Unexpected crappie catch from Hills Creek Reservoir

You have probably noticed I fish this lake often for a quick limit of trout. It is heavily stocked and most days the trout will bite nearly anything that is thrown in front of them. Which also makes it easy if you want to experiment with different trolling presentations and are not sure how they would work. As always when I go I bring a trolling pole and my normal trout gear. But this time just on a whim I tossed in some panfish gear I got in a mystery tackle box. I figured that hatchery fish eat anything and panfish gear was no exception. That and trout are fun on ultralight gear.

a bit of wind and a downpour greeted us. 5 minutes after launching it was nearly impossible to see down this section.

Normally When I am up here fishing I follow the old channel of the river since that is the coolest area and the trout tend to be a down about 20+ feet this time of year. Year ago when fishing with my grandfather I remember him talking about when he would troll and circle across the shallower side of the lake he would catch the occasional crappie on his trout gear. Since I brought the ultralight gear (Okuma Celio ultralight trout pole) I put on an underspin jig head and a small curly tail grub. I have not fished for crappie in a long time, and it has been over 20 years since I caught one over 8 inches.

I wasn’t sure about the pink but it proved to be effective

Within 5 minutes of cutting over to the other side I caught a smallish 8″ crappie on the jig. Since it was big enought to eat I kept it and continued trolling. within another 5 minutes I had another bite and had something way bigger on. Since I normally just catch trout I expected a holdover stocker trout. But it was a big 14″ crappie. This ended up being the largest of the trip and at just over a pound by far my personal best. The last largish one I caught was maybe 10 inches and that was when I was a teenager in the 90’s (yes I am old). The fish finder showed several schools in the area so I continued and just kept circling the area for them. Between the grub and a sixth sense crank bait I ended up with over 20 crappie total. Of those 6 of them were over 12″ and I lost several others that were the same size.

First three of the day.

Kept six of them for dinner. Total wight of the 6 fish was 6.76 pounds

Over all even with all the rain and wind it ended up being a very good day on the water. Didn’t catch a single trout but I did lose a bass that was about the same size as the crappie. catching these makes me want to try for more and to see how big of crappie I can find there. I have heard that Lookout point has had some caught up to 16 inches. With a state record of over 4 pounds for a white crappie that would be a fun fish to catch. Hard to imagine one that big though.

Practiced my fillet skills. I am very out of practice and need to catch more crappie, bluegill or bass to practice on.

Gear used in today’s trip:

Converting a Watersnake trolling motor for a Hobie outback Kayak part 2

After the first test run using the motor there were several things that needed to be fixed to make it easier to use.

  • The cassette is made to be put in only one direction and not both. Some rubber pads would be helpful to prevent kick up every time the motor starts and stops.
  • Adding a DC controller between the battery and motor to give it a variable speed while trolling.
  • The clamps on the motor made it difficult to hook to the controller box. They should be removed and some circle ones installed so it can be screwed down. Same with my connectors from the battery to the controller
  • Add Volt meter to controller box to see how much power is left in the battery
  • At full speed the motor wanted to shift in the cassette and would have to be held to keep it from angling.
  • Removing the motor from the cassette hole is very difficult if the blade is not straight up and down.

The first thing I adjusted was to make sure the motor is facing the correct way for how the cassette fits into the mirage drive hole and then sealing the top and bottom of where the drive post goes into the cassette with waterproof epoxy. This fixes two of the issues I was having. It prevents some of the kick up of the motor when started, and will keep the motor from shifting sideways at higher speeds.

Top section sealed with Epoxy.
And the bottom sealed up

One thing that I saw other people had issues with is the cassette vibrating and making a bit of noise. I did not notice that to much, but as a preventative I filled the cassette with waterproof expanding foam. This also adds some rigidity to the cassette since it is not very thick plastic. Make sure that the foam you get is outdoor spray foam. The indoor variety tends to break down quickly when exposed to the elements. Once the foam has been added and dried cap the hole with some silicone or epoxy so water cannot enter

A small hole drilled into both sides of the cassette to put the straw from the can of spray into.

And now for the control panel. I did not get any pictures of the build but the box is clear and you can see all the connections. I used a sealed Pelican box to hold the controller so that the electronics parts wouldn’t get wet. To keep it sealed I drilled holes in the sides and put a bolt facing out and then used a wing nut to hold it on with a drop of sealant on the bolt head to keep it sealed. One side the clamps from the motor can go on and on the other side O-clamps for wire terminals that the wingnut holds in place. Once turned on the speed can be adjusted by the just turning the nob up or down

I also added a volt meter just so I could do a quick look to see how the charge is

Now to take it on a test drive to see if there is any other tweaks needed. And maybe a video of the next test run.

Converting a watersnake trolling motor for a Hobie outback Kayak

Lately as I get older it has been a bit more difficult for me to always use the hobie mirage drive for all day. Finishing a day of trolling, and barely being able to walk due to back pain is a bit discouraging. So after some searching I found a build to convert a Watersnake 18 lb motor into a trolling motor that fits into a hobie mirage slot on the kayak. This build looks like it will work on any size of watersnake. But really I cant see the need for a bigger thrust then I currently have. Now for some long ocean trips maybe to deal with the current.

Things needed to do the conversion with link if you need them

Watersnake all ready to start the conversion. Total weight at start is just 8 lbs
First step as with most things is to remove screws. There are 4 screws that hold the top to the bottom part of the control panel
Before removing any wires make sure you take a picture of how it looks. This makes it a lot easier to reassemble after you shorten the shaft. There are only three wires that have to be removed. All three lead into the shaft so it is easy to tell which three they are
After removing the controller from the top you will need to insert a small PVC pipe into the shaft. These will keep you from accidentally cutting the wires as you shorten the shaft.
Before cutting the shaft you will need to get the the cassette plug set up to insert the shaft into it. The easiest way is to use a 1″ spade bit. A hole needs to be made on each side of the cassette so the motor shaft can fit into it.
Once the cassette is seated onto the shaft use a piece of tape to mark where you will cut it off. I put the cassette just above the blades of the motor and then added about 5 inches above to where I cut it off. This is right at 10″ cut off. Do not discard the top. You will need it as a template to cut out guides into the new shortened shaft.
Once the shaft is cut off you will need to cut out the gap and the hole through to reattach the controller. Once you have it cut out reassemble everything.
Once everything is assembled you are ready to go

Once you are done the set up is ready to go as is. There are several other adaptions that are useful in the long run while using this set up. At this stage you are limited to only the two speeds that are set up on the motor. high and just slightly less then high. Good for going from place to place but way to fast for trolling. At least for my trolling.

Some things to note from my first test run:

  • The cassette is made to be put in only one direction and not both. Some rubber pads would be helpful to prevent kick up every time the motor starts and stops.
  • I added a DC controller between the battery and motor to give it a variable speed while trolling. (worked perfect for this)
  • The clamps on the motor made it difficult to hook to the controller box. They should be removed and some circle ones installed so it can be screwed down. Same with my connectors from the battery to the controller
  • Add Volt meter to controller box.
  • 21AH battery lasted just over 4 hours of trolling. A 2nd battery will probably be needed at some point.

Shane’s outdoor fun is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com 

Since there were some tweaks needed I made a part 2 to better stabilize it. Converting a Watersnake trolling motor for a Hobie outback Kayak part 2

Birthday Kayak trip to Hills Creek in late fall

Late fall lake fishing in Oregon can be a lot of hit or miss. When the storms roll through it can make for some high waves and a very difficult time controlling a kayak. We started out the day thinking we might be able to catch some walleye or something else in Lookout point reservoir. Even with our early start there was already some chop on the water, and as comfortable as I am in the kayak I am leary of trying to fish that lake with even a chance of wind. Lookout point is 12 miles long down a valley. I have kayaked it in the summer and it went from flat calm to white capped waves in 30 minutes.

Video fishing. I wish I had these when I was younger fishing in Alaska

Instead of taking a chance on the lake birthday boy Jeremy and I decided to hit our standby of Hills Creek. We do fish it a lot, but it is close and nearly always provides some fish for us to catch. It seems in recent years that the average fish size has increased in the lake. Or we are just getting much better at catching the bigger fish ( I like the 2nd answer myself)

Started out with drizzle but became a beautiful day

Today’s water was around 55 degrees for this late November trip. Not as cold as it will get but still cold enough I decided to wear my dry suit. Early in fall I was not paying attention and leaned over the edge to grab a floating cap and flipped my kayak. I can go out in two foot waves and heavy wind with no issues. But a glass calm lake and not even moving and I flipped. At least it had been warm still then.

For this trip I branched out and decided to try something other then my normal gear. 90% of the time I use a dodger with a Brad’s cut plug or troll a rainbow colored rapala. Both of those are highly effective in nearly every body of water I have fished. Except Odell lake, for some reason nothing hits a cut plug there. Well a mackinaw might but I haven’t trolled for them with a cut plug. That is part of next years fishing goal. Anyway back to the gear. instead of the cut plug I used a pink and silver wedding ring with a smile blade on it. It didn’t have quite enough weight to get down more then a foot until I added a quarter ounce weight to it. This was a highly effective setup! 10+ fish and nothing smaller then 12 inches. The only thing I caught on my rapala on the 2nd pole ended up being just a single landlocked Chinook. It was easily over 12 inches and a great fighter.

I realized I need to take more pictures for all of you to enjoy. But if you want to watch the video of the day please check out below.

Kayak fishing Siltcoos lake

Siltcoos is one of those lakes where you either love it or hate it. My track record of catching fish in it before this year consisted of sculpin and yellow perch. According to the fishing in Oregon book this lake is packed with different species that I can’t catch. For the last several years when I think of heading to the coast to fish it is the last place I would pick out of our many coastal lakes. But a trip kayaking with family finally broke my streak of tiny tiny fish. Since I never usually fish for bass I only brought a lite trout rod to catch the normal tiny fish. On my second cast a (for me) monster bass hit and buried itself in the weeds and snapped my 4lb test line. After a changing up lures we continued our float and shortly after I caught a nice bass.

Bass fishing from a kayak in Siltcoos
Not the biggest largemouth bass, but by far the biggest I have caught in years

With the success of this trip I decided that once the fall salmon started coming in I would give the lake a chance for a salmon and possibly some bass. Siltcoos is a great lake to fish just for the large variety of fish that can be caught. Not that I am good at catching them. In addition to bass and salmon the lake contains Rainbow trout, Cutthroat trout, Crappie, Bluegill, Bullhead catfish, Yellow perch, and the some passing through steelhead.

Fall kayaking is a very different experience then summer kayaking on the lake. Since this is Oregon it involves being prepared for a lot more rain. With periods of sun that makes you feel like you are cooking if you have rain gear on. Luckily I have a dry suit that I wear just for these kinds of days. The great thing about a dry suit is you can layer underneath it depending on the temperature and it breaths unlike most rain gear. The only issue with mine is that I did not get one with a crotch zipper. If you have to go to the bathroom it is a full unzip and go.

Kayak fishing at Siltcoos lake
wet and gloomy, but with very little wind

On this adventure my Kayak buddy Jeremy joined me to see if we could catch a salmon or at least some trout. The morning started out slow as we trolled along the lake. Both of us were surface trolling with our normal trout gear (salmon will hit also). My normal set up for trout is normally a Luhr Jenson herring dodger followed by a brad’s cut plug or a Mack’s wedding ring behind it. Sadly for me neither were working. Jeremy lucked out and caught a nice 15″ rainbow on his setup. After many hours of a few small bites and nothing being caught for me I switched gear to a casting pole and a Rapala shad rap.

Jeremy’s catch. Almost looks like a small steelhead

Switching over to the shad rap was my ticket to fish. First cast to shore caught me a nice 13″ cutthroat. Moving from the inlet end where we were into main lake soon caught me a 15″ cutthroat trolling near the bottom and soon after that a small 10″ juvenile salmon. previous to that was nearly four hours of trolling with barely a bite and then three fishing 30 minutes changing up the gear. Another trip to Siltcoos will be part of the plans for later in the year if time allows or sometime in the next year. The Oregon state record for Coho was caught in this lake. It is very much a lake I need to learn. And there is a very good chance of me breaking my personal best records for multiple species of fish from this lake.

A tired and worn out Sasquatch Shane ending the day

Shane’s outdoor fun is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com 

Fall kayak fishing at Hills Creek Reservoir

Fall in Oregon never disappoints for anyone that is a fan of the outdoors. Fishing picks up as the water temperature cools and the fall mushrooms come up. Instead of hunting this year I spent opening day out on the lake fishing with Jeremy in the kayaks. Since it was a normal fall day here it went from wet and windy to nice and sunny to back to a down pour.

Oregon Kayak fishing
Kayak fishing in Hills creek reservoir

When fall hits and the temperature drops in the local lakes it triggers a feeding frenzy as the fish work to fatten up for winter time. Everything was biting in the top 20 feet of water. When we dropped below the 20 foot mark the bite stopped for both of us. Two weeks ago the surface temp was sitting right at 70F, and most of the fish were down 10′-30′. Today it had dropped down to 64F. Since the fish had been so active I dropped down the trolling camera to catch some video’s of the aggressive fish hitting the lures.

Underwater camera

Sadly I did not get a picture of the largest fish I caught which was a nice 18″ native rainbow. Heavy rain and wind makes it a bit difficult to get good pictures. Hills Creek is a great lake to fish due to the large amount of stocked fish and the many different species of fish that can be caught. The lake contains Rainbow trout, Cutthroat trout, Crappie, Largemouth bass, Brown bullhead, and landlocked Chinook. Bank fishing is very productive on the entire lake. ODFW stocks this lake with thousands of Rainbow trout and Spring Chinook every year. As always when you go fishing please always check the fishing regulations and make sure you are fishing within the law. Currently for trout only fin clipped fish may be kept (including any Chinook under 24″)

Oregon Kayak fishing

If you would like to watch the video of us fishing for the day the link is below.

some useful things we use for fishing:

If there are any video subjects or articles you would like to see please comment to let us know.

Shane’s outdoor fun is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com