Photo Essay

Eclipsing the Epic

Somehow, we scored the best camp, the one right on the water. So close we thought of making casts from our vehicles. In the mornings and afternoons while breaking for meals we’d sit on shore in camp chairs and fire BB’s across the water at the beer cans hanging in the willows that we placed there as targets; anytime we heard the sharp metallic ching we’d all cheer for the marksman.

ABOVE This looks a lot more complicated than it was. There were no breakdowns, just mid-morning battery charges to keep the trolling motors running at full power.

ABOVE clockwise from top left
Jason Rolfe sets up beer can targets across the channel from camp, an added bonus during the downtime between fishing sessions and during meals.

Alex Collier pumps up and takes aim.

Jason Rolfe multitasks on the slow troll back to camp after an evening session.

All good gear has multiple uses. Turns out stripping baskets double as great beer containers.

above Under a big moon and the day’s softening colors, Ben Panico keeps casting; that’s what we were there for.

above While tiger muskies were present and targeted often, the ones we encountered came on the bass rigs. Jason Rolfe lands a hammer handle on a crayfish pattern as Katla looks on, ready to assist.

Six of us converged together in one place. Menus discussed, coolers packed full, home ties tied and trailers hitched in the days prior, and now here with tents pitched and rafts launched and no place to go but out in them, exploring the water with flyrods and each other.

It wasn’t that epic, or that unique, but that doesn’t make it mundane or unsuccessful. Moments of those days will stick with us long after we’ve packed and gone our separate ways: soupy Dutch oven cobblers eaten around the campfire; arguments on who really won the trolling motor race. A big tiger Muskie hooked on a bass fly—and almost landed. Every trip is unique in this regard and they will always be their own brand of unique the next year, with a different cast of characters and new water and that is the universal part common to all. Every flyfisher has done this.

What we remember changes from trip to trip. It might eclipse the epic, but if it doesn’t it is just as important to keep going, to keep making the memories, to keep sitting in the chairs on the shore and loading BB’s into the gun.

above A smallmouth bass comes to hand at the back of a crowded boat. 

above clockwise from top left
Backhand casts from camp were often necessary as trees, tents and vehicular obstacles prevented backcasts.

Katla, one of the better-trained fishing dogs around, gets a sniff of a smallmouth bass.

Bass love crayfish. Largemouth or smallmouth, it didn’t matter, these fish chowed hard.

A small tiger muskie splashes in the morning light, luckily staying hooked despite the monofilament tippet and a small bass fly.

above Red eyes give this fish a bit of an evil look, perhaps it found a little stash of the right weed.

above Alex Collier and Ben Panico set off into a series of coves harboring bass and the occasional tiger—prime water right next to camp.

above Cleaning up the boats was a never-ending chore, but a clean boat is a good boat.

above Zach Rhoades airs out some line at camp; of the two specks above him, one is a bird and one is part bird—but more fly.


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