Saturday, May 25, 2024

Fishing again...

  I had my knit hat stretched down tight and the hood of my lined sweatshirt pulled up over that. I’d just motored away from the dock and was already wishing for my heavy coat. The water temperature read 49 degrees and the stiff north breeze wasn’t helping. But fishing season was open, and I had some winter-tied bass bugs I couldn’t wait to use. I should have known, considering the weather, what it would be like. A couple of days earlier I’d enjoyed some good luck out of my little jon boat catching pike on a small river. And in my eagerness, along with those new deer-hair bass bugs, thought I could beat the odds. 

There’s something about coming over the hill and spotting the water through the trees that gets the heart pumping. Though it was a beautiful sunny day, the temperature was only 37 degrees when I left my driveway. Twenty minutes later it had risen to forty when I pushed the boat into the lake.  

During the previous weeks I’d spent my time with the chainsaw and brush cutter keeping the home place at least a little bit civilized and checking my trail cameras. There’s plenty of wildlife around here and it’s entertaining to see the deer, fox, coyotes, pine marten, and wolves that pass by. Add the returning variety of songbirds and drumming grouse makes it easy to forget the world’s woes and appreciate life.


 On the water I went straight for a favored rocky bay that's proven itself fine smallmouth bass habitat. I hoped the sun-bathed shoreline warmed the water a little and was hopeful for the yellow-bellied Dahlberg diver I’d tied. I was casting well and enjoying working the fly about every way I could think of – let it sit for long seconds, twitch it, pop it, walk it, strip it into a dive – but after literally pounding the shallows with no hits I should have known the bass weren’t up yet. Smallmouth like water over fifty degrees and 65 is much better. Of course it was too cold, but I wasn’t completely unprepared, so grabbing the other rod and casting to deeper edges with a weighted streamer on sinking line was plan B. Same results. I tried a couple more places that will only get better as warmer weather approaches before I steered the boat into a back bay where a creek empties into it. Rocks and wood in the water looked right and my cast next to the downed tree paid off.  

The bass struck with a splash and a good fight was on. Playing the fish on the rod and turning the boat with the foot-controlled trolling motor has become standard procedure ‘cause I often fish alone. A decent fish can pull the boat where I don’t want it, so pay attention.  

I thought the fish was bigger than it was, early season anticipation I suppose, but still a nice smallmouth that measured a bit under 20 inches. It was the first of the season and I wouldn’t complain to land many more like it. 

I motored into the mouth of the creek and made a cast to the grassy bank. Again, a fish attacked the deerhair with a splash and suddenly things were looking up. When I saw it was a pike, I netted it quickly before it cut my leader. I didn’t want to lose my fly and was glad the fluoro leader held. I often use a wire bite guard but for some reason I shunned it that day.  

My bass bug was working, and my early season casting was fine. After replacing the fluorocarbon tippet I eased along to another target. I wasn’t so lucky when the next pike hit – a short heavy tug and the line went limp. My fly was gone, bit off in a nano-second. A lesson I’ve been taught many times, but obviously haven’t quite learned. 



  1. Enjoyed reading. Thanks for sharing. JJ

  2. Al
    I am behind on my comments. I forgot and left my computer at my daughter's house, and I have been without my second friend for six days. She finally mailed it to me the other day, and I am now catching up on all the fishing links I used on the net.
    A 20" smallmouth down this way would be considered a trophy mount. What size are those deer hair poppers? I could see a bass attacking it with a killer instinct. I'm glad you made it out on the water. Thanks for sharing

    1. Hi Bill
      I know how it is keeping up with the blogs. Anyway, those poppers pictured are tied on a Gamakatsu B10S stinger hook, size 1/0. I also tie bass bugs in 2's & 4's. I'm also behind on my fishing -- too many home chores and lots of stormy weather. I don't mind fishing in the rain but thunderstorms are bad news. I'll be fishing today if these predicted storms pass soon. Good to hear from you.