Sunday, April 17th started out like many other Sunday’s as we made our way to church and did a little shopping for the week on the way home; all this knowing that I was on a timeline and would be meeting Frank Terkhorn at my parent’s house prior to going fishing for a while. By 1:30 we were off for a farm pond in Greene County that has been very good to me the past couple years and for sure this year….as I had just taken ‘my farm pond slam’ the Sunday before. We pulled into Steve’s, who is an old and dear friend and the owner of a great fishing pond, parked the Suburban and starting putting things together. Frank would be fishing out of his new float tube that he had just purchased and both of us would be fly fishing. I had 2 rods; my 2 weight and 3 weight ready to go. I also had my fish finder powered up and quickly took a temperature reading and the water temps had dropped from 61 the Sunday before down to 56. The few days prior had been cold and rainy and thus I wondered would the 6 degrees make that much difference….would the awesome fishing from the week before actually wane? The answer was a quick one, yes. Not only was the fishing much slower but the wind was upwards of 25 mph and straight from the west leaving white caps on the smallish pond.
It didn’t take long for me to start to search and one answer was clear…the fishing was going to be deeper, so I parked my float tube and journeyed back to the truck to trade in my little rods for my 5 weight with a full sinking, type 3 fly line. I tied on a size 4 Civil War Streamer and my second cast was successful and although the bass was small…it was a bass. The next 30 minutes was more of the same…let the weighted line sink, strip quickly with long pauses and bang, we were in the bass.
The wind was quite brisk and I was pretty impressed with Frank’s ability to navigate and control his float tube as there is definitely a learning curve that must go on and telling someone really doesn’t help…you have to ‘dive’ in and get your feet wet, pun intended. I did grab a weighted sink tip size 4 line for Frank and he changed out his floating line and tied on a silver streamer and within minutes…he too was into fish.
The north side of the pond has an old dock that is free floating but has come to rest against the bank and on this day it was providing perfect cover for big ambush fish and it just made sense to work the dock and especially the leeward (windless) side of the dock. I was about 30 feet from the dock and made a pinpoint cast just off the dock, gave 3 quick strips and what happened next will always live in my memory bank…as a pig of a bass came out of the water tail-walking his way down wind. I immediately gave it a strip set and at that point raised my rod to find out my reel handle had hooked itself on my fishing vest. Now this is not the first time this has happened and therefore I didn’t panic but continued to strip with my line hand and within seconds had freed myself from my vest and quickly got the line onto the reel where I could use the drag and work the fish.
It was at this point that I must have sounded like a school girl as my only thought was, “Oh, my gosh….it is a pig”, and that is exactly what I said, but did so in a high pitched voice that must have come from somewhere in my past? All I knew was I had hooked into a mammoth of a bass and it was one thrilling sight. The next 30 seconds were excruciating as I tried not to horse the fish but tried to remain calm and use the drag of the reel to do the work; all I knew was I had on 4X tippet and I had to be patient. When it was all said and done I had landed a 23 inch largemouth that had a girth of over 16 inches. The last thing I wanted to do was injure this grand fish; dad, Frank and I took some measurements used a 7 pound scale to measure the fish and found out it was more than the scales would register. I was pretty sure that the fly rod record for bass in Indiana is 10 pounds and was a little leery of not having an official weight, however, we took several photos and eased the big girl back into the murky water and watched as she swam off.
For me…memories of the outdoors are what keeps me going and this day was special; the time I spent excitedly talking about the fish with dad and Frank is a big part of it. I know that when I am old I will see this fish tail-walking across the brown water and with a grin on my face will go back to the day that I had a great thrill and landed a bass that is still out there; one more awesome day afield while Enjoying the Great Outdoors.