6 HOURS LEFT
Still looking for his first bite, Whitaker moves rapidly down the bank with the lipless crank.
Whitaker hangs up his jig in a submerged brushpile. He breaks off, ties on an identical lure and adds another Speed Craw after painting the tips of its claws with an orange marker “for added attraction.”
He hangs up in the brushpile again and shakes the jig free. “If there were any bass there, I’ve spooked them by now.”
Whitaker moves to the creek entrance and tries the jerkbait on a windblown bank.
Whitaker ties on a craw colored 6th Sense Curve 55 round-bill crankbait and hits a main-lake retaining wall. “This is a compact medium diver with an erratic ‘hunting’ action. There’s a mudline starting to form around these windy banks; bass will move right into that churned-up water to grab crawfish.”
Whitaker is wind-drifting his way uplake, rotating between the Curve 55 and the spinnerbait.
Whitaker cranks the Merc and idles around the mouth of a big cove, eyeballing his electronics for structure, baitfish and bass. “I haven’t seen any sign of life so far. Are you sure there are bass in this lake?”
Whitaker moves to a steep channel bank. A fish bumps his jerkbait but doesn’t hook up. “Aha! A sign of life!”
He casts the lipless crank to a flat point. The wind is gusting 30 mph and waves are crashing against the shoreline. “I’m glad we’re not on Lake Erie! It’s rough enough on this little lake.”
5 HOURS LEFT
8:40 a.m. Whitaker idles farther uplake to another steep bank, where he tries the jerkbait. “I’d have more faith in a jerkbait presentation if it were sunny, but I’ll stick with it a while longer.”
8:47 a.m. He cranks the Curve 55 without success. “Come on fish, wake up! I realize that shouting angrily at them doesn’t do any good, but it makes me feel better.”
9 a.m. Whitaker makes a high-speed run to the extreme upper end of Lake R, where the water is muddy and 55 degrees. “Wow, that’s a huge temperature difference from downlake! Runoff from recent storms has really warmed up this area.” A nearby chunk-rock bank looks like a prime target, but several bank fishermen are stationed on it. “I really want to fish that bank, but I need to stay out of their way, so I’ll poke around some other spots up here until they leave.”
9:06 a.m. Whitaker moves into a shallow pocket and tries a black-and-blue Rockstar jig with a matching trailer around shoreline wood cover.
9:08 a.m. He casts the spinnerbait to a stickup and bags his first bass of the day, but it doesn’t measure. “That’s OK; now I know there really are bass in the lake.”
9:12 a.m. Whitaker swaps out the spinnerbait’s small, gold Colorado blade for a similar blade painted hot orange. “I like that little orange blade in muddy water; it adds just enough visibility to trigger a reaction strike.”