Saturday, October 3, 2015

6 Reasons to go Bass Fish

6 Reasons to go Bass Fishing

 I contemplated early Wednesday morning why it would be a miserable day to go bass fishing in the swamp. Over the weekend they called for rain Tuesday and clear Wednesday. By the time Tuesday came they called for 60% rain for Wednesday morning and 20% the rest of the day. The weather was to be in the low 60’s with wind gusts up to 15mph.
 Sure, I’ve fished in the rain before but I’m not too sure the bass would be looking for surface poppers. That and I’ll be in a Kayak in the open so I wouldn’t have any cover should it downpour. Wind isn’t a fly fishermen’s best friend. Trying to get a light foam popper cast through the wind can present real problems. Also the wind will blow the Kayak around unless I get into the lily pad beds to anchor. They weren’t calling for thunder or lightening which was good but you’ll never know. Being it’s a half hour through the forest to the pond wouldn’t be much fun in rain or a thunder storm. I go fishing to relax but if it appears it will be more of frustration I’ll wait for a better day.
  On the other hand I thought of 6 reasons that I should go fishing.
1. I got a fly rod.
2. I got bass poppers
3. I got a rain coat
4. I got a kayak
5. I got Cigars
6. I got the day off!
I went fish’n!  

 I got a late start. I had a big breakfast and after putting all my gear in the van, including my kayak, I was on my way. I was still trying to convince myself, as I drove north in the misty rain, that this wasn’t going to be a frustrating outing.
 It was near 10 am when I pulled into the empty parking area. I wasn’t as excited as I usually am about fishing the swamp. The rain had ceased but it was a dreary feeling wet morning. The overcast sky was hard to predict. I noticed the leaves were starting to change into their autumn colors. They didn’t appear to be bright and colorful like you see in pictures. The leaves and autumn scenery looked more like a drab fresh watercolor painting dripping as if still wet.
 I got the kayak on the dolly and started packing it with my gear. It wasn’t until I took out the 7 weight fly rod, as the sky was clearing up some, that I started to get a little spark in my disposition. I just had a good feeling finally that I was going to have a fun day despite the wind and weather.

 Anytime I had mentioned this swamp around Marienville I’ve heard stories of the BIG BASS that are here. I hear how they catch them. When on the water I’ve talked with fishermen and also overheard conversations of how “the last time we were here we couldn’t keep them off the line!” I’ve never had a glory day of big bass constantly being caught myself. All these folks are either bait or lure fishermen and they begin to tell me the best lure and how to work it on the bottom. I refrain from using a spinning rod and prefer my fly rod. In fact only my friend Jeff and I are the only ones I’ve ever seen fishing a fly rod. Maybe I’ll never have a bass glory day because of this but I’ve had some memorable times that I wouldn’t trade for a spinning rod.

 As I rolled the kayak down the trail, through the forest, I kept an ear for the force of the wind. The leaves tried their best to rustle up some crispy noise, as the wind blew, but being wet and all it was a soggy muffle. A deer appeared in front of me along the lane. She stood there and looked on like I shouldn’t be out on a morning such as this. I got a quick picture and continued on as it darted into the damp forest.

 When I got out from under the canopy of trees and got within sight of the swamp I was relieved. Though the sky was a cloudy grayish blue it didn’t look like any darker clouds would bring in any downpour. The wind was constant though but I was hoping it was a little calmer down on the water. I took the kayak off the dolly and drug it over the rough grassy field down to the water. 

 With the recent rain the water had risen that I was able to get the kayak into the water without stepping into the soft marshy grass. Also I didn’t have to step into the muck and silt to get my kayak into the open water through the lily pad grove.
 The wind didn’t feel any calmer at the water so I had to put in a little more effort in paddling the kayak to get it to track straight. The water wasn’t extremely choppy but the wind kept the surface a wavy puzzle of glare. I stopped, once I got out a ways, and it didn’t take the wind any time at all to spin the 10 foot kayak facing it back in the direction I came. Not sure if it was telling me something but I wasn’t giving up or letting this wind ruin my day. I had fished the swamp in the wind before and knew my best bet was to anchor in the lily pads to keep from blowing around. 

I drifted my way towards the lily pads to make my first few casts. I dropped the claw hammer anchor just shy of the lily pads hoping it would catch before the wind blew me too far into the pad grove. I already had a popper knotted on so I stripped line out as the kayak settled.

 My cast was a bit further out from the lily pads than I would have liked. I gave it a quick strip, for some noise, and let it drift with the wind and current towards the edge of the pads. As it drifted closer I started stripping it towards me. I paused for a second or two and gave a good tug and let it settle again. The bass slurped the popper with a gulp like a bigger blue gill would. I jerked back on the line and the surface swirl told me this wasn’t a big blue gill. The line drew taunt and the rod flexed towards the battling bass. I pulled the rod towards the open water trying to force the bass away from the lily pads. The bass followed the line away from the pads and with force pulled towards the open water to my right. The kayak actually pivoted with the force of the bass. It semi circled around me as I kept the rod high trying to force it to the kayak. After a bit more of a battle I got the bass near enough to the kayak to net it. I hadn’t been in the water for an hour and already had a nice bass in the yak. Maybe it wasn’t going to be that bad of a day after all. 

After I released it I dried my hands and reached in, under my rain coat, and pulled out a Short Torp Brick House. 
 I fished the lily pads along the bank but the wind kept guiding me into the pads. I decided to cross the pond and look for calmer water. Back in a cove I found some calmer water. Small fish were going after my popper so I decided to attach a smaller one on and have some fun while I enjoyed my cigar.

 I continued to fish along the lily pads fighting the wind. I couldn’t get any bass to come up so I paddled to the open water, between some lily growths that looked like a good spot to spend some extra time. I anchored in the lily pads to keep from drifted and knotted on a #1 frog popper. It was just afternoon and I was hoping the bass were coming out from hiding to find an easy meal. I looked over the wavy open pool of water and figured if I can get a clean cast, towards the far growth, I can swim the frog popper back towards me just like a frog would.

 With the wind at my back, I let line fly towards the far lily pads. The popper followed and touched down on a pad at the edge of the growth. After the line settled, a sharp twitch of the rod tip slid the popper onto the wavy water surface with a subtle splash. Two quick strips of the line made the popper gurgle and I was sure enough commotion to draw attention. I waited about two seconds and than stripped and popped the foam and feather frog aggressively towards me like a frog escaping from danger. A bass attacked it from the side with a leaping gulp. I waited just a second and than yanked back on the rod and felt the rod flex instantly and the resistance on the other end. As the bass dove deep I tightened my grip on the cork handle and tried to keep the rod sections up to keep the bass from taking me into the swamp moss below. After a quick swim towards me he turned and surged out towards my right with good weighty force that I let some tensioned line through my fingers while keeping a good firm grip on the cork. I was able to feel the kayak drift among the lily pads with the force of the pulls. We battled back and forth as I tired him out keeping him away from the lily pads. Once nearer the kayak he aggressively splashed with weighty body language until I was able to get a thumb hold in his jaw. The nice bass got my blood flowing again in anticipation of more to come.

 That’s kind of the way it went for the next couple of hours alone on the water. Aggressive stripping of the popper, with short pauses, created some aggressive takes. When things slowed I’d mess with the blue gill for fun. 

  I could tell it was getting later in the evening. The wind died down some and I found calmer water along the lily pad growth. I was getting more taps with blue gill but stuck with the #1 popper hoping for a sure bass. I wasn’t too far from my exit point knowing it was going to take time to get out of the swamp, pack up and get back to the van before dark.

 With only a cool breeze blowing now and then I kept the anchor out and let it drag along the bottom slowing me down some. The kayak would slowly drift towards the bank side lily pads but gave me enough time to get a few casts out towards them before drifting into them.

 My cast was aimed between the lily pads in a narrow stretch of open water that lead to the bank. It looked like an open path used by a muskrat. The popper fell with a plop. Within seconds a bass rose and gulped the popper before the rest of the line fell to the water. I yanked back and the slack line flew up in the air and tightened. The swirl, in between the lily pad growth, told me I had a hook into it but I wasn’t sure how deep. I pulled line in quickly, with my left hand, and gave an extra tug on the rod to make sure of a good set. The bass surfaced momentarily and swam beneath the lily pads. I pulled back on the rod and somehow got him out from the lily pad vines without tangling up. I had him in open water without the risk of losing him. After a short skirmish I got him to the kayak. 

  I cast out a few more times without a hit and decided to call it a day before it got any later. I paddled towards my exit point and got out on dry land without any problems.
 I found it easier to drag the kayak on the field grass to the lane instead of trying to keep it on the dolly over the bumpy terrain. Once at the lane I secured the kayak on the dolly and headed through the forest towards the parking area.
 At the van I took my time sorting things out and putting them away while sipping on a cold beer.

 Well, though the weather wasn’t the calmest nor warm it turned out to be a better catching day than I would have thought. I figured that this would be my last journey of the year to the bass swamp. My thoughts and preparation would now be for Lake Erie steelhead.



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