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