I thought the weather forecast for Saturday had called for substantial wind. When I finally rolled out of bed and looked out the window, the leaves on the trees were just barely moving. I checked the hour-by-hour forecast to see if this was just a temporary lull in an otherwise windy day, but the next few hours looked pretty good. So I grabbed a quick breakfast and headed out the door.
I probably should have gone to some more distant destination, since my family had no big plans for the day (which is extremely rare on weekends!)...but I couldn't come up with a better idea of where I wanted to go, so I went to one of the local public ponds I fish frequently. In fact, the last time I fished this pond, I knew a bass was marking out a nest in one corner of the pond. While I was unable to see the fish, I could see his wake when he charged around chasing the bluegills away. I went directly to that spot and started fishing, hoping this fish that I couldn't get to strike last time would be easier to fool this time. I tried topwaters, and a variety of baitfish-imitating fly patterns...but couldn't get any reaction from this fish. I did finally get to see it, and it wasn't as big as I'd hoped it would be. Probably a 14" fish.
Discouraged, I switched to an unweighted black woolly bugger, and set about the business of fooling some bluegills. This was working ok. I worked my way to another corner of the pond, and cast up near the shallows of the corner. I set the hook on a strike and had a GOOD fish on the line! It bulldogged, headed for deeper water, and then jumped clear of the water. Nice bass! Fortunately the hook held. It went on several more good runs and jumped clear of the water again. The second time I coaxed it into the shallows, I was able to reach down and grab the fish's lip to land it. It measured 17.5". Here's the cell-phone picture I took:
I decided to try for a bluegill again, and then see if the hooked bluegill would elicit a strike as I brought it in to shore over the area I suspected the bass to be. This worked immediately. The bass grabbed the bluegill and ran. I fed it line. The fish came back almost to my feet again, as I slowly stripped the slack line back in. The fish swam out again, a bit farther this time. It eventually turned and slowly made its way back near me as I regained the line. A good 5 minutes had elapsed since the bass had grabbed the bluegill. I hoped by now the bass would have it far enough down its throat that I could attempt to land the bass, and this is what I set about doing. The bass started fighting right away, and went on two good runs. Then it headed for the sky. It completely cleared the water, and as it shook its head, the bluegill came flying back towards me.
All I could do was shake my head and smile. That was pretty cool! I moved on and continued fishing for bluegills, and caught some pretty nice ones for these ponds. I measured one at 8.5".
As I summarize this trip, I can't help but wonder about a few things. If those bass are chasing bluegills away from their nests, and are obviously willing to grab and eat them if they catch them...then why weren't the baitfish-imitating fly patterns getting more attention from the bass? Conversely, I landed 3 bass on the day (the other 2 were smaller)...and they all took smaller flies I was using for bluegills. Why would the bass eat this small stuff they normally ignore?