I came home late tonight*, drained, wet, tired, and considering going straight to bed. After changing out of my damp jeans (more on this in a later post), I decided, instead, upon pouring myself a Sierra Nevada Ruthless Rye and catching up on the internetting I missed today. Funny thing happened, I read Chris Beckstrom’s most recent post on sight fishing some bass, and knew, immediately, it was time I sit my ass down and type up my not entirely dissimilar (read: EXACTLY THE FUCKING SAME) experience that occurred on Monday at my local pond.
The time was about 12:45 pm Monday afternoon. Some lunchbreak fishing. The weather was cloudy, slightly windy and cool. About 55 degrees or so, if memory serves (it probably doesn’t). This pond is the second closest fishable water from my work, and the water I had the most success on last year. The bite this year, however, has been nonexistent, but I know in spite of the odd weather, the water temps are slowly rising and the bluegill and green sunfish are probably spawning or close to it. I know that means the bass won’t be too terribly far behind. I decided to work the east side of the pond this time and, upon arrival, I notice through gin clear water that there is a very, very nice looking bass (probably in the 14″ range, but with my eyesight looking through water, who knows) slowly, deliberately patrolling the rocky shelf above the dropoff about 3 feet from shore. This excites me. I haven’t had any luck with largemouth this season, and I rarely get to sight fish.
As it so happens, my Pop-R is tied on to my line, so I decide to see if this big boy feels like rising. I cast well out past him, hoping not to spook him. Bring the retrieve right over him a few times. Nothing. Didn’t even give it a glance.
So I go the exact opposite route. Weightless Texas rig. Drag it right up on the shelf he is patrolling. He stares at it. And swims by. This happens with every soft plastic worm color and presentation I use. Slow off the bottom. Slow descent in front of his face. Twitchy retrieve mid-water. Weedless. Wacky. Brown. Green. No interest.
Try a similar tactic with a jig & pig, matching different color schemes. Still nothing.
I tie on a 1/16th oz feathered jig, thinking maybe something with a slow descent and more natural look might do the trick. An aggressive bluegill takes it as soon as it hits the water. I reel in the fighting gill directly past the bass’ face, which he, unsurprisingly, is completely indifferent to.
At this point, I need to get back to work, as my lunchbreak is almost over. Happy to at least seen a nice fish swimming about, but frustrated I was unable to entice it, I leave, vowing to return.
Fast forward to Monday night after work. My lovely wife had a fantastic dinner of meatloaf and mashed potatoes ready as soon as I walked in. I inhaled it, as I tend to do with all of my meals, and surprise my daughter with “let’s go fishing,” to which she excitedly agrees. Now, this was not just a ruse to get myself on the water. I legitimately thought I could get Grace a bluegill or two, given how aggressive they were biting in the afternoon.
So I get her set up with a baitholder and a bobber and a piece of corn. I help her cast it out there (although, she doesn’t really need my help with that anymore :D) and proceed to throw the whole tacklebox at Mr. Bass who is still lazily doing laps at the drop off.
Spinnerbait spooked it. Red eye shad was ignored. Showed some interest in the jig & pig, but it was fleeting. Scum frog went unnoticed. Crawdad crawdadded on by. Eventually, I reached a point where I thought I maybe just could make it angry, so I tied on a buzzbait and just tried to annoy the piss out of him. Knocked his tail a few times. He certainly wasn’t pleased, but only enough to swim away and then back again…not displeased enough to strike.
After an hour or two, Grace and I went home skunked. Luckily my attitude of “being out fishing and catching no fish is better than not being out fishing” seems to be rubbing off on her, as she not only claims to have had a great time, but, also did not want to stop casting. I even tied on that feathered jig and let her try out an artificial lure a few times.
In the end, I learned that, not only is sight fishing difficult, but that when you have eyes on both your fish and your lure, it puts into stark relief how absurd some of the standard bass baits are. Spinnerbaits, which resemble nothing in nature, looked particularly hilarious swimming by this preoccupied, educated fish. Although all my smallies on the Fox this year have come on just such a dadaist looking device, I see why all of my bass at this pond came plastic worms, which can, at least in the right conditions, be made to almost kinda sorta look like real worms.
Except with a big metal hook in them.
*I started this post on Monday night, finished it Wednesday afternoon, because, you know, life.