By: Spence Petros
I wasn’t sure if I was going to guide this year because I had a ruptured appendix and wasn’t feeling too well for about three weeks until I had an emergency operation. But all ended well and I had a record year fishing Delavan and Geneva. The numbers were unbelievable on both lakes! Between guiding and “fun fishing” with friends, I was on Delavan 14 times and Geneva 16 times. I had a last minute cancellation opening Monday, so I went out myself. After two hours of no fish I found a spot where the wind was blowing into and caught 26 bass in about two hours. A guide friend of mine pulled up and thought I must be catching bass because he noted I hadn’t moved in an hour. Since he was with two paying customers I moved out and gave him the spot, and they “slaughtered them”. Not counting this half day of scouting, we caught 667 bass out of Delavan in 13 trips! That’s an average of 51.30 bass per trip. Some of the more notable days were 76 bass with John Thompson and his partner (not in a gay way). This broke my personal Delavan record of 74 bass. Jeff Runge, his son Matt and I shattered that record with an amazing 123 bass day. Other great days were 53 bass with Bob Schirmer, 54 bass with Dan Kuesis and friend, and 49 with Renee Stefani (left a little early with motor trouble). I had a 44 bass day with 5 big ones, including a weighted 6 plus pounder, with Bret Christianson. But I caught 6 before he got there because of a late start. Dan Zamen and I had a great day. We caught 57 bass but a lot of big egg-laded females that were just coming in a shallow wind pounded bay prior to spawning. The water temperature was 55-degrees and we killed them on X-Calibur lip-less rattle baits. The bay couldn’t be fished with an electric motor because of high winds so we anchored and let out all the rope, got in the back of the boat and cast directly down wind. Dan fishes with me several times a year and is an excellent fisherman.
One of the great things about this year was that I could see my regulars get better and better through the years. Very often I didn’t catch the most fish. On that 123 bass day it was all pretty equal although I think Matt caught a few more bass than his dad and I. And on the record-breaking 80 bass day I had on Geneva with Andy Norocki and son A.J., I think A.J. probably pulled in a few more than Andy and I. And that leads me into Geneva. My previous record on Geneva was a 37 bass a day average. In 2014 we averaged 42.78! This doesn’t count the 75 or 80 bass that Babe Winkelman and I caught in June while filming a drop-shotting show on Geneva. This will be aired in 2015 and I will put in a news-letter prior to the airing. Other great days on Geneva were 53 bass with Paul Van Moffaect and his friend Dan, John Szlenk and partner 54 bass, Brian and Brad Nebel 50 bass Their two brothers fished with me earlier and we only got 20 bass on a dead calm sunny day, so every time we reached a landmark such as 20, 30, 40 bass etc. a picture was send to brothers Steve and Jack Jr. On the last 4 days I fished Geneva we got 58 with Roy Shackleton and friend then 44, 40 and 42 in a half day. I cut the guiding short this year because I thought I was going out of town but it didn’t pan out. I ended on June 20, but I’m sure the all-day bite would have gone on for two more weeks. It was 71-degrees when I quit and the mid-day action doesn’t really slow down until the water temperature hits about 77.
The hot presentation on Delavan 90% of the time was fishing soft plastic stick baits wacky worm style. As usual 5-inch Yum Dingers in brown and green-based colors were the best lures. The preferred hooks are Gamagatsu 1/0 Shiner hooks. They give me the highest percentage of hook ups of any hook I’ve ever tried. The X-Calibur “One Knocker” was the best lure when a lipless crankbait was used. On Geneva drop-shotting was the ticket. That’s all we did with Babe too. The best worm for drop-shotting is the 4 ¾ inch Yum Mighty Worm (use to be called the Houdini worm). Most of the time I’m fishing it with a size 1 or 1/0 Gamagatsu drop-shot hook. My reels are spooled with 8 or 10-pound braid such as Spider Wire Stealth, Nano-fill, or Fireline. A 7-foot fluorocarbon leader of 8 or 10-pound completes the outfit. My most productive colors on Yum Dingers or Mighty Worms are watermelon seed, green pumpkin neon, green pumpkin purple fleck, Cajun neon, and watermelon red.
I use Grandt rods for almost all of my fishing. For wacky worming the XLH70-RP (7-foot spinning rod) is the best one I’ve ever used. Although it’s rated for 8 to 12-pound mono, I have no problem using it with 14 to 20-pound braid too. My favorite drop-shotting rod is the Grandt Payara rated for 6 to 10 pound test. This 7-footer has the kind of sensitive tip that ideal for this finesse technique or for anything else where “touch” is really needed. Grandt rods aren’t cheap, but they are made in the U.S.A. and have a lifetime warrantee. At least one should be on every anglers “bucket list”. Go to his web-site Grandt rods and if you see one you like mention my name and get 20% off.