Elephant Butte, NM
February 27-29, 2004

Friday February 27
After grabbing everybody up at the airport on Thursday night and having a great meal at Maximito’s we headed south for Elephant Butte to kick off the first Western Walleye Central Winter Get Together. It was going to be a tough weekend with the weather changing so drastically and lots of snow and rain making its way into the state.

I’m convinced that whenever the Wyoming boys, Wheels and Bighorn, show up the weather is just going to stink. This weekend would NOT prove to be an exception.

We headed out early on Friday after a small delay at Pat’s Chevron. We were on the water by 7:30 and all of us were feeling a little slow from the drive down the night before, or something. We rigged up just outside of the marina and began to work the areas that had produced so well the last few weeks. The spring winds, warming water temps, and variable weather must have been signaling the fish that spring was just around the corner. Even with lots of fish on the Jumbotron, we still were not having the luck we had in previous weeks, something had changed. With the slow bite, I began changing colors to see if the light was going to produce a different program. Finally, at around 10:30, we had our first fish, after some debate about who would catch the first fish; Bighorn landed a nice striper, which was it for the day. Friday was very slow and we finally headed in with one striper and a few whites.

Saturday February 28
We headed out again on Saturday hopeful the weather would be better as the long night prior was taking its toll on the crew. Groony held down the bow while Wheels and Bighorn debated who would get the first fish with the third mate taking a nap. We got out earlier than Friday, but it was no help. Friday we had gone past Jet Boat with no luck, but lots of fish and it was only late in the day that we had realized in one of the wind driven spins we had tangled three of the outside board Ripsticks. Essentially we felt it was dead water because we were only running a few baits that had not been fouled.

After a few hours on the spot south of Rattlsnake, we began to make the procession down toward Jet Boat again. There were lots of fish, but no takers. As we were rounding the corner heading south from the river channel our first rod went, lead with live bait three colors back with a big number 7 CO gold blade. Groony jumped up and was handed the rod, he was cautious, as he had not caught any Stripers yet. After quite a battle, we were able to get the 4# monster into the net. LOL Just kidding Carl, I learned a lot about landing fish watching you fight that one, it will come in handy soon.

That was it until we arrived just outside the NO WAKE markers (this must be a suggestion for some) in front of Jet Boat. Our third fish and Wheels finally got to take a fish; it was refreshing to wake everyone up with an actual fish. Wheels landed a nice 7 on a Cheap Sunglasses Ripstick and we continued on. The next fish hit an Eriedescent Reef Runner with a live bait slider (the fish hit the lure, not the bait). There was some debate as to why the fish hit, but my confidence was telling me it was the crank, we had live bait out all day and only caught a 4 on it, the bigger fish have been taking the cranks. With the very rough water, there was lots of bait to be had so I was hedging that it was the reaction bite for the cranks.

As the day progressed and the weather was teasing us with signs of improvement, we were able to boat a total of 5 Stripers and a few whites. I’m not a liberty to comment on why we lost the 6 Striper we hooked up, but I will say it was not the fault of any of the crew.
Saturday evening at the Quality Inn, we had the fish fry and prize giveaway. Donations had been received by Walleye Central, Reel Bait, Reef Runner and Moonshine Lures to be given away. The fish fry put on by the Quality Inn was second to none and the fish, freshly caught, was superb. We had a great meal, gave away a bunch of prizes, and finished the night with nobody going home empty handed (well, almost nobody).

Sunday February 29
We headed out again around 7 with some debate as to who would make it, Raymond’s and the Pine Knot will never be the same, but we were still able to make it out on the water, well, most of us. It was a much better morning than the others and we headed right to Jet Boat and began rigging lines.

Shortly after, with much calmer seas, we had our first fish. The fish had been blown up against Long Point for 3 days now and were the thickest I had ever seen them. If we weren’t reeling in a white, we were watching intensely as the fish were hitting well, just not hooking up as well (we may have also been simply running into them). We were able to bring in 4 Stripers in a few hours with many huge whites also. The spawn for the whites must be near as the males were dripping with milk.

The fishing was slow starting out, but the weather was a challenge to say the least. We were still able to manage a fair showing for such a tough weekend and look forward to a better Winter Get Together hosted by Walleye Central next year.

Conditions:
WINDY – S SW
Water Temp: 43-46
Air Temp: 30-55
Water Clarity: 3-4 feet
Lures:
Ripsticks (Glowby, Cheap Sunglasses, Eriedescent, Metallic Rainbow Trout, and Metallic Watermelon)
Tight lines,
Brian