This is a brief account of what we did during our extended Memorial Day weekend trip to DeSoto State Park and Little River Canyon National Preserve.
It's probably no surprise that Kelly outfished me once again. I caught only one Bass Slam qualifying fish, while Kelly caught two. We both caught our needed Redeye Bass (Micropterus coosae), and of course Kelly's was bigger. Kelly also caught a qualifying Alabama Spotted Bass (M. henshalli) while I didn't catch a single one... not even a dink.
|Kelly's Bass Slam 13.5" Alabama Spotted Bass caught on my damsel, Little River Canyon NP, AL|
|Jay's Bass Slam 10.25" Redeye Bass caught on a Bunny Butt Slider, LRCNP, AL|
|Kelly's Bass Slam 12.5" Redeye Bass, DeSoto State Park, AL|
I should mention that Kelly's big Redeye of the trip (pictured above) ignored numerous offerings from me before she caught it. I should also mention that this fish was larger than any submitted to Bassmaster and published in their November 2010 Bass Slam article. The largest in the magazine was 11.5". Anyway, Kelly graciously let me have the first shot at it since she had already caught a qualifying Redeye. As we stood there watching the fish and tying on several different offerings, a fellow fly fisher wandered up to our pool and he quickly spotted the big female bass. Our new friend was nice enough to move on after he realized we working the pool, but before he moved on, we had a brief exchange regarding the bass in which I told him that she apparently wasn't interested in eating. After I finally gave up on trying to catch her, Kelly and I began to wade upstream through the pool. As we waded, we continued our methodical casting. Kelly caught the fish on her second or third cast... on the surface. How does she do it?
Of course, after Kelly caught the fish, I was so
Encountering a fellow fly fisher in DeSoto State Park is a rare occurrence. So rare that when we were gearing up in the parking area to go down to the stream, Park Superintendent Ken Thomas (who authored a nice article on fly fishing in the park) stopped his truck and talked to us when he saw that we had fly rods in our hands. He even told us where (and how) to catch the "big one." Kelly apparently pays better attention than I do.
In addition to our Bass Slam qualifiers, we caught a bunch of Green Sunfish (Lepomis cyanellus), Redbreast Sunfish (L. auritus), and a handful of non-qualifying northern Largemouth Bass (M. salmoides salmoides) during our trip. I also hooked and broke off a small Channel Catfish on a Bunny Butt Slider... which was very annoying. I saw the catfish (actually two of them) holding at the bottom of a four foot deep pool and brought the fish to the surface by slapping the slider on the water. I got a take and a two second fight before it broke off. I blame old tippet that I probably should have just thrown away. It was painful watching the catfish swim away through the crystal clear water with my slider in his mouth.
The fishing conditions during our trip were tough and the route(s) we took to find fish weren't any easier. It was hot... really hot (upper 90s), and we probably didn't get in the water as early as we should have. There was a ton of fishing pressure because it was Memorial Day weekend. The wading in the Little River Canyon is already challenging to say the least, but we really challenged ourselves on Monday by attempting to access the main river by following a tributary (Johnnie's Creek) through its own side canyon. Our "hike" toward the main river (which we never actually reached) can only be accurately described as "canyoneering." We scrambled over boulders the size of cars, pulled ourselves up onto monoliths as large as elephants, carefully descended slippery waterfalls, waded through runs that have cut their way into the overhanging wall of the canyon for millennia... and somehow we made it back out before dark without incident... a little soreness and fatigue, but no serious injuries. Here's a little scenery from Johnnie's Creek canyon...
Johnnie's Creek is known for it's whitewater kayaking qualities when the water is up a bit, but we found it to be quite a bit calmer... and it provided a nice getaway from the Memorial Day crowd that was swarming Canyon Mouth Park. After we got away from the parking area, and the big waterfall and plunge pool near the road, we saw not another soul except the fishes... and that was just fine by me.