Sunday, February 19, 2012

The One That Should Have Got Away

The house my girlfriend is renting in Louisiana had a Walmart Shakespeare rod in the garage with what was once 8 lb test line.  After sitting there for a few years in the blistering summer heat the line is probably closer to 2 lb test.  In October, I used this pole with a found buzz bait and ended up with a small largemouth out of the pond thirty feet behind her house.  I ended up breaking off a good amount of the weakened line just trying to tie a decent knot.  On my last cast, the buzz bait kept going across the pond and the line dangled from the spool. 

On my last day in Louisiana this week I opened the green pumpkin senkos I bought at Bass Pro.  My girlfriend tried to get me to use them earlier in the week but for some reason I didn't oblige.  My total fishing time using a senko is about 30 minutes but I had the basic premise of fishing them down.  Wacky rig, cast out and let it hit the bottom, wait a few seconds, lift the rod tip to a 90 degree angle and let the bait flutter back to the bottom and reel in the slack.  Rinse.  Repeat. 

I was about 6 casts in and I had a hit, I set the hook, felt a good head shake and then the line was slack.  I was okay with not landing the fish because I knew I was at least giving the fish something they were interested in.  I also went out not expecting to catch anything since the only hook I managed to scrounge up from the garage was a size 6 Aberdeen.  I kept working the same area and had a couple more short strikes before the fish began to commit to the worm.  I learned I really had to watch the line for any change indicating a fish.  I ended fishing for 45 minutes before the light faded and I had landed three decent largemouths.

One fish

Two fish

Small fish

After my third fish and attempting to keep my fishing partner out of the water I was ready to be done but Jackie told me to catch one more fish.  I not-so reluctantly agreed and recasted the line.  I just finished saying, "You make it sound like it's easy for me to catch another one," when I had a very noticeable hit.  The fish took the worm like it raced across the pond to eat it.  I set the hook and felt solid weight.  I knew I did not have the upper hand.  I was using line a bluegill could break and using a hook that the same bluegill could swallow.  I pointed the rod tip down to ease some of the tension and started fumbling with the faulty drag.  The fish changed directions and headed straight up.  It broke the surface with its mouth wide open, made three head shakes, exposed its whole body, and slammed back into the pond.  I had no words for that sight but I heard my girlfriend say, "Oh my God!"  I thought that was the last I would see of that bass but it miraculously stayed stuck on the hook.  After a few seconds and equally as many expletives I was thinking of how I would land this fish.  I knew I had to land it quick but was afraid it would bolt when it hit the shallow mud bottom.  I babied the fish fifty feet down the shoreline reeling in slack when I could and finally decided I would push my luck some more and bring it to hand.  I got the fish close to shore, knelt down and pulled the pole back with one hand while my other hand was in the water awaiting its mouth.  I lipped the fish and heaved it out of the water.  It didn't get away.  I frantically asked Jackie if she had a measuring tape and she ran in the house to grab it.  I snapped a picture, she came out, measured it, and told me it was 20 inches.  I didn't believe her and remeasured.  I was hoping it was at least 21 which would have tied my longest largemouth I have caught but she was right, a solid 20.  Jackie scoffed at me but still took a few pictures of me with the fish.  I  normally don't care about weighing fish, but I guess that's because I usually don't catch them this large.  If I guessed it was between 4 and 4 and a half pounds.

Big ass fish

I will end up using senkos more this season as a result.  Hopefully with similar results.

Saturday, February 18, 2012


I drove to a local park today to scout some water for the spring.  As I was driving along the stream I noticed a section of shore I don't normally frequent, glimmering in the sun light.  I parked near by and walked to the spot to find hundreds of broken shards of glass scattered on the beach.  Nearby there was plastic tattered in the trees, plastic cups half buried in the stones, and rusted metal sticking out of the mud.  I untangled the plastic bags carefully out of the trees and found a few intact and loaded them with trash.  When I left, the shore was still shimmering, but it was from being freshly cleaned and not from sunlight on glass.  As I walked further down stream I noticed tires, cinder blocks, and picnic table remnants tossed in the water.  Without waders and a wheel barrow, I left them still submerged.  I thought about the trash some as I walked back to the car and passed numerous trash cans. I figured most of the glass came from lazy, ignorant kids drinking beer and breaking the bottles on the rocks.  I have done my fair share of bottle smashing when I was younger.  While I was still upset about the glass, I could justify it somewhat.

Then I thought some more.  How many times have I seen trash that is completely out of place along a body of water?  Drano bottles floating downstream, tires in the middle of a lake, light bulbs shattered on shore, Windex sprayers hanging from trees, bags of trash left in the undergrowth. And how many times have we all seen trash that is clearly from anglers being lazy and ignorant children?  Every year I gather hundreds of feet of discarded fishing line while I am out fishing.  I have yanked line out of trees and tore it from shrubs from fishermen who purposely left there after a bad cast.  I have simply bent down and picked up line that people left there after they probably looked around to make sure no one was looking and dropped it when they decided they were safe from legal or moral repercussions.  Often it takes less than a minute to clear line from a tree and it takes seconds to wind line up that's found on the ground.  If someone leaves it there because they don't want to carry trash around with them, invest in some pants with a back pocket...  you can fit a whole lot of line and scraps from fishing in there.

This summer I saw a group of young ducks swimming at a local lake.  There was one duck that was clearly stunted from all the rest.  As I got closer I saw a few feet of fishing line sticking out of its beak.  The duck must have ingested one end and was in the process of having its intestines bound by a linear foreign body making it nearly impossible to eat or digest food.  I tried sneaking up on the duck to see if I could remove the line while it was on shore but I couldn't get close enough.  The duck most likely is dead now from an angler who was too lazy to roll up five feet of discarded line.

When you are out fishing, hiking, kayaking, hitchhiking, or otherwise outside of a building and there is a piece of trash, take three seconds and pick it up.  If everyone removed a few pieces of trash every time they went out, the places we love to visit would be much cleaner and healthier.


...goes here.

While I'm at it, please stop feeding the wildlife.  I'm sure you all know the consequences on the wild animals when they become dependent on humans for food.

At least get out of the car to do it, fatty

Okay, these ducks are pretty cute, but the park isn't the place to teach your children how to be an irresponsible adult.  And you are doing it right behind my car and they shit all over.  And don't honk at the geese when you are trying to leave.  They are blocking your car because you fed them. Remember that? Three seconds ago?

I hope you go camping.

On a happier note, I did see some spring flowers popping up between pieces of trash.  I doubt they will make it until the actual beginning of spring, but it's a good sign.

Spending Money I Don't Have

January was consumed by house buying. I made an offer on a house on January 7th and moved in the 28th.  I was pretty busy with closing and moving.  I enjoyed being so busy as it took my mind off my want to be on the water.  For me, in these colder months, the constant craving to fish starts to manifest in purchases for the upcoming fishing season, often unnecessarily.  Even with buying the house and a new computer I still managed some budge in the budget for fishing supplies.  

I was attending my girlfriend's vet school white coat ceremony in Louisiana and convinced her and her family to stop by the nearby Bass Pro Shop.  I headed straight for the fly fishing section, only to be disappointed.  The section was composed of a five foot reel case, two small wall displays, a few dozen fly choices, 20 rods, and three handfuls of tying materials.  I asked the nearest associate if that the whole fly fishing section and he seemed surprised.  He claimed fly fishing was fairly popular in the area but I believe it would be difficult to maintain this hobby with that meager selection from what should be a major sporting goods store.  I walked solemnly back to the few hundred rows of regular fishing items.  I picked up 3 different soft plastics that looked promising then wandered the rest of the store without purchasing anything else.  Except for circus peanuts because of this post.  That's the last time I take advice from him.

Later in the week we were driving through Baton Rouge when I spotted an Orvis tucked in a shopping center.  We headed home but after a little convincing and a day later, we were on our way back to the Orvis.  The last Orvis I went to was only an outlet store which was also a disappointment as they carried zero fly fishing items this Orvis, however, was the fly store I was hoping Bass Pro would be.  I went through all the flies getting some new ideas, looked at some 8 weights, some new reels, and all the tying materials.  I grew concerned when I noticed many of the items didn't have a price tag on them.  I quickly set those down as I'm pretty sure that meant they were more than I was willing to spend.  Both the store worker and my girlfriend eventually started thinking I was over staying my welcome so I stopped ogling and chose a grab bag of materials.  I ended up getting some materials I have wanted to buy and a lot of stuff I probably wouldn't have bought on my own.  The bag seemed more geared towards a warm water or salt water fly tier though.  If someone bought this for trout they would probably never use half of the items.  I think these new materials will force me to be more creative with my fly tying.

Orvis Tying Materials Grab Bag

The bag did come with some stuff that I have no idea what to do with.  I wish the bags were labeled so I could at least look up what they are.  If anyone has any ideas what I can use any of this stuff for please let me know below.  The picture below is some flashy rope with a tinsel type covering, some foam with gold leaf covering on one side, some orange woven tubing, and some stiff black monofilament.
Unknown tying materials
I did end up putting those soft plastics I got from Bass pro to good use already.  Come back tomorrow to see how well they worked!

Monday, February 6, 2012


If you haven't noticed, I've been away for a while.  I recently bought my first house so packing and moving in took a couple weeks.  My computer also had a hard (drive) attack and I spent much too long trying to resuscitate it... I gave in and bought a lap top.  I do enjoy the portability much more than a desk top.  I just joined my first fly swap so I have been churning out some bugs for that which I may post about in the future.  It seems like I will be busy up till March and then have more time for waiting until I can fish again.  I stumbled across this video today and I thought it was pretty accurate.

I should be back to my normal irregular postings in a few weeks.