My first stop was to Kiene's Fly Shop, my favorite toy store. I happened to luck out on the day that I went, because Jim Christensen was working the shop that day and he happens to do a lot of bass fishing using flies. I explained to him that I fish a lot with folks who like to use conventional tackle and ultimately I would like to keep up with them with my fly rod and that I had tried unsuccessfully last season to land even a legal (12") bass. Jim outfitted me with some recommended flies and also some places to try my luck. Up until now I had been targeting places like the delta (too much water for a beginner to cover), and Rancho Seco lake (too clear) that evidently aren't that great for the beginning fly fisherman. Jim's answer was to try fishing ponds. "Of Course," I thought. When people are asking me about getting into trout fishing, my recommendation is always to hit a small stream. The fish might be smaller, but it is easier for a beginner because only short cast are required, likely lies are clearly evident, and the fish aren't very selective in what they eat. Well the same is true of ponds. Unfortunately I don't have any private land access. Lucky for me there are 2 very small lakes (or large ponds depending on your viewpoint) in the Sacramento area that have bass: Mather Lake and William B. Pond. A third recommendation from Jim was Cameron Park lake, the largest of the three. I decided to hit Mather Lake, since it is the closest to my house.
|Mather lake. Lots of bass cover.|
I came armed that day with a surface fly and a crawdad imitation on a sinking fly line. I tried both. I had a grab by a small fish on the crawdad, but there was so much vegetation in the water, it was really hard to fish. I was a little disappointed by this, because I am more familiar with how to fish with a floating line and surface flies for bass than with a sinking line, but that is for another post. After about an hour I changed from a white popper to a small floating frog. I paddled over to another arm of the lake where there was a lot of shade and dense weeds growing all the way to the surface. After about fifteen minutes, I got my first rise from a small fish, the ones I am used to catching, but I couldn't fool this one so I moved on. I noticed that there were some holes in the surface vegetation, which looked like a good ambush point to me. I started targeting these areas with my frog. On about the third hole, as I am stripping the frog in, I notice a small v-shaped wake moving towards my fly. I slowed down my retrieve so that I was just twitching the fly slightly. Then came the swirl that I had been reading about in books, but had yet to experience first hand. Fish on! My rod doubled over and I started grinning. Finally a nice bass! I picked through the weeds until I could see the fish and lipped it. I estimated it's weight at about 2 pounds, by far the biggest bass I had ever caught. I took a few photos, released the fish, laughed, and did a happy dance.
|2nd fish of the evening|