April 3rd, 2006

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I Ain't Real Smart But I Can Be Trained
By Michael Aldridge

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

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