Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Chasing down Ol' Hoss: A Bass Fishing Journal

Chasing down Ol' Hoss: A Bass Fishing Journal

Bass can often be found in areas teaming with warm weather and unique scenery

With high water and monsoon-like rains across Alberta and BC, trout fishing has been difficult this year. Wanting to still get-out and enjoy some sunny weather, we have managed to target a species that is still relatively unpursued in parts of BC: largemouth bass.

I know some folks associate bass fishing with an old Tennessee screen baseball cap, a jar of worms and a cooler of beer, but fly fishing for bass can be a totally unique excperience. Their behaviour is substantially different than trout in some ways, but eerily similar in others. During the heat of a 100 degree day, often times a bass won't drop down to deeper water like trout, but rather hunker down under a log in the shallows. They also don't generate nicknames like "Scarlett" or "Crimson Beauty", but rather generate nicknames like "big pig" or "old hoss". I love catching them nonetheless.
Tim with a fat bass just north of the border taken on a bottom-walked red blood leech to imitate the crayfish this pig was eating. Look at that gut!

During the heat of summer I have had my best luck catching bass in mornings and evenings. A green wooly bugger on an intermediate sink line fished near vegetation has been my most productive means of catching them. This is very much like trout fishing as the bass will eat leeches, damselfly nymphs, dragonfly nymphs and minnows in these locations. I have also had luck casting huge foam dry flies and stripping them on the surface, this can produce some extreme excitement and explosive takes!

Evenings are a great time to fish for bass during the heat of summer

I headed out on a July morning a couple of weeks back to get some fishing in before it reached the hot part of the day. I was quite intrigued to have a damselfy nymph swim onto my float-tube and undergo complete metamorphosis into a fully grown adult with wings. The process took a couple of hours and was incredible to watch.

Damselfly Nymph crawling out of its casing

Damselfly just about ready to fly away

 I could see bass shaking reeds and smashing damsels non-stop, much like out trout do during certain months of the year. I pitched a cast into the reeds, stripped back a green wooly bugger and BAM!!! "There we go!" I screamed. The fish hit like a freight train and bulldogged into cover HARD, bending my 6 weight like a wet noodle. Being alone, I brought in the solid 3 lb bass for this photo.

I normally wouldnt take holidays from work to pursue bass, but with hot beautiful weather and a nice lake to fish, who could ask for anything more?

Later on that day when the sun started to dip down, my uncle and I headed back down to the lake after a beer or 20 each. We saw non-stop rises from the pumpkinseeds (a type of sunfish). These can be great fun on small dry flies and nymphs. I cast my fly out into the water and the indicator dipped. What I had on wasnt fighting very hard, but it was a very familiar species with most anglers: a yellow perch, talk about a cool, totally different mixed-bag fishery. I started bringing the small perch in when all of a sudden the fish took a hard turn by a big upright stump and my rod was bent in half! HOLY SH*$ !!! This big largemouth bass had come out of nowhere and ATE the perch I was bringing in. Talk about bull trout-like behaviour!

I battled the fish hard and Uncle Paul screemed, "GRAB IT GRAB IT!!!" Having a couple drinks under my belt, I jumped into the lake, grabbed the big pig by the lip and jumped back onto the bank! Talk about a hog for this lake! It truly was Old Hoss and the biggest bass I have ver landed. I kept it and brought it back to camp, parading around the campfire with it like I had just won the BASSMASTER CLASSIC.

Andy (me) with "Ol' Hoss"
 Overall bass fishing can be a great change of scenery from trout on the fly, as well as a unique challenge. I highly recommend going out and giving it a try!


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