Water Reportage


Species: Bass
Date: Too Early
Location: Whatcom County Ponds

The lily pads are moving in the petroleum ponds, stirred by gentle pushes of water from what I only hope is the golden olive-slabbed side of a respectable bass. I am not optimally set up on this small cut of dry bank. Roll casting a top water deer hair pattern isn’t very effective, but it’s better than risking a tangle with the Himalayan blackberries and telephone wires above and behind me, out of reach. 

It is still early in the season and though I’ve forgotten a thermometer, I imagine the water could warm a few degrees before the bass really turn on to any surface offerings. These ponds are shallow and have produced in the past, but there’s only a short window before surfaces choke with weed growth. For bank access 20 minutes from home, it is a nice way to ease into dusk after heavy computing.

How long is the short-term memory for a curious bass? I see a few swirls from something big enough to devour the deer-hair. Water moves, first away from the fly, then fronting back toward it, then nothing. Spooked by a popper pop? I’ll wait and cover the area again to be thorough, but I believe I’ve missed the opportunity.

The gas station meat stick is questionable—kind of good, mostly gross. Sour gummies take over as the preferred nourishment. I’m still working toward figuring out the fish’s preferences.

The most compelling happenings—outside of the miniature bass with a huge motor that I relocate with a too-strong-hookset—comes as I explore a shallow weedy cove. A muffled, watery plop barely breaks the silence of the evening as I cast toward open water. The cast lands and I find a small spiny ray lying on top of the weed mats near my feet. It’s still breathing, and I gently scoop it into my hands to submerge its gills and wonder if I spooked it into the breach. I spend a few moments cradling it in my hand, watching and hoping it survives, then urge it toward deeper water with well wishes.



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