Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Skill > Beginners Luck | Quality > Quantity

I'll start off with the usual lake conditions. Early Sunday morning with steam rising off the water. A crowd of runners gathering at the Lake Audubon pool parking lot. Herons (great blue and night) flying low over the water.

Charlene and I pushed off from the boat ramp around 0730 and set out to work the shores. The water was covered with a thin film of midge exoskeletons. Their chitinous ingredients reflecting sunlight. Water visibility was poor. We could barely see a few feet down, make that a few inches.

Charlene worked the banks with a 10' 6wt rod and scorpion bug. We were not working on any complex casting techniques, just a simple water haul --> back cast --> forward cast. She placed the fly just off the bank, next to pontoons, in front of docks, under trees etc. The fishy spots. As an experienced angler, Charlene knew where the fish would be and put the fly in those exact spots. She was able to put the fly in the 1' gap between two pontoon boats. Not bad for a first timer.

By now we have worked maybe 50 yards of shoreline with a nibble or two. Cohesion allowing tension on the line for a back cast was all that was needed to cast here.  We rounded an outcropping and approached a small floating dock, maybe 4'x4'. Charlene tossed the fly just to the side of the front left corner and SPLASH. Something took the fly and went straight down. She set the hook and got the slack out of the line. I'm watching from the stern of the canoe and can't believe what I am witnessing. Her fly rod is  bent double and I think its going to break. That is a lot of bend for a 10' rod. The scales flashed just below the surface and I could tell the fish was big. I thought it was a big carp taking a bug off the surface.

The fish is digging deep and going down and Charlene keeps tension on the fish. She strips the line in and gets the leader just inside the guides as the fish comes up along the side of the boat (which has now turned). I see its a big largemouth and wish I had brought the landing net. The fish comes up to me and I manage to grab the leader and lip the bass. This thing was huge.

The largest bass I have seen taken from this lake in the history of the lake (it was built just before I was born). This is the first fly-caught fish for Charlene and it gets the first X-Large file size status on the blog:

Say it is beginners luck but she knew what she was doing and put the fly where it should go and got the results.

We continued along the shore and she caught a few smaller bass which would have been considered nice sized fish on any other morning. A sunfish here and there but not the normal amount of fish. I'm not sure if it was the water color or the recent string of 90+ degree days.

We glided over some carpzillas and spooked them. They sent up a trail of bubbles and cloud of mud as we neared the head of the lake. Charlene was now fishing a dry-dropper rig with a scorpion bug as lead fly and damsel nymph as dropper. Not hard to guess that combination with me. She now catches a baby grass carp. Two huge accomplishments in one day, a monster bass and a carp on fly.

The next thing that blew my mind out of this awesome day was a bird spooking fish. I have not seen that since my time in the Florida Keys. A bird took off from shore and the shadow spooked something big and we heard it from a distance.

We were now on the paddle back to the boat ramp, working the opposite shore. The spots that are normally productive proved fishless. Charlene continued to place the fly where she needed and missed a few fish. Granted she was throwing a huge bug and some of the fish had small mouths. Setting the hook is never easy for a first timer and a fish here and there was missed due to a bit too much slack in the line and that fly size.

1000 came before I knew it and our time was up. The Germany vs. England game was about to start too. I paddled us around the creepy drain and back to the boat ramp. Charlene set a new standard for what a first timer can pull out of the lake. Spoiler alert, Germany won.

Charlene plans to fish mountain brookie streams in West Virginia in the future. She should look into a 8'6" 5wt. That rod might be a bit heavy for tiny brookies but versatile enough for local streams, lakes, and rivers.

I hope to fish with her in the future, be it client based or just bumping into her on the water.


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