The Transition.. The Prequel
by, 03-12-2008 at 06:09 PM (5203 Views)
When I wrote "The Transition Begins" I was referencing the yearly move from icefishing to flyfishing. It *is* quite a transition from a 24 inch rod to an eight footer and from a #12 RatFinkee to a #12 Woolly Bugger - or a 1/0 Stealth Bomber.
But it got me to thinking about other transitions I have made within my experience as a fisherman. I actually got my start in fishing as a toddler and even flyfishing at a pretty young age. My dad was, and is, an accomplished fisherman. But, like so many of his generation who experienced the Great Depression, he was, and is, largely a "meat" fisherman. Only in recent years has he begun to even remotely understand the concept of "Catch and Release". And admittedly, it's largely because larger fish are often poorer table fare.
"Catch and Release" (or, while we are "borrowing" terms) "Selective Harvest" came easily to me for a couple reasons. My grandfather was so much a rabid supporter of the bluegill as a sport, and food, fish (something I definitely inherited) he was even nicknamed "Sunfish" by some of his friends. Most of his fishing was done in the farm ponds within a couple of miles of his house. He soon deduced that removal of the large bass from those ponds resulted in overpopulation and stunting of his beloved bluegill. So by the time I was old enough to accompany him, he had a strict C&R policy on bass. There was no questioning him on this one - you'd just better realize, if you caught a bass, it was going back - period. "Headed", scaled, gutted and pan-fried by Grandma, those bluegill still rate as one of my most cherished childhood memories.
The second reason I was easily swayed is it became *very* apparent, *very* early that I was going to take this fishing *very* seriously. I grew up a farm boy on the banks of the Iowa River. It was not unusual for me to hurry through chores, grab my fishing rod and spend my days, until evening chores, on the banks of that river. As my skills grew so did my stringers. The first few batches of catfish I drug home, my dad was as excited as I was. He helped me clean them and made a big production of my "putting meat on the table". After a few "messes" became a lot of "messes" I got the "Hey, you caught 'em - you clean 'em" speech.
After a few sessions of that I had an epiphany. I doubt that I had ever heard the term "Catch and Release" but I became an ardent supporter of the concept. I could now fish all day, do my chores and sit down to supper without an hour, or so, of fish-cleaning chores hanging over my head. Good concept.
A year or two down the road I began to make trips, on my bicycle, to neighboring farm ponds. It was no small task - riding a bicycle, on a loose gravel road, while balancing a fishing rod across the handlebars and carrying a tackle box in one hand. It was about now that I discovered my cherished "Bronson Dart" spin-cast reel would throw a #2 Mepps nearly across most of the ponds. When I caught my first bass on it I became a confirmed "lure flinger". I soon became quite a snob - no "bobbers" or bait for me. That was for little kids and beginners. I was probably all of nine by then.
Over the next couple of years, the number of fish I caught on a Mepps and a Weber "Crappie Killer" would make a big pile.
It was on one of my many forays to a farm pond that I made an interesting observation. There was some kind of a flowering bush that had grown on the bank and was leaning over the water. It was blooming and absolutely alive with bees. Often one would fall into the water. It would immediately be rushed by three or four bluegills and occasionally there would be a much bigger swirl as the food chain followed its natural progression. Dragging my Mepps through there resulted in several bass and the Crappie Killer would be attacked as soon as it hit the water. Effective, yes, but I couldn't get the vision of those fish attacking the surface out of my head.
Dad had a "fly rod" though he seldom used it. I've found out since (I still have it) it was actually a fiberglass, spinning rod with sliding metal rings and had been pressed into service for that purpose. It had a cracked "level" line on the "automatic" reel and one of those little barbed eyes in the end of it. There was a white popper stuck into the cork handle and a couple more in Dad's tackle box. Armed with all this I pedaled back to the pond with blood in my eye.
As luck would have it, this was a "pasture" pond with absolutely no brush or trees but the lone flowered bush on the bank. I had seen my dad use the fly rod maybe once, so armed with this knowledge, and the confidence of youth, I played out a few feet of line. Surprisingly (I know now, possibly miraculously) I actually flipped the popper within a few feet of the tree without catching my ear or the back of my neck. Before I could react I was into my first "fly rod" fish, a voracious six inch bluegill. I set the hook so hard with the "medium" weight rod and eight feet of stiff line and eight pound mono leader the fish flew over my head and into the grass behind me. I pounced and, just like that, I was fly fisherman.
..to be continued..
(see "The Transition.. The Prequel.. Part Deux")