A Fire-Tiger Morning

No, this post has nothing to do with the start of our beloved LSU Tigers’ season beginning next week. A while back I did a post, titled “Evolution of a Fly.” This morning, as I was doing some “research” in our neighborhood lake, I did some contemplating about this evolution. The fishing in the lakes have been great, but the “catching” has been slow. After an epic month of bass fishing in June, the heat of July and August has really slowed things down a bit. About the only thing positive about those trips was that I always seemed to manage at least one or two small bass on a popper. The bream bite has basically been non-existent.

This morning’s trip began just like those of recent weeks. I stopped to chat with another fisherman who had beat me to my “honey hole” where I had been doing most of my “catching” these recent weeks. It’s the bottom of a small dam that catches the overflow from the upper lake to the lower one. After a big rain, the shad school up in the foam and there’s been a feeding frenzy in the early morning for about 20 or 30 minutes. After that, they have been shutting off like a light switch. I made a few casts and chatted with the gentleman who told me he caught three earlier this week that all went over two pounds.  The action seemed real slow by the dam this morning, so I bade him farewell and I launched my kayak in the upper lake.

First, let me clarify that my favorite way of catching fish has always been on topwater. Nothing is more exhilarating than watching the explosion of fish, popper, and water that causes me to giggle like a schoolboy. Oh, I have had some fly fishing purists tell me that I will catch more fish with fluff butts, whooly buggers, and clousers.  I just wink back at them and continue to keep a popper tied on to my tippet. Kind of reminds me of my Paw Paw, who was a plastic worm fisherman to the core. We would tell him, “Paw Paw, they’re biting on topwater, or ringworms, etc.” He would smile, wink back at us, and continue fishing with his crème worm. I now know that it wasn’t about the “catching” for him as much as it was being out on the water with his grandsons!

Well, back to this morning’s story. After about 15 minutes of cruising my early morning bank, I caught my first, nice-sized bass (right at 14 inches) on my newly-tied, fire-tiger popper. A few minutes later, another…then another. I had caught four bass on the popper, with the largest going around 16 inches within my first half hour. So, as my mind wondered, I thought to myself, “…and I haven’t lost any either.”  Earlier this summer, I would miss as many as I would hook. I began to ponder my success this morning.  Was it because I finally had a popper that had “evolved” into a fish-catching machine? Was it crafted in perfect proportions, so that I was ensured of a hookup nearly every time I got a blowup from a fish? A few minutes later, another hookup and another fat bass.  Maybe the real reason for the success is, I have become a more seasoned fly fisherman, one who has “evolved” himself into a better, more patient fisherman.

Well, I continued to catch fish and I tallied seven bass (the largest coming in at 17 inches) before 8 AM.  They were all released to go back and provide me with a giggle or two next time.

Another thing I pondered this morning is that we fly fishermen actually have an advantage over our bait-casting friends.  As I watched the gentleman in the other boat fish the same banks I was fishing. I realized that I cover more fishable ground than the bait casters. Let’s say that I’m fishing a bank and I’m positioned about 30 feet from the bank.  If the bass are feeding up against the bank, within the first 10 feet or so, then all I have to do is lift up my fly and get it back up against the bank after I’ve fished the first 10 feet. A bait-caster has to reel in the extra 20 feet BEFORE making his next cast. So, I spend more time in the bass’ feeding zone than the bait-caster! Pretty cool!

Big fish of the morning at 17 inches.

Fire-Tiger Popper fools another one

Another early one that measured 16 inches.

The Fire-Tiger Popper

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