Thursday, December 11, 2014

Bobber Fishing

The chartreuse styrofoam float bounced down the river carried by a swift current that was headed into a deep pool. I stood on the bank and watched. Ice clung to the guides of the 10 foot fly rod. I was thankful that I could stay out of the 33 degree water.

I would have rather been swinging big flies for steelhead but all of the big rivers that I fish with my spey rod are high and muddy following Friday's rain. This small creek is fishable with a switch rod; but I'm still too cheap to buy one. (My wife observes that I already have more fly rods than I could possibly use, and she's right. But I don't have a switch...) My ability to effectively swing streamers on a single handed rod is pretty much non-existent. I've tried and failed to pick up the feel. Obviously, I haven't tried enough. And trying to learn when the air temp is hovering at freezing as sun rises probably isn't the best idea. Besides I haven't landed a fish yet this season. So I'm bobber fishing.

Of course, fly anglers refer to the piece of foam as a "strike indicator," but that's just a fancy term for a bobber.

I've bobber fished for steelhead for about 20 years. I'm not opposed to it. It's a great way to catch the lake-run rainbows that I love to chase along the shores of Lake Erie. Drifting two flies below split-shot and a bobber is particularly effective in cold temperatures with sluggish fish. The lack of strikes in the first hour of light indicates that the fish are indeed sluggish. I'm sure there are fish in the pool. I've hooked and lost a few already. Out of practice, I guess.

The bobber pauses in the current. I lift the rod and something under the water pulls back. A solid hook set is essential with these fish and I've yet to get it right this morning. I feel better about this one and when the 16 inch rainbow leaps from the water I can see the pink fly stuck firmly inside its mouth. A few moments later the first-year fish is landed. I admire her pink cheeks, silver sides and green back. She's small, but beautifully perfect. Several more fish would follow it on this cold day. But the first fish is always the best. Even if it was hooked while bobber fishing.

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