There was something about that night…Boots, Currier, and I all had a restless sleep. It was hot and muggy, and even Currier took refuge in my four-man tent to get out of the scattered showers. We were a bit sluggish getting going.
Currier found sanctuary in his morning cup of coffee, as Boots and I packed up the trucks to set off for the day.
The forecast called for a cool day, and after a few days of 96 degree weather we were okay with that.
Rain started to pelt us as Currier and I blasted our streamers in a deep back-eddy. We were getting little payoff with the occasional smallmouth bass that would take our flies. The little shakers were not what we were after. Last year, Boots and Currier hit this same spot and it had proved worthwhile, providing some nice rainbow trout. Today, however, we were getting no love.
“There’s something!” I said, setting the hook. This was no bass at the end of my line… it fought hard like a rainbow trout.
“Can you see it?” Currier asked, still casting.
“Not yet.” Boots said, with the net ready.
A flash of chrome came into view, just under the surface.
“It’s a bow!” Boots said. “A nice one!”
“Nice!” Currier said.
Just then the fish switched direction and spit the hook, right as Boots was calculating his maneuver with the net.
“Damn! It’s gone…” I said. I hate the feeling of slack line just before we get the prize to the net, but there was little time for sulking. We may not have gotten it to the net, but we got a great glimpse of it to keep our spirits up.
“There we go!” Currier yelled, his rod doubled over. “This feels like a good one, boys!”
Boots and I watched as Currier put the hurt on his fish.
“Now, Boots, be sure Erik doesn’t touch that net!” Currier said, so seriously that if you didn’t know him you would think he wasn’t joking. It was nice to know that, even amongst fighting a nice fish, Currier could still had time to take a jab at me. All kidding aside, Boots took the net and assisted Jeff in landing the very nice rainbow trout.
Boots pushed us onward and away from the back-eddy that kept us for so long. Just as Boots landed Currier’s rainbow trout, a larger brown trout took a swipe at the struggling fish. You can blame us for not sticking around after that, but off we pushed anyways, to fish new water.
I have quite an eclectic collection of bass flies in my box, but out of all one stuck out that I had to try: the gummy minnow. I had “tied” this fly years ago as a joke and kept it in my box, more as a conversation piece. I tied it on and flicked it in the water, just to observe what it looked like in the water.
“WOW!” I said, and that got the attention of Boots.
“What is that?!” He asked.
“A gummy minnow.” I said, as we both adored how it spun and flashed in the water.
“That should work.” He said, rowing us into casting position.
SLAP! The gummy minnow hit the water, and one pull with an intermediate fly line took the minnow pattern down into the strike zone.
“There we go…the gummy minnow works a charm!” I said, bringing in a big bass.
“I have never been a fan of the gummy minnow, but the way yours looks in the water… even I would fish it.” Currier said, as Boots scooped up my bass with the net.
Currier took the sticks, giving Boots a shot at some fish. Together we pummeled every nook that suggested to be the home of an unsuspecting bass, and we were rewarded kindly. Boots had the only other gummy minnow I had, and they didn’t last long. With the number of bass we were bringing in, it was only a matter of time before the gummy minnow would start to shred.
“They really don’t last long.” I said, clipping off the once prized minnow, and replacing it with an orange crazy dad fly. When it comes to fly selection confidence is key…color selection comes second. Still I was finding success, and after another sizable bass it was time for me to take the sticks.
I love fishing, but I also love fishing with people who know how to fish. Being behind the sticks with Currier and Boots up to bat was like watching a symphony. Both are powerhouse casters hitting every mark with deadly precision, and the bass are so eager one would get the idea they too were looking for a picture with one of these titans of the fishing community.
If you were a sizable smallmouth, you got the opportunity.
“Okay, boys… looks like we are starting to get into carp territory.” Currier said, holding back on his casting to look for any opportunities.
“Yeah, this is about where we saw carp activity last year.” Boots remembered, as we snuck into a small cove. “There’s a tail!” Currier spotted, but it vanished as soon as he said it… never returning. “We fished all this last year. What do you say we check out that rock wall?” Boots said, pointing across the river.
“Yeah, I’m up for that.” Currier replied, so I turned the boat and oared us over.
“Why is it, every time, at these rock walls I can’t seem to judge the casting distance right?” Currier said, flicking several casts with the fly, smacking into the rock wall just about every time.
“I do the same thing.” I said, “I break the eyes off my flies a lot at these rock walls.”
“I don’t think we need to fish this side next year.” Boots said, having only caught one micro smallmouth while gunning at the wall.
“Yeah, well we can say we did…” Currier said…then a hit!
“Whoa, if this is a bass then this is a hell of a bass!” Currier said, as line ripped from his reel.
“No way that’s a smally.” Boots said, as Currier starting fighting back.
We were in a deeper setting of water with current swirling around us.
“Damn, this guy’s putting up a fight.” Currier said, applying so much pressure on his rod it looked to snap at any second, but it held strong.
“Oh my goodness… are there tiger musky here?!” Currier asked, getting his first glimpse at his fish.
“WHAT!?” I asked, and sprang forward to look for myself.
“Damn it, Currier!” I said with a laugh, plopping back down in the seat after seeing a carp at the end of his line.
“You should have seen your face.” He said, with a smile.
“You almost had me for a second, Jeff.” Boots said, also laughing. “But at least I didn’t react like Erik did.”
“Okay, Erik, keep us out of the current so we can get this fish in.” Currier said, getting our heads back into the game. I kicked the boat back from the main current and Currier had the carp up. Boots timed his approach with the net perfect, and scooped up the carp.
“Beautiful!” Currier, yelled with triumph. “I’ll take a lucky carp any day!”
With carp on the mind, Boots and I geared up appropriately with Currier behind the sticks. We snuck into a carp flat but saw no activity.
The sun had popped out, warming up the water enough to hopefully get the carp moving. Before the evening carp hunt, Currier had prepared a brat dinner for us.
Evening fell fast, while the three of us, now stuffed with a fantastic dinner, wet waded the flat in search of carp.
Boots was the only one of us who got a shot. The day had just been too cold to warm up the flat for any decent carp activity.
I filled my time chasing down a leopard frog that hopped away fast as I tried to photograph it. Currier was off around the bend, and had found a few smallmouth bass that were willing to take a fly, while Boots stood alone thigh-deep in water.
“Well, it didn’t happen for us.” The dark silhouette of Currier said as he approached us.
“The day was too cold for too long.” I said.
“Yep. They were just not coming in close enough.” Boots said, firing up the motor.
“It was still a damn good day of fishing.” I said, and the boys agreed.
The next morning we would get one last shot to fish before heading home, and with a long day of fishing behind us, sleep came easy in our new camp spot at Massacre Rocks.