Roll up to the spot and realize that I had forgotten the crucial piece of the frame that bolts the tooner pods together. Guess that is what I get for hanging out too late and loading gear up at 2:30M. Don makes a cal and the landowner agrees to let me use one of their paddleboats for the day. This was both a blessing and a curse as the rudder was broken and I found myself having to use one of my tooner oars to move in the desired direction. It seemed as if my fishing slump was starting to form into a full on downward spiral. The fantastic spring weather and a few of Don’s jokes were just enough to hold up my spirits.
Water was crystal clear and hanging just above 48-degrees. Wind was light with the occasional breeze between 10-15mph. Vegetation was still dormant but still created reefs of structure and open pockets. Baitfish were congregating near or in the open pockets. To build confidence I decided to target a few of these guys with a beaded nymph on the long rod.
Beaded nymph? Long rod? Don had made a challenge that we fish this lake with only fly rods. It sounds crazy for this Mattsabasser but I was looking to change things up drastically in attempt to break out of this slump. Maybe I was getting bored with spin fishing. Maybe a gear switch would bring something fresh to the table. As fish nipped at the feathers at the end of my fly it seemed to be adding frustration more than anything else.
Varying the presentation I found that pulling the fly away from the fish as they moved in for the strike would bring heavier bites. As the sun rose to mid-sky the bass became more active. I could see them swimming around the pockets or lumbering in areas of cover. These fish were deep and hanging on the bottom. Getting the presentation in front of them with floating line was going to be an issue.
“Should have stripped and went with braid.” I mumbled remembering a few last minute decisions.
First I went with some streamers and large baitfish flies on the surface. No bites and a handful of change-ups later I decided to weight everything down with some lead. It didn’t sound right at first and looked a bit ridiculous to be honest having three small weights on the line. I would have used four but that would have looked obtuse. Luckily it was enough to pull the gear down to the lower depths where the fish were. A few casts, a few strips and wham! Spring bucket!
As the day wears on I am getting the hang of things. The hookset was still hit and miss but I was putting fish on the end of the line. Keeping them there was another story. A paddle here, a peddle there and I was in an area full of potential. In the distance a bass is seen slowly cruising along the edge of the weed line. Cast out a safe distance ahead of the fish and let the lure sink. The bass goes nearly vertical and pounces on the bait. I can see the fish’s jaws slam the bait in a flash of speed and suction. Seeing the strike is thrilling for me but also greatly helps in timing of the hookset. A few bursts of energy and the fish was in the hand.
I didn’t get many fish to the reel and scolded myself constantly for having too much line at my feet. Lessons learned were enough to fill the large truck that the farmer uses to feed his cows. Fishing farm ponds like this can be a little too easy sometimes hence the fly rod challenge. Next time I will come with a completely different setup on the longrod or maybe two.
My name is Matt and I’m a fishaholic.