I'm a bit of a fire bug
We went up north to take advantage of the last long weekend of summer. My in-laws have a little place at Camp Brigadoon in Cumberland, WI on Beaver Dam Lake. As usual my packing started with my fishing gear. If you’ve ever been the only one fly fishing on a boat of conventional anglers you know the two fishing styles don’t typically gel. Someone throwing a Rapala will cast 10 times while you count down your fly and by that time the boat’s moving to the next hole. So twice a year (or as many times as we go up north) I pack a spinning rod, reel, a package of 4 inch black worms and a handful of jig heads. Don’t worry I also bring my 6 wt, sink tips and an assortment of bass flies for the times I can slip down to the dock or wade the shore. By the way, if you’re interested in a book on how to take advantage of both methods there’s a pretty good read called Bassin’ with a Fly Rod by Jack Ellis.
The first day we took the boat out and did well on conventional tackle catching an assortment of bass and a lone walleye. I’ve got nothing against spinning gear and it was a great day on the water, but in the back of my mind I longed to cast a fly. We beached the boat next to the designated swimming area of the lake where we joined the rest of our party. While tying off the boat I noticed the adjoining shore was prime real estate to wet wade. I joined in the watersports, but stored the spot away in my mental GPS. The next day was overcast and a little cooler. We ate a big breakfast and hung around the campfire. At about 12:30 my three year old daughter and the rest of the campers were ready for a nap. I saw this as my opportunity. With maybe an hour and half to fish I packed light; rod, reel, one box of flies (wooly buggers and bunny leeches) 12lb maxima, sink tip wallet, nail clippers, camera and of course a Perdomo Habano cigar. With every pocket loaded I hustled down to the lake. I took a loan on the Cigar Fish and lit the stogie as I lined my rod. My most successful bass fly this year has been a Tan Estaz Bugger so it earned the right to lead the charge. I found success only a couple casts in and landed a small bass, the cigar fish re-paid. For the next half hour I worked the shoreline missing at least one strike. Weeds were thick and I spent more time than I wanted cleaning off my fly. I covered as much water as I could in the 75 yard section of shoreline casting at an angle to avoid snagging trees in my backcast. About 45 minutes in I paid out as much line as I could handle and waded a little further. I unleashed a cast at my maximum distance and started to count down. At five seconds I gave my first strip and instantly met resistance. As with nymphing “when in doubt set the hook” so I strip set and felt a headshake on the other end. Having landed fish with conventional tackle the day before I didn’t have a good sense of size, but it did put a good bend in my fly rod. I was pleasantly surprised when I landed it guesstimating the bass at 18 inches. Fifteen minutes later my daughter and father in-law came down to visit and I rejoined the group. While I could’ve fished for hours more I had a great sense of satisfaction.
Labor Day marks the end of summer and one month remains of trout fishing in MN & WI. Now I have bass on the brain again and it will be a tough decision the next time I have a chance to wet a line.