Friday, June 8, 2018

Taco Tuesday Smallmouth

We were sitting anchored in a shady spot on the river. It was lunchtime and we munched hefty sandwiches trying to figure out how to improve our luck and catch some bass. We'd all started the day fishing streamers thinking that was the way to go in the high water, but weren't having much action. I'd taken one smallmouth on a red and white Murdoch, but overall the streamers weren't producing. Tom finally tied on a big white deerhair diver and soaked it with floatant figuring if the fish weren't biting anyway, it would a least be fun fishing topwater. I was on the oars and we eased into a wide spot with little current and watched Tom's fly plopping across the surface. It surprised us all when a big smallie shot out from under a log and hit the fly. It was a good battle with a tough, broad river smallmouth until I slipped the net under the good 17 incher. A smiling Tom said, “Let's have lunch and I'll have a beer to celebrate!”

I don't need to tell you Capt. Jack and I were into our fly boxes digging for deerhair. There are some toothy critters in the river, pike and musky, but Jack said he seldom sees them in this stretch so I removed my wire bite tippet and went with fluoro like Jack and Tom were using. Turns out that was a mistake. It was my turn in the bow and I knotted on one of the foam-faced poppers I tied last winter. I had four in different colors and if they worked like I hoped I would tie more.

Jack pulled the anchor and steered us out into the river. I tossed my popper to the bank and pow! A nice bass took it on the first cast! Things were looking up. Jack knows the river better than anyone and we worked the bank cover he figured was best, and he's seldom wrong. Between the rocks and downed trees you'd have to believe we were in fish heaven. Another bass on my popper had me feeling mighty good and I lost yet another when it threw the barbless hook at the boat. Then there was a fallen tree trunk half submerged laying parallel to the current and my cast to it brought an immediate splash like someone dropped a bowling ball into the water and my fly was gone! Bit off quicker than you can say it. Pike or musky? We never had a good look but my new favorite fly was lost.

A beauty of a day, warm and sunny with a slight breeze on a flowing river with a few rocky rapids along the way. Tom and I continued to pick up a fish here and there, occasionally losing one, but Jack was just not connecting. Sure, that's the way it goes sometimes, but rare is the day Jack doesn't catch fish, and it wasn't sitting too well. There was, after all, the prize! A trophy of sorts... well, a trinket really – a little wooden pendant granting the bearer bragging rights at least until the next fishing trip, but not much else.

We passed the “leaning tree” and the “t-island” where there are always big bass waiting but even Jack couldn't draw a look from those “sure spots.” It was getting towards the end of the day when Jack tied on a big natural deerhair diver. So big that a couple of small bass went for it but couldn't get hooked. Tom mentioned if he caught a bass on that fly it would likely be a big one. Until then it was looking like Tom was in line for the best fish of the day. Then it hit, a good smallmouth that had Jack smiling. These river bass are tough and strong and we all watched Jack's fish jumping to throw the hook. But Jack knows how to fight a fish and soon enough I let go the oars for the net. Sure enough, Jack landed the biggest smallmouth of the trip.

We stopped at a nice resort for dinner and over tacos and margaritas Tom and I tried to deduct inches from Jack's fish for everything we could think of from home-water advantage to delay-of-game for changing flies and leaders. In the end, however, we just had to congratulate him and buy his dinner.