Monday, October 13, 2014

The "Almost" Trophy Bass

As something of a surprise to me, a few bass still seem willing to hit topwater flies this late in the season.

After catching a 20-inch bass the previous week (see last blog entry), I caught a couple on a blockhead popper, then had a not-really-so-big bass break off (also on a blockhead popper) while flyfishing a local pond last week one evening last week.

And then last Friday I fished a pond during lunch and hooked THE BIG ONE on a blockhead popper.  I suspect this fish may be in the 6 lb range….21-22” long.  I caught bass of 18", 18.5", and 19" in this pond on topwater flies earlier this year, and this one really looked much bigger.  Plus, I've had some experiences that suggest there IS at least one even bigger bass in this pond.  I had talked to a couple guys there earlier in the Spring that said their friend had caught a 6 pound bass there (I assume it was released), and a winter or two previous while ice-fishing, I had a big bass on that I got a pretty good look at as it swam under the clear ice and right up to the hole before shaking loose.  At the time, I was thinking "6-pounder!".  In some states, that's not a huge fish.  In is.  My biggest Iowa Bass ever is a 24", 7lb 8oz fish I'd caught on spinning gear over 20 years ago.  It was a 1/2" longer than the State Record, but weighed less.  I don't think this one was THAT big...but if my estimate is correct, this would have been my biggest on flyfishing gear.

Anyway, I survived the battle through two spectacular jumps, then the behemoth dove into the weed/moss/algae crap on the bottom and got stuck.  I spent about 15 minutes working to free the fish from all that junk, straining my rod and my tippet to just shy of their maximum.  I wasn't gaining any ground at all for the longest time,,,but then I got the fish free!!  I managed then to pull it to within 6’ of shore, paused to take up some slack, then resumed pulling the rest of the way to shore.  It had some weeds still on it, which I felt was a GOOD thing, since it helped keep the fish calm and sedated.  But…unbelievingly (is that a word?)…that’s when my line decided to break!  The fish immediately darted out of the “weed jacket” it was wearing, and swam back to deeper water.  I don’t know if it left the popper in the weeds or if it was still in its mouth.
After all that…I was SO CLOSE TO LANDING IT!  During the battle I was making constant checks of the details…..where could I land the fish, did I have a camera, tape measure, etc….

Well, I’d accidentally left my cellphone (which is all I use for a camera these days) on my desk at work.  But I still could have measured the fish, had I landed it.  And OH, I REALLY wanted to land it!  SO DARNED CLOSE!!  J

I dreamt of that fish, that scene, as I was falling asleep that night.  I've caught a pretty good number of nice bass on flies this year.  Isn't it funny how the ones that get away demand so much airtime in our memories?

Well, what's a blog post without pictures?...the only recent good ones are of colorful Pumpkinseed Sunfish.  They have absolutely nothing to do with with the title of the blog entry....but here they are anyway:


  1. Great story Dave...that's what keeps us going back. And shoot , those big bluegill are enough to keep a guy happy anyway!

    1. Exactly! Its been interesting to watch this public pond evolve over the years. I've fished it since 2007. It started out as a phenomenal bluegill pond, with 9"+ bluegills not uncommon. Then I started catching some NICE channel catfish on flies there. Then the pond crashed. There was effectively NOTHING big enough to catch for a couple of years. Then I started catching some nice Green Sunfish for a couple years, then nice Crappies. This year, Largemouth Bass seem to be the kings of the pond.

  2. I feel your pain. I have lost a few good'uns this year. And no matter what I do, can't stop thinking about those failure's...there's always next time and alcohol.

    1. Oddly, I'm not actually bummed about it. Certainly there is an element of disappointment in not landing that fish. But we know we can't win 'em all....what fun would that be? That fish and that whole experience puts a big SMILE on my face! It was so fun, such a thrill! I got that big ol' fish to take a topwater fly I made! I got to see it. I know its still in there. Maybe NEXT time I'll win. :)