It’s arduous to leap the gun on a bass and panfish pond.
Spring begins early within the ponds — even in Wamic, Oregon, which is nestled within the combined forest of Ponderosa Pine and oak bushes only a quick drive from the still-snowy jap slopes of Mount Hood.
A sunny, 60-degree day pours warmth into the muddy shallows of my favourite 30-acre farm pond. Good bass — and outsized bluegill — shortly transfer into the hotter water.
After a number of days of hotter climate, the smaller, lust-addled male bass — starting from 10 inches to 14 inches or so — determine it’s time to stake out territory and fan dinner-plate-sized nests within the shallows.
The bigger females — hulking and hungry — are lurking within the deeper water simply offshore. They’re sucking down little bluegill, leeches and bugs whereas eggs ripen in swollen bellies.
All of this begins in April, properly earlier than the bankside willows and hawthorn bushes leaf out. The close by apple orchard hasn’t bloomed but.
However it’s spring on this pond — and in nearly each Northwest pond. I lived in Washington’s South Puget Sound for 14 years, and I all the time discovered staging male bass within the native ponds — most of them in public parks — by the primary week of April.
There are bass ponds in metropolis parks, golf programs, out in farm and orchard nation and in state parks. This early spring angling is commonly a few of finest warm-water fishing of the 12 months, and I hardly ever see different anglers on the market — even when the winter was lengthy, darkish and chilly.
Little ponds heat up a lot sooner than massive lakes.
Within the Rain
Nonetheless, I had low expectations once I waded into that 30-acre farm pond final weekend. Heat climate bathed the pond all week, and I used to be positive that some bass and bluegill had moved right into a shallow, muddy bay that turns right into a wanton, violent spawnfest by early Could.
However it was Saturday, so naturally a chilly entrance oozed over the panorama Low, darkish clouds hid Mount Hood from sight — and rain spattered on the graceful, glassy pond water.
Spring clouds and mild rains are nice for trout angling, however even a small drop in air temperature can ship spring largemouth bass right into a sulky, deep-water funk.
I left the the battered previous aluminum skiff on the financial institution and slowly waded into the shallow, cloudy water. I tied a small, black wooly bugger — on a dimension 12 Tiemco 200 hook — and made casts to half-sunken logs and weed islands.
I used to be attempting to offer the bass one thing large enough to be fascinating — however not too massive for the large bluegills. There are two-pound ‘gills on this pond, and I really like hooking these massive frisbees. And these pre-spawn fish are sometimes spooky in shallow water — even when it’s slightly cloudy.
It felt good to forged the 6-weight and watch the road unroll over the water. I let the fly sink for a number of seconds earlier than I began twitching it in.
The road stopped on the primary retrieve, and I set the hook — into some lengthy, stringy weeds. This flat is about two toes deep, so the weeds are all the time there.
A hour later, I hadn’t gotten a chunk. Perhaps spring, like most of our lives as of late, was on maintain.
Following a Hunch
I bought out of the water and sat on the overturned skiff. The rain gently rattled on the steel and dripped off the tree branches. It felt so good to be on the market, in a world that smelled of moist mud, inexperienced grass and decaying pond weeds.
Nonetheless, I couldn’t fairly imagine that eight hours of colder climate and a few rain pushed all of the fish off the shallows. The pond water felt heat on my fingers.
I’d tried small and delicate, so possibly it was time to attempt one thing slightly greater — possibly slightly flashier. One thing like a small, black, low cost foam popper with wiggly rubber legs.
I like to throw massive, gaudy deer-hair poppers on this pond — hell, any pond — however a giant commotion didn’t match the rhythms of this quiet, moody day.
I tied on the little black popper and eased again onto the flat.
The little black popper doesn’t even actually pop. The froth head simply digs into the water slightly once I pull the fly line. Then the popper bobs and quivers for a number of seconds. I let the tiny ridges of water relax — after which jerk the road once more.
I like black poppers in cloudy water as a result of they’re straightforward for the bass to see. Don’t imagine me? Go exterior on a cloudy day and maintain a black fly to the sky. Then maintain an olive-green or tan fly to the sky. The black fly actually stands out.
Fishing a popper is all the time enjoyable. It’s proper on the market the place you possibly can see it, and you’ll play with quantity, velocity and tempo. Early spring is never an amazing popper time — but it surely felt good to attempt one thing new.
I saved casting and hoping.
I don’t know what number of casts it took earlier than I by accident hooked a bass.
I do keep in mind the way it occurred. A flock of 10 or so Canada geese handed over the pond — after which wheeled again for one more look. After a flurry of pressing honks, the large birds cupped their wings and skimmed onto the water on the opposite finish of the pond. I hadn’t seen geese on the pond since final November.
I appeared again at my popper, and it wasn’t there.
I set the hook, and a foot-long bass boiled on the floor. My coronary heart jacked into excessive gear. A fish. Lastly.
I slid the bass, fats and gleaming, onto a weed island. The barbless hook got here proper out, and the bass rattled off the weeds and vanished.
A number of casts later, one other little male bass gently sucked down my quivering popper.
The rain saved hissing down, and I saved on inching by way of the glassy water, casting and making that little popper perform a little dance.
Spring is right here. I wager it’s right here the place you reside as properly.