What makes a great day on the water?
by: David Coulson 5/9/2012
I’ve written on this subject a few times, both as blogs and for the Coloradoan Column. Actually, this week’s column is about a great day being one of vivid images, which occurred last Saturday, Cody’s twenty plus inch largemouth lost before I could click the shutter, a slow motion take of my fly by largemouth, a double of seventeen inch largemouth, and the joy on a angler’s face as he showed us his eighteen inch largemouth taken on a fly I gave him. The sum of those made for a great day of memories.
When it comes to determining what makes a great day fishing there are numerous measures, and often the measure is personal and depends on the situation. For example, when fishing with kids, their success trumps anything I might catch.
A measure I use when bass fishing is: how well might I have done in a tournament situation? I readily admit this is a fool’s game, as I’m not in a tournament situation, and if I was, the circumstances would different. Still it’s a measure of success. There are a couple of rough gauges. First, many of the tournaments I fished were five fish limits of bass over twelve inches. Sounds easy enough, but go to a weigh in and you’ll see that mark is missed by many on any given day. So anytime I could “weigh a limit,” it’s a good day. In fact I’ve heard it said if you could catch five fish that would weigh every day out, you could/should be a pro.
On their mini tournaments the Centennial Bass Club uses a card system. In this case, all fish over ten inches, are recorded in ¼ inch increments on a card. Each size has a point value and your best seven fish tally for your score. I like this system for several reasons, but realize long skinny fish can best heavier fish. But as with all contests, that’s just the way the game is played.
So when fishing Horsetooth I typically keep track of a “card” in my head as a rough gauge of how I’m doing. If I could fill a card, seven fish over ten inches in an evening, I know I’d be in the running. Seven fish over twelve inches and I have a shot of making the top five. Toss in a sixteen to eighteen inch fish or two, and the odds really go up. Ok, I’m not in a contest, but it tells me I had a good evening.
Last night’s fishing went beyond a good evening. Had it been the FMO (five fish limit) I would have weighted two fifteen, two sixteen, and a twenty plus inch fish. Had it been a card tournament I would have added another fifteen and a long fourteen inch smallmouth. I’ll not even address how many cards I would have filled, but suffice to say it was more than one. Simply put I could do no wrong. No way of knowing if that would be a winner, but I would like my odds.
The highlight came at sunset as I was heading back to the ramp. I cast over a point and got slammed, actually I thought I had hooked bottom. No, the snagged moved and it felt like a “money” fish. In a tournament situation, it would be the kicker fish that puts you into the money. As I battled the fish, I wondered what I’d tied into; knowing carp and wiper were also possibilities.
I finally saw a fish, a good fish but not good enough to be pulling that hard. At that point it dawned on me I was dealing with a double. I saw the top fly, this fish was on the second, and whatever was on the point fly was dragging it around like a sheet in the wind. Finally, I worked the pair up to where I could see the second fish. At that point I realized I’d be lucky to land one of them, let alone both.
Normally, I don’t carry a net, with bass fishing there is no need. By chance I had my “carp” net with me and decided the best option was to try and net the lower fish and take my chances with the upper one staying on. Success, I managed both, a fifteen and a twenty plus inch smallmouth. And wouldn’t you know it. There wasn’t a single angler in sight so I could get a proper stiff armed picture of the pair. You’ll have to settle for the “basket” shots, knowing that the ruler is eighteen inches long.
Simply, by any measure, I had one of those magical evenings fishing for smallmouth at Horsetooth. No matter the measure, it qualifies as a great day on the water in my book.
Blog content © David Coulson
bluecollarguy, CO 5/9/2012 9:58:24 AM
I'd say you had a pretty darn good day on the water by any standard!
Fishful Thinker, CO 5/9/2012 10:15:46 AM
20 inchers are rare in this pond as you know, Dave...good work!
Vanish, CO 5/9/2012 1:01:47 PM
An awesome day indeed. What was I thinking when I let you off the phone? Thanks for the lunch time reading.
Nightstalker, CO 5/9/2012 6:45:08 PM
Nice work Dave very nice!
FISHRANGLER, CO 5/9/2012 7:15:30 PM
Wow double smallies way cool Dave that must have been alot of fun on a fly rod too.
David Coulson (Flyrodn), CO 5/9/2012 8:57:47 PM
I was most surprised to catch a smallie of that size from the 'tooth. I feel privileged as they are far from common. Yeah, it was a blast. And while I fish multiple flies and do on occassion hook multiple fish, two nice fish typically results in no fish. I had to 17 inch largemouth, and only landed one. Saw both and the one landed looked smaller than the one lost, but water magnifies, right!. So I really was delighted to land both. Oh, May and June are two of the best months for the long rod on Horsetooth.
David Coulson (Flyrodn), CO 5/9/2012 8:58:54 PM
Sunday on the largemouth and not at the 'tooth.
TroutLion, CO 5/12/2012 6:48:39 AM
Those are some great looking fish. We used to fly fish for smallies on the rivers in NH when i lived there, and on the big river we could sometimes catch some real nice ones. I need to get out and chase smallmouth again. I'd have to agree that a decent day on smallmouth can be pretty memorable, and a great day on smallmouth can be absolutley marvelous! Obviously, you had a great day!