Monday, April 10, 2017

Ignorance is Bliss; or at Least, a Smallmouth

My wife’s Grandmother lives in Grass Valley, California, an area rich in history from California’s Gold Rush. It’s home to the historical Yuba River, along with a myriad of other streams, ponds, and lakes. We always went swimming above the covered bridge high up in the mountain ridge, upstream from Harry L. Englebright lake. The water is crystal blue, giving great visual of some of the fish where we normally swam at, although I was never able to get a close look at these critters; not knowing what I was looking at made me more eager and curious to come back and fish for them. I naturally thought that I could catch fish in the winter time, being from Oregon it’s feasible to catch some nice winter trout and steelhead up here. So my first outing on the Yuba was at the normal fishing spot in the heart of a nice Christmas vacation winter. I strapped on my waders, grabbed my rod and headed up to go fish for these mystery fish of the summer. I began at the normal spot, casting at every hole I could remember, switched bugs, techniques, and tippet a couple times before heading downstream, and, to my avail, luck evaded me. I tried fishing downstream for a couple more hours, while switching setups with an ever growing frustration.

One of my go-to Yuba River hopper patterns. 
Seven months rolled by while I planned my next attack on those mystery Yuba fish. Assuming they were trout, I tied up some foam terrestrial creations in preparation for the trip to the Yuba in July. Armed with my 2wt fiberglass rod, a box full of terrestrial and dry flies, I headed to the Yuba to defeat the fish that were toying with my mind. When I arrived, I had a weird idea, I decided to go downstream farther than I usually went; plus the river was crowded that day so downstream naturally had no people. When I got there, I saw no form of life besides the buzzards up circling in the sky, and the calm crystal blue Yuba river. I decided to give it a go anyways and try my luck.

On the first cast, there was no takes or any sort of movement. The second cast hit the water and had no action, so naturally, I started to pull line in to go for the third cast. As my little foam creation came closer and closer, I felt a random tug near a large rock. I decided to give the line a little yank to see what was going on and that’s when it hit me. Taught line, and a bent over backwards 2wt, I had a fish on! I freaked out, let a little shout of joy and excitement out as I began to reel in the fish. As I was Fighting the fish I noticed that it was fighting a lot different than any trout I had caught before, maybe it was just my first California trout and they had a little more spice to them than what I was use to. To my surprise I had a nice little smallmouth on the end of my line, dumbfounded and excited, I stumbled to take a picture of the little devil. I quickly released him after removing my foam creation and had the rush to get my line back on the water as fast as I could. The rest of the afternoon was a constant struggle to keep fish off of my line. Left and right, big and small, I was catching smallmouth. I estimated catching around 27 smallmouth that day, give or take a few; due to my excitement I stopped counting and just fished. After a while I decided to give the fish a break and head back to my family, catching fish all day warrants some good beer and good BBQ to wrap up an eventful day, a day that reminds me, this is the reason I fish.

- Tanner Moss

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