Lighter Side

What is life if there is not laughter? Welcome to the lighter side of flyfishing! We welcome your stories here!
February 21st, 2000

The Moment

by William G. Tapply
From: Bass Bug Fishing published by The Lyons Press. 123 West 18 Street, New York, New York, Phone: (292) 620-9580

In every kind of fishing there is The Moment. With trout, it's when a fish tips up to sip in a dry fly. With salmon and tarpon, it's that first catapulting leap into the air. When I fished with bait, as I did obsessively as a kid, The Moment came at the first shuddering jiggle of the bobber or the first twitch of the line before it began to slither out through the guides.

The best fishing times are those visable moments of connection, and once you've stored enough of them away in your memory bank, they keep you focused and happy while you're getting shunked.

With bass, The Moment comes when the flat, dark, early-evening water against a fallen tree or beside a boulder or alongside a patch of lily pads or under an overhanding bankside bush suddenly implodes where an instant earlier a bass bug had been quietly resting.

Despite James A. Henshall's famous claim for bass, "Inch for inch and pound for pound, the gamest fish that swims," once you've tied in to comparably sized trout or salmon - or any saltwater gamefish - you know that freshwater bass are not exceptionally swift swimmers or strong fighters or athletic leapers.

But nothing in the universe of fishing can beat the thrilling topwater strike of a big bass. It's the visible moment of connection, the moment that proves you have fooled him, the moment when all the predatory pugnacity of the fish exposes itself. It's a primitive, primal moment for fish and anglers alike. I shiver at the memory of it. I'm sure it taps into a strand of my DNA that has survived for eons. It exposes me as a primitive hunter-gathered still, a predator myself.

Fishing for bass on underwater lures and flies is - well, it's okey. Underwater techniques are surely effective, often deadly, and sometimes the only way to catch them. If catching fish were the main point of it, I would fish subsurface more often than I do. I've done plenty of it, actually - but hardly ever when the possibility of a topwater Moment was even remote.

Nowadays, when I go bass fishing, I cast floating bugs to shoreline targets. If I can't do that, I rarely go bass fishing. This is not snobbishness or purism. It's just what I love to do. ~ William G. Tapply

LighterSide Archive

[ HOME ]

[ Search ] [ Contact FAOL ] [ Media Kit ] © Notice