Bass Fishing. That's it.January 26, 2017
So I did a seminar yesterday on bass fishing on a fly rod, which I love, and I truly want anglers to pursue and experience bass fishing. I have written lots of articles and posted videos on Bass fishing in the past, so this won't be super technical in nature on exactly "how to git 'em" but perhaps it will inspire you to include Bass in your adventure planning for 2017. Yesterday's seminar motivated me to get a Blog post up before another round of today's seminars at the WA State Sportsman's Show.
Bass are the perfect quarry for so many reasons. First, you can win a crap load of money on the B.A.S.S. circuit if you can catch more big fish than the other guys. If you're good, you'll get your own TV Show on CMT at 4:30 am on Tuesday mornings. Plus you'll eventually start talking with a southern accent and it drives the ladies wild. For me, I simply love the challenge of placing my fly dangerously close to structure. If I miss, no fish. If I hit, fish on. Its all on me.
Not into all that? Ok fine, consider that Bass populations are predictable year to year and growing in many areas especially Smallmouth, they bite consistently when you find their trigger, they're exciting to pursue because 5 pound Bass are FAR more common than 5 pound trout, accurate casts get rewarded, they are abundant, and they eat Poppers! What's not to love about this critter?
You can fish bass in almost every state in the union and there is very little to know fishing pressure on a weekday evening at your local pot hole. I am willing to bet 90% of you have a decent bass fishery within MINUTES of your home!
I think what really threw me off onto this tangent yesterday, was the unpredictability of both Steelhead and Salmon runs and populations from year to year. While I LOVE pursuing Steelhead, and Salmon, on my fly rods it can be tough to mentor new anglers in the how, where, and when to try and connect with one of these anadramous beauties. You can build them up but if the runs are down or the river doesn't open it was all for naught. I have seen lots of anglers put time into learning where to fish, what to use, and honing their skills only to have the carpet pulled out from under them when the Steelhead season doesn't open. Now just to clarify, none of what I am describing here is meant to be political. Its just that the nature of fluctuating populations from year to year, which is affected by a litany of factors, so rivers are bound to close at times. New anglers will have a tough time finding consistent success and its tough to plan for if they can't build long term skills. Plus, even the very best anglers can't catch a fish if the river doesn't open or the run is dismal. We need to diversify our skill sets. Let's put together a plan for a few fisheries this year that will be there for you every time. Bass is one of them.
Hedge your bet by expanding your knowledge and getting yourself outfitted for bass fishing. Starting in April across the country both Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass will be coming out of their winter dormancy looking to build weight for the spawn. I personally enjoy Bass fishing for the many casting and presentation challenges that it presents the angler, and the take is exhilarating. The subtle feeling of the "inhale" as a Largemouth bass sucks in your fly is awesome. It requires a 6th Sense at times.
The benefit to gaining some bass knowledge is that you'll have a fishery you can pin down over time and learn year after year, cast after cast, how to improve your game. The stable populations, often over populations, of bass lend themselves to fishing days where you may get tired of catching fish. Yes, I said it. You may get tired of catching fish. On a warm June evening bass fishing at even your local lakes can get downright silly.
My Encouragements for Bassin'
- While I can't pinpoint exactly where you will be fishing, I will suggest that you look for smaller lakes that don't get hit by the big boats. There are tons of ponds, small lakes, sloughs, and potholes around.
- Use a boat, even if it is a pram or just an old school dory of some sort. Fishing the shoreline is tough and not very efficient. Just sayin.
- Work the "extra terrestrial" structure first - this is the obvious stuff like docks, logs, exposed reeds, lilly pads, etc. Anything you can see.
- Do a guided trip for Largemouth Bass
- Start with 12 good bass flies.
- Try to get an 8 weight rod with a floating line (not necessarily for the size of the fish but big flies cast more accurately on a #8 and its hard on the rod pulling flies out of the brush)
- Use a bow and stern anchor for stability. I have had very little luck on anything but Poppers while casting from a moving boat propelled by a trolling motor. I have to be stable enough to feel exactly what the fly is doing.
- Fish low light
- Bring a 3 Weight rod and some little Poppers for Panfish
- Learn to strip set