It is happening.
The bass are back, they are becoming aggressive, and I am excited. I decided to stop at the pond between jobs tonight, and, while I went 0/2 when it comes to landing bass, the fact of the matter is…if the time has not arrived, it is near.
Not sure what the exact temperature was, but I strode to the water clad in t-shirt and shorts, which appeared to be the uniform the the 8-10 other people I saw coming and going with rods in their hands. Met a nice angler named Stan, chatted for a while about the pond, all the while keeping an eye on the water, where I saw bass not only doing laps around the shore, but plenty of activity at the surface. Most of if were the small ripples of small fish, but occasionally – and I made a point of noting location when this occurred – there were the big splashes and flops of bass breaching.
I set up camp in the southwestern corner of the pond and immediately noticed a lot of nicely sized bluegill feeding along the shoreline. After a few minutes, a largemouth joined them. I spent a minute or two trying to goad it into taking a wacky rigged worm, but after how much time I wasted attempting this Monday, I decided to focus my attention on the big disturbances I keep seeing along the shore directly across from me.
This shoreline is not exactly the most accessible once the bulrushes grow in, but now the only thing stopping anglers like myself is the willingness to get a little muddy. I debated going back to the car for my boots, but decided I’d rather not lose the spot to another angler and would just be careful in my work shoes.
Casting in this area was a bit difficult, as the shore is too marshy to allow access to the water’s edge, and casting and retrieving over/through shoreline vegetation is unavoidable. Since this is where the fish appeared to be, though, I decided it was worth the trouble and risk. After the treble hooks on the Jitterbug proved to be too snaggy, I switched over to my middle sized frog. It is bright green in color with separated tassels. I figured it would present the best silhouette and color in the setting sun, big enough that I could fan my casts out to cover plenty of water, but not too big for the frogs actually living at the pond this time of year.
After fanning my casts out to all the water I could reach, I started honing in on the two areas where I was seeing the water boiled by dorsal fins the most. Both were midway into the pond, but around noticeable weedbeds that were only barely breaking the surface. Topwater frogs are one of my favorite baits to fish, although I’ve only actually caught one bass on a frog, I am confident to cast it into the heaviest cover, there are a million ways to work it and when a fish strikes at it, it is much more enjoyable and exciting than dragging a jig across the bottom.
I had two such strikes tonight, both in the same spot, both withing 5 minutes of each other. Of course, being me, I pulled the trailer tassels out of the fish’s mouth both times. It is a difficult thing to get accustomed to, with frogs. Waiting that one full second after the strike to set the hook. The first one surprised me so much (you’d think that, since the whole point of fishing is to catch the fish that I would expect to get a bite and be prepared for it on every cast, but, in reality the inverse is what actually happens) that I almost brought the lure back to shore when it came firing out of the water with no fish attached. The second one I was ready for, but either fell victim to short stike and/or and overzealous angler.
Missing these two bass was bittersweet. Bitter in that, well, I missed two bass. But, in the long run, I know I am going to catch those bass in this pond on that lure. It may happen in the coming days, weeks or months. It may even happen in the next 7 hours, if the weather allows me to stop there in the morning before work. Just seeing the fish, knowing that they are there and knowing that they are starting to feed…that is as sweet as it gets.
When it dawned on me that I still had to get my ass to work, I began making my way back around the pond. Stopping to cast one or two here and there, I ended up at my original starting position. The bluegill were still there, and I recalled having a few pieces of corn still stowed in my bag from when I took Grace fishing Monday night. One improved clinch knot later, I had this beautiful, big bluegill on my line, thus giving the middle finger to the skunk for the night.