Fun weekend fishing and exploring at the cabin. We got up there Friday afternoon and dug out Grandpa’s old fishing row boat. This little boat was pretty awesome for fly fishing. It was nice and stable and had a deck for casting, without any extra hinges, rings, or obstacles for fly line to get caught on. So we launched it and started casting for bass around the lake. Lately I have been using a Meat Whistle attached with a Rapala (non slip loop) knot for my bassin’. The Rapala knot gives the fly a bit more action, which I think is sometimes necessary for getting fish to strike. Fishing was pretty good in terms of size. We started at the mouth of the river and hit some submerged cattails. Noah took the oars while Braden and I fished. I caught a few little guys and then hooked a what felt like a decent fish. He swam off and came flying out of the water. Thats when we realized it was a big fish. I really thought I was going to lose it when it buried itself deep in the weeds, but I was able to get it toward the top and Braden made an awesome net scoop. Taped out to 17″, around 3-4 pounds, biggest bass on the fly I’ve caught so far A few minutes after I released it Braden tied into another good fish on a crazy new fly he tied. After that we caught a few small ones but nothing else of any size.
On Saturday we explored a small trout stream. In some spots you could jump accross. The weeds were high and the brush made for some tricky casting, so often the best approach was to get in the stream and wade up to the pools. The stream was very winding, almost doubling on itself many times. We started fishing a short meadow section, and Braden and I each got some action. The brown trout were tiny, but still fun to catch. It is ridiculous how much they can fit in their mouths. We caught all of them on #14 hare and coppers. We then hiked into a wooded section where the stream opened up a bit and had some sweet pools. For some reason we didn’t catch or see anything above five inches, although I’m sure there are some bigger fish sitting in impossible to reach snags and pools. Minimalist fly fishing and wet wading on small streams like this is a ton of fun. All you really need is a small fly box, floatant, and a pocket knife, no waders, vest, or other junk. Very clean form of fishing. Ended the morning with one trout, Braden three. Grandpa and I checked out a river on Sunday. We had been there once before, and I had caught a pike on spinning gear few years ago. A cold stream dumps into the river there, so it is a natural hot spot for fishing. I hooked a beast of a smallmouth, but he jumped and spit the hook. Grandpa had a pike follow his Rapala right to his feet, but that was it. The bass fishing really slowed down at the lake. They have moved into their summer patterns, cruising the deep weed lines. Grandpa hooked up the trolling motor to the row boat, so that made it a lot of fun driving around the lake. Much easier than paddling.
Pig sunfish that ate a #4 saltwater Meat Whistle. Hungry little guy.
We should be doing some serious trout fishing in the next week or two, so stay tuned. Hopefully the hopper fishing will be starting up. Nothing like trout hammering the big bugs.
Here is a cool old fly fishing/tying book by William Blacker that was published in 1842. Blacker was an accomplished early fly fisher and tier who sold fishing stuff out of his shop in London. I find it interesting that the river section is almost like a modern guide book. He includes not only the best flies, spots, etc., but also favorite inns and landmarks. You can find it for free on Project Gutenberg here.
Sunday was our last day at the cabin. Fished for a while in the morning and caught a few bluegills. After lunch we drove over to one of our favorite catfish holes and drowned some worms. Unfortunately, the catfish didn’t cooperate with our plans. Instead Noah landed this 25″ monster of a sucker/carp thing. It took him over five minutes to bring in! While it wasn’t fly fishing, its still fun to pull in some big fish on spin gear every now and then. I tried a fly for a while, but that didn’t work so well.
On to some prettier things…
Braden and I had some of the best bluegill fly fishing of our lives in the evening. We took the canoe back to the spot where I caught the bass. Braden caught well over sixty in two hours on dries and poppers, all thick slabs as big as my hand on nearly every cast. The little bay was just filled with fish. Just cast, twitch, and bang, a big bluegill would practically come flying out of the water after the fly. Not a bad fight on a five weight, either.
I still find it amazing how aggressive small bass are
I’ve never had much luck fishing in the river above the cabin. Its usually too shallow, too weed choked, too warm, too something. Dad once caught a nice bass out of a sunken tree on a big bass bait, but that was it for all the years we’ve been going up there. Then again, I’ve never really explored it. Until today.
The early morning had gone by rather uneventfully. I managed a few small bass at the mouth of the river, but even they weren’t really biting. On a whim, I decided to take a paddle up the river to check things out. The high water had flooded some grass and cattails, creating a big pocket of water that was previously unwelcoming to fish. Then I saw him. A three pounder lazily swam away at the flash of my paddle. That was the one I wanted.
Grandpa’s old Wenonah glided through the cattails. This was perfect. Submerged cattails in two feet of water with plenty of cover. Small bluegills and minnows darted around in the weeds, giving the bass plenty to munch on. I wedged the canoe in a clump of weeds and tied on a big yellow popper. It only took two casts. Two bloops and a pause. No explosion of water, just a subtle slurp, more like a cruising trout than a bass. The fight only lasted a few seconds before he broke me off. He demolished my leader, leaving me with only a sad looking stub of 30 pound mono and a sinking heart.
I recovered and paddled over to a new spot. The lake was almost perfectly calm. I dropped the anchor on the outside of the cattails. Another big yellow popper went sailing into the cover. This time it got nailed. I set the hook and held on for dear life. This was hand to hand combat. I was way back in the thick of it, and if I let him go he would just get hopelessly wrapped in the weeds, get that split second of slack, and spit the barbless hook right back in my face. I had no choice but to hang on and hope my 0X tippet would hold as he thrashed wildly. Luckily, it did. It felt like forever, but honestly the fight didn’t last more than two minutes. I wrassled him into the boat and got this self portrait by balancing the camera on a canoe paddle.
Later in the morning Noah and I paddled out to the same spot and did a little bluegill fishing for dinner. The bluegills were thick in there. A fly didn’t survive long. Noah caught eight fat keepers on his glass rod and twice as many smaller ones in an hour. Fried in a
little lot of butter, they sure tasted good. I also got a chance to test out some jigs on a spin rod. I felt really guilty, but it was actually kinda fun. I cranked in a few nice perch and Noah caught a big crappie. No more bass tonight, but we hit the bluegills hard. Its a great way to relax after throwing big flies on a six weight all day.