Thursday, July 8, 2010

Slip Sliding Away

Fly-Fishing for Smallmouth
Redington Crosswater 9062 Fly Rod Outfit 6 wt. 9 ft.

I have never been one to not think much of August. Watching tomatoes turn colors and picking little fuzzy bean beetle larvae gets old, really quick. One August evening, intolerable boredom set in. I loaded up my fly rod, a fifty foot leash and a hard-headed beagle into my truck and drove a whole quarter of a mile to the river. I normally fish there once per year and hadn’t been down there yet. I wasn’t expecting much action. At least, the dog would have some fun.

I went to a section of riffles, above a railroad trestle on the Tygart River. We fought through neck high poison ivy, interlaced with rambler rose and finally reached the river. The smell of creosote permeated the evening air. This spot has waist deep pockets of water, it flows around large boulders and the bottom consists of snail covered smaller rocks. Hiding spots and food sources abound.

I tied a crayfish imitation to my leader. On the first cast, the fly snaps off behind me on the dog leash. The next cast isn’t much better, I’m standing on the main line. The fly lands about eight feet away and is ravaged by a three inch rock bass. The next dozen or so casts result in a couple of eight inch smallmouth and too many lost flies. Time to try fishing on the surface. As I dig through my fly box for a popper, I notice a few flies that I had never tried before. They are Clouser floating minnows. I tie on a black one and the first drift results in a foot-long smallmouth from a log jam. The next cast is a repeat. Then a beagle falls off the logs into the water. We move upstream to a table-sized flat mid-stream rock.

The fly floats on the surface a few feet in front of me as I strip out line for a cast. It dips and darts with the current looking just like minnow feeding on minute organisms. I quickly realized that you don’t need to cast this fly. Just let it drift into likely cover from an upstream position and let the current and the fly do the rest. The old Simon & Garfunkel song came into my mind and wouldn’t go away. This fly just slips and slides away until it is engulfed by a fish. Yeah, I know that a real feeding minnow would be moving upstream, but the fish don’t seem to care. I began using a no-slip loop knot to impart even more movement to the fly.

I fished using this method a couple of times per week, until floating masses of algae forced me to quit. The fly consistently caught smallmouth and largemouth bass, rock bass, bluegills and pumpkinseeds. I didn’t catch anything big, but anything is good enough for August. I did have a rock bass on one evening that was eaten by a Muskie.

So, if you are looking for something to occupy a steamy August evening head for the river and let time slip-slide away. Don’t forget your hard-headed dog. They don’t think much of August either.

(c) Randy Bodkins 2009 all rights reserved

This article first appeared in Two-Lane Livin/August 2009

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