Monday, May 31, 2010

Veni, Vidi, Vici

I got a chance to go out fishing for the first time since leaving for Vegas last week.  Went out early this morning to Charter Oak North, only to find every pier already taken at 6:30 AM.  I threw a Gander Mountain Trick Stick wherever I could from shore.  Had a couple hits but couldn't set the hook.  I got the fly rod out with the same result: missing hooksets.  This continued for a little over an hour and a half when a storm rolled in and the thunder started so I went home to get a nap and spend some time with my new wifey.

A little after 3:00 PM (after the sun came back out), feeling very inspired by Clif's post from yesterday, I put aside my recent fishing frustration and headed out for Banner Marsh, a local  hotspot that I've heard alot about but hadn't experienced yet.  I followed my Google Maps app to the general area and turned into the first access point I came across.  I ended up at a part of the Marsh called Wheel Lake, parked and got all rigged up.  I hooked up a 7" Powerworm texas style with no weight.

There is a little channel that runs next to the road and leads to the boat ramp that I decided to start with.  It was about 4:00 PM at this point and very sunny so worked down the channel, trying to cast into the areas of the bank that had overhangs from being washed out due to the boats or had downed/overhanging trees.  About fifteen casts in I overshot the water to the other bank and tugged the worm down into the water.  I felt a thunk and the line went slack.  I reeled up and set the hook, finally had one on! I swung him up onto shore just as a couple guys were coming in with their boat.  The Gamakatsu hook (that comes free with every pack of Gander Mountain plastics!) went through the side of his lip, came back and hooked him in the jaw on the outside.  I had to get my pliers out and work the hook out and guide it back through his lip to get him back in the water.  According to the tape on my pole, he was just under 12 inches.  I apologize for not having a pic but I had him out of the water for awhile and didn't want to do any damage while scrounging around for my camera.

The relief that came from that fish is almost indescribable.  Bass fishing is something that I've invested alot of my time into lately and I've come up empty handed more often than not the past half-dozen trips, especially when at a large, unfamiliar body of water.  I know there was some luck involved with tugging the worm off of the bank but I caught that fish by looking for shade and cover and working methodically down the bank.  It gave me a sense of accomplishment that's hard to explain.  It might sound silly but it was just what I needed.

I continued to work my way down around the boat ramp but two boats came out and one put in and they shut down so I jumped in the car and headed back up the road.  There are little channels that run alongside part of the road so I drove a little while down one of the roads, got out and started working down the channel with my Powerworm.  I eventually overshot the bank again, this time I got hung up and had to break the line (something that is much harder/scarier to do with 14 lb fluorocarbon than with 8lb mono, I found out).  I saw a few bluegill rising to the surface so I went back to the Explorer and grabbed my fly rod, which still had a little floating black fly with a red tail on it.

Bluegill love little floating flies.  I think they could honestly care less what it looks like, as long as it's small enough to fit in their mouth and it floats, they'll bite it.  I had a couple takes that I missed the hookset on and then I finally hooked this little guy (I had the camera ready this time):

I got him back in the water and then couldn't get the fly to float anymore and they lost interest.  Does anyone know of a way to keep flies afloat without floatant or know of a cheap alternative to floatant?  Any ideas are greatly appreciated.

It had sprinkled rain on and off while I worked my way down the road so I was a little damp and about ready to head home but I wanted to try one more spot right by where I came in. This little spot looked promising, with alot of grass and shade, but as I walked up I remember thinking "this path leading down is pretty steep, better be careful"  about three steps before I ended up at the bottom of the path on my butt in the mud.  I dusted myself off, (luckily no one was around to see) and grabbed my poles from where they landed in the grass and tried a few casts with the Powerworm and a silver/blue Rat L Trap knockoff.  After a couple dozen casts with no bites, I was ready to head back up the path and head home... Or so I thought.

Before I go over what happened next, let me explain that I'm a big man.  At 6'5" and pretty top-heavy, I sometimes have trouble keeping my balance while walking down a hallway or up stairs.  Apparently trying to climb up a muddy path just after a storm while holding two baitcasters and wearing 6 year old Nikes is a bad idea.  I got a few steps up, started slipping, did a Scooby Doo run in place for a second and then somehow simultaneously dropped my poles, fell to my knees and slid down into the lake up above my ankles.  Awesome.  At that point I was VERY happy no one was around.

I extricated myself from the muck, checked to make sure my reels weren't crushed or muddy and started up the hill again.  This time I extended my poles handle-first up the hill so my hands were free to grab hold occasionally and made my way up to the Explorer very awkwardly.

I know that sounds completely insane but that was my day.  It may be weird but I still consider it a success.  I may have looked like an idiot and my beautiful wife was quick to point out that I fell down as many times as I caught a fish but I accomplished something I hadn't done before:  I caught a bass in a large, unfamiliar body of water.  As long as I came home with nothing broken it would have been a good day.

Hopefully someday way down the line when I'm a super experienced fisherman and get bummed out because I didn't catch any fish over 4 lbs or something ridiculous, I can look back and remember not to take myself so seriously.

I decided I'm going to work on coming up with a few realistic goals to accomplish before the summer is over and my fishing time is restricted by college again.  Not sure exactly what yet but I'll be working on it over the next few days, I'll let you guys know what I come up with.

Hope you all had a good memorial day and good luck the next time you get to wet a line!


Basspastor said...

"my beautiful wife was quick to point out that I fell down as many times as I caught a fish"

Now that IS funny.

Clif said...

I know the channel by the ramp, every time I'm there I see people fishing it. Easily one of the most heavily pressured pieces of water out there.

Usually you can get a dry fly to float again by making many false casts before dropping it back on the water. The air rushing over/through it will dry it pretty quick. Fly floatant is pretty cheap though.

Mark said...

BP - Yea, she was pretty proud of herself on that one. I asked how long I have to file for anullment. :)

Clif - Well that makes me feel even better that I was able to pull a fish out of a heavily pressured area there. I'll have to put aside a whole day sometime so I can find a more desolate area to fish.
I guess I'll have to just suck it up and order some floatant.

MNAngler said...

Your story made me chuckle. Congrats on finding fish on new water. I hope to get to a new lake this week that I've been eyeing for a while. I hope to do at least as well as you, sans the falling down.

troutrageous1 said...

Good work on exploring new waters. No shame on taking a tumble either - if you don't fall into the muck or in above your waders every now and then, you're not fishing!

Like Clif mentioned, false casting (I'll blow on my fly) works too in lieu of floatant.

Mark said...

I'm glad I could bring some entertainment to you guys.
I learned another lesson today: Don't leave six year old Nikes that already smelt like a wet yeti in the back of your Explorer in the sun in 80+ degree weather after dunking them in nasty muddy runoff water.
The Nikes are in the trash can and I picked up a new air freshener for the Explorer but I may have to get it shampooed to get the smell out. It's godawful.

Anonymous said...

This definitely is a fishing story of success, pride of accomplishment, and, memories to remember for a long time to come. Wife sounds like she has a good sense of humor. That will come in handy when married to a frequent fisherman. I had similar success last season with a pair of sneekers. No good! Congratulations on your bass.