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.