After a while our bonito stopped showing as much and we'd pretty much put the bass down over repeated drifts, so we decided to move. The sun was high, the tide was slack, and there were no birds and breaking fish around. But we aren't one trick ponies and we don't just run and gun blitzing fish... the fish everybody can catch. We slid up into an area I knew was likely to hold some bass and I sent a hookless topwater plug as far as I could. Four feet into the retrieve there was a massive explosion. Then another, and another, and another. Three or four giant stripers mouthed, tail slapped, and t-boned the plug repeatedly, growing more and more frustrated in there inability to kill it. As they got closer I could see them clearly in the water and said "Holy shit Mark, these are giant bass". Things got frantic then. I got the plug out of the water and we both made casts with the fly rods, which resulted in takes from smaller and bigger fish but no hookups. Speaking for myself, I was far too excited to get things right and needed to take a moment to calm down. We drifted out of the area, regrouped, re-set another drift, and I picked up the plug rod again. I made few casts on one side of the boat without pulling up a fish. I turned and made a cast in the other direction and a 40lb fish blew up on the plug almost as soon as it hit the water. I kept it coming, drawing the fish into casting range. Mark made the cast and I yanked the plug out of the water. I immediately saw all five or six of the fish that were following it, each 40 inches or larger, frantically start looking for something to kill. All that was left was Mark's fly, and one fish accelerated and inhaled it. I didn't know it yet, but it was actually the smallest of that group, though still a very big fish by both of our standards. The fight was typical and perfect. Nothing went wrong. I lipped the fish after we'd drifted well out of the area where these big bass were holding, looked around to make sure there wasn't anyone to see me lift the fish, and hoisted her into the boat. She was a beauty. She was everything she needed to be, really.
It was mine turn next, and the fish did exactly what I was worried in the back of my mind they would do. They left! We didn't find that school or any other big school of large bass before the sun set. I caught a smaller fish and lost one that was probably pretty big, but not enough so to be upset about for an extended period of time. But, in the end, one is enough, and I was very happy to have taken part in the capture of that fish. Big bass are just different. I love schoolies for their willing nature and aggressive nature, sometimes goofy behavior, and beautiful coloration. But big bass... they are more like a proper big animal. I tend to use low grunting noises in association with gestures to describe the size of a large striper instead of just words. Because they are big, lumbering, hulking animals. The biggest bass are almost scary, like being in the water with a hungry one might be a bad idea somehow. And yet they are so picky, and so hard to find, and so skittish. I love getting to see them slam a hookless topwater plug with reckless abandon, and yet I also love to see them refuse a fly and spook too. I want them to be around for as long as I am and much longer.
So please submit comments on Draft Addendum VI, and demand that more be done than what it proposes. The clock is ticking.
Until next time.
Fish for the love of fish.
Fish for the love of places fish live.
Fish for you.
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