Thursday, April 10, 2014

When the Dogwood Blooms


The dogwood. It mocked me. Looked straight into my bedroom window and said “It’s just a little water, you pansy.

(For the record, the potted pansies on our deck are tough little buggers. They’ve withstood snow and ice and general neglect over the past few weeks and are still looking good. Their reputation of wimpiness is a bit harsh. They’d kick a begonia’s ass, that’s for sure. The dogwood should know that.)

The phone message said, “Hey Mike. It’s Troy. Want to go after some white bass in the rain? Give me a call if you get a chance.” It wasn’t raining. It was pouring! Go out in that for a few measly white bass? You’ve got to be kidding.

I stared out the window and the tree laughed.


I’ll admit right up front that white bass aren’t my favorites. But how can you not chase a few at this time of year? Pull out a fly rod stout enough to push a well-weighted small clouser and intermediate line, yet light enough to make it sport, and you can have a pretty good time nicking fish flowing out of the reservoir and up into the bigger tribs to spawn. Catch a few dozen in a couple of hours, easy. Eight to fourteen inches, occasionally bigger, with some tug. There are worse ways to spend an afternoon, I suppose. Even in the rain.


And perhaps the rain was the reason to go. The run was on. The river, for the first time in weeks, had dropped to a level that made the float worth a try, but it wouldn’t be for long. The forecast suggested that there was at least an inch of rain, and probably more, on the way throughout the upper watershed, meaning another two weeks of high and dirty water. The spawn would be over. It was probably our last shot.

So I gathered the Gore-Tex and a layer or two and we went. You don’t know if you don’t go.


When the dogwoods bloom, the white bass run. The tree knew that.

I wonder if it knew what else was in store.



Note: Ten (at the very least) pounds of river largemouth on a 7wt, intermediate sink line, and a #4 chartreuse-and-white clouser. It don't get no better. Thanks, dogwood.

8 comments:

Kevin Frank said...

That is a bass of a lifetime. Especially with a fly rod. Heck, any rod!

Nancy @ A Rural Journal said...

We always knew you were hard core Mike~ xo

Mike Sepelak said...

Definitely a fish to remember, Kevin. And on a fly rod makes it all the more sweet.

Mike Sepelak said...

Hard core like a Nebraska farmwife, Nancy. :-)

Dan Mikalian said...

I have always made it a point to fish in the rain when I can. There is no time when the fishing is better. None.

Mark McGlothlin said...

Wow, now that's a bass. Another killer post...

Jay said...

That's a river monster!
I saw that your river made the list of the "10 Most Endangered Rivers" this year... a dubious honor. Obviously the fishing isn't too shabby, but from the perspective of a local who fishes there regularly... do you see signs of a river in trouble?

Mike Sepelak said...

Absolutely, Dan. It takes me a bit to reconcile getting out in the rain, but I always enjoy it once I do. And that's what Gore-Tex is all about, isn't it? If you've got the gear, use it!

Thanks Mark. I could hear the Crocodile Dundee in that statement.

Yes, it's a sad day, Jay. The fishing is good, thought not what it once was. Yes, I see the signs. More and more sediment finds its way down the river from the widespread development upstream. After each rain-driven spike in water levels, it takes loner and longer to clear. Non-point source pollution is tough to get a handle on.