Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Woah, Big Gulps huh? Alright...Welp, Cya Later!

The Freshwater P4P Champ  

It was April Fools Day, and the stealthcraft raft drifted on its own accord down the middle of a popular Pennsylvania watershed home to a population of world class smallmouth bass. I stood atop a custom casting platform placed over what would normally be the front seat. I labeled it "TRONS," to serve as a reminder of the float's goal but also to quickly measure and release my quarry. As is the norm, the raft spun in the current, got redirected from wind gusts, and occasionally was pushed into prime lies, overhanging branches, and log jams. Floating alone while trying to cover many river miles is a frustrating and rewarding experience. You have to make due with the opportunities that present themselves and quickly forget all those that pass because someone else isn't on the oars. I could anchor up and dissect each little lie but the float would probably take me four days to complete. 

I had just gotten down from my platform in order to steady the boat in the current. I stood back atop the casting perch and saw my target. A root ball at the base of a large sycamore tree. I quickly double hauled into a side arm cast and threaded a 7 inch articulated fly under the overhanging branches. As the fly approached, I stopped the forward motion of the cast causing the fly and leader to jackknife to the side. My fly landed parallel to the bank a few inches from the base of the tree. I immediately gave a hard strip causing the deer hair fly to make an audible and visual commotion on the water. As the fly paused, the largest smallmouth bass I have ever tangled with engulfed the fly from the rear. I set the hook and triggered a moment of chaos that won't soon be forgotten. Two water clearing leaps and several bulldogging bursts under the raft bent the 7wt. H3 in half. I let out an audible grown as my net slid under the smallmouth. Thick, muscular, and long, she measured a solid 22 inches. 

Moments like this are what make smallmouth bass such an enticing fly rod target. Their tenacity once hooked is legendary. Interacting with them on large flies careening around the surface is an adrenaline filled blast that will always have me coming back for more...


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