Thursday, March 30, 2017

Panfish and Monsters

Another window opens up so it's off to Yellowwood. I had left all my gear in the truck from the last trip, so it's a quick getaway.

One rain system has moved out, and another is due in the next day, so the weather is what one might call "changeable." No sooner do I launch the tube than the warm, sunny day turns blustery and cool. The wind will come and go all evening, blowing from every point on the compass.

I'm at the north end. Still lots of shoreline to explore here.

I navigate around a series of shallow mudflats and find a bowl of deeper water. There are bluegill in it. I manage to pull one out. I plan to catch some more, but when I decide to tie on a dry to see if they'll come up for it, I carelessly let the wind blow the tube over the trailing line, and it snags on a D-ring under the tube. By the time I've unsnagged it the wind has pushed me past the honey hole and onto another mud flat, and the moment has passed.

I kick way out and around the mudflat and back into shore. I begin to work that yellow streamer again.

I'm being real careful about the low hanging branches in front of me as I cast, but I drift under some branches without realizing it and hang up the fly. I try to retrieve it, but the branch is high and stiff and the line breaks. I leave the streamer hanging there, another sacrifice to the lake.

I check my fly boxes. It looks like that was my last yellow streamer. It's from a batch of Orvis flies that my brother John gave me several years ago. Fortunately, perhaps because I had a premonition of its loss, I had just studied the fly carefully to see what I would need to tie some up. Which is what I will do.

Without the yellow streamer, it was time to try out some flies I had recently tied. I have a lengthening list of tying materials I want to buy, but haven't gotten them yet, so I'm tying with the materials I have.

This one gets some attention. I miss two takes, then hook up with a youngster.

Around the bend I spot a Great Blue trying to blend into the background. I think it's the same one I disturbed back at the launch site. I disturb him again.

I pick up another little bass on the white streamer.

I turn and begin the crossing to the other side, dragging the streamer behind me. I get no hits. On the other side I tie on a tube fly with lots of flash and soon get a take. It's on just long enough to know it's a good fish. But off it goes. I wonder if it would have beat that 15 incher from the last trip.

I work along the shoreline enjoying the many signs that the woods are coming to life, especially the first appearance of wildflowers.

The sun dips behind the trees. I see a boat ahead of me close to the shoreline. We get within hailing distance, and we have a fisherman's conversation.
     Me: "Howdy. Which way are you going?"
     Him: "I'll go out and around you."
     Me: "Great. Thanks."
     Him: "Doing any good?"
     Me: "Oh, a few little ones."
     Him: "Are you bluegill fishing or bass fishing?"
     Me: "Bass fishing!"

By then his electric motor--regulation here, happily--has taken him beyond conversational range.

I work on around, ending with a white cone head rabbit strip streamer, but get no action.

At dusk I start trolling it back to the take out. As I get near the boat ramp I see that other boat heading in. He gets there just as I lift the tube and haul it to the truck. As I load up he comes over. I can tell he has something he needs to say. He launches into his story without preamble.
     Him: "I was here a week or so ago. I was fishing a rattle trap. I got a hit and could tell right away        that I had hooked a MONSTER. I played it for a long time--I had 6 pound test on. I kept thinking:      now, I know there are only two possibilities in this lake: bass or catfish. It didn't feel like a catfish.      I finally get it up to the surface, and what do you think it was?"
     Me: "Uhhh, what?"
     Him: "Carp! Big old carp. In all the years I've been coming here I had never heard of any carp in        here! This was the first one I've caught in this lake."
     Me: "So how big was it?"
     Him: "Had to be 20 or 25 pounds."

He reaches into his pocket for his phone, pulls up a photo and shows it to me. A selfie: him and a carp so big he couldn't get it all in the frame. It's a big fish.
     Me: "It took a rattletrap, huh?"
     Him: "No, I snagged it! Hooked it in the tail."
     Me: "Huh!"
     Him (as he slips the phone back into his pocket and steps away into the darkness): "There are              MONSTERS in there."


  1. Good evening for you, Jim. I will bet you are tying up some Yellow streamers, soon. Does appear there are real nice fish in the lake. That big ol' Carp would take you for a ride in your float tube!

  2. Great story. Got to love being blown all over the lake.