Saturday, December 24, 2005

Merry Chirstmas and a Happy New Year!

A very big thank you for all who have visited my blog. I take this opportunity to wish each of you a very Blessed and Merry Chirstmas. May the peace of Christmas reside in you and your families. And may you all enjoy a Happy New Year. May there be more joy and plenty more fish in the coming year.

English: Merry Christmas and a happy new year!

Danish: Glædelig Jul og godt nytår!

Dutch: Vrolijk Kerstfeest en een Gelukkig Nieuwjaar!

Brazilian: Boas Festas!

Finnish: Hyvää Joulua or Hauskaa Joulua - 0nnellista uutta vuotta!

French: Joyeux Noël et Bonne Année!

German: Fröhliche Weihnachten und ein glückliches Neues Jahr!

Italian: Buon Natale e Felice Anno Nuovo!

Polish: Wesolych Swiat i Szczesliwego Nowego Roku!

Portuguese: Boas Festas e um feliz Ano Novo!

Slovakian: Vesele Vianoce a stastny novy rok!

Maltese: IL-Milied It-tajjeb!

Slovene: Vesele bozicne praznike in srecno novo leto!

Sorbian: Wjesole hody a strowe Nowe leto!

Spanish: Feliz Navidad y Próspero Año Nuevo!

Swedish: God Jul och Gott Nytt År!

Swiss (French): Joyeux Noel!

Philippine: Maligayang Pasko!

Chinese: 圣诞快乐与新年快乐!

Afrikaans: Geseende Kerfees en 'n gelukkige!

Bahasa/Malaysia: Selamat Hari Natal dan Tahun Baru!

Bohemian/Czech: Prejeme Vam Vesele Vanoce a Stastny novy rok!

Greek: Kala Christougenna Ki'eftihismenos O Kenourios Chronos!

Divehi: Ufaaveri aa ahareh!

Indonesian: Selamat Hari Natal & Selamat Tahun Baru!

Japanese: Shinnen omedeto. Kurisumasu Omedeto!

Korean: Sung Tan Chuk Ha!

Russian: Pozdrevlyayu s prazdnikom Rozhdestva i s Novim Godom!

Latin: Pax hominibus bonae voluntatis!

Mongolian: Zul saryn bolon shine ony mend devshuulye!

: Eg ynskjer hermed Dykk alle ein God Jul og Godt Nyttår!

Norweigan/Bokmål: God Jul og Godt Nyttår!

Romanian: Craciun fericit si un An Nou fericit!

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Fly Fish with Mel: Cirque Du Soleil

Quidam - He who is annonymous

He was annonymous. Well, to me, in the beginning; he was. He was the one who offered Michael four tickets to watch his performance. Of which, one was for Huiru, Michael's daughter, and one was so kindly offered to me by Michael; denying himself a chance to watch. The other two tickets were also selflessly offered to a couple.

Even after a fanastic performance, He was still annonymous to me. QUIDAM was indeed a splendid blend of sights and sounds. A true feast for the senses and also, the intellect.

Annonymous, he remained. Until finally, he came by the shop when I happened to be there. From that moment a name replaced the annonymity. Tristan. The Guitarist; and fly angler.

From that day, it was to become a ritual. Michael and I would practice casting in the open field by the tentages. And without fail, Tristan would be attracted to us or rather, to the opportunity to practice casting. He would come by and greet us, shared a joke or two and then proceeded to have a hand at casting. "Don't you need to prepare for the show?", we'd ask. "I'm done with my sound check", he'd reply. "I've still got some time left."

Day after day, with helpful tips from Michael, Tristan's casting developed into a beautiful display of curves scything through the air. He'd learnt to slow his strokes down to the point where the energy transfer from arm to rod to line become one continuous flow. No jerks, no voilent movements. Just a rythmic wave of the magical wand that brought the inanimate line to life in an ethereal dance.

Soon, casting was just not enough for Tristan. And after hearing numerous stories of epic battles with monster Peacock Basses; and coming so frustratingly close to catching one, He was ready to for another try.

It was still dark when I rode my carriage up to his apartment. A warm smile greeted me as I shook hands with this tall New Yorker, holding his mug of coffee and eager to do his spot of fishing. During the short drive to my homewaters, White House, we chatted a bit about everything. He shared with me his life as a travelling performer and of his beautiful family; his wife, his daughter and his newborn son. While I told him about my hopes to become a fishing guide. Well, little did I know, that I was about to get my first taste of what it was like to be a guide.

Evrything else was as it would be like any normal day that I'd fish at White House. Only today, I'd be fishing with a 'clown'. Rigging up my '0' wt, I watched Tristan piece his '5' wt together, with the antipication oozing from every pore in his body. I asked if he had any flies and he showed me the few Clousers and Crazy Charlies he'd bought from Coho. He'd sent most of his flies home after performing and fishing in New Zealand. Knowing that he'd been longing to catch a PB, I knew I had to offer him my best performer. Just the night before, while preparing for this outing, I'd realised that my stock of 'Scintillator' flies were used up. Too late to do any tying, I was almost in a state of panic. Then I remembered my 'Sample' box. The one box where I kept the best tied of all my flies and also, those that have so kindly been offered to me by friends. True enough, there in it's irridescent glory, sat one solitary scintillator. That was for Tristan.

Standing a couple of feet from the water, Tristan pondered what to tie onto the business end of his line. I could see the coffee working hard to stimulate the brains to make the decision. So out came the Scintillator and it was Hobson's choice. Not really. That's because a friend of Tristan's had tied a 'Cirque Du Soleil' fly. A small streamer tied in yellow and blue, the Circus's distinctive colour. But it was to be the guide's recommendation that got the chance to start the day.

Nestled against the weed on the left of the grass patch was a nice little spot where I used to pull a couple of PBs every trip. So there it was the Tristan made his first cast. Explaining to him how to lay the line with a slight mend and how to work the fly, I let him enjoy working up his rythmn. The first dozen or so cast didn't even draw a follow.

Seeing this, I quickly led Tristan along the edge to the right. Acting as a spotter, I walked along the bank, a few feet back from the water's edge. In the ever brightening light, I had to put on my polarised lenses to see the fish more clearly and two rod-lengths down, a vague outline suddenly emerged as the slow waving tail of a Peacock Bass.

Half whispering, I called out to Tristan to drop his fly a few feet beyond where the fish was.

The first cast went sailing past the fish but was too far out. The fish was hugging close to shore. But not to waste the cast, I got Tristan to work the fly back in erratic retrieves. This was the time to test the mood of the fish. If it was in a feeding or aggitated mood, it would leave cover and bludgeon the fly. But the fish showed no signs of interest. On the next cast, Tristan laid the line directly over the fish. Fortunately, the fish was not spooked.

This time, as the Scintillator drew over the top of the fish, A huge swirl erupted from beneath, yet the it was a negative hook up. However, this sort of woke Tristan up from whatever state of consciousness he was in.

With renewed vigour, he ploughed the fly over the fish a half dozen more times before a huge bow wake homed in on the fly and Tristan was onto his first Singapore Peacock Bass.

Beneath that slight grimace on his face, a radiance beamed from within. No amount of fish that I would have caught that morning could give me the same joy that I felt watching Tristan relish each headshake, each run, each turn of the spool. When the fish was landed 5 minutes later and safely cradled in his hands, I took that all important photo of the beaming clown and his equally colourful adversary.

With the release of his fish, Tristan came over and said to me:"You have all the qualities to become a fantastic guide." Praise that was music to my ears but did I really deserve it?

Along that bank, we walked, spotted and cast to a few more fish. They weren't very co-operative that morning but Tristan still managed to pull another PB from it's sanctuary.

As I led him to the small outlet, I eplained to Tristan that it would be a different ballgame compared to the banks. The water was deeper in most areas but rocky bottom would ensure a one-way ticket for most flies. However, if you did not work your fly doen near the bottom, the fish may not be interested. And true enough, a couple of white Wooly Buggers were lost without a take from a fish. Then, Tristan tried a red and white Clouser and that too was lost.

Remembering his friend's 'Cirque du Soleil' fly, he tied it one and gave it a shot. No one was willing to rise to the occasion to hit the fly. Then with a loud 'Clink', the fly disappeared off the end of the line. The fly had hit a railing and the loop snapped. And the fly was never to be seen again.

This final setback signalled the end of a rather interesting morning of fishing. Though the fish were not really co-operative, Tristan still managed to tussel with and land two great fish. If only there had been more but my friend, the clown, was already laughing within; with only a hint of a smile on his lips.

Off to breakfast, a feast of 'Roti Prata' and fish curry, and a strong cup of 'Kopi-C' or coffee with evaporated milk. A perfect way to end a perfect session.

Till next we fish together, my friend.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Fly Fish with Mel: Bass of Three - Part 3


Heading off together in two cars, we flowed with the current along separate winding asphalt streams as we crossed the island from the West and took a turn up North. A little less than twenty minutes later, we were staring at the reflection of the evening sun, glistening on the surface of one of our favourite playgrounds, 7 Tree.

Even with a near-blinding glare from the water, the tell-tale signs of a weed overgrowth were evident from where we stood. Walking over to the water's edge revealed the true scale of the weed problem. A carpet of Hydrilla and a moss-like weed stretched along the shore; a carpet so thick you could literally walk on it. Following the green blanket, we walked towards a drain outlet and there found a little glimmer of hope. A small stretch of water, not more than 40 feet; with only pockets of weed.

Fanning out, we gave each other the choice of real estate and then, "Flies Away!".

Back in the shop a couple of days before, out of sheer boredom, I started meddling with the box of fly materials and found a hen cape with lots of unused Semi-plume. Having seen an article on a 'Mrs Simpson' fly recently, I proceeded to modify the design using the Semi-plume; topping it off with a strip of Burnt-Orange Zonker.

Having used the White Woolly Bugger so often today and having caught so many Peacock Bass on it, I toyed with the idea of testing my Ugly Fly. Taking it out, I tied it on with the Orvis Knot. With a steady wind blowing against me, I was just able to place the fly beyond the furthest edge of the weed bed. As the fly dove and fluttered through the tangle of weeds, I waited; ready to strike.

The soft fibers of the Semi-plume pulsated hypnotically, like a belly dancer's writhing body.

Unable to resist such an alluring tease, I had not long to wait to set the point of my barbless hook home. As if awoken from a hypnotic spell, the PB suddenly sprang to life and lunged back into the weeds. My 4X tippet held at the first dash and I was then able to manoeuvre and lead the fish through the narrow paths between the hydrilla forest. The fight over, I lipped a beautiful golden-green body that glowed brilliantly in the evening sun.

Walking a little further on, I made probing casts in-between the thick mats of weeds. Mending my line to fall along the narrow straits of water, I worked my fly back through what was probably a canyon of weeds. However, from somewhere, in one of the many dark crevices, came a colossal mouth that engulfed my fly.

With one easy flick of it's wide tail, it powered through the columns of weed. My efforts to keep clear of the weed only made it worse as the fish, feeling the pressure from my rod, pulled all the harder. Not just having to deal with fish, now I had a tangled mess of weed in tow. However, applying steady pressure and giving line at the right time, I managed to ensure that my tippet held. Emerging like a 'Swamp Thing', this peacock bass wore a wig of green moss.

Removing the weed, a beauty appeared and I called Michael over to help with a quick shot before I released the fish back safely into the water. A moment's rest and then off it shot, back into the weeds.

A great day of fishing for three fishing buddies.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Fly Fish with Mel: Bass of Three - Part 2


After Mass, our conversation over lunch led Lenny to suggest a visit to the 'Cake-shop'. It so happened that I was to be attending a friend's baby shower just next to it and added to that, Michael had called me up to ask me to go fishing as well. So it was that the three of us met for a short session.

By the time we arrived, we could already see Michael's 3-wt bent over as he calmly played whatever he had attached to the end of his line.

A quick glance over his left shoulder acknowledged our arrival as he continued to work the fish left and right until he had it right by his feet.

Up came the fish, out came the hook and back, the fish went into the water.

Flanking Michael on his left and right respectively, Leonard and I found ourselves, each a cozy little niche and settled into a lazy afternoon of fishing.

Using the White Woolly Bugger that had caught me the biggy in the morning, I was out-fished by Michael 7:3, or perhaps more. We'll just leave it as this.

Poor O'l Lenny was worse as he struggled to find fish. Calling out to Leonard, Mike offered him his hot seat. Standing next to Leonard, Mike acted as a guide calling out the fish to which Leonard casted to. Try as he might, he couldn't get the Peacock Bass to take his fly. The fish were out to tease him.

This had to be the turning point in Leonard's 'fishing career'. For it was on this very day that he was able to see so many huge fish just beneath him, blatantly ignoring his fly and totally frustrating him. It was also because of this that the 'poison' struck deep at his heart. The 'Call of the Fish' now beckons him every opportunity that presents itself. This, from a guy who used to work tirelessly, 6 days a week and countless hours a day. I suppose that there is that little magic in fishing that makes us appreciate more, the time we have on earth. Life shouldn't be just all about work. What good is there to gain the whole world but to lose ourself?

Anyway, back to the fishing.

Mike and I continued to rack up our scores while Lenny drew a complete blank.

There had been a request for photos of fish being released for some promotional brochures.

So Michael and I took our reluctant models and coaxed them to pose for us while we clicked away with our dainty Canon Ixus I5, encased in a waterproof housing.

Then to our left and right, we saw a bunch of lure-casters converging in our area and so we decided to head off to another of our sanctuary...

Friday, October 14, 2005

No Time for Updates

Just started a temp job this week and I'm editing a friend's wedding photo shoot videoclip. So that's why there's been no updates.

For those of you who come and visit regularly, my apologies but pls continue to visit and look out for the Entree and Dessert of 'Bass of Three'.

Another weekend of fishing...I hope.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Fly Fish with Mel: Bass of Three - Part 1

Hors D'œuvre

T'was another of those mornings where you open your eyes and immediately, your brain and your body starts debating whether to get up and go or to continue drifting in dreamland. Fortunately, my brain held out and kick-started what was to be a great day fishing.

I knew that the other fly anglers were heading for 7 Tree which would leave White House empty. I guess I was in the mood for a little solitude so to White House I went.

As the morning light chased away the darkness of the night, wisps of mist danced merrily above the glassy lake as if to greet the return of Day. And, as if to greet me, swirls and splashes erupted as I made the last few steps to the water's edge.

But the edge was no longer where it used to be. The water had crept forward, engulfing all the land a foot from where it was before. Ah, but this was only too good. For, now the fish seemed to drop all caution into the wind and feed with disregard. Not a frenzy but a little more co-operation.

After my two previous successes, I had tied a bigger brother of my Red Quill. A #13(TMC 102Y) to be exact. As I drew the Orvis Knot tight upon the eye, I reached into my pouch only to find my bottle of floatant missing.

Well, nothing, absolutely nothing was going to spoil my morning.

At my favourite corner, I half-crouched as I worked up my rhythm, building up the line speed to send the fly into infinity and beyond.

The line rolled onto the surface of the water ending with the fly fluttering softly onto the water. The stiff hackle fibers forming the tail and collar of the fly kept it afloat but only barely. Without any floatant, it was only a matter of time before my floundering fly succumbed to the merciless pull of the surface tension of the water.

When calm had returned to the surface, my fly came to life in a series of skips and pauses. Like a drowning swimmer, it bobbed up and down the surface as I pulled it back towards me. On the surface, it left a 'V' that stretched back till it vanished; melding back into the calm waters. Beneath the surface, it raised a bulge that pushed ahead menacingly.

Despite a few close follows, the PB was not ready to take the fly. Deciding to cast once more at this stubborn quarry before moving along, I let the fly touch the surface and then proceeded to skim it across the surface with an arcing swing of my rod. The rapid movement of the fly was just the turn on needed to induce the fish to strike.

In one explosive moment that broke the peaceful silence, the fish nailed the Red Quill. I'm not sure if the raised water level had also raised the level of tenacity of the fish but this fish felt different from the usual. It's stamina rivaled that of a marathon runner yet had the burst of sprinter. Between the dashes, it presented me its broadside and never once allowed me line without putting up a fight.

What a fish to start the morning! Our engagement lasted a good five minutes before I managed to lead the PB to beach on the grass. Not a trophy fish but from it's fight, you'd never know. A couple of 'release' photos later, with a swipe of it's tail, the fish was home again.

Walking along the bank, I was able to tease up quite a few fish with this 'skimming fly' method but not all the fish fell for it.

2 hookups and an 'injured' fly later, it was time to go for the deeper-lurking fish.

Switching to a Branchu, I cast out into one of the 'holes'. Since I was using a Sage Quiet Taper 1wt DT Floating line, the fly descended slowly into the hole's murky depths. Unlike using a sinking or intermediate line, retrieving the fly resulted in a 'jigging' motion, with the fly darting up diagonally and then drifting down vertically.

Varying between short rapid strips and long slow jerks with pauses in-between, I worked the fly over the hole in front of me.

After a few casts, I was finally able to draw a few fish out of the hole but they were 'short-striking', missing the hook completely. Slowing and shortening my darting retrieve, I started to connect to solid hookups. Each fish landed contributed to my collection of 'release' shots that had been requested for.

Having landed me a few fish, I sent the Branchu even deeper into the hole to seek out any Leviathans hiding in it. Over-zealous, I caused the demise of this faithful servant. It's foot trapped in the rocks, I tried desperately to free it by tugging on the safety line but the 6 lbs tippet snapped only to leave my Branchu to be lost forever in it's watery grave.

Since the fish were responding well to my 'jigging' style, and clearly ignoring my fellow angler's lures, I chose another 'heavy'; a white, bead-head Woolly Bugger. Tied on #4 Mustad Streamer hook, it took only seconds for it to plunge into the deep waters.

With it's long, white, fluttering tail of marabou feathers, it resembled a sexy diver with her long hair trailing behind her (that's in our visual language, not the fish's).

Whatever it was, the fly was a hit with the boys.

And sure enough, a pair of Leviathans came up to inspect the Woolly Bugger at the end of one of my retrieves. The next cast, I chanced to let the fly go deeper and I shortened my retrieves to half-inch ones with longer pauses in-between.

"Strip, strip, pause...strip, strip, strip, pause...strip, STRIKE!" The following flash in the water confirmed the feel I had at the end of the rod. It was a big one. A tingling feeling shot through the my spine. A mixed emotion of joy, fear, anxiety and what have you gripped me. This was no light-footed boxer but a true heavyweight. Slow but determined. I could only lift when it allowed me to and had to bow to it if it decided to dive. The bottom was relatively free of snag but there was a sharp corner of a concrete wall in front of me and it wasn't exactly 4x tippet friendly.

Curves are what men's eye crave and what a beautiful curve it was on my baby. The Sage SPL's action was so graceful as it bowed to the fish's every whim and fancy. When the fish broke surface, it was the beginning of the end of the battle. Sadly, there was no screaming reel but my opponent was still a worthy fighter. Crouching as low as I could to reach into the water, my breath held as long as it took for me to place my thumb and finger onto the lower lip of the fish. With both hands lifting the Leviathan out of the water, only then did I breathe that great sigh of relief and joy.

My lure-casting neighbour, Felix, kindly took pictures of my piscatorial adversary and me but I think the best picutre is that of the fish being put back into the water, safely.

Though I certainly would've continued to hook and land more fish, I thanked God for this fantastic fish to end a great session. It was time to go for choir practice and get ready for Mass.

To be continued...

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Fly Fish with Mel: Late for Fishing!

"In Montana, there are three things we're never late for. Church, Work and Fishing." - Brad Pitt in "A River Runs Through It"

Thank goodness we are not in Montana but today, I committed the cardinal sin of being late. Cardinal sin because I was to have had picked someone up; I had denied him the best fishing hour.

Jeff had so patiently waited as the minutes ticked away steadily and a half hour past our appointment, he sent a gentle reminder in the form of a mobile message. To think that I had set an additional alarm clock to guard against my oversleeping. Yet, the din of the clocks were not as effective as the soft tinkle of my message tone.

Springing from bed, I got ready in double-quick time. I was at Jeff's house in 20 mins but the damage had been done. We'd missed the magical hour of sunrise. When we got to "7 Tree" the others had already been fishing and landing peacock bass.

We only had 20 mins before it was time to go and Jeff, quite dejectedly, had to reel in his fly.

I would say that breakfast did not perk my friend up until I told him that there was yet another place we could go. There would be 'numbers' but not 'size'.

My sins did not end with being late.

Albert had hopped on with us while the others made their way back. Being the only one familiar with this particular spot, I duly informed my two friends on the flies to use and the areas to cast. Jeff being a left-hander, would have difficulty casting to the mark as a tree and dense overgrowth formed the leftmost limit of the fishing area, directly opposite the weed bed where the fish were. Albert had tied on a Crazy Charlie so I offered him a small black and orange, Gurgler.

Bringing my friends here was to ensure that they got fish and supposedly, make amends for my mistake. However, I went deeper into sin by not only being the first to land a fish, I ended up being the only one to connect to fish.

Dear Albert and Jeff, my apologies for being such a lousy host.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Fly Fish with Mel: One Fish Is All It Takes To Make My Day

Catskills Work on Peacock Bass

Third day in a row that I've been fishing. Back at 'White House' today but with a twist.

Today, I left all my heavy gear home and went with only my sidearm, my trusty Sage SPL 0-wt.

The reason: To test if Catskills style dry flies work on Peacock Bass.

Arriving dark and early, Jimmy and I went through the usual routine of rigging up as we walked down the slope to the water's edge.

Unlike yesterday, there was hardly a whisper of a breeze. The Water Striders were already up and about; gracefully waltzing across a mirror calm surface. In the pre-dawn, darkness, you can only see the gentle rippling of the surface as they skimmed around.

Unlike yesterday, there was not a single rise. I was about to begin fishing; blind. Not knowing where a fish might be lurking. I only wished for a tell-tale sign.

I placed the first probing cast to where I knew would be the best bet for a peacock bass to be hiding; close to the bank. As the tiny #16 Red Quill softly landed in the water, I retrieved my line till I saw my 4x tippet come tight to the fly and the smallest of ripples emanate from it. Then, I let it sit.

Silently, vulnerably it sat on the surface but not a hint of movement. Using a figure-of-eight retrieve, I worked the fly across the water then roll cast it a little further than the first cast. Again, all quiet on the waterfront.

By now, the sun had eased itself partially above the horizon. In the growing light, a shadow vaguely caught my sight. As the water refracted what little light there was, the shallow depth remained cloak in shadow; hiding all that knew how to be still.

Using my peripheral vision, I scanned the shadowy depth for that one minute movement that would give my furtive adversary away.

Then, there it was. Three faint, black bars against a lighter surface hardly moving a hair's-breadth but movement nonetheless.

I lifted the fly and sailed it back through the air. Flicking the rod at the end of my backcast, I shook off what water had collected in the hackles then propelled the fly towards the lurking shadow.

Landing 3 feet behind the fish, I twitched the fly back across its back but it did not even glance. A haul and cast placed the fly just beyond the fish. This time, it turned but not an inch closer. I waited for the ripples from the fly to dissipate then twitched the fly again. The shadow rose from the dark depths and the unmistakable form of a Peacock Bass revealed itself. Two more quick, successive twitches and the fish lunged at the fly.

My rod hand and line hand drifted apart in one swift motion to set the hook firmly. Now, the surface of the water reverberated with the struggles of the desperate peacock bass.

Though only a small specimen, the fish felt like a 5-pounder on my very well-seasoned rod. Each swipe of its tail telegraphed through the line and the rod bucked and bowed in response. In the end, the 4x tippet held out and I triumphantly raised the fly-weight fighter up for a few victory shots.

The fly was well and truly inhaled. It was set at the back of the mouth between the gills. With a pair of forceps, I removed the fly and attached it lightly to the lip of the fish for another shot before releasing the lovely fish back to its watery abode.

That was to be the only fish I caught the whole morning but it was one that really made my day.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Fly Fish with Mel: Newly Hatched


Just tried my hand at tying Catskill flies. I wonder if I will be able to use them tomorrow?

Hook: Tiemco TMC 100 #16
Thread: UTC 140 Waxed Tan
Body: Peacock Quill
Wings: Mallard Flank Fibers (dyed with Chartpak marker - Goldenrod)
Hackle: Dun
Tail: Dun Hackle Fibers

Fly Fish with Mel: Cracking the Peacock Bass Code

Branchu Turn On

After a 2 week hiatus, I woke up today with one thought. It's time to go fishing.

Shaking the remnant Z-monsters tugging at my eyelids, I took a hot shower that brought relaxation to a body tensed with anticipation.

As I stood beneath the constant flow of steaming water, my mind wrestled with the choice of bringing my 4-wt Coho rod teamed with a Scientific Anglers intermediate Stillwater line or my Sage SPL 0-wt, with a floating 1-wt line. As I mentally ran through the contents of my fly box, a single fly kept popping up. The Branchu. It had always raised me a fish regardless of how difficult the fishing was. Thus the decision was made.

I also enjoyed driving early in the morning. Being one of only a few vehicles on the road gives you a sense of solitude that is sorely missed in the hustle and bustle of city living.

Michael had already started fishing as I pulled alongside his parked car. I disrobed my rod and started assembling it while walking to the water's edge. Years of fishing on the run has honed our skills at rigging up while on the move. With only an hour or so to fish before we had to leave, we had to be rigged and ready to fish when we get to the water.

"G'morning! Anything so far?", I inquired.

"Nope.", came a short and sweet reply.

Michael was using a small popper as was Tan, whom, I could only make out his silhouette in the distance.

When I opened my fly box, a heavenly glow centered on the Branchu(Only for visual effect. The real Branchu fly does not glow). Tying it on with loop knot, the fly already looked a winner without having caught a fish.

Where do I cast?

The water was clear; devoid of weed. They must have just cleared out the weeds. Not a good sign. Along the banks, not a sign of movement betrayed the presence of fish.

Tossing the fly into the water, I started my casting stroke, remembering the personal training I had from Michael. "slow down your cast. Keep the rod moving in the same plane. Imagine yourself using a hammer." The words continued to ring in my mind as I tried my best to overwrite the bad habits I'd picked up in the past.

Though comfortable with casting, I wanted to bring my casting to the next level. I wanted to milk out another 20 feet and I wanted to improve my presentation of the fly. The conflicting instructions fired from my brains to my arms caused the fly line to trace wild loops in the air and then crashed ignominiously into the water. Numerous failed attempts finally led to me finding the correct rhythm to send the fly line and the Branchu out 50 feet.

The initial 5 minutes was disheartening, with not a single follow or take on my fly. Then, as the intensity of the morning light increased, I noticed a black shadow in the water not 10 feet from me. As the shadow turned, it materialized into a pair of Peacock Bass. I retrieved the line and with a gentle roll cast, placed the Branchu directly behind the pair. I waited for the fly to flutter down the water column and then with long, fast strips, worked the fly between the pair. The larger of two, lethargically moved out of the way. Seeing this, I lifted the rod to re-cast the fly.

As the fly sped up to leave the water, the other Peacock Bass, surged forward but missed the fly. One false cast and I relaid the fly behind the pair. This time, I changed the rhythm of the strip to a short but quick erratic retrieve. It wasn't long before I came up tight to a supercharged Cichla Monoculus.

This feisty little critter walked me all about for a good 5 minutes. Though it was no match for my 4wt outfit, it still did not give in easily. With a solid bend in the rod, absorbing each dash and headshake, I whittled away the raw power of the bass. It was no lunker but it sure gave a good account of itself.

By sheer luck, a long cast out got caught in a enormous bed of algae and weed. Snagged deep within it, I thought that I'd lost my fly. but slow and steady pressure saw to the return of my fly. The movement also revealed the edges of the weed bed.

So I sent the Branchu out again but this time on the periphery of the weeds. Waiting for the fly to sink, a PB burst out beneath a bulge and went airborne. If you've seen footage of the launch of a Polaris or Trident missile, you'll be able to picture this scene. The fish had taken the fly on the drop and catapulted itself entirely out of the water. Thankfully, the fish was not big and the shock of re-entry was handled by the 2X tippet. Having lost an enormous amount of energy in the jump, the fish did not take long to be subdued and released.

There were a few instances too when the takes were so ferocious that the PBs missed the fly but got fouled on it instead. There was the one that go hooked in the eye but while lifting the fish to release it, the hook popped out. I was worried at first but after a few tensed minutes, the PB swam away with such gusto that I am sure it will survive.

Another small 6" peacock got fouled in its pectoral fin. My line had been flowing with the wind and when the fish took off, I thought I had hooked a bonefish. The rooster tail created by the line cutting through the water was so similar to that of any saltwater fish taking off in skinny water. The initial shock gave the fish time to find cover and I was soon fighting both fish and a long trail of weed and algae. Again, slow pressure managed to detach the weed from the bed and the fish was dragged unceremoniously back to shore with a wig of green hair.

This morning, the Branchu accounted for at least 8 pieces of peacock bass. Have I cracked the Peacock Bass Code? I will have to come back and try it again a few more times to know for sure.