Monday, July 18, 2011

Bad Habits


With only a handful of days left before climbing onto a plane for a sweet western trout trip, I figured I’d better visit my home waters one last time and reinforce some bad habits. You know. Bass habits.

You see, I have lost the two truly large trout that I've inexplicably accidentally miraculously managed to hook this year by lapsing into my river bass fighting habits. The little-to-average fish have been no problem but when the stout trout have hit - and run - I've been too stingy giving up line, too heavy-handed with the rod, too impatient to turn the torpedoes my way – forgetting, of course, that I was dealing with 5X tippet, not 10lb test. The breakoffs were inevitable, but heartbreaking nonetheless.

But manhandling hooked fish was just the first of many trout no-nos I needed to bolster. I also had to work on my thunderous presentations, get my hard splashdowns working – necessary to get a bass’ ire up but guaranteed to scatter skittish trout like pool balls after a solid break. Bass are fight. Trout are flight. Look it up.

Finally, I had to be sure I could still wade like an overanxious lab going after a downed duck.  It’s no fun unless you can get really, really wet – especially in this summer’s stifle. I needed to work on making some serious sloshes as well as to test my new waterproof cell phone pouch. Verizon loves me.

Check, check, and check.


So out I went and, to my surprise, it turned out to be a great day to be on the water. A spate of cool evenings has brought down the Haw’s water temperature a notch and, despite the upper eighty-degree air temperature, the day was delightfully free of the southern curse – humidity. The bass responded to the conditions positively and in a couple of hours, with a fat black popper, I brought eight or nine to hand, none less than twelve inches – the largest in the neighborhood of eighteen.

But even bass tactics, employed on bass, can fail when the big fish come to play. I pushed to some new water and found a beautiful holding pool, perhaps four feet deep, sitting below a rock escarpment with twin tumblers feeding each side. Aerated water, lazy lies, and a steady flow of food just itching to be ambushed. River hawg heaven.

Into this soft spot I pitched the popper. It landed upside down, sat for a second, righted itself invitingly, and then disappeared as if someone had dropped a bowling ball directly on top of it. The Ebonite paused, I set the hook, then set it again, and off he went, down the lane, straight for the bowling pin rocks, ignoring my curses. It was either turn his head or turn him lose, so turn his head I tried – praying that my knots would hold. They did, but I should have made my petition a little less specific. The hook didn’t. The popper came back at me, the #1 straighten as if it had been pulled open with pliers. And the dang fish had been running against the current.


One more way to lose a very large fish. Check.

Bring on them big western salmonids. I'm ready.

16 comments:

Cofisher said...

Mike, you'll do fine in Montana, I've no doubt. Don't forget your #2 obligation that we have talked about. Have a safe wonderful trip and knock em dead.

Steven said...

It's always disheartening to lose a big fish, especially to a straightened hook.

Have a good time in Montana

Clif said...

Haw shucks! I would love to see THAT fish.

Mike said...

Thanks for the reminder, Howard. A big job, that one. And I'll indeed have some fun.

Steven, I can't say that I've lost many to a straightened hook. I don't like it much.

You and me both, brother Clif. You and me both. It was a summer-maker.

Sanders said...

"Bass are fight. Trout are flight. Look it up"...priceless.

It's better you didn't see the big boy, now you get to let your imagination do the work :-)

Is it Friday yet???

Mike said...

Not Friday yet. But soon.... very soon. See ya then, buddy!

troutrageous1 said...

Wow, must have been a brute to do that to the hook. Really looking forward to hearing about the upcoming trip. Should be a blast.

Ken G said...

I had that exact same thing happen today on a river smallie, straightened the hook. I can count on one hand of a stockyard worker how often that has happened.

Have fun out west, don't forget to come back.

AYearOnTheFly said...

Geeze, I've only had three hooks bent in my fishing. One was a big old snook of a rocky point in the gulf off Florida (I did land him though), another was a big brown running against the current and the last was a bad backcast into a VW bug at a runoff pond in an industrial park. That VW fought hard let me tell you.
Always a joy to read your blog and check out the GREAT photos you post.

gb said...

You mean the Bill Dance grip-it-and-rip-it hook set doesn't work for trout?Shoot.

Jay said...

Hopefully your trout flies are all tied on solid hooks... I want to see some big Montana trout from you guys. Enjoy your western adventure!

Trout Magee said...

Lessons learned can sometimes be painful. It must have been a true River Monster!! Sounds like a beautiful HUMID FREE day on the river. Thanks for taking me there, and away from this blistering heat. Tight Lines.

HighPlainsFlyFisher said...

That looks like a quality day to me , nice fish. Hope you have a great upcoming trip and I'll be looking forward to seeing pics of those big western salmonids!
Jeff

Kev2380 said...

Nice post, I had to google what Ebonite meant.

Mike said...

I suspect that you were not alone, Kevin. :-)

Fly Waters Edge - Kevin said...

Better to have straightened a hook and lost one that to have never straightened a hook at all... Ya something like that anyway. Looking forward to hearing about the trip.