In search of Goliath
July 9, 2014 —
My fishing partners and I are hooked in the quest for large fish. What constitutes a “large” fish is subjective. We all want trout of 20 inches plus. If you fish after dark, the gold standard is a two-footer.
Recently, I worked as part of a Trout Unlimited survey crew on a river improvement project on the Willowemoc. As we worked our way downstream recording depth measurements, I spied a gentleman in the riffles below us land a 12- or 13-inch rainbow. When we got down there I asked the young lady on the bank, “How’s fishing?” and she excitedly replied, “My dad just caught a monster rainbow!” Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
The bass season is in full swing and represents a prime opportunity to catch a really big fish. You never know when “Ol’ Goliath” will show up. He (or she) could be lurking in a small backyard pond or might reside in the most heavily fished lake. Maybe it feeds mostly around midnight, sucking down large golden shiners and frogs under moonlight. You just never know when or where the fish of a lifetime might start dancing on the end of your line.
Once, I “guided” my fishing pal Peter Kolesar on my home waters, working a bass technique I had developed. Peter was skeptical to try it. He didn’t want to give up his own hand-tied “gurgler.” Reluctantly, he gave it a try and eventually, after fighting it expertly, landed the bass of a lifetime pictured here. That great fish was released unharmed and still lurks about for others to have a cast at.
The only thing I know for certain is that no large fish was ever caught from a couch in front of a TV. You’ve got to wet your line. The people who fish the most and catch “their share” are usually the ones who get the Moby Dick. Of course there’s always fisherman’s luck, and any beginner may catch a leviathan on his or her first cast or last cast of the day.
As a flyfisher, I go the simple route when bass fishing. I use a medium-sized red and white popper. Presentation and the way you work the popper are everything. You can’t cast too close to the shoreline, stump, lily pads, or other structure. Late afternoon to a half hour after dark is often the best time.
Speaking of humongous, my conventional fishing friends have some of the largest tackle boxes imaginable, and often more than one of them. Same with rods and set-ups. These “pros” catch their share of big fish, but you don’t have to be a pro or have a lot of fancy tackle to catch a fine fish.