Friday, October 11, 2013

Becoming a Bass Master

I've only had a few hours here and there to fish lately, and instead of loading the car with the paddleboard and all its accoutrements, I've been hitting the freshwater with the 4-weight, doing some bank fishing.

When I see the bass tournaments on TV, I turn the channel. There's just something that turns me off about the sparkly, sponsorship-emblazoned water rockets swarming around the lake, carrying bass pros that yank three-pound fish into their boats with 50-pound test to store them in a live well until they're weighed at the end of the day. That's the vision I have of bass fishing, a prejudice that lets an entire fishery slip from my consciousness for years at a time.

But since I've been dipping my toe in the freshwater as of late, I've had the chance to discover that I really like fishing for bass. It's like a latent primordial redneck has arisen within me that has lain dormant, waiting to be baptized in the blackwater gator hole from whence he came -- except this one uses a fly rod rather than a flippin' stick. Snook, my regular quarry, grow larger and stronger than a largemouth. They swim faster and jump higher. But there's something to be said for the suddenness of a bass striking a topwater fly. That strike is quick and full of malevolence, no matter the size of the fish, and at least where I've been fishing, it comes from nowhere. The fly is bobbing on the surface, and then it's annihilated. Fly fishing for largemouth bass could be described as periods of stillness interrupted by sudden violence. And it's a lot of fun. One of these days I'll commit for real and tie up some big hair bugs, put the paddleboard on a lake, and sling the 8-weight in search of a hawg.

My rewards for hitting 8-inch holes in the duckweed from 15 feet:

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