Crane report June 1


On Friday, day 1, I arrived to the lake around 11 AM after driving over from the Portland area. My method was going to be plan out the trips to maximize bass fishing, and fish for trout when I got the urge, because I had been told that the trout were still throughout the lake and I wouldn’t need to stick to channels to catch them. I had researched the northern end of the lake on Google Maps and checked the wind forecast (which is crucial for me in a kayak) and determined I would fish that end the first day. I launched from the resort.

My initial plan was to head to the NW corner and fish my way back toward the launch following the wind, but on arrival I found that the whole eastern shore looked incredibly “bassy”. I worked my way down that side, heading south. I worked my way about two miles throughout the afternoon over about 6 hours. I picked up 10 or 12 bass, mostly in the 1 to 1.5 lb range. I caught them on a square bill crankbait at first, but was getting annoyed with all the hung up grass so I changed to a spinnerbait, and they were hitting it hard! That could have continued indefinitely, but I changed it up and started throwing a swim jig with a paddletail trailer, along with a weightless Texas rigged Senko as a follow up. All of these baits produced fish, especially in mini coves that has shallow grass. They would hang on the grass line.

I then paddled back toward launch and anchored up within eyeshot of the ramp to see about some trout. I used a Colorado rig type set up with a swivel, ¼oz egg weight and small hook I generally use for dropshotting bass. I baited the hook with two orange power eggs and a Gulp! Pinched Crawler. They key I have found with this set up is that the hook must float. If It doesn’t, add another egg or piece of crawler until it does. I tossed this out and within 15 minutes my rod started going crazy. I set the hook and then it went strait. I was bummed so I started reeling real fast, and he was coming right at me! That ended up being about a 16 in hatchery trout, such a beauty. It actually had roe inside. I was surprised by that, and it makes me wonder, at what size do they stock these hatchery trout in Crane? I caught one more about 12 inches before some storm clouds rolled in and I started hearing thunder. It was time to get camp set up anyway so I headed in.

I camped at Rock Creek on the south end. I picked it because the bassy nature of the arm to the east of it. Boy was I right! On night one, I decided to head to a spot I had scoped out on foot. I was throwing a weightless Zoom Trick Worm and caught about 10 decent sized bass in 30 minutes! It was ON FIRE! If you’ve been to Crane, you probably know the thick reedy type grass that grows there. The bass would take the bait and head straight to the bottom of this junk and you’d have to yank em out like a logging yarder. I busted off 3 times on my 8 pound test trying to get them out. This was a place I knew I HAD to come to on my kayak, so I reserved it for night two.

On day two, I began by trolling for trout. I launched from Rock Creek with the end goal being the arm I mentioned before to fish for bass. The water was slick calm with blue bird skies. I tied on an F-4 size flat fish that I have caught lots of trout on in other lakes. It was on about 18 inches of leader tied to a swivel to manage line twist, with a small split shot above the swivel for a bit of depth. I let out probably 30 or 40 yards of line and trolled as slow as I could, just enough to watch my rod tick. After about 30 minutes, I caught a beautiful native rainbow! That was a really cool experience. I wanted a picture but I couldn’t get the phone out and hold the net in the water, so I reserved it for my mind’s eye. Very memorable.

After that, I headed into the arm for bass. It was a really tough bite, I caught 8 or 10 in a few hours. But I saw literally hundreds of bass, some a couple pounds hanging in the shallows. I have seen prowling bass before at places like Hagg lake, but this was something on another level entirely. At any given time, I could look around my kayak and see 20 or 30 bass, just sitting there! I Also saw a few decent sized cat fish among the bass. I was catching them on a 4 inch paddletail swim bait, casting it as far as possible so they couldn’t detect me. They usually hit it at the very end of my cast.

I then headed back to the main lake to fish for trout with my Carolina rig set up. I saw some dark clouds in the distance so I thought a storm was coming in again. I caught one 12 inch trout and when I was baiting the hook again, I saw a bolt of lightning, and that was my call to get off the water. It was only around 4 pm. I went back to camp, had a beer and prepared some things for the night’s dinner, and rigged up to go back to the magical spot from the night before to get one last hurrah in.

I launched from a random bank, which is the beauty of a kayak, I don’t need a boat launch. Just a goat trail and we’re in business! This time I had a couple bait casters set up instead of the spinning rod. One was 30 lb braid to 12 lb mono, and the other was strait 40 lb braid. I put a weightless trick worm on the lighter line set up, tossed it out, and first cast, fish on! I caught 7 fish in the first 10 minutes, it was lights out! Then, I broke off like before, even with heavier line. I said to myself, “I wonder if they care if it’s strait braid?” It turns out, hell no they didn’t care! I went strait braid and caught a total of 30 fish in two hours, sometimes catching them on three casts in a row. I was throwing both trick worms and a Senko style bait by Strike King. Man, that was the most fun I’ve ever had fishing! When the sun had gone down and I had about 10 minutes of good light, I caught my best of the weekend, a nice 3 lb bucket mouth. I thought he had me in the weeds like had happened so many times before, but he just had a lot of fight in him.

With that, I loaded up the yak and headed back to camp. I am going to try to make crane a yearly tradition, it’s such a beautiful lake. I estimate I caught in the neighborhood of 70 bass, and the 4 trout, such a spectacular weekend. In addition to the fishing, I saw the following wildlife: An elk, several deer, a coyote, an otter, bald eagles, cranes, hawks, a roughly 3 foot long yellow racer, and other misc. birds and chipmunks.
 

bass

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@portlandrain Fantastic report! That sounds like a truly magical fishing trip!!

The bad news is that you are now ruined for a normal good fishing day :)

It is interesting that in one spot the fish seemed skittish or somewhat lethargic but at the other spot they seemed aggressive and not line shy in the least. Any ideas on what could cause that to happen? Do you think it might have been the difference between fishing in the middle of a sunny day versus the evening?
 
@portlandrain Fantastic report! That sounds like a truly magical fishing trip!!

The bad news is that you are now ruined for a normal good fishing day :)

It is interesting that in one spot the fish seemed skittish or somewhat lethargic but at the other spot they seemed aggressive and not line shy in the least. Any ideas on what could cause that to happen? Do you think it might have been the difference between fishing in the middle of a sunny day versus the evening?
Yeah it was a really good trip that will be hard to top for sure.

It's hard to tell what made the fishing different. The obvious reaction is time of day, and low light compared to bright overhead sun. But the evenings were also sort of post frontal following the afternoon storms. There were obviously pressure changes during those transitions too. If I were able to go in the early morning I might have more info.
But also, the pattern I developed during both days was that they were hanging on the grass lines. In the area I went to both nights, it was a large area that had clumps of grass, so I think they were on the edges of those clumps, but were willing to come out to the bait if it got anywhere near close enough. The water was quite clear, more than 10 feet of visibility, so they had no problem seeing it fall.
 

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