This post is a few days in the works so I hope you enjoy. It has been a Mothers Day tradition in my family as a young kid to go camping on Mothers Day weekend. It usually signified the start of the camping season for us. For the last 7 or so years my tradition broke and I was not able to tag along with my parents and brother on the trip and this year looked to be much of the same. My son just had his Adenoids removed and tubes in his ears and all I heard was how miserable it’s going to be for the next 10 days after his surgery… This was not the case for my son though. He is a trooper and the energy change in him and his attitude seemed to change dramatically for the better! So when Friday came we had pretty much decided that we were alright to go.
We arrived about 6:30 pm. Went into my parents trailer to find only my mom. My dad and brother were out fishing. About a half hour later they noticed my truck was there and came over to the camp to see us. They had caught some decent sized bass, a northern pike or 2, and a walleye. The wind had put a damper on the fishing as it was blowing pretty strong and hard to keep the boat positioned right with the electric motors so we talked for a bit and had dinner of Chicken and potato salad. I came up to the lake with a particular goal in mind. I wanted to catch fish on my fly rod. Trout are fun but I have a new bucket list of my fly rod. I want to check as many species off as I can.
My dad and brother were ready to fish again after dinner. Daylight was fading quick so I grabbed my gear, camera, lenses, and jumped in and took off. Right away my brother caught a decent bass on a spinner bait. I was too lazy to get my fly rod set up so I just did the same and chucked spinner baits out and finally netted a smaller bass. We fished this spot for another half hour or so and caught a few more small bass and was treated to a great Montana sunset.
Morning arrived and it was just a nice as the sunset the night before. It’s amazing how the colors or the morning and evening differ and its one reason I love camping. I have no issue rising before dawn when on the lake. It’s just re-energizing. I snapped a few pictures to stitch together into a panoramic and went back inside to have breakfast. It was a quick one as the water was smooth as glass and its one thing we do not mess around on. Not much is better than being on the water in the calm morning before the wind picks up.
We drove on up the lake to try our luck and see what we could come up with as the tips we got were to head that direction for the walleye and northern bite. Needless to say we must have been lied to or used the wrong lures cause jigging, rapalas, spinner baits, and flies only yielded two walleye landed by my dad and brother in a couple of hours.
We came back in as the weather was warming and I wanted to get my son and wife on the boat before it got to hot for them. We took off down the lake towards the dam to see if we could find a better spot. We came upon a boat with a couple guys trying to get an anchor off the bottom that had gotten stuck on something. They gave us a tip about the crappie being right there and since they were leaving we stayed and tried out luck. We did not catch anything of any size but managed to catch about 30 or so crappie. I even managed to catch one with my son.
It started to get pretty hot so we took my mom, wife, and son back to camp and had lunch and were off again. This time I had pretty much decided if i’m to catch anything on my fly rod I better start so I tied on a brown and white clouser minnow and went to work. Over and over I casted the fly into the timber and stripped it back. I amazed myself after a few casts just how much better I was getting at casting and was able to thread cast after cast into some pretty tight spots. It seemed like make I just was wasting my time. Nobody had had much luck and as we drifted I gave it one more shot as I just could not give up. The fly hit the water and I have it a short strip. I gave a stripped in in a couple more times, the fly just under the surface, and SLAM! I watched as a Northern Pike darted from out of the trees and slammed the fly, a huge explosion of water, and back down. The fight was on!
I had no steel leader on and was worried that I would lose the fly and the fish. It looked like a good spot from what I could see but the teeth on pike are sharper than just about anything I can think of. I never believed it myself so one time I had a 10 lb pike in the livewell and when I grabbed it out to take care of it after we got to camp and it had died I did the unthinkable. I stuck my thumb in and just lightly touched the teeth and instant sharp pain and blood covered my hand from the mini incisions left on the pad of my hand. Curiosity killed the cat this time and I am much more careful when I handle these fish. Run after run, the line sped off my reel. I would get the fish to the top of the water just in time for him to about face and take off. Finally he tired and I was able to get him close enough to net. With one swoop of the net the fish had one last burst of energy and my dad missed! I thought for sure it was gone but I managed to get it back up again and this time was a success! Just as we lifted the net the fish twisted and cut the line with its teeth. I was so excited to catch my first pike on a fly I completely forgot to take a proper picture so I apologize for the way I am handling it in the picture. I was keeping him for dinner and was taught that if you hold them with the eyes covered they calm down but I was keeping it for dinner.
We fished a little while longer with not much luck. Occasional bass here and there so we took off back down the lake to try some other spots. I did some sight fishing and caught a bluegill in the first spot with my fly rod. Then continued on after landing a small smallmouth bass. I changed it up and did some trolling with rapalas and did not catch a thing aside from a slight sunburn so I swapped to a spinnerbait again. Casting into shore I had a couple hits but nothing hooked. Then all the sudden as soon as it hit the water I had another pike lunge after it and it was gone. I like steel leaders but it just seems I don’t get near as many bites with them on so I usually do not keep them on for long in case your wondering why I do not have one tied on.
We drifted into another pocket of trees that seemed to hold a large number of fish swimming around so I grabbed the fly rod again and made some casts and hooked into a lot of small bass. These were large mouths! My dad had a pike follow his lure in and spotted another but had no luck in getting one enticed enough to bite. I landed a couple more bass and we took off back towards camp to fish where we caught all the larger bass the day before. I managed to land a few more smallmouth about 8″ long with the fly rod and it was getting hot enough and we had been out in the sun long enough we decided to call it and went in. It was time for me and my family to leave, but my parents were staying till the next day. I had a great trip and managed to check another 4 species off my fly rod bucket list. But I think I might have to do it again and get some tasteful pictures and proof I actually did catch them. Whatever gets me back out on the water, right!?