Tag: largemouth bass

“If you ain’t first, you’re last”

The sun still rides high above the Front Range.

As I walk up the road I check my line. The tippet looks strained right at the knot I just tied. I bite down on each side of the blood while continuing the stroll, and then proceed with four wraps on either side of the loop around my middle finger.

Stop momentarily, spit, and pull tight. Much better.

Turning the corner, there’s a familiar face. We exchange glances, then greetings. The story is nobody’s been around here very much. Relief washes over me.

The water is low and clear of weeds. A stiff breeze is blowing in the face, slightly from the right. Damn.

Line falls from reel to ground, and then a few elbow tests are done. I let the little crawdad-colored, bullet-headed, curly-tailed bugger rip. It carries sixty or so feet, and left.

Self-reassurance: That’s a good spot.

One strip, two strips, three strips…four.

There were plenty…

…of jackrabbits spotted on the way back to the truck.

MG signing off (comfortable with the condition)

Indisputable photographic evidence you can fly fish for bass in the rain

Note the small droplets of water (on the window, dumbass, not the cans)…

What were you expecting…a “hero shot”?

MG signing off (waiting for afternoon clouds to roll in)

After dark

People go out for dinner…after dark.

The sprinklers [usually] go on…after dark.

Automatic vehicle headlights activate…after dark.

UFOs are often seen flying through the sky…after dark.

Movie characters turn into vampires and werewolves…after dark.

But the very best of all…largemouth bass gorge on top-water flies…

After dark.

MG signing off (to turn out the lights)

I’m betting largemouth bass will eat just about anything

Fly Master David “Butters” Luna took one look at it and said…

Damn that’s good. You are years ahead of [NAME REDACTED] when it comes to spinning deer hair Gracie!

Still, I thought it pretty ugly, and on closer inspection (via photo and flash) I noticed the body is not packed nearly as tight as some of the professional jobs. I could use some trimming practice too, although I doubt the bass really care.

Yesterday evening it was tested, and it didn’t sink. Nothing ate it, but the piggy bass I know are in there didn’t eat much else either. Any tips or tricks to get that hair packed tighter, and shaped nicer, is welcome and appreciated.

MG signing off (to spin some more)

Recollect. Rinse. Repeat.

When I was young (a long long time ago) I was let loose each day to explore. No organized outing, no “play date”. Just be home for dinner.

Maybe.

Those adventures inevitably brought me to the water. Any water would do.

I quit the soccer team so I could accompany a buddy on after school fishing outings. To a lake teeming with gar. Nobody believed we were catching such big ones so we brought some back, tied by their tails to pieces of rope. Dragged behind our BMX bikes.

Behavior unrepresentative of the catch and release mantra I now embrace. Yet I will never be able to erase those memories.

Nor would I want to, because I am occasioned the opportunity to revisit.

Foot-powered modes of transport have been replaced by crew-cabbed V8s. Shakespeare combos have been upgraded, and fly boxes are no longer spartan. Plenty of self-perceived experience now in tow.

Yet the quest for the Ditch Grand Slam – a grass carp, a mudfish, and a bass on a single outing – meets adversity. The previous night’s wild thunderstorm flows off the banks. Blows around at 30 mph.

And then there are the alligators. Always those pesky alligators.

The chase for the cup continues. As it has, and will.

For as long as I can remember.

Tallying the score for my fly-fishing year (2009)

I’d planned on fishing Christmas day, but with high temps expected to climb no higher than the teens I’m likely to bag it. Hence, my fly-fishing year is over, and this year-in-review comes a few days early.

The learning curve

I spent 30 minutes talking one-on-one with Lefty Kreh, in the second week of January. I should have quit while I was ahead. (+30)

Creating infamy

The Wall Street Journal showed up in Denver after I guaranteed them some carp on the fly footage, and Tom Teasdale got front page billing in the print edition, nationally. I know self-made entrepreneurs with $250 million net worths that never made the front page of the WSJ. So I take all the credit for this one. (+250)

Time spent fishing is better than time spent working

I had 22 days on the Blue River, 21 days on suburban lakes, 13 days on the urban South Platte, 10 days on the Dream Stream, 4 days on the Williams Fork, 3 days on the North Platte, 3 days on the salt, 1 day in Cheesman Canyon, 1 day on the Colorado, and a few minutes on Gore Creek and Ten Mile Creek. (+78.5) ALMOST FORGOT: 2 days on the Eagle, and a day on “Moose Creek” – so +81.5

Worth a mention

I caught this fish and this fish using 5X tippets and tiny flies (+2). I used a San Juan Worm one day this year – this fish was the result (+1). I almost died from dehydration in the Carp Slam, but thank my lucky stars Barry Reynolds was my partner (+10).

Some gear runs through it

I acquired five fly rods and four fly reels this year (+9). I dumped one 2009 rod for another (+0), gave one rod up as a going away present (+1), and passed on three reels to folks that really needed them (-3). At least two rods will get ejected in the spring, and I’m on the hunt for another reel (-1).

I retired some waders, and waited patiently for some others (+0). I booted three pairs of wading boots, and wound up with two pairs in their place (-1). I gave away two wading belts (+2), and I found my socks (+20).

I bought seven fly lines, was given one fly line, sold two fly lines, and gave seven fly lines away (+13). I ruined one fly line, and one fly line just plain fell apart on me (-2). Two fly lines are still in the boxes (-2). I gave away a tippet dispenser, six spools of tippet, 250 yards of gelspun backing, and spooled/rigged four reels for newbies (+261).

Fly boxes are for civilians

I purchased 780 flies, tied ten flies, bent four hooks, popped 28 leaders with two-fly rigs, and snagged 2,462 flies on tree branches. (-1,732)

Liar liar pants on fire

I caught 225 brown, rainbow and/or cutthroat trout over ten pounds, 150 carp over forty pounds, 90 largemouth bass over eleven pounds, and one state record brook trout (at twelve pounds) that I didn’t get a picture of since I was by myself in a desolate location with no food, water, or camera. (225 X 10) + (150 X 40) + (90 X 12) + (1 X 12 X 11,500 foot elevation) = +147,330

High note

I acquired a king’s hoard of new friends, but unlike royalty throughout history I wouldn’t trade them for anything. And I spent some precious time fishing with some dear old friends too. ((7382 + 6) X 1014 = 7.382e+17) (Note: score arrived at by adding total friends, new and old, to the number of beers consumed in their company, individually, post-outing, then multiplying by the ACTUAL VALUE of time spent fishing and/or drinking with them)

Final tally

I want to say I lost count, but the reality is I’m an accountant, which means I don’t know how to count it was just a darn good year.

Merry Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, What-Have-You, and a Happy New Year to all.

MG signing off (until 2010)

A most valuable lesson in life I’ve learned from fly fishing: Accept that things change, and embrace it

There are a few constants in fly fishing: a rod, a reel, and line, plus flies and a leader. The rest is up for grabs. You can head out on the water and have an epic day, or wind up thinking the time burned could have been better spent in the garden. There could be a blizzard-like caddis hatch, or you could snag every streamer you own on unseen rocks. You could meet partially overcast skies, a sun high and bright, or two feet of fresh snow. You can catch every fish in the river, or go home ‘hungry’. Such is life. At times jubilant, then melancholy. A walk in the park, followed by aggravation and/or disappointment.

I woke Saturday just before five, and with some restlessness in my mind. I’ve fished almost exclusively for trout and carp this summer, a much too brief and less than fruitful trip to Florida for redfish the only break. And while I’ve had a wonderful time hanging out on river and lake with friends, I also felt a strange desire to head out this morning alone.

A single rigAfter exiting the truck I was immediately greeted by a triumvirate of exuberant Golden Retrievers – they had gotten away from their handler during their morning walk and decided I was worth meeting up close and personal. I considered it as joyful a start to the morning as I could ever hope. Rod rigged, I headed up a canopied dead end road while a faint morning mist whisked between trees where the sun’s first beams had not yet penetrated. At the trail head, I laid my rod and bag down on a bench, immediately reminded that the last time I had visited this place it was not a solitary pursuit. I don’t generally fish by myself, but things change.

A well worn trailDown the trail I went, immediately noticing that it was well worn from horse hoof (and human hoof) traffic. The last time I remember thinking the fishing must be really good, as the path was devoid of wear. At the end of a short decline, a open gate, latch donned in chain long since wrapped round and round itself to prevent fair use, invited me in. Last time that gate had been closed.

Crossing the small field to the water, my sandals immediately became soaked in the fresh morning dew. My recollection of last spring was dry and barren, what grass existed matted down by the weight of snow that only briefly disappeared for the run we’d made. Now, the field was in full bloom, complete with tall blades and thorny underbrush. The sights, the texture, even the smell – all changed.

Once matted, now tall grassTreading on, I noticed blade and spine brushing against my barren lower legs. It wouldn’t have bothered me had I been wearing pants as usual, but it is summer and summer means shorts. Nevertheless, I wasn’t perturbed. In fact, the brush wasn’t so heavy as to cause any injury, and the faint scratching on my lower legs actually felt good against my slightly dry skin.

Upon reaching the waters edge, I spotted no signs of my prospective quarry. So I began casting blindly, hauling as far as I could toward the center of this dead still pond while simultaneously stomping down the grass just a foot off the bank in front of me to prevent tangles and the inevitable short stops of the multi-colored deer hair popper in flight. I was seeking bass, and bass enjoy cover. Why hurl this fly where no cover existed? It defied logic. And then wham!

A bass in hand is safer than one overheadOne gloriously chubby fish had taken the bait, and after a millisecond’s struggle keeping it away from fallen limbs near the landing bay it was hanging off my hand. Nobody around to show my prize to, it was memorialized in zeros and ones, an outcome that wouldn’t generally satisfy this angler. Yet something had changed.

The sun rose just above the treeline far across the field behind me, signaling a new day was well in hand too. It warmed my back ever so slightly, a balancing act for my cold, damp feet. Into the morning I cast that popper, first far, and then near. Every so often I’d see a violent splash around the fly, or a shadow cruise up behind it for a gulp, and reel time would begin. I recall this venue producing fish, but not like this – within an hour thirty I had a dozen bucketmouths in my grasp, and at least two or three more that had been lost midstream. I also recollect that of the times I’d visited the bass were healthy, vibrant specimens, the stunning iridescent green appearing down around their lateral lines making up for the fact that they were, for the most part, small.

Even that had changed.

Things change

Retracing my path to the truck, I realized my own steps seemed lighter, nary a hint of anxiety driving them. I absorbed with precision the sounds of birds chirping and the rustling of leaves in the mid-morning breeze. I also bumped into a German Shepard and a Bernese Mountain dog, they too wanting for my attention. I complied, and tails wagged. I made a quick phone call to confirm some future dinner plans, and then stopped by the fly shop. Thirty minutes of verbal abuse later (some things never change), I was eating a breakfast burrito compliments of one of the shop patrons.

A fly fisherman comping grub for the hell of it? Now that’s what I call change. I accept. But sorry dude, you’re not my type. No embrace.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Thanks go out to Fishing Jones, for cluing me in.

I Just Had To Ditch

It was a beautiful day here in Denver.

The call came in…

…and the rods came out.
ditch-rods

I had to ditch…

…and ditch I did.
ditch-fish

MG signing off (to seek out more ditches)

Editor’s note: It was actually a small pond on the edge of some golf course in the suburbs, but I’m hoping Dr. Ditch will still give me a decent grade.

PS: I’m testing lightboxes – click on a pic and tell me what you think. Meanwhile, I’ll be working into the wee hours of the night to make up for the ditching.