Posts Tagged ‘Largemouth Bass’

The ice melted away…
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And the first fish landed…
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Like a phoenix, Flies Over rises again.
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Open water 2014.

Happy fishing.

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20131122-114919.jpgYou decide…

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A “Good Stick”: A term for an excellent angler; who can catch fish regardless of the circumstances…

One of my life goals is to have someone refer to me by this phrase.

I know a few good anglers. Several of them I grew up around; including my old man and his friends. I found my passion for fishing in my late twenties, and never really appreciated the knowledge they had to offer. I a lot of my fishing knowledge (and virtually all my fly fishing knowledge) comes from the school of hard knocks. But I grew up listening to their stories; and they inspired me to reel in a few of my own.

Another angler who has had a huge impact on me is a bit of a local celebrity here in Nebraska. Our Game and Parks Commission here in Nebraska has a fisheries biologist that writes a local fishing blog as part of the Commission’s public outreach mission. Daryl Bauer and his “Barbs and Backlashes” blog (http://outdoornebraska.ne.gov/blogs/category/barbs-and-backlashes/) has inspired me in numerous ways. First of all, the guy is a heck of an angler. Second, he gives out tons of Nebraska fishing tips… if you are willing to read between the lines (no pun intended). And third, his wiliness to share his passion with the world was a huge influence on my creation of this blog. He takes a much more scientific slant on his blog; and by no means can I compete with that. I focus much more on the emotional aspects of fishing. But I have read every one of his blog posts since I rediscovered fishing…

I had a chance to introduce myself to him at a kids fishing tournament two years ago. I took two seconds to thank him for sending me some trout fishing info I emailed him for. That info lead to a great February tail water fishing trip that cured some mid winter fishing blues. I am sure he doesn’t remember me. And even though I only had a chance to say my name and thank you, shaking his hand was like meeting an idol of mine…

He has inspired me to fish, to write about fishing, and even to start the process to become a certified youth fishing instructor and teach others.

The weather here in Nebraska has taken a turn toward fall weather… cold, windy, and overcast. Today, I didn’t let this stop me. I had a couple hours to kill, and I had an itch to hit the water. Seven layers of clothing later, I was standing waist deep in Bowling lake casting right into a 30 mile per hour wind.

Less then ideal, but fishing is fishing. I love it even if I spend half my time fighting wind knots and horrible casting conditions.

Despite this, I read the water and devised a strategy. A stiff 8 weight rod, heavy jig head flies to bounce the bottom, and a painfully slow retrieve. The combination lead to a solid strike on the very first cast…

Despite the cold, wind, and less then ideal conditions, I kept fishing on. Several times I stopped and looked around. Even though I was at a very popular city lake, I was the only one on the water. Not many other people are brave/crazy enough to brave these conditions. I waded through the vegetation from hot spot to hot spot at my own leisure. I slowly worked each spot I knew on the lake; knowing that today I did not have to share it.

Alone on the water. Just me and the fish.

Bowling Lake could have skunked me, and I would not have cared…

And instead, the lake rewarded me with bite after bite…

The lake even rewarded me with a rare catfish on the fly today. I even had to reel him up.

When I got home and packed all my gear away, I started a general reading routine that I go through almost daily; which includes Mr. Bauer’s blog. On Friday, he had written about how although fish are affected by the weather and cold fronts, good anglers can still get a fish to bite. Bad weather does not always mean bad fishing…

He didn’t need to tell me. But a little confirmation brought a smile to my face. Catching fish on a day that most anglers wrote off provided a healthy boost to my ego…

I fish because I enjoy fishing. I don’t need external verification to know I am a good fisherman. I am a good fisherman because I enjoy fishing… rain or shine, skunked or once-in-a-lifetime day.

I am pretty sure that Mr. Bauer does not read my blog. Heck, I am not sure if anyone does (kidding). But how cool would it be if he did? And how awesome would it be if your idol thought you were a “good stick” too…

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20130907-094130.jpgLargemouth Bass; caught this morning on public water. 19 1/2 inches.

Story to come!!!

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This weekend I have completed a long journey in my life, that began four years ago.

Friday, I received my Masters of Education in Higher Education Administration with a Specialization in Student Affairs.

And I couldn’t be happier to be done!

While I have technically been complete with my degree for about 6 weeks, receiving the piece of paper is a welcome feeling and a complete relief. When I walked across the stage, my diploma was enclosed. The University of Nebraska – Lincoln was even nice enough to sign it too!

Or… at least autopen it. But who cares! I AM DONE WITH GRADUATE SCHOOL!

And preparing for the graduation party/Little E’s third birthday party has seriously depleted my time on the water. At least we are in the dog days of summer and the fishing is pretty tough right now anyways.

But I did get a nice graduation day present from my wife… about 45 minutes to spend on the water before I needed to pick Little E’s birthday cake up.


A couple fish were even nice enough to end up in my hand. What a great day.

And most of all, happy third birthday Little E!!!

See you changing my email signature…

E

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Who is Jaques? Read my Freshly Pressed article, “The One Who Got Away”, to get caught up!

For the first time since I first laid eyes upon Jaques, I decided to go back after her.

This week I purchased a tent for Little E and me (she is super excited to camp under the stars like on an episode of the Fresh Beats Band), and I headed out Wildwood Lake armed with my meager camping gear. I hiked back along a trail on the lake, located a campsite on the shallow end, and pitched my tent. As I was pitching my tent, I spooked dozens of small frogs from the shore and into the weeds. I tied on my trusty foam frog fly. About an hour and a half before sundown I waded out into the water in search of my advisory.

I can’t explain why I waited almost two months to head back out after Jaques. The first experience with her was so emotionally draining that I am pretty sure I was not able to handle a heart break like that again. I have spent the mean time fishing other bass waters, perfecting my presentation, and working on my ability to play large fish. Now that graduate school is completed, and with my recent success fighting a large catfish on Wednesday, I felt prepared for my next encounter.

The shallow end of Wildwood lake is only 2-3 feet deep in most places. The lake has weeded up for the first few yards around the shore, but has open water for the remainder of the area. Infinitely wadeable; and, as the fly fishing mantra goes “match the hatch”, allowed me to present my foam frog in a way that precisely mimicked the action of the frogs I spooked into the water.

Infinitely wadeable being most important… as I popped the intertube on my belly boat and almost went down with my ship Friday night…

I fooled around with a Clouser Minnow on my 5 weight rod first, catching a little bluegill.

This allowed another angler to sneak into the spot where I believe Jaques might be hiding. As I stood waste deep in the water, I watched as he cast a giant plastic frog back and forth across this spot with no avail. We had a quick chat about our similar strategies regarding top water frog fishing. As he headed off, he wished me better luck then he had.

Not four or five casts into the same spot, albeit from the water instead of the shore and with a fly, I managed to snag a little bass.

Something about watching a bass explode through the surface of the water onto a tiny handmade fly intoxicates me. It is one of the most addictive experiences I have ever encountered. Even though I now have a couple of years experience with this type of top water fly fishing, my heart still skips a beat when the fish strikes.

The bass will pounce at the exact moment that you least expect them to. Often they will come almost completely out of the water. Incredibly violent, the bass will consume the entire fly in one gulp as it comes through the water. As it lands, the water splashes high into the air; and the line vibrates as the bass tries to shake the life out of the frog under water. And all of this happens within a few short feet of where I am standing. To be standing so close to such an efficient predator when they strike inspires both fright and excitement all in the same moment. When my heart resumes beating, I set the hook instinctively. And as the hook strikes home, the rod doubles over like you are trying to pull a brick through the water with a piece of sewing thread.

A brick that thrashes about, still angry about being fooled into taking a fly.

Having success with a little bass lifted my spirits. It took me over 45 minutes to work to the secret spot where I believe Jaques to be hiding. Fish after fish turned over on my fly, but hook ups where few and far between. Nothing in life worth the effort ever seems to come easy. But that makes the payoff so much better.

I actually cast to the spot where I felt Jaques was hiding several times. As I worked my way to the spot, I could see something feeding on the surface. My heart beat quickened, and continued through quite cast after quite cast.

Until, unexpectedly as always, there was a violent explosion on the water.

As the hook struck home, I could feel the line race out of my hand. I didn’t get a good look at the fish and don’t know for sure; but the way it fought suggested that it could only be Jaques…

Instantly, the fish bolted for the weedy cover. Trying to maintain pressure on the fish and feed it line for it’s run with my right hand, while trying to frantically reel up my slack line to “reel up” the fish with my left hand, was a daunting task. Each reel of slack line felt like an eternity, and I was sure that I would not be able to maintain pressure on Jaques. Losing pressure would mean a slack line; the perfect opportunity for her to throw the fly.

As I got Jaques reeled up, she was on a bee line for deeper water. “Perfect”, I thought, as this would allow me to keep up the fight with out worrying about getting snagged up again. But as that thought floated through my mind, she took an abrupt U-turn, headed fast for the weeds again. I lowered my rod almost into the water to increase the pressure on her and stop the run.

Nothing.

Not having enough time to adjust the drag, I palmed the reel in a desperate attempt to stop Jaques from heading into the weeds. As she got closer, I pressed my hand harder onto the spinning fly reel. As she reached the edge, I pressed so hard that I stopped the reel completely…

Suddenly, I was in a game of tug-of-war with my legendary fish. A very bad place for a fly fisherman to be in with such light tackle…

After a few short seconds, my rod leaped limply backwards. The line slowly fluttered over my shoulder as my tippet gave out to the pressure. And Jaques escape back into the depths.

I only had two of my trusty foam frogs left from my winter’s tying session. Jaques claimed the first one, and I tied on my last. I desperately cast to the spot where Jaques had disappeared to. But just like my first encounter, I knew these efforts were in vain.

After several minutes of desperately trying to find my fish, I continued down the bank. I had many small bass turn over on my small foam popper, but none seemed interested in holding on. As the sun set, I slowly worked my way back to my tent. When I returned to the spot where I had lost Jaques, I cast my final frog a few times into the general area of the first fight. One cast landed perfectly on the edge of the weeds. After a few seconds I started the retrieve back to me. As the frog popped back toward me, I saw the massive wake of a large fish come up behind it. My heart skipped with excitement as the fish burst through the water on my fly…

But as I set the hook, the rod popped back and the line limply flew over my shoulder again. The knot between my tippet and leader disintegrated on the hook set; my final foam frog disappeared into the night.

Wildwood Lake seemed intent not just to defeat me, but to rub salt into the wound by claiming my last frog fly.

I climbed from the water after dark and into my tent. As I laid there, I came down with a mind numbing migraine headache. This was not helped by the infinite chorus of crickets, cicadas, and an outspoken young man on the boat that decided to anchor for some night fishing just off my camping spot; playing an interesting mix of all musical genres at high volume with plenty of bass, all the while wondering why the fish weren’t biting…

By midnight I had been beaten down to all that I could handle. Wildwood had defeated me again.

In spirit, mind, and body…

I packed up all my camping gear in the middle of the night and headed for a bottle of Tylenol PM and the quite comfort of my own bed.

Make no mistake, I will be back out to chase Jaques. I love challenges, and Jaques is proving to be just that. The challenge of fly fishing drew me into the sport in the first place.

Besides, what good is a legendary advisory that surrenders so easily?

See you again soon Jaques…

And next time I’ll pack the Tylenol PM.

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And who better to spend it with then Little E…

Now that graduate school is over, and some family visits are taken care of, I was able to hit the water and fish. With graduate school being over now, this was really my first guilt free fishing trip. I can’t think of the last time I had been fishing when I had something school related I probably should have been working on.

Little E got a Spiderman life jacket to wear at the beach, so we rocked this new look at the lake tonight. Armed with a new sense of fearlessness, she waded right into the water with daddy, and stood by my side as a pulled to hand a few bluegills and one tiny largemouth bass…

Definitely the best little fishing buddy… until about 45 minutes later and she demanded that I take her to the grocery store for the fudge ice cream bars I bribed her with to get her to come out with me…

So my first trip out was cut a little short. But still fun. And definitely cute.

And I have a TON of vacation time that I need to burn, so my fishing time is only just starting to heat up!

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