I went to an old lake of about 6 acres yesterday for some
gill and bass action. This lake has been on my list for
three years now and it's an outstanding producer. The plan
was to try out some "worm" patterns and see if the gills were
in the shallows yet. It was a great day with temps in the low
70's, wind at less than 5 mph, and partly sunny. The water
temp in the lake was at 62 deg F. with very little staining.
You could see three feet deep and with the clay soils around
here that is outstanding. A perfect day for YAK fishing in
the sunny south.
Since adding anchor lines at both the front and rear of my
'Kingfisher' yak I was able to position it so that casting
was not a gymnastic experience. My language has improved as
a result also. This was also my first trip with two fly rods
as per 'RZmethodology'. Double-Roding will take some additional
thought to fine tune, but as a whole everything went well...
I came home with two intact fly rods. (I did note a regrettable
regression in the language thing.)
The intent was to try "worming' on the 9ft 8 wt. and pan fishing
on the 8'6" 4wt. The worm patterns included two styles of leather
body worms, two styles of chenille body worms, and two types of
off-the-shelf rubber worms. Last week in a heavy wind I gave up
trying to cast and drug a 3" trout worm (with some weight), around
the lake using the wind for "trolling". That went very well with
five officially YAK'ed largemouth bass within about one hour, but
it was a back-door fly fishing technique at its best. Today was
to be casting and various retrieve patterns. Let's not forget
the gills; I went after them with an olive and black/green flash
chenille Woollybugger #6, 2x long.
I did catch bass yesterday...ONE...on the WB but the worms
were a bust. Casting all but the standard 6" plastic worm
was easy. I even threw a 3-inch trout worm type for a while
(since nothing was happening with my finely crafted worm
mannequins), 'tho it had worked last week. One trial isn't
the basis for good statistics so (being a scientific angler)
I'll give it a try on another day but the real story was with
the gill endeavor.
Nothing was happening with the WB, damsel nymph, even a PTN
dropper on the damsel was getting no interest from the gills
which I could plainly see swirling the water in a 1 to 4 ft
deep area. It is probably the time of the year when males
are picking out their nuptial quarters for the coming frenzy
of lepomis eroticism. While I was not paying attention, one
even carried my nymph about 3 ft and spit it out. I tuned
back in on the last foot of his trip and missed him cleanly.
It must have been that darn bug in my face...uhhhh...bug in
the air...he sure is small...kinda grey...about 3/8 inch long,
well why not!
Rick Zieger and Joe Hyde are all the time talking about small
flies for gills and even bass. Now, I trust their experiences
and writings but it has been very traumatic for me to actually
put on a fly that I usually catch 7" brook trout with and fish
in a 6 acre lake. The best mimic of that bothersome bug in my
box was one I got in a soft hackle fly swap this winter. It was
a #18 herl body with short grey soft hackle. Size 18, kinda
like a comma at font size 72, look at that sometime on your
computer. My 4 lb leader was almost as big as the eye of the
hook. Well, might as well give it a try.
B I N G O!
The gills were practically begging to bite my diminutive fly
and not diminutive gills either. The smallest was 6" and the
largest was 9". After two hours of mixing fruitless worming
for bass and astounding midging for gills I had YAK'ed about
12 of the beasties. Most of the gills were hooked only in the
lip and took the offering very lightly. My sign for having
'a fish on' was a slight straightening of my line. The retrieve
was minimal and in 6" strips with most taking it during settling
in the water column. Due to the small size of the hook, playing
them was done gently. Only one was lost in one of those "long
distance releases" that we are all fond of touting. By the time
I lost the fly it was dark (7:30) and it was impossible to see
if I was in the water or in the trees. That's why I lost it...
see. I caught fish right up to the 'tree fish' attack.
He got away. I've hooked him before and I'm sure he's still
there. I'll get him again no doubt, he's a hungry critter.
What is the point of this story? There may not be one; however,
the experience does point out to me that I need a better
understanding of the food available in that lake. These fish
eat everyday and there is a biomass there with which they are
very familiar. I'll bet it will include a number of species
that are small and look like the bugs we use for trout.
I ain't real smart but I can be trained. ~ Michael Aldridge