Well…I have to be honest; we live in a society that is greatly lacking in patience. Too often it seems like we have to have it now or it’s simply not worth waiting for. I don’t want to sound like a person who has now taught for 28 years at the high school level…but the fact is…well, a fact! I see and listen to our kids and the idea of waiting for something is all too often not even a thought…all we have to do is look to the Nike ad that tells us to “Just Do It”!
Nature however is all about patience and the things we want the most often take a long time. Each year I read about guys who hunted the same buck year after year and finally get the opportunity to harvest the deer of their lifetime; when they do they often talk about the ‘journey’ that they took to get to the point of pulling the trigger or releasing an arrow. For this I totally respect the effort put forth, to persevere in the pursuit of a true trophy.
Three summers ago while walking one of my local smallmouth haunts…I came across a pool that at first appeared to be nothing more than a shallow point in the stream; truth is the first time I fished it I barely took the time to wet a fly. A few weeks later I once again arrived at this same spot and did so at mid-day, with the sun overhead I could see into the pool…and what I saw changed my thoughts on small creeks. Not only were there about 50 suckers in this small hole, but there were several nice smallmouth…a few appeared to be over 15 inches and there in the midst was one very large fish. It was evident that this was the “king” of the pool as it continually ran the other fish off the ‘A’ spot in the hole, just under a shelf that fed anything edible directly toward this goliath of a fish.
I still remember that first day, peering periodically into the water as the sun and clouds were mixing overhead…allowing for spotty viewing of the various fish within the pool. I tied on fly after fly and while I did manage to catch a few of the ‘fray’ fish. I never hooked the bruiser…in fact, he shunned me over and over and I managed to feel like a pimple faced boy waiting to ask a girl out at a high school dance!
Fast-forward to 2012; once again I managed to fish this pool…for this specific fish on many occasions. On three occasions I hooked the beast; the first two times he slashed under a nearby rock and in seconds cut my line! The third time I beefed up my tippet and casted over and over, changing from one fly to the next…when finally I stripped a black leech variety of a wooly bugger across the pool; the fish slashed in, grabbed the fly and the battle was on. I would love to tell you there was a successful photo shoot minutes later…but that wasn’t the case. The fish simply pulled loose, swam to the other side, pouted for a minute and then resumed his ‘A’ position in the pool.
This past winter, when my mind would wander…I would allow myself to drift away and look down upon this space. I could see the shelf allowing the clear water to flow into the pool; I could see ‘my fish’, circling, running the others away…and waiting for my return. June 23rd was just another Sunday; now don’t get me wrong, Sundays are great, my favorite day of the week…church, home for lunch and then off to fish. Harrison came along to give both companionship and to do a little filming…not knowing that today would be a special day.
As we neared this special hole…we carefully moved around and peered into the cascading water; there, postured below the limestone shelf was Mr. Big. I took the time to watch and could see that he was waiting on any type of food to flow downstream, over the shelf and into the pool whereby he would inspect and then pounce on the meal.
I started with a bitch creek nymph that had been very good for me over the past week; just like before, I drifted the fly past his nose with no action. I moved to a crayfish pattern and…you guessed it, nothing. I tried a shad imitation that looked very good…but once again, nothing. Frankly I was ready to pack it in and move downstream…but decided to try the black leech one more time. I tied on the fly and made a cast on top of the shelf allowing the leech to drift lifelessly into the pool. The fly settled to the bottom…I made a small twitch and the fly hopped an inch or two…and what happened next will always be firm in my mind; my big smallie staged over the fly and then in one swift move opened up its mouth and sucked up the fly. The next few minutes were what fishing is all about. I moved the fish downstream, out of trouble and after what was a good portion of the last three years, reached down and lipped my prize! Just under 18 inches…with a potbelly; I guessed the fish to weigh at around 3 pounds and while this is less than half the state record smallmouth…it is and will be one of my all time fishing thrills.
Patience is a virtue worth working for…and in some cases it is the key to winning the prize. In this era of ‘get it now’…some things are well worth the wait. Give nature a try; I think you’ll find it is well worth your time as we all Enjoy the Great Outdoors.