I have been saving this trip for many months knowing that when the weather cooled off the hard core bass fisherman would be desperate for a good fish story.
For most of the summer I was using my spinning rods, to better understand how to fish using braid and heavy spoons for big fish. I have to admit that muskiebigfish inspired me to explore the big fish big gear angle. Now I have a rod and reel all set up to target northerns, lakers, salmon and carp. (yeah I know carp do not go for spoons but if I want to bait fishâ€¦)
While this a IS a story about a big fishâ€¦I did not use a spinning rod to catch it. Instead I used my 8 weight fly rod.
I chose the 8 wt because I was tired of lugging around a lot of heavy fishing gear. On this day in particular I decided to go minimalist. Just the rod, reel, flybox and catch all bag with the fishing net in it. I did forget one thingâ€¦the nail clippers that I use to cut and trim the leader.
Not wanting to drive all the way back to my house just for that; I decided to make this trip a one fly trip and proceeded to tie on a black muddler on a number 6 hook.
It was late morning. The sky was blue and generally cloudless. There was a slight breeze blowing the leaves of the trees down by the water's edge. I put on my polarized sunglasses so that I could see into the water. The water was stained the color of a strong iced tea. A pale dragonfly sunned itself on a leafy weed growing along the shore. The surface of the water was smooth and dark.
I took a deep breath and began pulling line out off the reel to prepare for my first cast. I lifted the line in front of me and flung it back and then forward and back again. I slung the line overhead several times before laying it down in the water about 15 feet away.
The fly floated on the surface film like bug, a big ugly bug. The kind of bug that a large mouth bass might find irritating. A stupid bug that doesn't know how to keep itself from falling into the water, where it floats like a stoned drunk, futilely beating its wings trying to escape the clinging water upon which it floats, spinning in a circle.
I worked that fly like a puppeteer dancing it across the surface like a epileptic ballerina. I spoke to the fish in the water like a jaded streetwalker, "bite me you bastard, bite me!".
Then a couple of men walking by asked me if I had caught anything yet. I gave them the evil eye which they couldn't see because of my sunglasses and said: " not yet."
With the sun at my back I realized that I was casting too much of a shadow upon the water. So I moved under the shade of an over hanging tree. With my sunglasses still on I made a weak cast into the water just in front of me. I let the fly just sit there for 10 seconds. Then I saw him.
I saw the unmistakable wake of a fish as it approached the fly. At first I thought the fish was a carp because of the way the fish looked in shade with my sunglasses on and the way in which the fish just sipped the fly into its mouth.
As soon as I saw the fly disappear into its mouth I set the hook firmly.
The fish feeling the sting of my hook took off like a dog after a rabbit. He swam right toward some entangling weeds. Using my right forefinger to secure the line I lifted the rod high to steer the fish away from that hazard. Then he jumped high trying to shake the hook and after splash down he ran back toward the weeds again. Again I lifted the rod high and steered him away and again the jumped and tried to shake the hook. Then he swam away in a different direction so I gave him some line. When I stopped giving him line he jumped again. After that he dove deep and thrashed strongly against the ever present pull of my hook and line. After several tense minutes of fighting him I was able to bring him under control.
I grabbed my net and landed him. To my surprise he was the biggest Larry I have caught yet in this state a nice 5 pound bass.
I quickly removed the hook and took a quick photo of him in the net, ( I don't like holding fish by the lower jaw because it might fatally injure them.) and let him go to fight another day.
Catching that fish really made my day. I was especially happy because I caught him on fly rod.
Folks I can't emphasize enough just how exciting it is to catch fish but especially big fish on a fly rod.
Thanks for the all the encouragement guys... now to address some of the critics...Fighting a fish on fly rod is not like fighting a fish with bait casting combo with 50 lb braid! I had a 6 lb level mono leader so I had to use finesse rather than brute strength to bring in this fish in.
Furthermore it was summer time and the fight took a relatively long time so I was more concerned with landing, unhooking and returning the fish to the water ASAP rather than posing for money shots. The last thing that I wanted to happen is to have the fish die on me because I had to take a series of money shots with it.
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