Monday, April 9, 2012

Tangles and Strangles

My mother-in-law, while on one of many bays of Leech Lake in Minnesota, said to me, "A bad day of fishin' is better than any day at work."

I thought then that such a thing didn't exist - a bad day of fishin' - but this morning came close.

Tried the deer-hair mouse with a woolly bugger dropper idea again, this time choosing black instead of olive. Within the first 15 minutes, I had wrapped my flies around my pole like one of those gladiator wrap-around-the-other-guy's-legs weapon things at least twice. Got snagged. Twice. In the same place.

Anyway, it was beautiful morning just the same!  Just a few hang-ups with those usual tangles.

I found a little cove further down the edge of the little pond I've been trying out, so I headed down that way a little later on. I switched from the dropper right to a single big foam chugger, black. Don't know what it is called. Started casting it into some brush, without a single tangle.

Had a bass smack it once. Failed hookset. First action all morning. Heart's pounding.

Redelivered my chugger to nearly the same place, and several casts later a bass hit it again.

Succeeded on the hookset this time.

Alas, no picture, because this is the part where the "Strangle" of this story's title comes in. Turns out I had set the hook slightly into the gills of the fish.

Several days previously, while running along the bank, I had dropped my pliers, so I had to use my fingers to navigate the hookset.

Turns out the bend of the hook had wrapped around one of the many rakes and slightly punctured another. I backed the hook out, angled it away from the rakes then pulled the lure free. A lot of blood loss, from what I could tell, but I didn't know how bad.

The whole process took what I thought was too long to save the fish. I lowered the fish into the water, moving it back and forth to move water over the gills. All of the blood washed away and stopped flowing, and the fish woke up, swimming off slowly. He was struggling a bit, so I helped him along.

I wished him the best, and kept moving down. Last cast of the day, got snagged, took the line down to the backing trying to find the right angle to unhook (since I can't afford to lose ANY bass chuggers), then reeled it back in.

Got the chugger back. Passed by where the bass was struggling, and he was gone. Wasn't skunked, but lots of tangles, almost one strangle.

Until next time.

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