Monday, February 12, 2007

Fly Fish with Mel: Bass-ic Instincts

It has been almost 2 full months since I went looking for peacock bass. Jesmond, who will be on leave for the next 3 days, so kindly offered to pick me up for a spot of PB hunting.

The day was HOT! At the zenith of its arcing path, the sun beat mercilessly down upon us. The small canal that we were to fish glistened like a hundreds of diamonds scattered across the rippling surface of the water. Of the fish, there was no sign.

Out in the distance, a floating weed harvester was dredging hydrilla weeds and hauling it onto a floating barge. As the mechanical grazer munched lazily away, bits of dislodge weeds floated in towards us, pushed along by a stiff North-easterly. It was not going to be easy to cast my coho 4wt.

Walking to the mouth of the canal, my hair was ruffled despite the copious amounts of hair gel I had used. In the lee of the boom that kept floating debris out of the canal, I could see a few dark green patches that had the words Peacock Bass written all over it. Tying on my #12 hairless Woolly Bugger, I tried to lay the line across the canal, along the boom. The stiff breeze and tall grass behind, My fly went nowhere. It clung on tightly to the 3m tall grass and had to be coaxed down with a stern hand.

The North-easterly was blowing along the canal and thus wrecked havoc on my attempts to cast across the waterway. So angling my cast 45 degrees to the mind, I aimed the fly at the boom. As the rod unloaded, I could see my fly line shoot out but rapidly lose speed. The fly trailed the loop and as it tried to roll itself over, the wind pushed it back. Using the last of its built-up energy, the fly straightened out but was blown back over the boom to land nicely broadside, in the lee.

While I waited for the lightly weighted fly to descend the foot or two, I could see ominous shadows lurking beneath. When I felt that I had the fly just above the weeds, I worked the fly back in stuttered strips. The shadows worked into a flurry and my rod arced as the fly line surged forward. The assailant felt the resistant but it was already too late. The hook struck home and all peacock bass could do was to surface and try to shake off the fly.
Despite its valiant effort, the beautiful Cichla was soon raised. A few quick shots and our greedy little friend returned home safely and hopefully a little wiser.

Jesmond soon got in on the action too with his enticingly wobbly spoon lure. After warming up on a few small 3-inchers, Jesmond saw a hole open up beneath his dancing lure only to have the connection broken when the lure was spat back at him, stamped 'Return to Sender'. Ducking to avoid the lure, he could only gasp at the close encounter of the smart kind. 2 hours of fun on tiddlers, we took a break to fetch Jesmond's daughter from school and to grab a bite, we returned to an adjacent canal.

This time, the sky threatened to open up on us but was pushed back an ever stiffening breeze. had I not been wearing my real hair, my toupe would've been blown halfway around the world. I struggled to lay even 40ft of line straight. Even Jesmond was struggling to control the flight of his lure. It was his turn to draw first blood. Twice for that matter. The little critters nailed his lure practically at his feet. We battled the relentless wind and raised another half dozen peacock bass before we decided to call it quits. A gratifying outing for two friends out fishing with each other for the first time.