As such, we have unofficially adopted the motto "If you haven't heard from me, I'm OK".
I suppose the same falls true with this page. It isn't that I haven't thought about writing, because I have. Unfortunately work, life, and everything else seems to always take precedence or more likely...straight up derails any chances I might have had to put some thoughts down.
But along with the typical vacation stuff, something out of the ordinary took place.
You see, the Macloosh Clan vacations at a cabin a little over an hour north of the UnForest and dangerously close to the Mecan River. The cabin itself sits on a beautiful and peaceful little lake, but for the last few years, my vacation fishing energy has been devoted to the Mecan River rather than the lake itself.
Spurred on by stories about how "the old timers used to take stringers full of HUGE trout out of the Mecan" and rumors of a hex hatch of biblical proportions. I have fished it hard. For YEARS. Without much luck.
At this point, I'm so fucking tired of those stories and rumors that I am immediately turned off when I hear them. In my efforts, I have used every trick and fly I know to catch trout, and to date...the amount of fish that river has given up to me is embarrassingly low. In fact, I have decided that the Mecan hates me. I'm starting to hate it back.
Realizing that I was starting to hate this river was an awakening. I was suddenly free to explore other fishing opportunities. So this year I concentrated my efforts on the lake that was 50ft from the door of our cabin. You know, the fishing opportunity that was right in front of me the whole time, that I overlooked by fixating on the Mecan.
"The truth knocks on the door, and we say 'Go Away, I'm looking for the truth'. And it does, puzzling" -Zen And the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Pursig
Until this year.
With the help of the neighboring cabin's canoe (which happen to be good friends of ours who also vacation during the same week), I set off for the cove with the lillypads. The kids had gone the other direction in their paddleboats so I seized an opportunity for some alone time.
I have, in the back of my mind, developed a "bucket list" of sorts. On that list, was a good sized large-mouth bass. The problem has been that when I do have time to fish, I instinctively head to the cold water streams and have never concentrated on really working a lake or pond. Anyway, in my mind, I would be stripping a popper made by M-Works Custom Flies (Shameless Plug...sorry) across the edge of the Lilly pads or a weed bed, and a good sized large-mouth would smash it, then jump like a tarpon as I fought it heroically while a few people looked on in disbelief and amazement. I could almost hear them saying "Holy cow, look at the size of that fish! Is he using a fly rod? Whoa..."
Well to my surprise, most of the above fairy tale came true. Asside from a little technical difficulty exiting the canoe, and minus the crowd of amazed onlookers...or my Go-Pro running in full HD video. None the less, it was a hoot and lived up to the picture in my minds eye. There were others, but the fish below is the one that I will replay in my mind...
From there, I turned my attention to Pike. A toothy fish that has somehow completely eluded my efforts for years. Granted, I hadn't really focused on catching a northern...just thought it would be fun, so I had it on my unofficial list of things to catch on a fly rod. I ended up catching several, the largest of which might have hit 24" (not quite legal on this lake...). They too were a hoot, and what they lacked in high jumps or thrashing fight, they made up with in blistering top-water attacks on a popper. The surface hits were the most fun, but the subsurface hits were also undoubtedly pure predatory instinct. Either way. it's hard not to grin like Cheshire Cat when the bite is on.
And finally, on the brag board (because lets face it...bragging is all I am REALLY doing in this post...) is the smallmouth.
To be honest, all the press that smallmouth bass have gotten lately in the flyfishing media, blogs, magazines, etc... has piqued my interest. At the same time, it has kind of turned me off. It looked fun, but I viewed it the same way Carp were suddenly called "the superfish" and there were perfectly good filmmakers wasting their (and my) time on making videos about carp fishing at the flyfising film tour.
I figured smallmouth to just be the the next trendy thing. Until last week. The truth, as I have learned in the last few days: I honestly still don't understand the carp thing...but smallmouth?? DAYAMN...is all I gotta say. The fight with a smallie is so good it could almost convince a confirmed cold water disciple to switch to the dark side and take up warm water fishing for good.
A quote from the film "Off the Grid" or some other movie I have on DVD stuck in my mind.
"The smallmouth bass is like that big wiley brown trout that hides in the shadows and eats meat. So we chuck meat into cover and look for a player".
That is exactly what I did. I upped my tippet size (to 8lb mono), tied on one of those big as flies that I tied last winter in hopes of catching a big fish and threw it into dark places. The payoff was a strike that was so hard, and so fast that it spooked me. It took very little time to realize that I had just picked a fight with a VERY mean fish. The wrestling match that ensued was sheer, unadulterated joy.
Once I had it dialed in, I managed another 3 smallies like the one above and I figured I had found all of the good hiding spots for nice fish in this small creek. Not quite ready to be done. I tossed the same fly into the eddies just below a small hydro electric dam and had a brief encounter with that northern that I was looking for earlier. My son also saw the strike and we both had the pike at about 36". I got two good looks at him before he spit the lure. Just enough to whet my appetite for a big northern or musky...
Other activities for the week were pretty laid back. Of note, my boy and I worked with my daughter and their buddies on their fly fishing techniques. I was damn proud to have a been able to help them out.
I stumbled on the drama below on the banks of the Mecan. No,I didn't kill the spider and neither did I save the monarch caterpillar.
And finally, to wrap up....a couple pix of the MacLooshkins on our nightly pontoon boat cruise out to the "drop off" in the middle of the lake.