After getting home, getting showered so that I'm clean to get dirty, and driving past a guy wearing purple pants and on stilts (The roof of his car didn't even reach his waist!!!) I finally get to the lake at 10:15PM. I was a little worried that there might be a crowd, with the holiday weekend, but I only saw a handful of lights around the lake. I rig up at the van and head out.
Since I had trashed my CGR rod a few days before, I decided to bring out old reliable, my St Croix Triumph 5wt. This is the first "big boy" rod I ever purchased and still like to take it for a walk every once in a while.
It was about a 15 minute walk from the van to the flats that I wanted to try. One of the first things that I noticed is that, considering the daytime temps we've been having, the night was remarkably cool. Lucky for me I had my neoprene waders on, so I was hot, sweaty and uncomfortable in no time. Without them, the walk might have been enjoyable.
I get to a spot at the flats were I can access the lake and slip in. Usually the shore is left go and brush grows all around, but not this time. I slowly work my way out while waiting to get my night vision back.
I've fished at night a handful of occasions but haven't been very successful. In fact, I couldn't tell you the last time that I caught a fish at night. I think OJ was still innocent.... and it wasn't on a fly. Anyway, knowing full well the kind of debacle that this could be, I set myself a limit on how long I would be out. I would be out until either a) I caught so many fish that I was sick of catching them (not very likely) or b) I would lose 3 flies.
I had tied on a weighted streamer and set to town. I can now say that there is absolutely nothing in this world more frightening than the whzzzssss whzzzsssss whzzzsssss sound of a size 2 weighted streamer whizzing by your head completely unseen. Every video and image of a hook through someones eye that I've ever saw came crashing through my mind every time that fly whzzzsssed by me. Luckily, within 10 or 15 minutes, that fly was lost to the lily pads.
The next fly that went on was a fly that I came up with for this weeks up-coming Fly of the Week. I don't want to ruin what exactly it is, but lets just say it's a big ol' bead head nymph. I also decided to move out of the lily pads.
In maneuvering through the lily pads, I learned the downfall of night fishing and headlamps. Bugs love light. Big ones, little one's, it doesn't matter. And when you have a light strapped to your forehead, they can get a little irritating.
Finally in position ( I guess. It was friggin dark out!) I started casting. A couple casts later and I'm stripping the fly in; I would twitch it up and let it drop. Twitch it up and let it drop. Then, something twitched back. I lift the rod up and pull..... stuck. I pull again harder. And three quick head-shakes. Fish on! I pull...... and feels like it's stuck. Fish on....?
Then a couple head-shakes and he makes a break for it. I strip in line by hand once, twice..... well, he wasn't having any of that and makes a run for it. I give him some line and them nothing........ no tension. Thinking the fish is halfway to the Atlantic I slowly lower the rod back behind me until it is almost parallel with the water. The rod quickly bends and another head-shake. That Sunofa.....
I had enough of this and start working the fish in as quick as possible. I see the fish come to the surface about 20 feet from me. I snap on the headlamp and there I see a fin, a beady eye and a bunch of green gunk. What the hell is that.... is it......
I pull it in closer and grab my net from my back, snapping him up. It's then that I notice that it's a large mouth bass, going 12 inches. Now this is not only my first fish at night on the fly, but my first significant large mouth bass. I caught a bitty one a year or two ago, but I've never counted him.
With the fish still in the net, I slip the hook from his mouth and there's the last first: unhooking a fish without touching it at all. I slip the net back around him and after a moment orientation he swims off.
The rest of the night was uneventful. I managed to lose that fly, and then an olive bugger, without another strike. Fish were jumping here and there around me, but not near enough. So after losing the third fly I left with about an hour logged in on the water. Which was a lot longer than I would have thought to loss those flies.