Sunday, August 29, 2021

A Clarion River Mile

 

A Clarion River Mile

8/26/2021


  The sun was already up above the tree line when I got the float tube in the water. I figured a mile of fishing the river should be enough time to get a lot of fishing in without hurrying. I had my 6 weight fly rod, a few boxes of poppers and a box of streamers should I decide to fish beneath. I was excited due to the fact I haven’t fished for smallies for the past couple of weeks because of the high muddy river from torrential rainfall. The river was still a bit higher than I would of liked it but the color was a light tea stain. I find just after the river starts to clean up from being muddy the smallmouth are anxious to find something to visually eat. With the higher water I found they don’t hug the banks as much but are out from the banks searching for a meal. Even though I got out later than I wanted I felt I still had time to coax them into eating a noisy surface popper.


The morning sky was kind of puzzling with a few translucent gray clouds passing beneath the white clouded sky as if drifting in slow motion. The summer greenery of trees lined the banks with downed wood cover, that had been pushed down river from the flood stage river flow earlier in the week, which in turn should be good ambush cover for the hungry smallmouth. Down river I knew there would be boulders also lining the river banks which causes deeper pockets and cover. The lazy sun behind me brightened the tinted surface water enough looking like a wet airport runway as far as my eyes could see.

I started casting a popper just out from the banks as I slowly drifted in the float tube within the current. I reached for boulders, with my flippers, to stop my drifting when I could, to spend more time covering an area that looked fishy. I stopped myself out from the bank a ways and was casting into a back eddy cove when my first smallie rose to the popper with a splash. I hooked him in the lip and brought him to the float tube without much of a fight. Not a big one but it made me smile.

 


 I missed another down river but by the way it tried taking the popper I felt it was smaller yet.

  I was slowly feeling my way downriver casting the 6 weight fly rod towards the bank and out towards the middle of the river getting my timing right for longer casts. Out towards the middle the popper fell to the surface and I made a couple quick jerks on the line to cause commotion. Suddenly a fishy object surfaced after my popper with an audible splash. I reared back and felt the resistance in the arced rod. He swam cross current away tugging line like a Bloodhound on a hot trail wanting to be unleashed. I let him take line out as the Mid-Arbor clicked like hail falling on a tin roof. I had no hold on the riverbed so I was still drifting which didn’t help matters any with the fish in the current heading upriver and I floating slowly down river. I finally finned my way into some slower water and took more control of my catch.

  He gave me a good fight beneath and surfaced a couple of times with vicious surface splashing before I got him to the tube apron. 

  

 My next catch was no fluky size smallie either. He gobbled down the surface popper that hooked him in the tongue. There was little chance he was going to release himself as he fought desperately before I got him near to lip him.


 

  After releasing him I reached back in the rear side pocket of my float tube and took out a plastic zip lock that held my cigars. I took out an RP Toro Edge and lit it up. Smoke rolled off the lit end and into the slight breeze like a small smoldering campfire wanting to reignite. 


 

  By now it was near 11:00. The sun was beating down a lot brighter and hotter. It felt good that I was hooking smallies and a few bigger ones to boot. Sitting in the float tube with half my body in the water kept me cool and not so much uncomfortable from the heat. I relaxed just long enough to get a few good puffs of the stogie before continuing down river.

  Drifting, I casted out towards the bank nearly under a tall shade tree. From my point of view it looked deeper than the water I was tip toeing through. I made the popper gurgle a couple of times and was watching it swing causing a small wake behind while I was token on the stogie. All of a sudden a smallie sideswiped the popper like a dog grabbing a Frisbee disc in mid flight. I yanked back and the rod arced. All of a sudden the popper emerged from beneath and flew up out of the surface water. How I missed him I wasn’t sure. I mean he took the popper under and whatever happened beneath he was able to escape the hook. I was kind of mad. I single hauled line and threw it out towards the middle of the river. I was taking in some slack line after a couple of jolts on my popper when a Smallmouth came barreling half out of the water gulping my popper somewhere within the burst of water. I yanked the long length of line like I was mad and hard enough as if I wanted to rip the lips off the darn fish. The smallie went under and this time the popper didn’t show up on the surface. The arced 9’ fast action rod was well into the mid section by the time the smallie took off cross current like a camp chair in a wind storm. I had my wrist locked as line peeled from the spool and up through the guides. I hadn’t had a foot hold from preventing me from drifting downriver too fast so I finned rapidly to try to hold my position. I noticed a boulder just under the surface and tried my best to direct the float tube towards it to try and get a foot hold. The whole time I’m fighting this big smallie in the current who wants to go in the opposite direction. I had the rod butt in my gut keeping the rod upward and as much line out of the water as possible. I was able to get a foot hold on the submerged boulder to keep from drifting but that didn’t seam to be much of an advantage as far as this furious forceful fish was concerned.

  I got him turned around and swimming downriver but still quite a ways away. I could feel the tightness in my forearm as I played the fish in the oncoming current. In no certain warning he leaped up out of the surface like a diver on a spring board. He did an unconventional midair tumble like a novice trying a simple somersault and lost his composure. The bass splashed down onto the surface, cannonball style, making a large splash flinging water in all directions.

 From beneath he continued his fury with heavy fighting. In time I got him near a couple of times that I thought I could lip him but he was able to swim away with a heavy tail thrust. I finally got him close enough, and not seeing the hook, just grabbed him by the sides and lifted him to the apron. He was a good one.


  For a while after that there was a stall in the action. I had a few smaller fish attacking the feathers of my poppers and did catch one smaller smallie. I changed popper colors often but I just figured it was getting late in the afternoon and, with the sun beating down, weren’t too hungry by then. I finned my way to the far bank where there was shade along the banks and boulders under the tall forest trees.

  One cast landed perfectly up against a half submerged boulder against the bank in the shade like a small mammal that had fallen into the river. I twitched the tip of the rod quickly and the popper gurgled up water like the mammal swimming. It didn’t drift too far when a smallie ambushed it out from the boulder. I reared back and again the line tightened and the rod bowed towards the hooked fish. He swam out from the soft water and into the current. We played tug of war for quite a bit before I got him safely out of the water also. He was a hefty ole' boy.

 

 I was pretty close to my exit point by then. I tried a few color streamers underneath as I finned my way to the roadside bank without any good results. I was almost to the bank when a golden retriever came down the path to the river and entered the water. Behind him a camper followed with a chair, a small cooler and a beer in his hand. We talked a bit and he offered to give me a ride up to my truck. He didn’t have to twist my arm!


 ~doubletaper


 

 

Friday, July 16, 2021

Bigger Offering, Bigger Fish, Right?

 

Bigger Offering, Bigger Fish, Right?

7/11/2021

 

  I pushed off around 7:45am. My kayak was packed for the morning fishing adventure for smallmouth. I took my Allen Fly Fishing Compass, 9’ 6 weight, fly rod with F6WF line. My intentions were to fish poppers all morning trying to make smallies rise in the discolored river water.

  Soft white clouds covered the sky overlapping each other. Occasionally they would separate and the pale blue sky above them would be visible. The light of the sun brightened up the morning but was unseen at the time. There was nearly a breeze as was evident by the green leafy trees that lined the riverbank. The water was still chocolate stained like an over milky chocolate milkshake. Along the banks though was clear enough in depth that a fish should be able to see or at least hear my gurgling popper on the surface.

  The last couple of outings, before the rain storm, I fished more often across river towards the far bank. I decided to concentrate on the road side on this trip. After pushing off I paddled to the middle of the river and paddled my way upstream a ways.

  I found when the water is high the smallmouth don’t hug the tree lined bank or boulders along the bank. I figured with the higher water and chocolate color mid-river, with stronger current, I would drift out away from the bank further then when the water is lower.

  My first hook up was just before 9:00am. The smallie wasn’t a big one by any means but it felt good not missing him.

 

 The next smallmouth almost caught me off guard. I was looking down river letting my popper drift pretty far down river away from the bank while I was anchored. I heard that familiar gulp and yanked the rod back without visual contact of where the bass took my popper. When the line shot up out of the water the tip section bowed and the popper didn’t come flying back at me. The smallmouth put up a good fight with weighty turns. A few times he surfaced and splashed before returning deep. I got him to the net safely. 


 

 I actually went 3 for 3 with hook ups and getting them to the net before missing one. To reward myself I took out an HC Habano Colorado pigtail perfecto and lit it up.


 

 That’s when I noticed the sky was more blue with less clouds. It didn’t look like rain at all, at least at the time. The weather people did say it may rain come afternoon. Just looking down river it looked peaceful.

  

 I took my time paddling over to each side of the river and fished where I thought was a better place where fish may hold. I’d toss the anchor out at times to slow my drift and hoped it ‘catch’ on something below to hold my position. It was almost 10:00 when I got my last OK size smallie.


  With the sun out and nearing noon the fish weren’t too cooperative. I took out a dark churchill to bide my time. I didn’t have anywhere else to go so I wasn’t in a hurry to get back to camp.


 It didn’t look like rain either so I just relaxed tossing poppers and smoking the churchill while slowly drifting just out from the banks.

  I started offering the fish different color poppers like a clown selling colored balloons of different sizes at the carnival but didn’t have any takers. I tried swinging streamers in the faster current but didn’t have any takers either. The stogie lasted a long time so that was my enjoyment while the bite quit. Besides the stogie, watching nature unfold along the river bank was entertaining. 

  I watched a couple of ducks fly about like two children chasing each other in the schoolyard playground. A gaggle of geese, with young ones, grazed in the grass along the banks. I even got to see an eagle soar by and circled a couple times as if looking for an afternoon fish dinner. Birds chirped in the near by trees as I passed. Crows could be heard in the distance as if having a loud shouting match during a family picnic softball game. On occasion I would hear a raven gawk as it flew by.

  My kayak was steady in a back eddy a bit further out from the bank. There was a deep wavy run of water I could just reach with my casts further out in open water. My popper would catch the inner seam and I would gurgle it before letting it drift. Without any takers I decided to attach a bigger chubby bait fish looking popper to my fast-snap at the end of my 8 pound tippet. “Bigger poppers, bigger fish” I thought as if I was joking at myself. My second cast I got the chubby popper a little further out into the faster current and riffling water. I gurgled it harshly to attract attention and let it drift down with the current along the seam. I gave a couple more pops when it drifted out of the seam into the slower current down river. That’s when my joking became real!

 I watched and heard the gulp that took my chubby popper under. It sounded like when my anchor slips from my grip and splashes into the water. I yanked back the rod like I was going to rip his lips right from his jaw. I didn’t see the fish but didn’t have to knowing this wasn’t some every day hoodlum steeling my petty belongings. The rod bowed into the midsection and there was no give at the end of the line. It felt like I was tugging on the anchor rope with the anchor stuck on a log. This evidently made him angry I suppose. He exploded out of the water and shook the popper and line like a clothe line in a gust of wind with clothes attached. I gripped the cork firmly stiffening my fingers wrapped around it. He twisted his body in midair staring up at the sky before splashing down in a heap. He swam into the faster current taking line out of the reel up through the guides. With the rod arced I could feel the strengthening force within my grip as the smallmouth sped with the current. Down river he swam into the slower current straight down form me and continued toward the bank. His force actually spun my kayak towards him. He tugged and surfaced briefly as I watched the turbulence from his frantic surface struggle. Going deep he swam closer to the bank, to my left, and I was able to bring in some line. I knew there were huge boulders below around me in the deep water I was in. I kept the rod up trying to prevent him from going under one or dragging my leader or tippet across a rough edge. He got between the short distance from me and the bank when he appeared to just stop. The rod was still arced but I didn’t feel any tugging. I wasn’t sure if there was a lone branch he may have got under or what? I moved the rod towards the water surface and slowly pulled the rod away from whatever stopped the smallie. Whether he was that tough to not being pulled away or my line was caught on something momentarily I’ll never know? He gradually came towards the pulling rod force and rose up enough I saw his bronze scaly sides and the size of my catch. As he rose I quickly raised my rod and followed him as he swam upriver passed me. I’m glad I didn’t have the anchor out. The kayak was turning slowly counterclockwise as if in a nonviolent whirlpool. He spun around the kayak so fast I raised the rod high over my head hoping my line wouldn’t get caught on the back of the kayak and hoped he wasn’t going to swim under the kayak. He ended up swimming between the kayak and open waters and forced his way down river again taking line. There was no way holding him back. We had quite a little longer battle of strength and wits as he refused to get any closer for the time being. I wasn’t gaining any ground between us and I wasn’t letting him have any more line during the short brawl. I was anxious to get him in but was patient enough not to over do it. He eventually had enough of the stand still and started to swim upriver. His mouth appeared, with popper attached, on the surface briefly as he tried to shake it loose splashing water about. He disappeared below and swam between me and the bank. I reeled in line then reached back for my net. I held onto the cork handle with one hand trying not to loosen my locked wrist. My forearm was tight and as solid as a steel pipe. He made a couple of quick escape runs that didn’t get him very far. I gradually moved the arced rod up behind me and he drew closer. Once close enough I wasted no time scooping him up in the net once I saw the popper just dangling from his lips. I took a sigh of relief when I got him into the net and in the kayak.


 

  After I released him I looked at my watch and it was 12:30. Looking up I saw more clouds moving in, like heavy smoke from a steam engine starting its way along the railroad tracks, cover the blue sky. I fished another hour hooking one more smallmouth without any more rises before heading to the launch area.

  Just as I got my kayak and gear drug over to my camper it started to sprinkle and a good warm rain followed.

….And that’s how this story ends.


~doubletaper

 

 


Wednesday, June 30, 2021

The Gorilla Saved the Day

 

The Gorilla Saved the Day

6/07/2021


 After a quick oatmeal breakfast and a couple of cups of coffee I drove upriver from camp. The kayak was packed for the days adventure. My plan was to kayak and fish for smallmouth back to camp. I figured about 2 miles would be sufficient. It may not sound like very far but fishing it takes longer in time.

  I pushed off before 8:00am. The sun was already casting shadows on the water as its rays filtered through the green leafy forest that lined the banks. The river was still high but clearing up some from the heavy rain from late the past week. I figured if the fish couldn’t see much for food over the weekend, because of the muddy water, they might hear a surface popper in the lightly stained chocolate color water today.

  I paddled straight across the river close enough to cast poppers out from the shaded boulder strewn bank. It didn’t take long for my first take. A bass surfaced for my orange/yellow popper and I hooked him cleanly.

  There was a riffle just out from the bank. I made a cast and watched the popper lay down on the wavy riffles. A few gurgling pops and I watched it bounce and flow with the subtle waves. A splashing rise to the popper and I whipped the rod back to set the hook. The fish scurried about with head shakes. I was surprised when I netted a fine looking rainbow trout that took the popper.


 

 After releasing the trout, upon my next few casts, something didn’t feel right when I was casting. I wasn’t getting the distance I was hoping for and the line didn’t appear to come out of the guides smoothly. I looked at the tip top eye of the Winston 9’ rod and the eye was not in line with the rest of the guides. I took a hold of the eye and it twisted but did not come off. I was glad I didn’t go too far downstream from my truck. I paddled over to the bank, got out of the kayak with the rod, and went to the truck.

  I actually just got it back from Winston last fall to repair a break at the first eye from the butt section. I might have used it once or twice since then. Now here I am repairing it the best I could to continue my journey. I took out Gorilla duct tape and taped the tip top eye securely. I got back into the kayak and hoped it would hold up.


 

  I was back on the water and fishing. I dropped the anchor most of the time while drifting to slow the kayak in the current. At times I would ground the kayak along the bank and wade fish. The smallmouth weren’t shy about taking the popper off the surface.


 

  I did notice they were a lot darker this year.

  A bright color popper on the surface seemed to make the smallies rise more often than a darker colored one.

 

 With the water being higher I caught more smallies out mid-river in deeper water than along the banks. I may have not caught any big husky ones but the ones I caught were still a challenge getting them to the kayak with the higher and stronger current at times.


 

  Well, the Gorilla tape held up and I caught enough smallies to keep me encouraged throughout the float. With a pocket full of cigars, a few granola bars and a tumbler of water made the whole float worth while the time spent.

 

Back at camp, for dinner, I made myself venison sausage filled tacos in soft wheat tortillas

 

 Nightfall I got a campfire going. I relaxed with a good RP Broadleaf and a cold brown ale.


 

This retired life is all right!!!

~doubletaper

 

 

Sunday, June 20, 2021

Spring Creek Carnival

 

Spring Creek Carnival

6/11/2021


  Being that the Clarion River, where I was camped, was a chocolate mess in the morning I was still determined to go fishing. I ate a quick oatmeal breakfast and filled my travel mug with coffee. My intentions were to hit Black Moshannon Creek Delayed Harvest waters. When I got service on my phone I checked to see what the difference was to Spring Creek in Central PA. There was only a minute difference in time of arrival. As much as I love small cricks, Spring Creek was a no brainer. Both have wild trout but I was in for more open waters.

  On the drive east I was driving through a rain shower that I had thoughts of turning around. The sky Eastward looked cloudy but brighter so I just kept on going.

  I pulled in the parking area around 8am. There was a light misty rain and the sky was stone gray above. The water wasn’t chocolaty at all. Maybe a little on the high side but looked very fishable. I was ready to try and fool some wild trout! I knew that trying to hook and net these picky wild trout would test my skill level like skittle ball under the arcade tent.

  Because of the misty rain I took out my ole’ SAS Scott rod. I use it whenever there is inclement weather trout fishing. Not that I’m afraid to use my other rods, it’s just what I do. I took a couple of cigars, put on my vest and put on a light rain jacket and headed to the water.

  The greenery was thick along the path as I made my way upstream along the crick. I went cautiously not wanting to get the 8 1/2’ rod tangled up or rip my waders on some unseen sticks or jaggers. I took my time like walking through the corridors of an amusement park fun house not knowing what’s around the next corner.

  Of course I started with a couple of Woolly Buggers and within an hour caught a colorful fat rainbow. 


 

  I saw one caddis flutter across the crick so, since I wasn’t too productive underneath, decided to dry fly fish even though I didn’t see any trout rising.

  My one cast was on the far side of a wavy riffle. When my caddis imitation drifted in the open dead zone, left by an exposed boulder which caused the riffle, a trout took it as if he’s been waiting for breakfast to show up anytime. I snapped my wrist back and played another colorful rainbow to the net.


 In the next hour or so I tried top wtaer, nymphs, streamers and even wet flies as if I was trying every carnival booth playing to win a prize. I caught one small brown on an emerger pattern and another nice brown trout that gave me a battle of wits in the strong current.


 

 By now the rain stopped and the sun began to appear between the cotton clouds on rare unexpected occasions like a balloon clown to cheer up an unhappy child. It brightened up the sour day for a time being. With the sun out a few more caddis started to show up and fluttered about like loose strands of cotton candy in a slight breeze. I hadn’t caught anything in some time before I spotted my first rise.

  Across crick I saw a tail of a brown trout cut through the surface in the shallow water. It wasn’t much later, not that far away, another trout rose at the end of a small wavy current. As I was tying on a caddis I glanced up and noticed another rise a little further behind the first. I wasn’t sure if there were three, two or maybe only one trout moving around like someone at the cookie tables in the bakery tent, but I was determined to get me one.

  I couldn’t see anything on the surface so I figured they were sipping small midges. I didn’t have anything that small with me except a #18 caddis. For the next half hour or so I tried to get them to rise to my offerings but they wanted nothing I had to offer. They would take something off the surface right next to my dry at times but ignored my dry like a partially eaten cookie on a cookie tray. As they kept rising to whatever, kind of got me frustrated. I waded out of the water and went back to my truck like a sore loser that lost money and got a sore arm trying to tip over three clowns in a row at the ball toss booth. I did have one more hope I was relying on. At the truck I grabbed my midge box and a small box of small Adams.

  In the same section of water I was before I knotted on a section of 6x tippet and to that a #20 parachute Adams. There wasn’t any trout rising but I was going to see if I could make one rise anyhow.

  In the same feeding area I threw out #20 and #18 Adams. I tried #20-#18 BWO’s and one might have been a #22 midge of some kind. Not one trout rose and it was if I was wasting my time trying to get one out of 12 rings around the neck of a bottle to win a knife.

  It was past 2:00 and I was planning on leaving around 3:00. I gave up and knotted on a couple of nymphs and decided to work my way downstream. When I got straight across from the third riser earlier he rose again to something. I figured I’d give it one more shot. Maybe he saw me wade down a bit and wanted to tease me one last time before I left again in frustration.

  I knotted on a #18 tan caddis and checked behind me for any hanging branches not to get caught on my back cast. I took out line and figured I’d drop the caddis right on top of his head. My caddis fell maybe 6” shy of where I saw him rise last. The caddis didn’t drift more than 12” when I saw a trout quickly following my offering downstream. When he grabbed it I was ready to set the hook. The teasing was over. He was fighting a tight 5 weight DT line, a 5 weight 8 ½ foot SAS fly rod and me! He fought in the current swimming every which way but loose. Trying to bring him towards me, in the strong current, was like trying to hold onto a bunch of helium balloons with one hand while walking against gusts of wind. I was happy enough hooking him even if he would have gotten off but I netted him safely.

  

 His dark black spots shown like glossy onyx stone against his brownish body. His belly was a pecan shell shade. A perfect specimen, in my opinion, of a stream bred brown trout. Whether he was stream bred I’m not sure but he didn’t turn that wild looking just over a few years.

  After letting him go I waded and fished downstream as happy as winning a big stuffed animal at the milk can tossing game at the county fair and smoking a fat stogie! 

~doubletaper
 

 

 

 

Thursday, June 17, 2021

Muddy Water

Muddy Waters

                                                             Persistence Pays Off

6/15/2021


He exploded out of the muddy water at my popper like a crocodile out of muddy water after a young zebra! 

 I got tired of casting the 6 weight Winston rod for the past week and decided to take the 5 weight Allen Icon rod. I still used the mid arbor 6 weight reel/line because it already had heavier leader on it. What a world of difference in weight it made casting all day.

  The Clarion River was still high and muddy from the storm the afternoon before. Maybe the visibility was a foot or so below the surface near shore but I definitely couldn’t see any submerged boulders or hazards out in the main flow. The only way to tell of the hazards was by the small riffles that would appear as the water flowed over them. Even so, I came camping along the river to fish and not sit around all day and pout. I figured I’d give it a try wade fishing and using surface poppers that the noise might bring a fish to the surface.

  To make a long story short after about 4 hours and 3 different parts of the river I only raised one out of the muddy water and it surprised me. I missed the hook set. I did try streamers a few times but didn’t have any takers so I headed back to the camper. I wasn’t frustrated though. I figured with the dirty water it would be tough going. A few cigars and the quietness of the forest kept me content.

  It was about 2:30 when I got back to the camper. I decided to wade and fish from the camper down river to some point. The water had cleared up a little but it didn’t appear the water level was dropping much.

  As I fished down river I waded out far enough to just about thigh high water. This was so I could cast towards the far bank as possible which really wasn’t even close. I spent about a half hour casting poppers and streamers without a strike. It was a fruitless adventure so far like going out to the orchard and not seeing any fruit whats-so-ever, just buds. I lit another Backwoods, knotted on a popper and continued on.

  Each cast I gurgled the popper strongly as soon as it hit the water a couple times or so. I would let it drift in the slow current some and then pop it again a couple of times. Near the end of the drift I would strip it back towards me with long strips and do it all over again as I waded down river.

  I stopped and stood up to my crotch in the river casting to both sides and down river. I was in an area I had made a few smallmouth rise the past week before the water got muddy. I had a little more hope where I was and decided to stay put for a longer time. I made a long cast to my left and down river some. As soon as the popper hit the surface I gave it a couple of hard gurgles and let it drift. A couple more gurgles and WHAM!! A smallmouth exploded up out of the muddy water at my popper like a crocodile out of muddy water after a young zebra. The bass came clear out of the water. His fat belly was quite noticeable in the air and looked as if he just came from the Chinese buffet and I was offering dessert. He barreled back into the water with an audible entrance and water sprayed in all directions. I didn’t know if he had gotten my popper but I dropped the rod tip and then yanked the rod up and back. The fly line shot out of the water and tight lined towards the fish. He took the popper deep and hastily swam down river like a croc taking its catch deep to drown and kill it. Fly line sped through the guides and the mid arbor clicked rapidly as the spool spun. I held onto the cork handle with two hands keeping the rod high trying to keep as much fly line out of the water as possible. I wasn’t sure where the bass was taking my dessert but he wasn’t stopping. I looked down at the spool now and then just to see if it was down to my backing. After he did slow down he turned up river and slowly, tugging some, started to swim up towards the far bank. I started to reel in line, under tension some, but quickly let him take line at will. I was using 2x leader and 3x tippet so I wasn’t worried too much about my leader/tippet breaking. He evidently had a good hold of my popper by the force he put on the hook set when he took off down river. All I had to do now was get him to me but I knew it wasn’t going to be any time soon.

  He was still quite a distance away down to my left and out a ways when he turned down river again. Not with the speed he swam with when I first hooked him but with enough force he took tensioned line from the reel. He swam straight down river from me and gave a few yanks to make sure I was still hanging on. I gave a few yanks back to let him know I was! He started to swim to my right keeping his distance but I was able to reel in some line.

  About 20 yards to my right, and back a few, was a thick branched limb sticking up out of the water. I wasn’t sure if it was attached to a tree trunk or how far it extended underneath but I didn’t want the bass anywhere near it. As he was swimming up to my right I waded down river some to get further away from the limb. I could see my leader out of the water now so I knew he must be in shallower depth. I kept the rod facing down river though the top section was bowed down to my right. He didn’t swim much further before he turned down river with the current. I could feel in my grip he was coasting with the current then actually swimming with speed faster than the current. He was a weighty fish to try to turn so I let him swim with the current keeping the rod up and under pressure. He didn’t try to distance himself from me and just swam in an arc straight down from me. With that I could tell he wasn’t as forceful and I felt I could start bringing him in. I moved the arcing rod to my left and kept pressure on him not giving him any line. I had the butt in my gut and started to slowly reel in line. He kept a good distance from me but I was gaining leverage and he started to come nearer. Out a ways I saw a glimpse of him just below the surface. His dark olive body looked stretched out a ways to his wide tail. He looked as if he was in cruising mode. I moved the rod to put more side pressure on him and he evidently didn’t like that and turned down river but I didn’t give him much line. He turned again towards me and I thought he was going to run into me. I had my net out already and he was moving so swiftly I thought we were going to get tangled up. I lifted the rod as high as I could and couldn’t reel in line because I was holding the net. I didn’t want to let go of the net cause I had to keep it from getting snagged on the leader. He swam to my right and I swung in his direction. I thought he was going to go around me but he swiftly turned and even came closer on my right but deep enough I wasn’t sure where he was except for looking at the leader. I kept my net out of the way and he swam down from me and to my left as I turned looking down river. He kept deep and I kept an eye on the leader to kind of tell where he was. If someone was watching it probably looked like we were doing some kind of square dancing. He finally got tired of being so close and swam away a bit as I lowered the rod without giving him line. My arm was getting sore anyhow keeping it up so long and under a lot of pressure. I turned to face the far bank and extended the rod out towards it. He swam accordingly. I had the net dangling in the water from my belt so I was able to take in some line without holding the rod way up in the air before I needed to. I had enough line in that only a foot of the fly line still extended out of the tip top of the 9 foot rod. I had the rod angled slightly up from the water and grabbed my net. As I lifted the rod, gripping the line tightly between my finger and cork, he drew closer and closer. When he got near he surfaced with some splashes. This caused less pressure from him being in the stronger undercurrent and I took the chance to guide him across the surface and into the net. Mission accomplished.!!! 

  

 The popper was embedded inside his mouth. It didn’t take very long to get the hook out once I got the hemostats positioned. He even was cooperative and didn’t fuss much while I was examining and extracting the hook.

  

 I lipped him and released him into the muddy water and he swam away freely.

  

 I looked at my watch and it was near 3:00. I spit out the Backwoods and lit up a much better cigar. I nipped off the cap with the cigar cutter I have attached to the lanyard around my neck and took a quick whiff of the outer wrap of the Sancho Panza Valiente before lighting it up.


 

I fished for another half hour out in the river before I saw a few fish rising near the mouth of a creek. I waded out and walked back to the camper to get my trout stuff. I changed reels to my 5 weight and went back to the mouth of the creek. It wasn’t easy getting the trout to cooperate but with a couple of convincing dries, a wet fly and an emerger I did manage to net a few.


 


It was getting late and I was pretty hungry and called it quits for the day.

I grilled up some venison short rib chops and potatoes. Had a cold Amber to go along with dinner. 


 


  And what a way to end a 14 day camping/fishing trip than by a campfire enjoying a beer and smoking a genuine Cohiba Habana Cuban cigar?!


 

~doubletaper