Taking a slightly different approach to a familiar angling scenario often provides a fresh perspective and added challenges.
It was with this in mind that my friend Tom Ference and I traveled an hour to a small northwestern Pennsylvania reservoir last week. This lake has an outstanding largemouth bass population. I fish it often; in fact had done so a week earlier. On that trip I caught a lot of largemouths in one to 3 feet of water, mostly by casting soft-bodied jerkbaits as I slowly worked the boat along the shallows. It was fun, but it also got me to thinking, "I bet we could catch these fish wading the shallows, showing them poppers."
We were greeted with a strong northwest wind when we reached the lake shore, a scenario that lessened the likelihood that topwater toppers would work. Instead we rigged up with streamers, custom jobs Tom had tied with white flashabou and synthetic hair on number 6 streamer hooks. In the water they had much the same look as the soft jerkbaits that proved so effective a week earlier.
Tom, who is an accomplished fly fisher that once successfully competed in ESPN's Outdoor Games, helped me with tackle requirements. He loaned me a reel loaded with a number 8 weight forward line, which I attached to my 9-foot, 6 weight steelhead rod. He said that when casting big, wind resistant flies it's often helpful to jump up a weight or two above what the rod is rated for. This has limits, of course. Too heavy a line will simply overload the rod, and can even break it. But the adjustment worked well in our situation.
Slowly wading the shallows, we consistently picked up largemouth bass, fishing the streamer flies much like a soft jerkbait, i.e. giving it short jerks with intermittent pauses. And though I suspect we could have caught more bass with spinning or casting gear, and with less effort, it was a refreshing challenge. We plan on trying the fly rod approach again soon, during an evening better suited for topwater popper action.
Just as variety can spice up life in general, the same can be said for fishing in particular.