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A Very Strange Day

Just when we thought the season was over. I crossed an old favorite river the other day and was surprised to see it looked at a reasonable height for early autumn. I called my favorite fishing partner (my brother Bruce) and we made a date as we eye-balled the warmest day of the week before the cold front. 

The weather was very nice, low 70’s with the water temperature at about 55 degrees. Normally at this temp the fish will begin to move toward their winter holding areas. We figured we try anyway and were armed with fly rods and spinning rods for probing deeper holes, if need be. 

We slipped in the canoe around 10:00 a.m. for what is usually a 5 hour tour. We were just up river from a large deep pool before a bridge, probably a nice wintering area. I threw a Murdich Minnow up against the far shoreline  near some brush and immediately had a wake and a solid take of a 15″ smallmouth.

I was flaborgasted by the quick action. We assumed incorrectly that the fish would be slow and tough to catch. The third cast near some downed timber brought a big wake and this fish right here. She went 21 1/4 inches on the tape and rivaled the largest smallmouth I’ve ever caught. She probably weighed at least 5 1/2 pounds with a fully distended belly, full of minnows and crayfish (I surmised).

The next 1/2 hour was filled with a lot of action from pumped up fish, all not far from this large deep area near the bridge. 

But after that, the fishing died. We thought it would continue to build during the heat of the day, but it did not. We hardly managed a few more fish over the next four hours. They simply appeared to have vanished!

I’m still not sure what happened, although we figured we’d tripped over some fish that were very close to their wintering grounds and still active. We went through a number of deep similar areas down river, but they did not hold active fish. 

So it was very strange to start out like a house a’fire only to have to endure four hours of fruitless flogging. 

Nonetheless, the memory of the giant smallie reminded us that the day will always be remembered as yielding a personal best. We were able to enjoy a wonderful early October day that marked the end of the fly fishing season for our northern smallmouth.

It is a day we will never forget.

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