What exactly makes the best fishing trip? For me it is catching the fish. What is the fish? It is typically large and fights hard. The requirements may be different for different species, but when you catch it you know. It is the fish that did not get away. The one that leaves you with a permanent grin on your face. It is the fish that makes you say it was a great trip, even if it was the only one you caught. Now I like to catch fish as much as the next person, but I have always said that one fish can make the trip.
Tonight started like any other evening fishing. I got off of work a little early and drove home. I could not decide if I wanted to take the pontoon to the lake or go wade a river. I can catch fish all day long on the pontoon. And the lake is close. But nothing beats a good wading trip. So I decided to go to Hickman Creek, about 30 miles from the house.
I packed the fishing gear and at the last minute remembered a fly I had read about. The Crackleback. My fly tying equipment was setup so I quickly tied up a couple to try. It took about an hour to get to the water and get setup. I brought my 5 weight 8'6" Sage XP rod. I tied the Crackleback to the tippet, then attached another 18" of tippet to the Crackleback and hung a Bead Head Prince Nymph under that.
The trip started out as I expected. I quickly hooked into some Smallmouth Bass. They were only about 8-10" long, but they are fighters. And on the 5 weight they are a lot of fun. As I moved up the river I also caught a bunch of Panfish. I am not sure exactly what species these are, but they are fun to catch. They have striped that are light blue, with orange bellies. (Note - I have been told these are Longear sunfish, also called Pumpkinseed)
As I worked my way back I continued to catch more panfish, with the occassional Smallmouth thrown in. The panfish were so plentiful that they would try to grab the free fly in the water while I was removing the other fly from another fish.
As I got close to my take-out spot there were some fish rising. I made a few casts and had a fish go for the fly. I missed the fish and saw him turn away. It was a big fish. As I stood in the water and watched the scene I noticed bugs on the water and fish going for them. I could see the sides of the fish as they turned. There were a lot of good sized fish. I made a few more casts and had a fish on. After a minute he was free. This was repeated several times. A fish would take the fly, but I would lose him before I had a chance to see him. They felt like large fish.
I worked the area trying different drifts and retrieves. As the fly was drifting through the line came taught. I stripped the fly then pulled up on the rod. The rod doubled over. I have not had a bend like that in this 5 weight since I built it almost 5 years ago. The fish was quickly on the reel. This was one of those times when you are glad your reel has a good drag on it. It took over 15 minutes to land the fish. If I had the 8 weight I could have brought him in quicker, but I had to tire him out with the 5 weight or lose him. During the 15 minutes he spent most time underwater. He did come up a few times and roll on the surface. And several times he ran, causing line to scream from the reel. This was a big fish.
As I finally tired him out I realized I did not have my net with me. I was not expecting any size, and left the net in the truck. I worked the fish to the shallows. As the fish approached the shallows I noticed a second fish following. He had taken the nymph. I was fighting two fish at once - one on the dry fly and the second on the nymph. I worked them both to the surface and took some photos.
The Smallmouth Bass was about 20" long, while the Hybrid Bass was about 10".
I released the Hybrid back into the stream and it swam quickly away. I gently sat the Smallmouth in the stream and held it by the tail, slowly rescesitating it after the fight. As it swam from my hands I knew I had caught The Fish. It was truly the best fishing trip I have had in Kentucky.
2 years ago