If you have been reading my column or following me online then you know that one of my goals, maybe even a bucket list item has been to catch a double digit bass, from my float tube, on a fly I tied…and of course on a fly rod. Well…this past weekend, while you may have been sleeping in, making breakfast or possibly up for a morning stroll, I took one big step closer, literally one step as my big bass from Saturday turned out to be my largest bass to date. Weight is a funny thing with bass; if you catch them at the right or wrong time, their weight may fluctuate greatly. What I do know is that up until this point my largest bass was one from April of 2011, it was 23 ½ inches long and weight in right at 8 pounds. Saturday’s big girl was 25 inches in length and my mechanical scale weighed it in at 7 ½ pounds. I’d love to come back in a month to six weeks and try it again…I think this big female, full of eggs, might just teeter closely to the ten pound range.
Let me back you up to this past Saturday. Two things were major, first it was still quite cold as I entered the water, in fact I broke ice on the outer edge and second, you know that earlier in the week we had some torrential rains which left most of the lakes anywhere from murky to cloudy to un-fishable. The first lake actually took me by surprise as I didn’t expect the water clarity to be as poor; fortunately I had tied a couple of optic yellow streamers the night before…and as you can see from the photo (and the video of my big bass and a few others) I had to tie on the brightest fly possible due to the staining of the water.
I have been preaching to both of my sons and anyone else who will listen…”You never know unless you go”! If you stay at home, all cozied up in front of a TV, you won’t catch the next big one. I can honestly say that even without landing a monster bass…the day was spectacular. As I neared the lake, float tube on my back, at least 20 ducks lifted off from the water, whistled their way past me and then decided to land, once again, at the far end of the water. What sight and what a way to start a gorgeous Saturday…and in February!
My next pearl of wisdom is even simpler…”If there’s a fly in the water, then there’s a chance to catch a fish”. As I backed my way into the lake and looked down at my kick fins I could see that as soon as I dropped my legs more than a few inches into the water…the fins disappeared. Wow, this might be a tough day; I had already tied on a white/silver streamer and decided to give it a go. On my third casts I felt what I came for, a big tug, I strip set with my left hand and a few seconds later lipped a nice, solid 15 inch bass.
Ok…sunny ducks and now a legal bass…about as good as it gets. I made one lap around the lake and decided to try the far bank where I had caught the first few fish. As I was backing that way I heard my GoPro beep-it had shut down. Should I stop and change out batteries…nah, just keep on going. I made one cast to the right of a downed stump, nothing, my next cast was to the other side of this stump and as I was retrieving I could see a wake, coming towards my fly…a split second later I felt a big thump…no tug this time. I set the hook and for just a moment thought I was snagged when up out of the cold water came an enormous head. Now this wasn’t a big ‘tarpon’ like head shake like you’ve see on TV…but it didn’t matter as I could see that indeed I was hooked into a great fish.
There was no doubt that the fish was in excess of 20 inches and as it began to pull, fight and tussle…my only thought was trying to get my thumb into its mouth. The fish neared me twice before ripping out line…each time I was within inches of its lower jaw. I could also see my optic yellow fly hooked cleanly into the side of its mouth. Don’t panic I told myself, “Keep calm and fish on”, it’s hooked cleanly…so I relaxed, played the bass a bit more and finally was able to haul my prize up and into my lap.
Quickly I reached into my side pocket, grabbed my camera and snapped a few pictures of my trophy, it resting on the side of my float tube. Behind me was my Release-Right landing net (read my review and you can buy it here) …I flipped it out into the water, removed the fly and released the bass into the net. I changed my GoPro batteries and then filmed the two-footer both inside the net and as I finally slipped it back into the murky water from where it came from, unharmed and ready for its spring spawn.
For sure these are the days that I live for. Cold and crisp with nature all around…the city life, nope, not for me. Green acres is the place I love…and the place whereby I truly can Enjoy the Great Outdoors.