Wednesday, July 18, 2012


I figured I would do some fishing last night, just around sunset. It was crazy hot, just like every other day recently, but I thought it might be fun to catch a couple topwater bass. I headed to the local pond, tied on my red and white topwater lure (zara spook?) and worked it across the water.

First catch on the red and white beck-spook
(back in Michigan fishing with my buddy Mark)
There was almost no surface activity. Any feeding was happening below the surface. Stubbornly, I tried every retrieve I could think of to coax the bass to the surface. Something I read earlier came to mind, something like "Find out what the fish want, not what you want to fish with."

I reached into my pack and pulled out a hotdog. I broke off a piece, strung it on a big hook, and carefully cast it out into the pond. I stuck the rod butt in a hole in the pipe and set to work rigging a tube on my other rod. I thought it would be nice to give the bass a break and see if any cats were around. (Read: the bass weren't biting the one lure I threw for 10 minutes so I'd fish for another species.)

Almost immediately the rod tip started to dance. Fish! I dropped my rod and grabbed the other rod from the pipe hole, but the fish was gone, and he took the hotdog. Fair enough, fish. Fair enough.

I put another piece of hotdog on the hook, cast it out, and started working the tube with my other rod. Some guys were making their way around the pond, clearly headed home after a fishing trip. As they walked by I said hello.

"Hey what do you catch in here.. catfish?" they asked.

"Yeah, and bass and bluegill" I replied.

"Bass!? There are bass in here?" They were incredulous. I wondered if I shouldn't have told them. Would they come back and leave their sh*$ everywhere like some other fishermen? I decided I shouldn't jump to conclusions and give them the benefit of the doubt.

"Yeah man," I said. "Lots of bass, mostly small ones [I measured with my hands] but there are a couple bigger ones."

"Oh wow, cool man. You ever fish for catfish?"

"Yeah, I've caught some nice ones here, one big one a few weeks back, around 27"

"Ok cool.. Hey you want some catfish bait?"

I appreciated their offer, but the main reason I haven't fished with any "catfish bait" is I don't want to touch a bunch of disgusting rotting meat or anything. Also I have plenty of luck with my own bait, but I didn't want to offend them.

"Oh thanks man, I appreciate it, but I've got some hotdog already."

"Hotdog? Man, you can't catch anything on hotdogs!"

As un-douchey as I could manage, "Actually the biggest cat from this pond was on a hotdog!"

Maybe they thought I was joking. They didn't seem to believe me, and took that as their cue to leave. I was serious, but I'm aware sometimes it's hard to tell if I'm being serious. We wished each other luck, and they headed on their way. I turned my attention back to the pond, where there seemed to be more activity happening than before.

The bugs were bad. The sun was down. It was dark. Mosquitos found every inch of my sweat-drenched skin and drilled. My jeans and hiking boots protected the lower half of me but it seemed to concentrate the bugs on my upper half.

After a while I gave up on bass fishing and concentrated on finding a nice cat. Any cat, really, I just wanted to catch a catfish. I wondered if they'd be more active than the bass with these insane temperatures and water like some tea that sat out for a few minutes. Warm to the touch.

And just when I was ready to pack it in, my rod once again became animated. Then it stopped. I grabbed it, waiting to set the hook... The movement picked up again, I set the hook (Jeremy Wade style, of course) and the fight was on!

I had set my drag pretty loose to prevent a fish from taking my rod and to make the fight more interesting. In the dusk light, I couldn't make out the fish yet, but it felt pretty big. My drag screamed as the fish took out line, heading to the bottom. Then it came toward me, almost tangling in a bunch of weeds- I thought I was going to loose it! I wondered if my drag should be tighter. I tightened it.

I saw the fish, a big channel cat, just like I guessed. I felt proud I could identify it by its fight. A great looking fish! Because of my light line and loose drag, I really had to work the fish to get it in. I couldn't just muscle it in, I had to wait until it was ready.

When it was, I grabbed it, took some pictures, and admired my catch.

Of course I forgot to weight it or measure it.
Right after I released it I pulled out my ruler.
I estimate about 28" long. Whoohoo!
I don't know why catfish get such a bad rap; they're really awesome animals. They're tough, they get big, and their whole body is a nose. They can smell better than some dogs. That's pretty awesome, I think.

I took the fish to the water and held it there for a moment, allowing it to get its bearings. It casually swam away, and it reminded me of an actual cat, its tail moving back and forth like it just didn't care.

Turns out, yes you can catch fish on hotdogs.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Bowfin!...and why I'm done fishing for anything else

Charlie and his dad fishin'
I hooked the bluegill through the tail, just how Sam Bennett showed me. It took me a few casts to get it where I wanted it, but the third cast landed exactly where I thought there might be a fish. The sun was setting. Mosquitos buzzed around us. Charlie the six-year-old stood a few feet away, working on getting some more little bluegill. Leo, his dad, stood next to me doing the same. We were standing at the edge of a marshy pond, a pipe behind us spilling water from the bigger lake into this small pool. We saw huge ripples moving around the surface of the water. Something big was in there.

We were camping! We were camping fishing. As I've mentioned before, camping is awesome! I didn't grow up camping, but that's ok... When I was a kid I would have hated it. I spent a few summers at Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp near Muskegon, Michigan, which was basically a bunch of music stuff set outside and in cabins and rustic buildings. I loved the music stuff, hated all the rustic-ness. The dirt and bugs. The smell of pine trees. Ok, I didn't hate that, but I certainly didn't like the outdoors.

A year ago we went camping with the Smerglias, which was my very first time camping. I loved it! Fishing was my gateway drug to the hardcore stuff of camping and the outdoors. A couple months back Claire and I camped near the Mississppi- and I caught the biggest fish I've ever caught to date. This time, I was a very experienced camper- with two other campings under my belt, I felt like I could probably live in the wild with nothing but a knife and a fishing rod.

Of course, that's not true. I got about 60 seconds into setting up our tent when Claire had to come help me. I can't identify poison ivy. Ticks still freak me out. When Walter had two ticks on him after five minutes on the campground, there was a little groan inside of me. I forget to drink water and only remember to go fishing.

Camping combines a bunch of things I really like: being outside, grilling, fires, fishing, seeing animals, being dirty... When I was a kid I didn't get too dirty or play outside that much. Now's my time to make up for lost time!

Walter the fishing dog
 The night before, I think it was our second night camping, we were on a mission. Charlie wanted to catch a big catfish. Leo and I were more than willing to oblige, although it was a struggle to keep the kid entertained while our rods stood motionless, connected to our stationary offerings in the water. We had nightcrawlers on the hooks, I tried some topwater lures, but nothing was going for the bait. I reached into my fishing backpack and pulled out a hotdog. I cut off a piece with my fingers and strung it onto a big black hook and cast it out into the water.

The dark was illuminated by our three headlamps and the glow of our little electronic devices. Even the possibility of big fish couldn't keep me entertained all the time; I checked my Twitter while I waited for the big one.

It wasn't too long before there was some action. Out of the corner of my eye, I thought I saw a rod wiggle. I looked up, squinting in the dark, and saw it wiggle again. Fish on!

I think it was Leo's rod, if my memory serves me he was the first to hook into a fish. He battled the fish, reeling it in, and soon we saw a little brown fish come out of the water. A bullhead?! With the help of Leo's fishing gloves, I lipped it, and it proceeded to bite down on my thumb like I was caught in a door. Ouch! Good for you, bullhead.

Charlie and I posed for a picture. Not exactly the giant catfish we were hoping for, but at least we were in the ballpark!

late night bullhead!
So they like hotdogs, do they? I suppose it's not that strange... I like hotdogs too. I usually grill mine, but I don't think any fish have little grills down there. Probably hard to light.

We swapped out the bluegills for hotdog on all the rods. The nice thing about the way we hooked the 'gills is they swam away, apparently just fine. Most likely they will become some bass's midnight snack... But at least they have a chance.

After a few minutes, we all zoned out, turning back to our glowing devices. Occasionally I noticed the dark sky filled with glistening little points of light, enjoying how dark it was and how many stars I could see. I think I even saw some satellites or planes flying really high.

And then out of the corner of my eye, I thought I saw a rod jump. I looked up, but there was no movement. "Did that rod just move?" I asked Leo. We stared at the rod, but it wasn't moving. I stood up slowly, approaching the rod. I looked at the rod tip, and in the dark I could have sworn I saw some movement there. I picked up the rod, and holding it in my hands I was sure there was a fish on. "There's a fish!" I whispered. And then I felt it again. I swiftly yanked up the rod- Jeremy Wade style- and the fight was on. Fish on!

Leo jumped up, Charlie jumped up; I handed the rod to Charlie, hoping he'd have the chance to fight and reel in a big catfish. This fish felt big for sure- if it was a catfish, it was most certainly a biggun. Leo held onto the rod while Charlie tried to make sense of the backwards reel (he was used to the closed-reel type reels that usually come with the crank on the left) while I jumped up and down giggling. Charlie had a big smile on his face. The rod danced around in hands; at one point all three of us were holding the rod, helping to bring in this giant fish.

When we got it close, I looked down into the water, trying to identify it. Oh, channel cat. Awesome! "It's a channel cat!" I said/shouted. We reeled it in more. "No, it's a bass! A weird looking bass" we got it all the way to us, and it hung there attached to our line. "What the heck is that!?"

We were looking at a fish none of us had ever seen. It was smoother and more tapered than a bass, but it had tiny barbels like a catfish, a huge long dorsal fin, and a little spot on its tail.


I quickly dismissed that idea, having studied "River Monsters" like it was my college major, knowing that snakeheads have way more patterning on their scales... And aren't found this far north, at least for now. I thought I knew what it was.

"Bowfin!?" I said, pronouncing it like it rhymed with "poe-fin." I still don't know how to say it. "Dogfish!?"

We giggled and high-fived, I held the fish in my boga-grip knockoff. I'd never seen a fish like this. I felt like we just caught a river monster! After a ton of pictures, we released the monster back into the water. We rebaited the hooks with the little bit of hotdog we had left (I had chummed the water a bit, I wonder if that's what brought in the fish...) and quickly googled dogfish on our devices to find out more about our new quarry. Almost immediately I found the Bowfin Anglers Group, a website dedicated to this awesome fish, and read every line of text I could find. So did Leo.

After a while, we ran out of bait, we were all pretty tired, so we made the hike back to camp. The whole way back we talked about how many dogfish there might be in this lake, and what they eat, and how big they get, and how we could find more, and the teeth they have, and how kind of scary it was, and how awesome it was, and on hotdogs.... We spent the rest of the night telling our wives stories of the monster we just caught and sharing facts we found on the internet.

And now, we were back out on the water. This was our last night camping, our last chance to catch a big fish. Leo had the idea to catch some bluegill and use them as bait. Earlier in the day, we saw a bass steal a 'gill off Leo's hook and devour it in a matter of seconds. It was one of the most awesome things I'd ever seen! I'd only fished with bluegill for flatheads, and wasn't sure we'd really catch anything here with them. Of course, I was dead wrong. Leo was right.

Right around sunset, we caught as many little bluegill as we could, and kept them in our little minnow bucket. We found the most- and the biggest- panfish in a shallow marshy area. The water couldn't have been more than 12 inches deep. In daylight, we could see every detail of the bottom of the pond, at least the area closest to us. Little panfish darted around. We caught a bunch of bluegill- Leo even caught a shiner! At least we think that's what it was.

So here we were, watching huge wakes and ripples move around the shallow water, wondering what those fish could be. We had a hunch, but couldn't be sure until we caught one. Leo guessed whatever they were, they were feeding on the plentiful bluegill in the little marshy area.

It couldn't have been more than a minute or two before something found my little bluegill. I felt a strong hit, just like when I'd been flatheading with Sam. "I got a hit!!" I yelled. I didn't feel any tension on the line. Did I miss it? And then it came back, perhaps circling around for the kill; the fish slammed into my bait like a freight train, I set the hook like I was trying to pull up the bottom of the pond.

Immediately, the fish knew it was hooked. It was not happy. 

The relative silence of the pond was decimated by more splashing than I'd ever seen or heard in my life. An octopus on speed would have made less noise than this. The fish almost pulled the rod right out of my hands. It made runs in all directions at once; there was so much water I'm surprised we didn't get soaked, as we were standing only a few feet away from the beast.

In the twilight, it was impossible to tell what it was. The rod bent over, I worried about it breaking. We were ecstatic! Leo and Charlie watched in eager anticipation, exclaiming, while I'm sure a steady stream of profanity flew out of my mouth. Charlie didn't seem to notice, he was intently watching the thrashing river monster we'd just hooked.

The fight was like no other fish I'd ever hooked into. It was strong. Although the giant drum I caught last time we were camping was huge and gave quite a fight, this fish was different. There was no frantic running around like a scared fish; this was calculated aggression against my hook. This fish wasn't running away, this fish was trying to beat the sh*& out of whatever had grabbed it.

The closer we got it, the more it thrashed. Once it was almost on us, we knew what it was. Another bowfin! Dogfish! Mudfish! Swamp trout! And a big one too. Much bigger than the one caught the night before. Maybe 30 inches long. And heavy.

I grabbed it with my boga-grips, and the three of us stood there admiring the fish, not sure how to proceed. Any movement on our end was met with muscular thrashing from the bowfin. Charlie had some unreasonable desire to put his fingers near its mouth, and each time the fish lashed out, trying to make a meal of Charlie's little fingers. We stared at the prehistoric fish. I was as scared of it as I was in awe of it. Even being gripped by a pair of metal fingers, I was sure the bowfin could kick my butt if it really wanted to.

Usually when I remove hooks from fish, I try not to hurt them. In this case, I tried to prevent my own fingers from getting bit off. I read 'fins can survive for 10-15 minutes out of water, using their primitive air bladder/lung to gulp air. They are extremely hardy fish. This one was clearly un-phased from our epic fight, and was still prepared to deal out retribution for hooking it.

The hook came out easily, and I thanked my lucky stars we landed the fish! Still nervous of the predator I held in my hands, we posed for some pictures. Definitely profile-pic worthy. Absolutely my favorite catch- ever.

What an amazing creature
After a few minutes of admiring our catch, Charlie's fingers wiggling dangerously close to the bowfin's mouth lined with little sharp teeth, we released it. It splashed into the water as if nothing had happened, quickly and powerfully swimming away.

We high-fived, excited by the incredible creature we'd just held, anxious to catch more! Now we knew what those wakes were- bowfin. There were at least four of them, swimming around dining on bluegill. It was amazing. In the dim light, the knowledge of what they were made it even creepier. I questioned the safety of my toes, so close to the water where these toothy animals roamed.

We tried some other spots, but weren't able to catch any more dogfish. I got a little bullhead later on hotdog, but that was the last fish we caught while camping. It paled in comparison to the incredibly powerful snake-like monster.

In fact, pretty much every fish I'd ever caught- ever- paled in comparison to the bowfin. I decided then and there to give up fishing for every other species. No more bass fishing, why bother with panfish (except for bait); trout will never see my flies again.

When I grow up I'm going to be a bowfin angler. I just need to learn how to pronounce "bowfin."

Even the biggest bass I've ever caught pales in comparison to this monster

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Claire caught a monster!

Somehow, Claire and I found ourselves standing in the Fox River at 6:30am on the Fourth of July.

I had planned to go regardless; as any faithful reader knows, I will forgo sleep at the drop of a hat to do some good fishing. The night before, Claire suddenly announced she wanted to go with me. She hesitantly asked what time she'd have to get up. I said 4:30am. She groaned.

We had packed the car, drank our coffee, said goodbye to Walter- standing there, confused to see both of us up so unnaturally early- and hit the road. After a short drive we were now in the river, fishing, just as the sun was coming up.

On Claire's third cast, she got hung up on some rocks, she thought. Then she started yelling "Fish! Fish!" I looked over and saw her light rod doubled down... and heard the drag sending line out to the river. "And it's pulling my line!" I yelled some celebratory profanity and waded over to her as fast as I could.

The fish broke the surface a few times as Claire furiously tried to reel it in. I caught glimpses of a big brown figure in the water. For a moment I wondered if she'd gotten a flathead, but it wasn't fighting like the ones I'd seen. Then I saw the snout of a smallmouth bass, but I wasn't sure how big it was.

I reached behind me, grabbing the new net I got for fly fishing, and scooped up the smallie. As it came out of the water I saw how big it was and probably released some more profanity. Holy crap. This was a big fish!

I was torn between admiration and jealousy for my wife, the big-smallie-catcher. I don't think I'd ever caught a smallie that big on the Fox. I got some nice fish on the Rogue in Michigan, but still. Claire, on her third cast, caught a monster. I lipped it, took out the comparatively tiny jig, and gave it to my lovely wife to hold.

Claire got a biggun
I busted out the tape measure (something I don't often do, but I wanted to know how big this one was) and it measured at least 16". It seemed like it should be longer; perhaps I measured wrong, maybe I have a bad sense of length. Either way it was a giant fish, and both of us were overjoyed. We placed the big fish back in the water, and a few moments later she came to and swam away in the splash of tail I've come to expect. I wiped the water off my glasses.

We celebrated for a moment, I changed to the fish/grub Claire was using, and started casting. We both got some hits, but neither one of us could set the hook. One hit I got, a sharp, single "TAP" cleanly cut off the tail of my twister. Could it have been a walleye? After a while I suggested we move upstream and see if we couldn't find some more fish. Claire reluctantly obliged, not wanting to leave "the promised land" of the big bass.

We worked our way upstream, occasionally getting some hits. I saw a guy fishing on the other side of the river, he was working his way downstream as we went upstream. That stretch of the river is wide enough I couldn't quite make him out, but I had a hunch who it was... based on the particular hat, the cigar...

"Are you Chris?" he shouted across the river. I said I was.. paused.. "Who are you?" I asked.

"Ken!" he shouted back, working his way toward us. Ken G! Ken G of Waterdog Journal and years of fishing the Fox- the same Ken who uses jigs with white twisters (which accounted for my first Fox smallie).

Claire and I fished our spot as Ken waded over to us. We started to get lots of hits, caught some fish; things were turning on. Ken came over and we met face to face, although in some ways I felt I already knew the guy. We'd exchanged messages and emails; I'd read his blog a lot, and I think he'd read some of mine too. It was good to meet the man behind the posts, so to speak. He asked us what all the shouting had been, and we told him about the big fish. Actually, that's not what he asked... he asked "What was all that 'oh #%^$ oh #%@$' about?" Apparently my voice carries down the river. Ken said he knew it was me by the beard and the laughing.

As we talked, Claire and I had clearly found a good spot to fish- the water on the surface was slightly different in this one particular spot, which is why I first cast there. Hit after hit came from this area, although as before we had some trouble setting our hooks. Ken said there was a dropoff right where we were fishing; some deeper water, apparently stacked up with smallies.

In the next hour or so, I hooked into somewhere around 15 fish and landed 8 or so. I lost count. Claire and Ken hooked into a bunch of fish too. All the fish I got were fairly small, but they didn't know it. It was a great time! Maybe even the best time I'd ever had fishing the Fox.

Pretty little fish
All three of us had issues setting our hooks, but we counted the ones we almost landed. All the smallies I got came from around the same spot, bouncing the 1/16oz jig and chartreuse grub/fish along the bottom, downstream.

After a while, we tried some other spots where baitfish were breaking the surface, but none of the big fish under them wanted to play. Eventually Ken headed back upstream and we headed back to our entry point- where Claire caught the giant. I tried busting out my fly rod, which I'd been carrying on my fancy (and heavy, now filled with river water) fishing backpack. I think I casted ok, at least in terms of hitting my targets, but I definitely have a lot to learn. I switched back to my spinning gear but it seemed the bite had dried up.

Smallie stash
Claire and I called it a day, at least a morning- we hiked back up the trail to our car. As we were leaving Panera I realized I left my fly rod on the grass by the car- we scrambled back to the park, and thankfully it was there.
On our way home, we stopped by the Dupage to check out the spot where Claire caught so many fish a few weeks back. We saw plenty of green sunfish swimming among the weeds and shadows in the extremely low and clear water... Exploring upstream of the bridge, we found an area that looked amazingly fishy. Right now the water seems too shallow for it to hold many fish, but my guess is with a little more depth that spot will be on fire! I can't wait to come back. I really like exploring new spots, although Claire is usually the one finding the spots.

I lifted up some rocks to see what was under them, and was intrigued to find crawfish scurrying away. Looking at the bottom of the rock, I saw tons of little shiny moving things I could only guess were the larval stage of some river bug. I thought about nymphs in fly fishing, those weird flies I don't quite understand yet. Maybe when these squirming puddles of mud things grew up, they would rise up threw the water, some of them being eaten by hungry river fish. Maybe that's what was up with nymphs...

Slowly wading, not really fishing, I found some really big crawfish. They were very pale, almost white, with pink around their head and claws. I reached down to pick them up, slowly, but not slow enough... With their characteristic backwards jumping move, they escaped my grasp, perhaps only to become some smallie's next meal. It occurred to me I should get some white tubes with pink tentacles for when I return to this spot...

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Chris Ties Flies

Fishing has been a little slow lately. The drought-like conditions, the low water levels, the non-stop heat wave... These have all contributed to less than stellar fishing. Saturday I hit the Fox with Sam- he got 3 or 4, I got one tiny one.. But it was my first smallie on a crank!

My first fly... Messy and rough around the
edges, but....
Sunday morning I waded with Osprey (Rob) for quite a long time, but there was zero action. At the very end I managed to hook a tiny smallie for a split second on a white jig and twister. When the little fish threw the hook the whole Algonquin Valley resonated with my profanity.

Not sure what happened here
Over the weekend I got a fly rod! This was to replace the one that broke and I just returned it. That, coupled with the horribly uncomfortable weather outside motivated me to tie some ties.

Early yesterday morning I tied my first tie, and tied a bunch at lunch, and even more after work.

I stepped out for 15 minutes at lunch, fished the new tiny secret green sunfish pond, and got five. My first fish on a fly I tied myself! I stayed for a few more minutes and caught 4 more fish on the fly.

...It caught some fish!
Right around sunset, I headed for a spot on Salt Creek to do some more fly fishing with my new rod and new flies. It's a humbling experience learning something new like this; just when I think I have a good idea how to handle a spinning rod and reel, fly fishing happens. It's a completely different game.

I'm enthralled by this new world of fishing; the miniscule lures, the finesse and calmness needed to cast them, the infinite combinations of feathers, hair, and thread that are used to create them. I love making wooden lures, fishing with tube jigs, and tossing texas-rigged worms in front of bass... But I'm starting to love this too. I like the contrast between giant bass spinnerbaits and tiny flies can barely see, but somehow the fish can.

As I fished I had plenty of tangles, my fly line wrapped around my rod about a hundred times, the tiny flies with their tiny hooks got caught in tiny branches everywhere... To get a better angle I actually stepped in the creek, but quickly decided I didn't much care for the experience. I saw a little bass swimming around. At one point I had a black wooly bugger, I believe one tied and given to me by Mike Muston, right in front of the bass. I watched him approach, eat it, then immediately spit it out. Apparently I missed the hookset, but I was so enthralled just watching it happen, I didn't care.

I moved to a different spot and tied on a white fly I'd tied earlier. I've been following "recipes" for flies, in an effort to learn the basics before I try any fancy stuff. I've been trying to tie a wooly bugger, but I can't get it to come out right. I don't have all the right materials, so I'm improvising with what I have. This one is tied with goose feathers I found (for the tail), black yarn for the body (scraps from Claire), and turkey hackle (I think that's what it's called.. from my buddy Mark). I weighted it with some thin wire tied around the hook shank. It looks amazing in the water; it pulses and moves with the water in a way I've never seen plastic do.

I tried to make a wooly bugger...
As the sun set, I watched my little fly swim around the creek. I thought I'd have some luck with a white fly since I'd had so much luck on white twister tails in the same spot (even though all the baitfish seem to be brown). Turns out, I was right about the color! I saw a little bass approach the surface (my fly was just below the top of the water) and quietly slurp in my fly. Fish on! As soon as I got him on, I suddenly remembered I still don't know how to fight a fish or reel one in on a fly rod...

It wasn't much of a fight, it seemed like the warm water temperatures and probable lack of oxygen were messing with these fishes' mojo. Somehow I got the little fish in. I set down my phone, set the timer, and got some pictures of my first bass caught on a fly I tied.

My best impression of a trout angler holding a bass
A few minutes later, as the sun went down behind the trees on the other bank, a slightly bigger bass found my fly. This time I tried to focus more- despite my excitement- and try and remember what the internet told me about what to do when you're fly fishing and you catch a fish. I've been spending a lot more time learning about the casting part, I mostly forgot about the fish catching part!

I stripped line with my left hand (I'm pretty sure "strip" is the fly fishing term for "pull line in with the hand that isn't holding the rod") while I held the rod in my right hand and held the line with my index finger. I'm still not sure if I was doing that right, using my finger as the drag... When the bass went left, I moved the rod right; when he went right I went left. Soon he was tired, and I brought him in, awkwardly pointing my rod to the sky and struggling to reach the fish.

Fish #2 to fall for my untidy fly
After a while the heat and humidity was too much to bear. Somehow the temperature seemed to be going up after the sun set. I thought I'd do a few casts with my spinning rod that I brought just in case something happened to my fly rod. Apparently I'd forgotten how to cast a spinning rod, as my fingers caught the line, closed the bail, and my little jig smashed into the water like a bowling ball into a kiddy pool.