Saturday, April 3, 2010

Fill yer boots - it'll be a long season

The early season striper bonanza is always something to relish. But after the recent deluge, Steve, Bob and I didn't really know what to expect as we crested the last hillock before the river. As is the way with The Spring Bounty, what we saw was bitter-sweet; anglers aplenty in a long line, every one cracking a smile with rods bent into lively striped bass.

So we joined the melee where we could. Which, in my case was a piece of unproductive water. The gent two up the line was hammering the bass, largely because he was in front of the fish. When I did hook a good fish, it fought hard and broke my line (I lost another good fish later to the same frail mono - never, never, never again will I buy nylon from that oh-so famous US fly-fishing company that starts with O. The whole of last season I didn't lose a single fish. Clue: different brand mono). This didn't make me particularly happy, but it's spring; I was fishing; it was a beautiful, warm early April evening. I wasn't in the sweet spot, is all. My nylon had killed my confidence though and my sinking line was unmanageable in the flow - my flies were down on the dangle in seconds, close to garroting the fellow close below me. (Side note: last night was also a reminder, as might be necessary every year, that it takes the first few fish to recalibrate - to know instinctively which bass will tip the scale and require the reel, and which ones are small enough to overcome with a series of hand strips).

Steve and Bob fared better, but as darkness fell I began to feel tapping fish - small ones that couldn't consume my 6" fly. A good thing, because the fish I did catch were a little bigger, though not as big as the stout 30"+ animal that Bob wrestled to his waiting thumb in the gloaming.

Tonight was a reminder that not all nylon is created equal. Much more importantly, this trip was the annual pilgrimage that recalls the reason I started this game three short seasons ago. For an angler still more familiar with the comfortable runs of typically-sized trout, tonight a return to the supreme joy of connection with the surge of a powerful, spring striper.


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