Once in a while you run across someone that just knows what they are talking about. Bits of wisdom flows forth when they speak like a fountain of truth. When you run across someone like that, you know it instantly.
There are people that can tell you how a machine runs. Then there are people that can tell you how it runs and why it was designed to run that way, and what complications can occur to make it run worse, and what symptoms will result when it runs worse.
I had the opportunity to fish with someone that is like the latter.
Froggy Ribet owns and operates Froggy Waters Outdoors (919-201-7882), a fishing guide service with expertise on fishing rivers for bass. I have known Froggy through social media for a short while and have done stories in the past with some of his guides such as Drew Haerer and Bill Kohls. When Froggy asked if I would like to join him and another of his guides, Austin Acker, for largemouth and white bass, I only had to ask where and what time.
With the recent rains many of the rivers were brown with mud, but one particular secret spot had cleared up a bit and the water depth and flow rates were ideal. We all met and unloaded our kayaks and gear to put in at the river banks.
Immediately Froggy questioned, “Do you smell that? It smells like dead shad.” I listened and took it all in, although my sniffer was obviously not as well trained as his. White foam dotted the surface of the small river we were about to enter.
As soon as we began paddling Froggy began talking about the river, pointing out where deeper spots were located, where large rocks were subsurface and would create breaks for bass to lie wait in ambush. “Cast over towards those hanging vines and work the bait past the fallen log.”
And I would. But between the cast here’s and cast there’s the wisdom really showed itself. He not only knew where bass would be, as even an average angler such as myself can understand the water breaks and deep holes, but he knew why they would bite and most importantly, why they would not.
He explained with the recent heavy rains the shad would be disturbed by turbulence of the water breaching the dam. This would leave them dazed and confused. As the shad floated downriver, the bass would sit there and let the buffet come to them. No reason to exert a lot of energy if you had the food coming right to you.
He also knew since the rains had ended a couple of days earlier, that it was just as possible the bass would have gorged themselves with the dead and crippled shad, just as most of us had done over the Christmas holidays with turkey and finger foods.
A short paddle upstream and he pointed out what we thought may have been a lure on a tree on the shoreline. I paddled closer and could tell it was either a spinner or a plastic shad. Austin paddled even closer and corrected me. It was a shad. It was a shad six feet up the tree.
Now we knew how high the water had been just a few days prior. Dotted in the trees along the shore all the way upstream were shad after silver shining shad all roughly between four and six feet high. Dead shad. Just as Froggy had said before we ever put the paddle in the water.
His other prediction of the bass gorging on the shad proved true as well. But while I did not bring a fish in the kayak, I caught a lot of wisdom that I can carry with me in the future.