drano springers

Jeff’s Birthday Trip

Every year we make the 3 hour drive down to Drano Lake for Jeff’s birthday with his parents, best friend Herb, and his uncle Wes makes it down for at least 1 day. We’ve been doing this for several years and every year we get better and better. I’d be lying if I told everyone that Drano is like shooting fish in a barrel. Sure, if you have your stuff dialed in and it’s your lucky day, it can be. But that doesn’t come to just anyone and it requires a lot of work and if there’s ever a place where the tiny little details come into play, it’s Drano Lake.

Aside from the memories we create with Jeff’s family and all the friends we’ve made down there, Drano is my favorite fishery because of the people. There are so many friends that we’ve made and without the little tips that the locals and guides have thrown our way over the years, we wouldn’t have the opportunity at fish like we do.

Every year we go down there, something has changed. The fish want herring, then they want prawns spinning, then they want super baits but only under a rotator flasher, then they want coon shrimp, then they want a Leo flasher, it’s never fully dialed in. This year, we spent the first half of the day watching the few boats basically create blood baths while we struggled to get a bite. After half the day, we figured out a few things going on, made the changes, and put 3 fish in the boat. The one thing we didn’t have was those darn Leo flashers that everyone seemed to be using.

While we were cleaning our fish and boat at the end of the day, we shared the bank space with Bill Harris from Legendary Chrome Guide Service, David Loper with Takedown Guide Service, and Jacob Munden with Rising Son Adventures. We shared a few laughs as Jeff and I tried to pick their brains a bit. We got a few more tips and tricks and shared what worked, what didn’t, and how frustrating it is that things change so often. Jeff’s mom was playing the role of Mamma Dukes trying to scrounge up a Leo flasher for us. Bill Harris came to the rescue and gave us one of his even though no one in the area sells them and are darn near impossible to get last minute.

See why I love this place? In fact, one of our favorite guys down there, Steve Rich (aka pink hands), was the first person to conversate with us many, many years ago in a parking lot. He was just trying to throw a bone to a discouraged couple with parents trying to keep the mood light. We spent the rest of the weekend sharing jokes and laughs and the rest is history.

Although this is Jeff’s birthday, he knows that it’s a grind and quite expensive to go down there but it’s a place that will always challenge him and there’s not many other places we can limit the boat on upper river springers. He decided to get us all birthday presents! Now, Jeff doesn’t really do presents very well, but when he tries, he blows our socks off. We each got our own wrapped present even with our names on it and a personalized gift to go along with the main gift: A Drano Lake hoodie with our job role on the front:

Jeff: “Captain Ahab” – because he truly doesn’t know when to quit. Even when tears are shed. And don’t you dare undermine his authority!

Me: “The First Mate” with my favorite – a bottle of Crown Royal

His dad: “Captain Gordon” with a sailor hat – because after you put a few Budweiser’s in his dad, the captain takes over and he puts us on fish

His mom: “Mamma Dukes” with her favorite Guiness – because she was the neighborhood mom taking care of all the kids

Herb: “The Deckhand” with a bottle of Kraken – because we’ve made too many memories with that bottle and he quickly jumped on board our boat, learned the ropes, and is always making sure we’re fishing effectively and efficiently!

His uncle: “Bar Keep” with a bottle of Fireball which has many stories underneath it – because his role is to sit on the cooler at the front of the boat and ensure everyone is well hydrated

Steve: “The Pink Hand Joker” – because well, his hands are pink from April to August and he has enough jokes to keep you laughing all weekend.

The second day was a good one for us. A little rough in the morning, but it was slow for everyone. We kept adjusting things and trying to figure out what it was going to take to turn these fish on and around 11 AM, we finally started lighting into them. Captain Gordon put 9 fish in the boat that day, including a double! Herb was fighting his first fish of the trip and Jeff thought the other rod was snagged onto it so he basically just opened the bail and let Herb do his thing. After a couple of minutes, we realized the lines were nowhere near each other and Jeff reeled down to find his own fish on his rod. A DOUBLE! I netted Herb’s, he jumped on the motor, and we netted Jeff’s within 2 minutes. See what I mean when Captain Gordon gets on the motor?!

While we were getting ready to wrap up after a serious of tangles, ripped off leaders, and complete chaos, I see the rod next to me getting bit and I quietly put down my bird’s nest and moved a little bit closer. I’m pretty notorious for snatching fish from people, especially springers, but I’ve been good this year! I’ve even handed the rod over or walked right past a reel taking line because others haven’t had as many opportunities as me. But something in my gut told me this was mine and no one else on the boat was the wiser. I’m starring at the reel, not the rod, waiting for line to start peeling and Jeff notices me. He shouts to grab it but we’ve been here before and I told him that it wasn’t ready. He gives the motor a shot and I pick up the rod, fully loaded, ready for my fight. Out of no where, he tries to grab the rod right out of my hands like this ones his. He already caught his 2 that day and it was literally already in my hands. I wasn’t going down without a fight though. While the rod was being tugged and pulled by each of us before the first crank had been reeled, I tucked the butt of the rod under my arm and put my hands on the handle for leverage to bring the rod back down to my level. MINE! Sweet victory! I won!!! After a long battle, and a few net attempts with a 12′ rod and a 5’2″ little girl, we finally got this big boy safely in the net.

The last day was just Jeff, Herb, and I which was nice because it was a lot slower. We had to make our 3 hour drive home and work early Tuesday morning so we didn’t get to fish into the afternoon bite, but we left going 3/5 at 4 PM.

 

At the end of 3 days, we came home with 15 fish and a lifetime of memories. We learned a thing or two about a new flasher, we were reminded how important scents can be, and that even the tiniest detail like where you put the bait loop on the shrimp makes the difference between a bait that is fishing and a bait that is simply keeping the hooks warm. Drano 2017 is one for the books and I can’t wait for next year!

One More Drano Trip

We decided to make one more trip down to Drano because the week before, we really only got one good day of fishing and the damn counts were great. Again, we experienced what Jeff calls “The Drano Slump” where we make this big trip only to find out the fish want something else, there aren’t any fish, or we seem to be the only ones who can’t get a bite.

Our friends Kari and Derrick headed with us and it was Kari’s first Drano experience. We got to the launch early enough to be fishing in the dark and we felt confident! We watched a few other boats hook up, mostly on Superbaits/pro-trolls, and a couple on plugs. Following exactly what worked for us the weekend prior, we waited for our turn! We waited and waited and waited. We started the journey over trying to figure out what the fish wanted, speed, presentation, scent, bait or no bait, depth, and we had 2 pole endorsements so we had a boat full of rods out!

We finally got 2 fish near the end of the day and missed 2 others with a new captain on the motor! We decided that pretending to not know what you are doing is all the fish really want! We set out Sunday in hopes for better fishing and a little more wind than Saturday. We got what we asked for as far as wind goes and the fishing was okay.

We fished until 1PM to make the long drive home and we got 2 fish my mid morning. One on a plug and one on a Watermelon Superbait behind a Pro-Troll Flasher. We got a couple new plug rods a few months ago that have yet to be broken in with fish so we were excited to see that one get the plug fish! It was the IMX 1021-2cs which is rated 10-20lb 8’6″. The IMX blank makes it great for small plugs by allowing the plug to work more freely but but it’s still got the backbone for big king plugs and fish! It’s pretty cool to see the rod working all the way through the butt.

Taking my first CPA exam this Friday so this is what I spent a good portion of my time in the boat doing. Wish me luck!!

 

Jeff’s birthday at Drano

Jeff’s birthday weekend was another success! Despite the damn counts, it really wasn’t that great of fishing, but we managed a few ;)

We took a three day weekend this time and let me tell you, Friday way a SLOW start for us! From the top:

Thursday morning before work, Jeff walked out to see gas pouring out of the vent in the back. It was hot and tank was full, okay open the lid and vent it out. Didn’t tell anyone else not to walk around there or wash it off because gas was all over the trailer and strap.

We stayed up late Thursday wrapping plugs in the hotel room and put them in a bait cooler and in the boat that night. Jeff walked out in the morning and saw a cat in the bed of his truck. He shoo’d it away and turned around to see the cooler open and plugs destroyed around the boat. Two thoughts entered our heads: why don’t we have my cute new pink BB gun and how did that stupid cat manage not to get any of those hooks stuck to its stupid face?

We cleaned the top ones and fished the ones that were still at the bottom of the cooler and looked and smelled okay. We watched a few boats hook up around us in the main lake and cooked up some breakfast (mimosa’s, fruit, & egg mcmuffins – yumm!).

We headed to the toilet bowl a little confused as to why we had half the people in the boat, but two fish each day by this time the weekend before and there were so many fish headed upriver. We made some friends and swapped some beers and by 10 AM, we were throwing fruit at David Perez in exchange for more beer and fruit. We somehow ended up with a rotten banana that we watched get swapped with several other boats. We politely threw back a strawberry and chucked the banana in the garbage.

We watched boats hook up right in front and behind us pass after pass. Around noon, we’re still fishless and we’ve seen at least 20 fish hooked. Something isn’t right. We headed out and cleaned everything. I mean everything! Thank goodness for Lemon Joy! An entire bottle, gone and everything was clean. We started over with new bait, new plugs, no garbage (by garbage I mean banana – thanks David!), nothing that could be bad juju.

We headed back into the toilet bowl and fish on! No way! Thank goodness Jeff was smart enough to try the only thing that made sense. Clean everything! We went around again, fish on! Hot damn! Thank goodness!!!! We went 3 for 6 that afternoon and kicked ourselves for missing the entire morning bite but was so proud of Jeff for figuring out that bad juju.

 

The rest of the weekend was great! Not really any morning bites and it progressively got slower and slower as the days passed and the strange thing is, no plug bites! Last weekend, almost all of our fish in the morning were on plugs and we couldn’t buy a plug bite this weekend. Damn cat…..


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jeff’s birthday was a success with some of his favorite people around. We ate good (ask the other boats that were there), we drank good (ask them that too), and we caught fish! One for the memory books!

Not sure where all the fish are and neither is anyone else, but hopefully next weekend picks up!

Drano trip number 1

One of my favorite fishing places……Drano Lake!

I can’t even begin to tell you how much effort Jeff has put into the Drano Lake fishery. Many trips where he left at midnight right after work when he worked at a restaurant; started with his drift boat then moved to his dad’s Whaler until he got his own boat; thousands of dollars spent on that fishery with a few fish to show for it. I think the most we’ve caught is 3 fish in a trip and we fished at least 2 days with a full boat and had to sit by watch boat after boat with fish on.

So far, this is Jeff’s year. We made our way back down there so we could get dialed back in for Jeff’s birthday weekend next weekend. Our buddies knew the counts weren’t as high as we’d like them and we could very well go home empty handed but the next weekend, if there were fish, we would find them. He’s spent the past year perfecting prawn cures, herring cures, and finding his favorite Maglips. Right after we launched, we heard only 5 fish were caught the day before. Yikes! That doesn’t sound very promising…..

We started in the main lake and got one right off the bat! YES!!!! A few of my close friends know that when we’re trolling, back trolling, pulling, anything with the rods in the holder, YOU DO NOT TOUCH THE ROD until you’re told to. This is serious and I can’t help but get feisty when this rule is broken and fish are lost. Well, a few of my friends also know that I’m known for snatching your fish if you’re not quick enough. If Jeff says get it and you take longer than 1.5 seconds to pick it up, it’s mine. I’ll be damned if we lose the fish because you were too slow. Although I’m working on this part, after elbowing Jeff’s mom and stealing a rod straight out of my mom’s hands, I’m trying to be less greedy. Well, Herb was just too slow! I ran from the back of the boat as soon as I saw that first hit, hopped over a few things, and snatched Herb’s fish. I hollered “you’re too slow Hermie!” and I crank down on the first fish of the day.

Okay, RUDE, I know! I just don’t know what gets into me! It’s like I need to sit on my hands or something! He was a great sport and helped everyone get this fish landed. He even high fived me after and let me do a happy dance. We were all just happy to see a fish this early. If this is all we go home with, at least it’s something! We saw another half dozen and then we got another! It’s 9 AM and we already have 2! This is record breaking for us out here! It quieted down and we headed into the bowl. We saw very few caught, but a few nonetheless. Nothing else for us the rest of the day until our last pass…..the rod with a brand new Shimano Tekota 300LC got whacked hard! Nothing…A second later, another but it was clear the fish still wasn’t on. We watched the rod get chewed up, but nothing promising and then, nothing. We reeled up, re-baited and decided it was not time to go. Back down she goes and as I’m letting just a couple more inches out after it’s down, I find out the drag is lose. Of course. A brand new reel and we didn’t check the drag! NOOOOO!!!!!! It’s one thing to just have a fish miss, but to find out it was our own fault?!

We made a few more rounds and left satisfied with our two fish hoping to hit the sack early.

The next day, we hit the main lake again and got another! So far, Herb, Myself, and Nyef all have fish and Jeff’s so selfless, he just wants to sit back and watch all his hard work pay off. We got one more that day and headed home early each with a fish to each for dinner.

This place is very special to Jeff and thankfully it’s one of my favorites too. It’s so beautiful, the people are beyond friendly, and I’ve never felt more “away” for just a weekend. The drive sucks and it’s expensive, but if it’s only a couple times a year, it’s like a mini vacation and well worth the cleared mind that it creates. Some don’t like the crowds or the monotonous fishing, but we love it and I’m glad! Back at it next weekend with Jeff’s family to celebrate his birthday and we’re all dialed in!