Monday, May 5, 2014

Playing the numbers game.

I should've called this blog the doubtful fisherman.  Seeing as how I just got back from the river, I'm standing in my damp shorts and wolfing down a pickle.  I do enjoy fly fishing very much.  I never did well with terminal tackle and I don't have patience for fishing with live bait.  After moving to this area, I spent a little time fishing on the Beaver Lake tailwaters.  It was OK catching small to medium trout but I ran into some smallmouth bass closer to home and fell in love with them.  That, and those giant panfish that keep jumping on the line.

I never was good at catching a lot of smallmouth bass.  I never really caught many large ones - I don't think I've ever caught more than 10 largemouth or smallmouth bass exceeding 2 or 3 lbs on a lake or stream.  I love panfish because they keep me occupied and I can even wow my own friends with fat ones - as they still say I catch small bass.

That being tossed out there for your digestion . . .  I am contemplating reality.  One in which I can't really fish a large smallmouth stream - one in which a number of other people have success.  I broke my new TFO fly rod when the heavily weighted fly came back on a wicked, tight cast under some timber and branches.  The rod just bent over.  I brushed it off.  My fault.  Not big deal, I can maybe get a replacement for that rod section.  I went home, grabbed another new rod and brushed myself off.  I headed to the main stream this time.

I don't like this river but there are lots of good sized smallmouth bass.  I don't like wading it due to gravel and large limestone?? covered in slick stuff.  Lots of floaters too.  More than a few already floated past.  I rarely catch fish on this part of the watershed but other catch "toads".  The only bass came hours later on a purple Crazy Dad.  She centered up on it as I drifted it towards her and she took it - but I couldn't tell.  It had stopped drifting and I jiggled it a few times.  She then moved to the nest.  I pulled up and she raised up.  Then she shook and the fly flew out of the water - only about 2 feet deep here.  I had no slack on the line.  She was huge and beautiful.

I fish some pretty primo smallmouth waters.  I play the numbers game. I go out weekly or more in the hopes of catching at least one.  And I always did - until my secret spot filled in with gravel and another became private property.  I tossed Double Deceivers, crawdads, Clousers, Shuckers, etc.  but they are on their beds and I'm wondering if the action folks have seen it pre-spawn.  Sometimes, I can catch 20 smallmouth with most being small.  And that's OK.  But I wonder if I only catch smallmouth bass because of luck and timing.  Sometimes, I work pretty dang hard to pull a bass out of a hole - even if I don't see one but have inkling.

Let me ask you guys these questions.  What defines us as fly fishers?  How can a fisherman tell when "enough is enough"?

I always get outfished - especially trout and especially if I go out with more than one person.  I look like a goof talking up my game and showing photos - only to crash and burn such as at a bass tournament I joined last summer.  I caught several bass the night before and none the day it mattered.  I see instagram photos of people catching bass after bass and nice ones too.  And yet, it seems that I relegated to be the "small-stream"/skinny water guy.

I crave large smallmouth bass but can't seem to put myself on them.  Folks don't really want to meet up either.  I do as they do - cast as they cast and am stuck wondering . . . how the heck can I take my own kids fishing when I can't represent as a father should?  I remember going out with my father for smallmouth and white bass and trout.  Only 2 of those trips ever yielded fish for me.  I take my kids out and they get bored after not catching anything - even then, it's all small stuff.  The kids want to camp and fish and I am afraid to even show them how to fly fish.  I can talk game to them too but can still barely produce with them around.

Anyways, wah wah wah.  Everything in life has come the hard way. . . . why this, lol.  Probably why Bill doesn't leave comments anymore, he he.


  1. We all have those kinds of days me. Just stick with it and keep doing what you're doing and the next time out it may all come together. If a wannabe fish bum like me can get lucky every once in awhile it can happen to anybody.
    The important thing is that you enjoy what you're doing , regardless of species caught or size of fish the whole experience should be fun! I started out (and still am) being a terrible fly fisherman so I got in the habit of enjoying the experience before I ever got to enjoy the fish catching aspect of the sport. I can't even count the number of times I've been schooled by others in this great pasttime we all enjoy , at this point I just smile and try to learn something I can use the next time I'm out.
    Another week or two and the weather should stabilize and the spawn will be ancient history , then we won't be able to keep those smallies off our flies no matter what we do!! Keep at it man....

    1. Well, I worked so hard for that smallmouth that when she popped off the fly, I actually threw up a little bit. I played to that fish for over an hour. She was fighting other fish off her nest - especially a really large colorful smallmouth that looked like a football. I lost 2 like this last year. I had one slip out of my grip and snap of the leader when I grabbed the line. Another jumped off the line when i swung it over to grab. 2 of my largest last year lost. Thanks.

  2. Hey, Josh, that is a bummer on the rod breaking. Doesn't matter what kind of day or trip a fly fisher is having, rather they are catching big Smallies or runt sized Bluegills, the loss of a rod is like the loss of a trusted friend. That being said, we have all been there with a broken rod at one time or another. I am no expert on catching Smallmouth, but I do know, that often times the fish win in the game of fishing. Oh, but when it is your turn to excel in the game and the fish come quickly to hand, those times are the times that keep us all coming back to the water and the fish. I know I will be seeing some nice Smallmouth on your posts this year!

  3. Thanks Mel. I guess what's really frustrating is how I have worked so hard to find the fish and folks just attract them like magnets. MY buddy Craig has been catching largemouth like crazy in a cove. The guy even showed me up at my own pond. I was left with 0 to his 3 bass in 10 minutes, he he. Dude can catch fish like nobody's business.