Wednesday, June 14, 2017

A Little Variation between Plugs can Make All the Difference

Not long after David Jeon's amazing catch of a 22 1/2-inch smallmouth, I felt I better pack up and head to the river. First I planned on a solo trip last Thursday or Friday. Or I might have quickly amended plans and invited Mike, don't clearly remember at present though he's been in and out of this picture, and soon my son and I had plans for Saturday morning. Something came up in his life. So Sunday morning we'd go. He went to a party Saturday night, revised plan still in place--we would also canoe a stretch--but my gut told me, "He's not coming home." Sure enough, I woke up at 8:00 Sunday morning instead of 4:00, my wife telling me, "If your alarm had gone off, I was going to shut it off for you before you would have got up." 

This morning I got up at 8:10, snatching 20 minutes after the alarm first sounded, because weirdly I woke up first around 4:00. "That counts for a power nap," I told myself, preparing to load up and go, and it did. But when I got to the river, I took one cast with the little topwater plug I had tied on Saturday night for very early Sunday morning, and saw myself acting like a complete fool, because sun was already high and it felt near 90 degrees. Tied on an X-Rap and began an arduous quest upriver, having first fished thoroughly the set of connected pools near where I parked. I thought of trout, but this was no trout environment in the heat and that warming water.

I stubbornly kept to that X-Rap, knowing that in my book, it's a lure for cool water. I've witnessed Noel Sell catch smallmouths in the river in July on little jerkbaits, but in my fanciful way, I chalk his success up to the far corners of the world he finds these specially crafted lures at very high prices, knowing that there's surely more truth to the success of these subtly different plugs than fancy anyway. I've seen a little variation make all the difference in catches one too many times.

It really felt like I was out for hours. I had to see a Chinese tailor to refit my dress pants, an appointment I could not miss since we're down to the wire on my son's high school graduation. Had left my flip phone in my car. Don't bother with a "mobile device." Haven't worn a watch in many years. I barreled on to my favorite spot and realized I was only fooling myself about the pre and post-summer X-Rap. I had seen a buck smallmouth guarding a bed, but regardless, I declared that the situation called for my summer favorite. I tied on a Senko-style worm, and third cast, caught that nice 13-incher photographed. I tried to tease another with three more casts, then marched back, casting only once as I kept on trudging, telling myself if it's 11:00 when I get seated, I'm OK. Not sure I was OK.

It was 10:36.

Before I met with the tailor, I stood on the bathroom scale. For the first time since 1993, I'm under 200 pounds. The tailor laughed it off. So did I. Have lost too much weight. He can't refit the pants.

If you look sharp, you can see the engineer's cabin of a freight train. I've wanted to get a shot of a train coming onto this bridge for the past eight years, but need to situate further downstream to get a clean shot.

My steady companion.

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