Sacrificing “The Fly”
October 12, 2009
David wanted to catch a lot of fish on a fly so I thought this would be a good opportunity to tangle with numbers of smallies for him. What I didn’t expect was the negative nature of these bass as we targeted them all over the place. We got a slightly later start than usual but with the cold overnight temps it wasn’t such a bad idea. The air was a brisk 37 degrees when we began and the water was barely 56 degrees. Thankfully, there was sunshine and only a light wind from the SW blowing under 5 knots. I set him up with several patterns of flies and was pretty sure at least one of them would work. We began in fairly shallow water working specific areas all the while anticipating the first strike. To say they weren’t aggressive would have been the understatement of the year. They just didn’t want a fly as one literally held the tail of a bead head leech and just swam with it. When David realized what had happened it was too late and the fish released it leaving him more disappointed. From sink tips and leeches to floating lines and weighted bugs, the arsenal was unlimited as he threw everything but dynamite to try and lock up. I tied a perch pattern tandem streamer on one of the rods and he tossed that for a while before the rod finally loaded up and he was locked. I’m not sure which one of us was more surprised, but we were both relieved as the chunky 3 pounder took to the air. I could see by the length of the fly that the fish was only hooked by the tandem hook and once in the net, she fell off completely. I really didn’t know what to make of this and hoped that as the day went on, the water would warm up a bit making the fish a little easier to catch on the fly. I had been throwing a jig every once and a while and having good success on it, but David really wanted to take them with a fly rod and kept at it a little longer. We even moved out to deeper water in the 15 to 20 foot range and I set up one of my high density sinking lines to get him down. We drifted and dragged over these depths as I landed a few more smallies on the jig. David was able to get the fly down with no problem and we think he even had a few strikes as we covered this area of the lake. Unfortunately, they never locked him up! I knew that if we were going to salvage this day, he was going to have to switch up to conventional tackle and bite the bullet. He agreed and was immediately into a decent smallie of around 3 pounds. What had taken him several hours to do on the fly had just taken less than 3 minutes on spinning tackle. In the next 15 minutes, he was able to land a couple more and miss a few strikes as well! Although it had been quite a while since he held anything other than a fly rod, he was very comfortable by the looks of it. We drifted over the better areas and on the next spot he loaded up on what I thought was a real good walleye. It wasn’t fighting like a bass and was staying down during the battle making me believe that it wasn’t a smallie. I was shocked to see that I was wrong when it got closer to the boat and I was able to slip the net under her. Once weighed, it went 5.33 pounds and all of it bass! What a toad as Craig would say and he would have been right. We kept at this technique for the remainder of the day all the while catching fish every once in a while. It definitely saved the day and I was thankful that at least some of the fish were cooperating even if it wasn’t with the fly. The lethargic nature of the bass today made it even more difficult as a desperate adjustment was needed in order to trigger them into taking. We did miss many strikes, but at least fish were caught in the balance of time that we spent fishing. I will be back and I will get them on the fly before time draws nearer to freeze up and hopefully figure out what makes them go. This was surely one of the toughest days spent targeting smallmouth bass and we had to do it with a fly. I would have to say that it could have been compared to catching a “Permit” with a fly rod! We had gone and taken a difficult sport & made it tougher, but spinning tackle had saved the day!!