Monday, March 26, 2012

Wake Up, Bass! Part I.

Small fish, big mouth.
Nick recently informed me that his exciting world travels were bringing him to the DC area, and while he spends a lot of time there for work, he's never gotten to fish the region.   I started feeding him some detailed information about our area's rivers and public land (and of course, our fishing pressure and poaching), and at the last minute, I was able to cash out a few overtime hours and join Nick for an afternoon.  He's in the second year of trying to convert his significant light tackle skills into pure fly fishing (for all species of fish), so I really wanted to put him on some fish.

While it's true that the trout were being stocked and the perch were running, all of the successful fishing reports seemed to be coming back from live bait anglers - not exactly my bag or Nick's.  "Lots of luck this morning on largemouth, trolling 20-30' deep with live shiners!!!"  When fishing for food? Definitely.  For catch and release? No thanks. I had started catching bass the week before, and so we figured we'd try that - air temperatures were in the upper 60s and about 15 degrees above normal, which has led to water temperatures in the low 50s - about 8 degrees above normal.

Our first stop was Governors Bridge Natural Area.  I hate to name my fishing spots, but if you read last week's post on GBNA, you know why I'm naming it.  For the first time in 2012, I saw shallow-running bass and sunfish - a welcome sight!   We saw a 15"+ largemouth cruising the lily pads right as we walked in - another great sign.  The fish were incredibly spooky, which is to be expected at a spot that is overrun with poachers.  We set to work with all varieties of ultralight tackle, flies, poppers, inline spinners, minnow lures, tadpole lures, beetle spins, you name it.   We fished for over an hour with no solid hook-ups - I'm spoiled I'm not used to that!  Every cast resulted in a school of panfish following the lure or fly back to the shore - at a safe distance. Nothing seemed to provoke a strong strike.
Fishing snobs should stop reading right now.  It was time to grovel.  I hooked up an Uncle Buck's rubber dragonfly (black with glitter wings, ha ha!!!), and wouldn't ya know, 30 seconds later I had my first bass of the day.  And now, for a big picture of a small fish!!

I usually, but not always, go fishing with a certain quarry in mind (yeah, I just used the word "quarry" in that way, so what?).   When I do, it's always exciting to get my first fish of that species to hand or net - it means I've got 75% of the equation figured out, even if the fish is tiny.  That was the case on this day - largemouth bass were the target - there was no question about that.  I opened my fly box and gave Nick an olive and a blue dragonfly fly (is that the right way to say that?), and went back to work on a sunken tree that crossed a vertical drop from 18 inches to 6 feet or so.  About a minute later? WHAM!

A respectable fish! I was really excited and starting to relax a little bit.  The "game" pattern was to drop the unweighted rubber lure right at the drop off, twitch, and just let it drop, with a twitch every foot on the way down.  Very few casts made it past about 4' or so.   I caught a third, smaller bass a few minutes later (memorialized in this photo), and then landed a fourth.  I'll pause the text here for dramatic effect.

Allow me to introduce you to Heavy D.....

Heavy D (okay, he wasn't even two pounds.....but just go with it) ran out my drag pretty well, and as he wound my line around every structure in the entire lake, I was thankful that I'd just switched out the line on my bass combo (BPS Tourney Special + Shimano Stradic) to 8lb Sufix monofilament, from last year's 6lb Sufix mono.  In the end, I was really satisfied with the fact that I figured it out and caught and released some decent fish - from shoreline, at 1pm, on a sunny day, at a spot frequented by poachers.

Nick? Well, the fishing gods were punishing him for leaving his spinning gear at home.  His flies were chased, harassed, popped at, and oogled by hundreds of fish, but the spooky guys did not want to come to the surface to eat (obviously I had the same issue until I moved to naturally sinking rubber...).  With the sun high in the sky and the air temperatures now topping 70, we decided for a change of venue.   Would Nick's luck change? Would mine?

1 comment:

BrookfieldAngler said...

I hate knowing the answer and not being able to spill it!

Thanks again for taking me out - I'll see you in June!

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