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
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.