain in the marsh off Rock Lake, near Lake Mills in Jefferson County. There, I rowed the edges of the lily pads and barely submerged vegetation. And from every small patch of open water I plucked a fat bluegill or sunny. They were as thick as the weeds through which I had to weave their ferocious fight. It was never clear from the strength of the strike whether it was a bluegill or a bass.
As I approached the boat launch with a bucket full, a guy was sitting there reading his laptop. He asked if I’d caught any fish and I simply replied that yes I’d gotten some bluegills, but in the back of my mind I was thinking “man, you should look at these monsters in this bucket!”
He never said another word. So much for glory on Rock Lake, but still some nice gills.
Besides being a bit more humble, I didn’t change my ways as August continued to bring brisk mornings. Though not cold enough for ice, my methods on Kingston’s Grand Lake resembled hard water panfishing. Through holes in sheets of weeds that lay still as if frozen, I pulled fat 8- to 9-inch bluegills. Once out of the shadows of the underwater shrubs they shined as if tatooed by the sun.
All the cold weather eventually called me to spots that I hit in the winter. At dawn one morning on Beaver Dam Lake, I was fishing over rocks for walleye. But catfish love leeches as well, and they couldn’t leave them alone. I released a handful that day.
After fighting with the cats, the bobber dove again and I was thinking more of the same, but when the fish finally surfaced through the murky green water, I saw a glorious flash of gold. The walleye battled between the boat and the rocks before I netted the 23-inch beauty.
Back at the launch, I was loading my gear when a guy pulled up next to my car. He got out, asked how I did, and before I could respond, he went straight to my bucket for a look. As he stared in, I was thinking he was admiring the nice walleye, when all he said is “That’s it? No cats?”
It was a cold month.