Bitters – Sweet – More Sweet Than Bitter (See BHT & TM)

| June 2, 2008

texas bass #flyfishing

The pescatoial pace is picking up in the North Texas area despite the intense rain last week which sent local lake Ray Roberts up nearly six inches in a matter of hours. That gully-washer dropped a mixed blessing on the flats at RR, making the Carp more difficult to stalk, but at the same time luring Lunker Bass in close – finally within reach – for someone whose stated goal going out alone yesterday was; “to catch a big Bass”.

It didn’t take long for me to stop feeling the love of the pursuit of Bass – quickly put on a bitters, and stalk the hundreds of Carp slurping air near the shoreline. I kept my mind on the Bass while successfully stampeding Carp, catching a few and working my way along the shoreline into areas I had never seen or known were there. Negative factors were the constant waves from weekend water traffic, and a south wind that was relentless at 15 to 30. I had to take the wind in stride since the week at South Padre Island is barely a month away, and fishing in wind here (in theory) could get me ready for the wind we are certain to face there. Training day.

Finally, after exchanging pleasantries with some Bass stalkers (they basically freaked out when I popped out of the brush and onto the shoreline about 50 feet from them as they were working the shore in a cove), I found a spot with some wind relief, and had a chance for some relaxed casting. I of course gave the Bass stalkers the wide berth they deserved (I mean can you imagine how much the gas cost just to get there), watched them catch nothing, caught nothing, and began to fish out of the cove and back to the lovable Carp.

Then I hit this point with a sandbar extending off it – creating a break from the wind and a calming of the waves and water – fish food on a conveyor. The Carp were sliding across it like a highway intersection and they were on the overpass. Dark shadows on the edge of open water, pausing to vacuum and moving on from the 2-3 foot depths into the deep, in one direction, and into the flats in the other. It was the perfect setup; off with the Meat Whistle and back on with the Bitters.
I targeted those dark objects as they moved onto the sandbar and stopped for refreshments. The Carp were much more gamey and willing to follow in this setting than they were in the middling mud of the flats. Again, my mind worked the situation as practice for the upcoming South Texas campaign – mainly because I still wasn’t catching anything. I target practiced on another sizable shadow, and low-and-behold it showed a flash of silver, hit the Bitters and it was on; a BASS flew to the surface, everything but the tail out of the water, gills showing, head jolting with electrical charge, down again and on a then run that would make Carl Lewis proud. It came up again after stripping out about 20 non-stop feet of line, showing itself for the non-existent crowd to watch in awe. It was a real Wild Kingdom moment, frozen in my mind is the site of seeing through the back of his gills and out his mouth to the other side – completely out of the water. In that moment I got it – why the Bass tournaments, boats, big money and craven pursuit of everything Bass. Now, the urge was to actually “catch” the fish. I knew the leader would probably hold, and I knew the rod would hold, but he took a little old Bitters – on a short, strong #12. I applied enough pressure to turn him as he made for the sticks, and let off as he got back into the open. Finally, we came to an agreement and I was able to beach him as the lifting would surely be the undoing of us all. He flopped on the shore, and I swear the ground shook. Now, get this, there’s no one around, the Bassers had just passed over this area about 30 minutes before, and there’s this thing called “Texas Catch and Release Records”. None of that mattered because this tree was falling with no one around to hear it. I took a few haphazard photos – fish in one hand and camera the other, revived and released the 22″ (best guess and still in the slot) to his environs.

I am only left to wonder what still lurks out there – if this guy weighs in at 4-5, what the heck would happen with a 5 to ten pound, gill flaring head shaking monster? Hmm …. the buzz continues.

Meanwhile, be sure and check out the State site for those “Catch and Release Records”. I brought this information to the folks at Texas Fly Report some months back, and there was a huge reaction to the fact that these records are there for the taking due to either the newness of the category or the practice of catch and release is less popular in Texas. Interesting.

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Category: Adventure, Fishing Reports, Fly Fishing for Largemouth Bass, North Texas

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Comments (5)

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  1. shannon says:

    It looks like local calendars are getting “interesting”. Lefty Kreh in Dallas the weekend of the 15th. and 16th. – sponsored by Dallas Fly Fishers, and the Texas Women Fly Fishers’ calendar is shaping up to be interesting as well.

  2. shannon says:

    “One more follow-up “Thank you” for last night…
    Ryan catching that bass and the blue-gill finally had a light going off in his head that this could be fun…
    (He and I are splitting the cost on “his” outfit, so he has some skin in the game)
    He chattered the whole way home about possibilities.. he doesn’t open up very easily, and I think he was really clicking along last night…

    Joel, you are an outstanding teacher, and I want to go back to high-school and take chemistry from you…

    Shannon, its incredible to see how the passion for this has consumed you… sometimes I get a bit jaded, and its great to see someone who’s gotten re-bit by something fun…

    So, I hope we get the chance over to join you guys on an expedition some time.. we’ll keep practicing, and I’ll work on the zen approach of painting the ceiling..

    by the way, I talked to my buddy last night, and he still is interested.. he’s going to let me know his schedule for the next few weeks.
    (Joel, if you can let me know your free times, we can go from there.. I’ll look to see if there are enough “others” to help build another “class”)

    Thanks again, boys.”


  3. jhays says:

    The best way to catch bass like that at Ray Bob is to stay in that cove! All the back reaches have natural “fish funnels” like the one you found. Remember the one the goose was on the other weekend? There’s 4-5 more scattered around the area – and they’re so shallow/tree filled they don’t get fished very much!

  4. shannon says:

    Naa, I just need to know how to catch lunkers EVERY TIME I go out! Imagine a Carp / Bass -fly guiding team?????? Your Bitters flies were sweet, but I think that new Mustad is moving point down. Shannon

  5. jhays says:

    NICE! Now you need one of those new Sage Largemouth rods and matching line!

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