Hard Sayin’ Not Knowin’

Bass fishing is not something I’ve done a lot of. Often they were not what I was targeting, but they were there. Don’t get me wrong I was happy to catch the occasional 6 inch bass, however I had never gone after a full sized bass, large or small mouthed. That changed this spring when a friend and I decided to venture to a spot his friend had let him in on. His friend hadn’t been in years and we really were not sure what we’d find. Good water, bad water, a mud puddle or a deep pool. At first we couldn’t even figure out how to get there, completely blocked in by private land we wove our way around ranchettes until we found the sweetest sight in fishing/hunting: “Entering USFS Public Lands”. At this point we knew we were in. Where the road ended looked like a popular party spot for the locals and the evidence lay strewn around the banks, or it was a bud light spawning ground.

We headed away from the parking lot, heading towards a (hopefully) lesser trafficed area. The day did not get off to a fast start, the biggest thing I caught was a fairly massive bull frog tadpole while Nelson managed a little smally. A good sign the fish we were targeting were actually here!

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Personal best tadpole
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Little guy, big motor

We moved down towards some deeper water and Nelson managed to get into a good sized (bigger than we expected from the area) largemouth hiding by some reeds.

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Now that we knew the area harbored some larger fish we excitedly moved on. We poked through some shallower water and located a good sized smallmoth feeding behind a rock and Nelson was kind enough to give me a shot at my first fish of the day. I cast my popper directly into the reeds around the rocks and got stuck. The bass was still there though. Nelson dropped a crawfish imitation just upstream of it and it was on! Two big jumps and a spit fly.. So it goes, but what an exciting fight! We moved further along and found a drop off into some deeper water and began prospecting for some fish. As my fly was sinking a smallmouth darted out and inhaled the fly! Two strong runs and a few jumps later and I had it to shore! First fish of the trip for me and a dandy at that!

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A beautiful bronze-green fish with bright red eyes that fought like crazy, these were some fish I could keep chasing. We continued fishing the drop and Nelson spotted a tailing fish heading his way (carp?!). As it got closer we realized it was a very sizable large mouth tailing along and sipping off the surface. Odd behavior, but we didn’t stop to contemplate the complexities of bass behavior, and he cast the crawdad right in front of the fish’s path. It didn’t disappoint and swallowed the fly. As soon as it started though the bass turned its head and almost contemptuously snapped the line and slowly swam into the depths of its home. Disappointed to have lost the fish but excited to have gotten an eat from such a quality fish we pushed on. As we moved on we were able to sight fish to some truly incredible fish in some occasionally very shallow water, the only “problem” was getting the bass before an adventurous sunfish could grab the fly. I mean any sized fly, and these were not subtle nibbles, these sunfish slammed streamers longer than them and headed for the depths.

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No streamer was safe from sunfish
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Ambition
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Fork tailed

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This fork tailed smally was a blast to catch, with Nelson casting and me hiding near the fish in some brush guiding his cast in until BAM! The fish crushed the streamer and began a wild jumping run before being corralled to shore. This area was beginning to be a pain to walk in but the fishing continued improving, the thick reeds, steep edges and copious thorny plants were all worth it for fish like these.

The fishing continued to be almost nonstop as we pushed further into the area.

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Streamer testing on red eyes
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Yellow fly = yellow fish
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Streamer testing
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Bronzed

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Was hiding in a foot and a half of water!

It was one of those days where you could break off on a fish, and five casts later catch your fish and the fly back. No joke it actually happened!

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Wooly bugger and streamer eater all within 2 minutes
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And no look of regret for eating them both, the little glutton!

This day was one of those you get but only once every year or two. Good fish, in a good spot and some good company. Not much more you can ask for, one of those areas that really makes you wonder if that day was real, or just a good dream.

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