I met Mike this past winter at a fly-tying event he organizes, called Guys, Flies & Pies. We discovered a mutual affinity for bass, and made loose plans for getting out when the weather warmed. Those loose plans finally took shape earlier this week as we headed to the West River with a pair of kayaks tied down and jutting, snaggletooth from the bed of my truck.
Now, it should be said that Mike is a very accomplished and avid fly fisherman. Bass, salmon, pike, browns, rainbows, steelies. Accomplished. But Mike had never fished out of a kayak. Hell, he’d never been in a kayak other than possibly testing entry and exit from the relative safety of his yard. And he’d made more than a few jokes in the days leading up to the trip and on the drive there about flipping, swimming, taking a dive and so on. So on this evening of planned bass-chasing, I hoped that we wouldn’t need to spend half of our daylight finding his balance and practicing paddling strokes, or worse, fishing him out of the drink.
Whatever. Mike got in, squared himself and his gear away and headed for open water like a champ. That was that.
We paddled about 150 yards up river before nosing the kayaks into the weed beds that occupy all but the 30 yard wide channel in the middle of the 80 yard wide river. Casting a big-ass popper out along the front edge of the weed bed, it didn’t take long before the surface exploded and I landed my first fat bass. The second, about three casts later, was an even better fish, but I had a hard time being excited. I needed Mike to get on the board.
Then suddenly there was a good splash, a whoop and Mike was on the favorable end of a tight line. I took some video while he tangled with his first kayak bass. While I was checking the footage on my camera after he released the fish, he hooked up with number two. It was at that point, Mike decided to remind me of the score.
Nice. All even at two a piece now, he grinned.
I went from the hopeful, conciliatory home-water host to alpha-dog looking to mark his territory. Not quite Jekyll and Hyde, but my hyper fish-hard-or-die alter ego was reaching for the rod.
Before we were finally chased off the water by mosquitos, darkness and a big, angry beaver, I managed to catch the kicker-fish to break the tie. But to be completely honest, I’m still happier about Mike earning a couple more notches on his “accomplished” belt on my home water, and look forward to notching a few of my own on his.
Check out the video. Full-screen.
Music props to A Tribe Called Quest.