A Conversation with a Rock Bass

I ran into a Rock Bass a while ago. The following is a rough approximation of the ensuing conversation.

Me: Hey RB what’s going on.

RB: Oh, not much, been hanging out at the Old Sycamore Stump Tavern a bit.

Me: Oh, that place is pretty cool.

RB: Yeah, it’s comfortable in an “everybody knows your name” kind of way. When I walk through the door they start pouring my creamy stout as soon as they see me. By the time I have my seat at the bar its almost settled out and ready to go.

Me: They pour a pretty mean Creamy Stout.

RB: Did you know they sell more Creamy Stout than any one else in the state?

Me: Really.

RB: Yeah that’s why its always so fresh and tasty, none of that stale, metallic, been sitting in the keg too long taste that you get at those other places.

Me: Yeah and it’s not too cold either.

RB: Yep, just right.

Me: I think the last time I saw you there, you had your lips all wrapped up with some blonde, right?

RB: Yeah, maybe.

Me: A nice slinky little Wooly Bugger, if I recall.

RB: Oh Yeah that one, she shook her tail just so, and i fell for her brand of sass in a Bluegrass minute.

Me: They have that way don’t they.

RB: Pretty much. I was mesmerized. It was like she had a hook in me. I fought her hard, but I just couldn’t shake her. And then the funniest thing happened. It was like the hand of God just reached down into my world and set me free. Just like that.

Me: Wow, you’re lucky.

RB: In more ways than one.

Me: Cool, well I gotta get going.

RB: Ok well, next time your over that way stop by for a Creamy Stout.

Me: Sounds good See ya.

The Sunfish Slam and a creepy ending to some dry fly action.

Last night I fished one of my favorite stretches of cool water but was chased out by a specter of unknowable origin.

First the Fishing

This stretch of water is usually riffley and pocket-like when flows are up, but last night it fished more like a pair of big creeks where it split into ribbons around the big island. I usually fish the larger backside of the island first then hit the secondary channel on the way back to the Jeep. I hit it just right last night, and found what I like to call the Sunfish slam.

Sunfish Slam is of course, my stupid name for catching a Smallmouth, a Largemouth, a Green Sunfish (or Bluegill, Red Ear, Black Ear, Warmouth, whatever) and a Rock Bass, in one outing.

Does the world need another fishing "Slam"? Probably not. Is it some sort of elite prize? Probably not? Does it involve a high level of skill? Probably not. Was it a whole bunch of fun? YES!

Even better yet, they were all caught on my 8′ 4wt while throwing a Simulator dry fly. This makes for some seriously exciting takes of the fly. Most were on the small side, but I’ve driven much much longer and hiked many more miles to catch much smaller fish than these.

Throw in the mini-tarpon-esque, silver sided, dry fly attacking, giant (8″) creek chubs that eat nymphs and dries just like little somkey mountain brook trout, and I had about as much fun as can be had with a 4 wt.

Ad to that a heapin’ helpin’ of spinners, clouds of caddis and the atmosphere turns into a very pleasing combination of fish and bugs.

A night like this with a fish on every other cast is fairly rare event for me and honestly probably for most fisherman, if truth be told, so I take it when I can, with a smile, and know when to say when.

Finally the Specter

After I lost track of how many fish I brought to hand I headed back toward the Jeep.

With my pearly white sh*t eating grin illuminating my path through the woods, I heard someone yell out to me,

“Hey, come over here!”

“Uh, Nope, I’m fishing” was my reply.

“Hey come closer”, he said.

“Uh no, sorry, I’m fishing” I responded as I hopped back onto the dry gravel bar from shore.

I couldn’t see who it was, or where they were exactly, but they were fairly close, just through the tree line and into the field a little way. My walking pace quickened and I fumbled for my cell phone to call a witness in case something nefarious took place.

I finally got a hold of my wife, the audio witness. I talked her through the situation a few times before she understood me through my panting breath and concerned state of mind.

I stepped up my pace to a jog when I got to the more well trodden fisherman’s trail.

I ducked fallen trees. I hopped logs, and took twigs to the eyes. Somehow I managed to never, not once, ever, snag my fly line on the nubbin of a branch. Since when, can you avoid that trap whilst running through the woods?

I looked back and could see him standing on the trail behind me. He was still. A shadowy figure standing there in dark attire. His legs faded into the misty ground. His profile was outlined against the pale evening glow of a sunset sky. His hands were cupped to his mouth but his shouts were drowned out by the crunching leaves, crashing sticks, and heart pounding in my ears.

I kept running and narrating the events to my wife over the phone.

She kept asking me, “How far to your Jeep?”

I finally arrived back at my Jeep, with no person in sight behind me. I tossed my gear in the back, hopped in the driver seat and fired it up. Doors were locked. Gravel flew and wheels spun as I high-tailed it out of there.

I have no idea what he wanted.

I [thought] I was fishing on public land.

There were no vehicles, other than mine, in the gravel pull off.

There are a few houses in the general area, but not at all, close by.

What did he want?
Why was he out there?
Where did he come from?

And why he wouldn’t clarify himself ¬†beyond “Hey! Come closer” might forever remain a mystery.

Maybe it was a very polite and educated Sasquatch? Who knows.

This reminded me that I recently read a scientific study about how endorphins and other hormones secreted during times of fear apparently help to cement memories more vividly in our brains.

This is one Sunfish Slam I will never forget.

Breaking News Update:

Ok, so I did some internet sleuthing on the county auditors website and discovered that the land I thought belonged to the county actually belongs to the house directly north of the sanctuary where I parked my Jeep. So I was fishing on private land without permission. Ooops.

So I looked up the folks who owned the house to the north and called them. Mind you, the internet failed to produce a good phone number, so I was reduced to slumming it in an actual phone book. Old school techniques paid off, they were in there!

As it turns out, the lady who owns the property lets her grand daughter and grand son-in-law hunt deer out there. And as you might guess, he was out there the other night. He was down from his tree stand looking for an arrow and heard me tromping through the woods.

He was apparently as concerned as I was, because he thought he saw me with a bow? Go figure. So I can see why he was being a bit cagey with his call outs.

So I apologized to her for trespassing and told her I wouldn’t have been fishing there if I knew it was private property. However, after that I asked her if she minded if I still fished out there, and she said sure no problem. Its just that easy.

I did reassure her that I would fish other places during deer season though.

Wow, what a specter huh?

When all else fails, hit the farm pond.

Got in some casting practice on the blown out muddy creek.

We headed out Friday evening in search of smallmouth and rock bass on the local creek. Its a great area, perfect wading, nice broken up water with riffles and pools, and usually pays off with some nice fish. But unbeknownst to us, it was like chocolate milk and the fish were not biting. So after a quick phone call my fearless leader got us on to a farm pond and saved the day. The large mouth were hitting pretty well when got there. The bite lasted for all of about half an hour, it was so much action I didn’t snap any photos. The pics below were from the old blown out creek.

At one point I snapped the shutter and a fish jumped right at the same time. So I got this ghost like pan fish photo, pretty cool.

Strip that streamer!

Just happened to hit the shutter right when this pan fish jumped out of the water.