There was much chatter and speculation leading up to the 2017 solar eclipse about how this event might affect fishing. My thoughts were that the activity would be high, not due to the eclipse but rather that the event happened to occur during the high solunar activity of a new moon. And, in my area of north Florida, it also coincided with the afternoon major feed.
The week prior had been an active one with many catches of largemouth bass on my local public lakes. The extreme heat of a Florida summer day, with an almost assured daily thunderstorm, makes early morning and evening fishing common sense but not always doable. I was arriving late mornings with my Coosa HD as the “smart folks” were getting off the water and heading for cold air conditioning.
Straight to the fields of lily pads was the destination, that blanket of shaded cabanas where fish take refuge from the heat and light of the sun.
I was finding them in depths of at least four to six feet and those big bass were up off the bottom and right up under the big leaves. They were reacting to hollow body frogs and soft plastic topwater offerings. As soon as the lure hit the surface there was an immediate disturbance in the lilies as the bass went on high alert. Often, the hit would happen within a second or two after I hopped the lure off the pad or danced it gently in its hole. Even if my cast was not near a bass I would see them startle and know where my next cast needed to be. If they missed the frog on the first and second try then I would follow up with a unweighted paddletail to clinch the deal.
That week of fishing was leading up to the new moon and it brought to my kayak many bass including multiple seven to eight pounders. I missed just a many as I caught. Fun stuff!
I was unable to fish during the eclipse but did get out the following day. The bass were reacting more to the hopping and buzzing of the paddletail rather than to the frogs. Some barreled through the pads causing an exciting wake before exploding on their prey. Most were in the 17-21″ range. But then it happened.
A very large fish decided that this meal was going to be hers! She attacked that paddletail with ferocity and down into the pads she went. Fortunately, she was not able to do “the old switcheroo” and leave me with a fishless hook stuck in the stalk of the lily. Out of that dense vegetation came a magnificent gal
that weighed 10.6 pounds! I quickly got her measurements for two online catch and release programs, RiverBassin Tournament Trail and TrophyCatch Florida. The surrounding pads started moving with movements of big bass and the snap, crackle, pop sounds of voracious bream were everywhere. It was feeding time!
Four days later I headed back to the scene of the crime. It was, thankfully, an overcast and cooler day but with much less activity. With acres and acres of similar lily fields I could have ventured elsewhere and almost did. One last cast in this spot before moving on and that cast was the magic one! A huge bass exploded out of nowhere! She grabbed the lure and I could feel her immense weight and heft as she pulled drag through her lily jungle. I heaved her up to the side of the kayak with the 50 pound braid on my spinning reel. When I grabbed her lower jaw and saw her massive head and body my first thought was that I had caught the same ten pounder as a few days earlier! She was in the same area, caught on the same lure and was of similar size.
Not unheard of to fool an old gal like this days apart even though they would be more wary than normal. I remember catching an old one-eyed bass twice within one hour a few years back.
But this bass was bigger by three ounces at 10.9 lbs. She was longer, slightly heavier and bigger around than the last one.
Two ten pound bass within four days of each other! Whether it was the recent eclipse, new moon solunar activity or that I happened to be holding my mouth just right those were some memorable late summer fishing days indeed!