Monday, December 3, 2012

Urban ultralight fishing fix

At this busy time of year with its abridged photoperiod, any little opportunity where we can squeeze in some fishing time is precious- no matter what the method. The sun currently sets before I even make it home from work during the week, and I had to go into work this weekend to take care of a few things. It wasn't all day work, and I'm at least grateful for that. We were fortunate to have a couple of hours before sunset each of the last two days, and I guess sometimes that's all you need.

We stopped by our neighborhood creek and played with ultralight spinning gear, because we knew fly gear probably wouldn't be as productive (or easy) at this time of year. We've had some unseasonably warm days, but the nights have still been pretty cool- very little chance of a bass taking a popper on top... and if your'e fishing for bass with a fly rod, is there really any other way?

Don't answer that question.

So, tiny Rapalas, beetle spins, and finesse plastic worms were on the menu.

Let me take a brief moment to mention that Kelly carelessly casted delicately hung one of my precious Rapala Husky Jerk lures (Model HJ06, 1/8 oz., "Tennessee Shad" color) in a tree overhanging the creek. Unfortunately, it was out of reach and could not be retrieved. I guess she was just in a festive mood... decorating trees... 'tis the season. I gave her a pretty hard time about it, and I think I may get a replacement in my stocking this year for Christmas.

Reenactment of actual event

Although I am primarily a fly fisherman these days, I have plenty of experience with fishing conventional hardware too. The "Tennessee Shad" color pattern by Rapala is something that I would recommend to anyone who is pursuing bass with lures in our part of the world. I can't speak for how well it might work on trout or walleye or pike, but bass seem to have a penchant for it. I'll just say it has caught more bass for me, more consistently, over the years than any other hard lure pattern I have ever thrown. This is certainly not scientific, and it may just be a result of me choosing that lure more often than others, but when you find something that seems to work when everything else seems useless... you stick with it... and recommend it to others. I should also mention that I'm not partial to it just because of its name and the fact that I happen to be a native Tennessean... that is just coincidence.

The "Tennessee Shad" color pattern is not available in all styles of Rapala lures, and from my experience it can be hard to find in stores. (It seems I'm not be the only one who has discovered its magic.) If you get a chance to add one to our tackle box, do it. Give it a try. Thank me later.

Okay, enough blathering about lures. The fishing yesterday was a bit tougher than Saturday, and I caught the only bass of the day. We purposely rested the pool we fished on Saturday, because the bass were pretty concentrated in there and the stream is very small. As tempting as it may have been, we respected our resource and tried some different areas... which turned out to be pretty unproductive.

Saturday was a different story. We didn't have instant success though. We worked our way slowly upstream fishing all of the plunge pools as we usually do, and in the last area left to fish with only thirty minutes of daylight left, we found the bass. Kelly caught quite a few. I honestly didn't count. I just know she caught more than I did as usual. I only managed to land two fish (one was a chunky Green Sunfish) before it was all done, but I lost three decent bass due to fisherman error- poor hooksets to be specific. I would like to blame the equipment, but ultimately it's my fault. I will say that fishing a finesse worm on an ultralight Eagle Claw Featherlight rod is an art, and if you expect to actually catch a fish you really gotta go after it when you set the hook- no finesse involved.

Kelly's Shakespeare Ugly Stik Ladyfish with pink trim has a bit more backbone, which I like to believe helped her land her first fish, an Alabama Bass, on the worm.

The big fish of the day, a Largemouth Bass, caught on the small Rapala Husky Jerk "Tennessee Shad" color, just before said lure was used to decorate a riparian tree.

Good looking fish, nice sunset backdrop, and an even better looking angler.

My best (and only bass) of the day, also landed using the same size and style of Rapala... the only one now left in my tackle box.

When you know the fly rod is not the weapon of choice, sometimes you just have to settle for what works.

I'd have to say I'm pretty glad we chose the ultralights this weekend... even if I'm still a little sore about losing one of my favorite lures.


  1. Jay
    The Ultralight combo is excellent this time of year for the crappie and the bass. Those bass you guys landed are nice even on the ultralights. Sorry for the loss of the Rapala, those things are not cheap. You guys need to come up to Walker County Lake in March and fish with me using the nymphs for those huge bluegills. They are not bedding but they are coming to the shoreline. Awesome fun!!!

    1. Bill, the ultralight is excellent at this time of year especially. The Rapalas aren't cheap, but you get what you pay for, right? Bluegills in the spring sounds like fun!

  2. Any day with Fish in the hand is a good day... even if you use a spin outfit. We wont hold it against you.:-)

    1. Joel, thank you for your tolerance of my sins.

  3. Man, you guys are good. Looks like a small stream. You never know what you may find - which is what I like about them. What are the temps there??

    1. I don't know about how good we are... lucky is more like it. It is definitely a small stream, right in the middle of a developed area. It has lots of shallow riffles, a few pools that approach three feet deep, and isn't more than about twenty feet wide in most places. We're lucky to have such a convenient place to get our fishing fix. The daytime highs have been in the mid seventies.

  4. It's funny that losing a Rapala hurts so bad - been there done that. I know that I easily burn through $5 of flies, tippet, weights, etc on a fly fishing trip, but it hurts so much more when it's, "Oops! There goes seven bucks!"

  5. I'm having great time reading your blog regarding fly fishing. I actually love fly fishing, I started going to streams way back 4 years ago with my father. Prior to that, I just try to help my father doing his lure. The first try I had when we went to tennessee fly fishing, it was a great experience which I love doing fly fishing over and over again.