The weather forecast for Saturday, April 12 looked like it would be good one for walleye fishing. Temperatures were supposed to be in the upper 70s with a chance of rain and a good walleye chop on the lake. The water surface temperature was between 48-52 degrees depending on location on Lake MacBride. There was a good cloud cover for most of the day, and the wind was pretty heavy all day creating white caps at times on the lake. Rain was forecasted for later in the evening on Saturday, which meant the barometer was dropping throughout the day. All of these factors led me to believe that the fish would be biting on Lake MacBride.
A buddy from work and I set out early that morning before the sunrise, and we were the first boat on the lake. We launched from the boat ramp on the south shore of the south arm of Lake MacBride off of Mehaffey Bridge Road. We targeted the south arm on this day for walleye primarily. With the weather conditions, we felt the walleyes should be biting. There was a southwesterly wind the entire day pounding into the north and east shorelines of the south arm of Lake MacBride. The causeway where Mehaffey Bridge Road crosses the lake looked to be a prime place to hold walleyes and every other species of fish really.
That’s where we started, and we threw plastics, night crawlers and crankbaits to see what we could get to bite and try and determine a pattern. Pretty early in the morning I got a bite on the jig and nightcrawler that I was dragging along the bottom from the rod holder. The anticipation of that first bite, and the excitement of the unknown as you reel a fish up from the depths wondering what it will be. Well, it was a fun fight, and the fish was weighty, and early on in the battle, I ruled out a walleye, because it was a heavy fish. That’s not to say there aren’t walleyes this big in Lake MacBride, but I was figuring it was either a channel catfish or a carp. Soon the mystery was solved, as we landed the common carp in the net. This was not the fish we were looking for, but nonetheless it was a fun fight as I figure this carp went 7 or 8 lbs.
The carp was the only action we got until late morning. We continued trolling and drifting in the wind maneuvering the boat to fish the windward shoreline of the causeway and north shore. We were both throwing the BfishN Tackle Moxi minnow and Pulse-R Paddle Tails as well as jigs and nightcrawlers and my favorite combination of an orange jig head tipped with the pumpkinseed and flourescent orange tail 3″ Berkley Powerbait Ribbontail grubs. Nothing was biting although we were marking fishing on the Lowrance HDS-8 all over the place in 10-15 feet of water primarily. It didn’t matter if we were fishing in 25 feet of water, most all of the fish were marked in the 10-15 foot range. When fishing in 15 feet, the fish were on the bottom, but as we moved out deeper, the fish continued to be marked at 15 feet for the most part.
We decided to speed up the troll and cover more ground quicker by trolling rapala shad raps in the 10 to 15 foot range as that’s where were were marking the fish on the Lowrance electronics. We began trolling the north shore of the south arm of Lake MacBride at a speed of between 1.7 and 2.1 mph with the Yamaha 70hp with RPM control. This is an outstanding feature of this motor, and is the perfect trolling speed for crankbaits.
We continued our troll to the west and up to the dam by the spillway where Lake MacBride empties into the Coralville Reservoir, and we continued around to the beach and then to the powerlines. We stopped at the powerlines after getting no bites for the past hour of trolling. We continued to mark fish and were growing discouraged.
We stopped to jig the sunken bridge under the powerlines. There were also about five other boats all trying this spot, and it was a bit crowded. We didn’t stay long, and gave it about 20 minutes of jigging plastics. We didn’t manage any fish here in this spot, and nor did any of the other boats while we were there. We needed to regroup, and were wondering what to try next.
Finally a Walleye!
We chugged back to the south arm and decided to drift the same north shore that we had just trolled crankbaits through hoping that a slower approach in the cold water would lend to better action. Well, it wasn’t that long until I felt the unmistakable walleye tap on my oystershell colored BfishN Tackle Pulse R Paddle Tail. I set the hook, and after a short fight, landed my first walleye of the season…it went 14 inches. I quickly marked the spot on the GPS and circled around to give it another drift. Walleye are schooling fish, and where there is one, there is usually more. That was our hope at least. The walleye I caught came in 11 feet of water right on the bottom.
But after 30 minutes of hitting this same spot from all directions, we didn’t get so much as another sniff on our jig presentations. So we continued on.
A couple more hours went by, and nothing. Fishing was slow, and we weren’t seeing anyone else bring anything in. We did talk to one guy who was trolling a chartreuse or firetiger crankbait and picked up a 2 lb walleye in 14 feet of water.
We went back to the causeway to drift that as the wind had been strong all day. At this point, it was about 1pm and the solunar table said that it was still a major feeding time. We dropped the Minnkota Terrova down and engaged the iPilot spot lock in a few different places and I started casting jigs in every direction near the bridge on the causeway. I even pulled out a crappie pole and started throwing a jig and crappie magnet to see if maybe were were fishing for walleye in schools of crappie. And still nothing in this location, even though the fish arcs were filling up the electronics screen. This was making it more frustrating, and we were baffled by the fish.
White Crappie on Lake MacBride!
My buddy then thought he had gotten snagged on the trolling motor as he was retrieving his BfishN Tackle Moxi Minnow, but to his surprise he pulled up a nice 12″ white crappie that hit right at the boat in less than two feet of water suspended over 12 feet. We weren’t expecting crappie on the moxi minnow, but as we were getting ready to pack it in for the day and load the boat back on the trailer, my buddy caught one more smaller white crappie on the same north shoreline adjacent from the causeway of the south arm of MacBride.
We fished for 9 hours on this day, and landed a total of four fish. We worked extremely hard for these fish, but like all fishermen know, a bad day fishing is better than most any other option. Spending time on the water out in nature and soaking in God’s creation is what makes the sport of fishing so appealing to me. While the fish weren’t jumping in the boat, we spent the time talking and observing the birds in the trees on the shorelines. We even heard turkeys gobbling in the morning and later saw a turkey fly up into one of the trees. This early in the spring, the shorelines are filled with leaf-less trees, and it was easy to spot squirrels scampering through the woods and going about their business.
Fishing is an activity that is better shared with friends. Even when the fish don’t bite like you want them to, the time isn’t wasted. No time is wasted fishing as long as you keep the right perspective and remain thankful. Take the time to thank God for His creation and the opportunity to experience he beauty and wonder of nature. Whether you’re fishing a natural lake or river or a man-made reservoir or lake, nature provides a unique experience every time. I’m thankful for this day, the opportunity to spend time outside, good friends, walleye, crappie and even carp.