“Here fishy, fishy, fishy.”
That is the woeful call of a frustrated angler. Though some will use it at inappropriate times, such as when the fish are actually biting, the phrase “Here fishy, fishy, fishy” is generally reserved for those days when the bite is slow or perhaps even nonexistent. It communicates between anglers the aggravation one feels when he knows there are fish hanging out somewhere below the water’s surface, but they are reluctant to take the bait.
“That just about sums things up,” Roger said when we heard the familiar call for the first time about midmorning Saturday. He had been out just a couple of days earlier and, despite falling temperatures, caught and released more than 20 fish before coming off the water. The action, however, had slowed considerably by the time we showed up Saturday.
We launched out of the Las Vegas Boat Harbor shortly after 8 a.m. That is late by standard fishing time, but with the surface temperature of the water on Lake Mead hovering in the low 50s, we didn’t think it was a bad idea to let things warm up a bit. And since the air temperature was another 15 degrees colder, I was glad to wait on whatever sun the clouds would let through.
Joining Roger and I on Saturday’s adventure was my nephew Clayton. Though he and his brother specialize in hunting large trout with a fly rod, I twisted his arm until he committed to join us. He resisted until I mentioned that fish were involved; then it was over.
We began our morning foray by working a line of partially submerged trees interspersed with inundated brush. Based on the success of his most recent outings, Roger suggested we use a soft-plastic shad imitation. I tied on a white Super Fluke, a streamlined bait that narrows almost to a point at the tail and has been productive the past couple of years. Roger and Clayton went with a bait that is more like an overweight version of the Sassy Shad.
As usual, Roger got things started by catching the first fish, or two, or three, but who’s counting? The first was a scrappy largemouth bass Roger coaxed out from under the edge of a tree where floating debris had stacked up and created a nice little hiding place. He caught a couple of more while I practiced casting with a variety of baits and Clayton worked on his knot untying skills.
After a while we left the trees, opting instead to work the shallower water in some brush-lined coves. Clayton and Roger both caught a largemouth bass right away while I continued to work on my casting skills. At one point, Roger hooked up on two consecutive casts. That’s when I thought about singing my own rendition of “Here fishy, fishy, fishy.”
Finally I caved in and tried one of Roger’s overweight shad imitations as we trolled along a steep rock face. That’s where I lost the “skunked” label and reeled in a small striped bass, but that didn’t happen until Clayton caught another largemouth as we crossed over the top of a submerged point. I always knew the kid was a smart aleck.
Eventually we returned to the tree line and managed to catch a few more fish whenever we weren’t freeing snags. What I found interesting is that even though the three of us used the same bait with only slight color variations, and fished from the same boat in the same locations, Roger caught only largemouth bass, I caught only stripers and Clayton pulled in a combination of the two species.
We didn’t break any catch records, but we did catch fish. Most important, we didn’t spend the day singing “Here fishy, fishy, fishy.”
Freelance writer Doug Nielsen is a conservation educator for the Nevada Department of Wildlife. His “In the Outdoors” column, published Thursday in the Las Vegas Review-Journal, is not affiliated with or endorsed by the NDOW. Any opinions he states in his column are his own. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.