Recently, as I waded up a south coast stream, I found myself thinking “Why in the #$@@ haven’t I done this before. This is awesome.”
It was a few afternoons after I popped my bass on fly cherry. That happened something like this..
It was hot and muggy. The air clung around you, enveloping. On a whim, thinking it might be a good time to chase bass, I threw the fly rod in the car and went for a drive. I arrived at my chosen location and proceeded to make my way to the river. Blackberries scratched my legs as a zigged and zagged my way through the thick undergrowth. Closer the river, fallen Casurinas, all pointing the same direction, pushed over by the last floods, easily passable. Finally, water.
I stripped some line and made my first cast. A tree overhanging a deep undercut bank. A likely spot. As the fly drifted past, my body tensed with anticipation. A coil ready to spring. I wasn’t that lucky. Rarely do you get that lucky. Half an hour in, I finally had my first bit of action. As my fly drifted slowly past a mess of twigs nestled in a backwater, out of nowhere an explosion. I missed it. Promising nonetheless. Three cast later, on another cast to another likely looking spot. BOOF. This time I came tight. It wasn’t a big fish. The fight wasn’t anything to write home about. Still, as the fish came to hand I was grinning from ear to ear. First are always special. I’d just popped my bass on fly cherry. It was a moment to cherish. I grabbed a quick photo and sent her back to the snag I had extracted her from. I was no longer a bass on fly virgin.
I wasn’t addicted yet.
That happened a few days later.
Spurred on by my success of a few nights before, I snuck out for round two. This time I had more than half a day to spare. Not just an evening. The only drawback, I had to be back home by 6. I’d be fishing the middle of the day. No worries, I’d just have to make do. This time I went to a different river. After a scenic drive, I arrived and headed off to find water. I bush bashed a lot. It was hard going. The scenery was gorgeous. Gorge country. Deep pools, cliffs, massive boulders, water dragons, flowering trees. It was a truly picturesque place. The problem, I hardly noticed it. I spent most of my time I tangled in the undergrowth as I tried to navigate the river and find places to fish. It was too deep to wade due to the deep deep pools, cliffs blocked the way, the bush on its fringes was often impenetrable. Eventually I gave up. There might have been be bass there, but I wasn’t going to catch them. It was too hard. Defeated, I bashed my way back to the car. It was 2 o’clock. With more than an hours drive home, I was running out of time. I got out my phone and tried to find another option for a quick fish on the way home. I at least had enough time to do some recon. A few minutes pouring over google maps and I had found a potential spot. “It on the way home, so may as well” I thought. I set off.
Arriving, I have to say my hopes weren’t high. It didn’t look great. It definitely wasn’t beautiful. The scenery had nothing on the gorge country I had been in earlier. The wilderness was gone, replaced by introduced weeds. On the plus side, access to the river looked easy. I started fishing. A few cast in, before I really knew what was going on, my line went limp. I was tying on a new fly. What happened is all a bit of a blur. Everything had happened so quickly, had been so violent, was over so fast. One moment my fly had been floating past a branch hanging in the water, the next an explosion followed by lighting acceleration towards the snag that lay only a few feet away. A scraggle of criss crossed logs. Before my brain had got around to what was going on the fish was in the timber and my line was limp. I was tying on a new fly. Lesson learnt. Be on your A game. Fishing that close to structure, you’ve got to bring your A game.
I was ruing my missed chance. In the back of my mind thoughts started rolling in and out of my head on a whim, on repeat. “You just #@#@#ed your chance man. Thats it man. You stuffed it. That was your fish. You won’t get another chance”. I ignored them. Its best to ignore thoughts like that. I let them fly around my brain unnoticed and focussed on the important stuff. Fishing. It didn’t take long for those thoughts to be smashed to pieces anyway. This wasn’t one of those days where you only get one chance. This day was far more forgiving. On my first cast with my new fly, BOOF. This time I was onto it, the first few seconds, the most important few seconds, went in my favour. My A game was in gear. In what seemed like no time a nice mid 30s bass was in the net. That was the moment I thought I might just be addicted to this bass on fly caper.
What followed reinforced the addiction. After the second fish I thought to myself “Why in the #$@@ haven’t I done this before. This is awesome.” It was just pure fun. Five more fish came to hand, I got dusted a couple more times, I missed a bunch of hits. Anticipation, violence, adrenaline, beauty, focus, peace, quite, reflection, joy, mayhem and so much more all somehow managing to cram themselves into an action packed two hours. Those two hours felt like a lot longer. It felt like it should have taken many more hours to experience so much. It wasn’t long enough though. Not nearly long enough.
I was keen to get back out. However, I’d run out of cicada flies the day before. I searched my folks place and cobbled together a few materials. An old spinner bait, a hair roller, some other bits and pieces. No vice, no bobbin, just black thread. The flies weren’t pretty, but they’d do. With a few tied, I was soon back out bassin’. It didn’t disappoint. The MacGyver flies worked. Fun ensued. If you’ve never chased bass with a fly rod, you probably should. Just be careful, fly fishing for bass should come with a warning: may be addictive.