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Beating the Brush for Bass
I used to golf with a guy who would pick up his golf ball if it were in the danger of being struck into the cover, or into a water hazard. Trust me, my golf is so poor that a golf ball is never safe with me striking it. But if there was a chance of losing his golf ball, he would pick up his more expensive golf ball and put down some old junky ball which he had found when looking for some poor shot in the brush. I have always found a lot of satisfaction from recovering from a poor shot, which is a good thing since I hit so many of them! But whether it’s golf or bass fishing sometimes you are simply forced to go into the brush if you’re going to play the game.
On Tuesday of last week, I loaded up my fly rod and a few large surface poppers in the hopes of bringing a bass to the surface. After writing about fishing the surface I thought it necessary to also mention the fly rod. The pond I was heading for was the perfect location as the owner mows around the shore so it’s like fishing some state park so I didn’t have to worry about snagging limbs behind me when I was working line out to get some distance with my casts. When I reached the pond, I tied on a fairly large purple popper with a concave mouth that would catch the water and make the famous popping sound when I twitched the line. I headed for one end of the pond where the shallower water was, in hopes of getting a strike there. The popper must have been too large as it spooked the bluegill out of that end of the pond and they headed for the deeper water. I could only assume that they took the bass with them when they stampeded out of the shallows as I never got a hit. I eased my way around the shore of the pond and finally took a small bass as it rose to the surface and tried to inhale the popper. I set the hook and the bass was no match for the 8 feet of Daiwa fly rod that he attempted to bend in the struggle. The old Martin fly reel never came into play as I simply brought the bass by pulling the line in. I would end up taking three more bass on the fly rod and the popper. I have fished this pond several times and although it has monster bluegill all my bass have been in the half to three quarter range. I knew there had to be bigger bass in its water.
So, I snipped the popper off the fly rod leader and broke the fly rod down into two more manageable pieces and set it up against a cement platform so I wouldn’t be my clumsy self and step on it and break it. The other end of the pond that also ran into shallow water was guarded by a row of old wooden fence post that no longer had fencing on them. Past fishing trips had seen me get strikes around the posts, but fearing I would get the spinner bait I was using hooked up on them I stayed a safe distance from them. There were also low hanging limbs that shaded the water just off from the far shore and to the left of the posts, but within casting distance. I kept the spinner bait in the tackle box and tied on a Z MAN finesse jig head. It’s funny that after all the years of trying to rig a rubber worm Texas style straight so it was less likely to get tangled, I now simply hooked a Gary Yamamoto Senko worm in the middle in order to get the most action from it. My Senko worm was a green pumpkin with black flakes and was 5 inches long. The rod I was using is a Mitchell RZT combo with its 7-foot medium action rod and I had 12-pound test line on the reel that I believe was Bass Pro Shop Excel monofilament.
My first cast went beyond the old posts but I knew the retrieve would bring the Senko worm right by the posts. As I neared the far post, I had just raised the rod tip up and was letting the worm fall when suddenly it stopped falling and instead began heading out for deeper water. I reeled the line up tight until I could feel the pressure of the fish swimming and pointed the rod tip towards the fish and pulled back and set the hook. The fish put up a spirited fight which included a tense moment when I had to pull the fish around one of the closer posts. After landing the fish I snapped a quick picture and I returned the fish to the water. Rather than hit the posts again I thought I would let things cool down a little so I walked along the shoreline and made a few casts out to where the trees hung over the water. One of my casts actually went over a tree limb albeit a small one and I was able to bring the jig head back over it but by this time it was pretty well weedless as the hook was in the mouth of a second bass as I pulled it over the limb. I took another bass under the limbs before moving back to the posts.
An errant cast placed the jig head and worm right into a split in one of the posts but because the hook on the jig is softer wire instead of a hard wire, I was able to straighten it out and it came loose before the line broke. A few casts later I had a bass once again take the Senko worm out to deeper water before I set the hook and had an even better fight as a bass that I thought was going to be my big bass of the morning was brought to shore.
The fish that I had caught previously had been perhaps 14 inches, but this one was much longer than that and put a nice bend on the Mitchell rod. I was having quite a bit of luck even though I was going through worms pretty fast as they tore fairly easily. I always play this game that I’m only going to make fifty or twenty-five casts before I leave and that was where I was on this outing. As I neared the magical number, I once again felt the old feeling of a bass tapping the worm and when I went to reel up the slack, it too was heading out for the main body of the pond. This time when I set the hook there was a lot more bend to the rod and the fish really was hard to turn without rushing things and breaking the line or pulling the hook free. Midway in the fight, the fish jumped and I feared it would toss the hook, but it held. We now had just one more obstacle to go and that was get past the last post. The fish didn’t want to come around although I thought he might wrap itself around the post instead it just hung tight against it and kept steady pressure on it. In a short time, the fish swam away from the post and out into the open water where I could again bring in line as the fish tired. This fish would prove to be the biggest fish of the day and could only be described as deep and wide. Although I had lost eight Senko worms on the morning beating the brush it was well worth the price.