Friday, May 10, 2013

Wading Into the Primordial Ooze

I set out after work yesterday hoping to find some carp. There is a shallow backwater along the lake near my home that I suspected would hold some hoovers. I really didn't feel like dealing with the canoe and there was the possibility of thunderstorms so I thought that wading would be an interesting option. So I put on the waders and my wetland boots and off I went. 

There were rain clouds in the distance and I could see the rain coming down on the other side of Lake Champlain. The sun was filtering through the clouds and there was a light breeze when I got to the wetland. I walked out into the marsh and into the muck and decaying vegetation that is the bottom of these areas. If you have never walked in a shallow marsh it is a very interesting experience. The bottom is highly variable; it is made up of bits of rotting wood and plant matter that kicks up and clouds the water with the occasional sunken log or root mass to trip you up. It is vastly different than walking in a stream. And it can be quite slippery at times as well.

I saw some motion near a clump of cattails so I went to check it out. I thought it might have been a carp feeding at first but the way it was charging around got me thinking it was another of my favorite fish: the bowfin. When I got there (which takes much longer on foot than in my canoe) I noticed a decent largemouth bass staring back at me. They are in spawn mode and he was charging around defending his spot. Cool stuff. He disappeared and I kept going on my wetland walkabout. 

Shortly after that I looked down to see the smiling face of one of my aquatic adversaries. Amia calva is aptly named in my book. I have always thought that Amia uses the same Latin root as the term amiable (friendly) which I can only assume comes from the "smile" they always seem to have. Their demeanor is far from friendly however. I find that bowfin are pugnacious and belligerent- just the way I like my fish. Combine that with the fact that they can breath air, are an ancient fish, and are more than willing to take a fly you have a real winner in my book!

I had that first fish on just briefly- mostly because of my fly choice. I changed up to my Zombie pattern and the second just hammered the fly and tore off. Great fun on a 6 weight rod! It zipped through the remains of last year's emergent growth and the shoots of this year's. As I walked toward a log that would let me get a couple of self timer pics I saw another larger bowfin. I knew I might have a shot at that one in a bit.  I landed the fish, got my pics and watched it swim off. I was pretty pleased that the fish jumped out of my hands and I had to try to grab it when the camera went off. I think the picture came out very cool. 

I went back to where I saw the other fish. Sure enough it was there and it took the fly in the whump! of muddy water that bowfin leave as they strike. It was on and off in a second. Another even larger bowfin greeted me as I was just getting ready to leave. That fish spooked before I had a chance to react. 

I found a new spot. I will be back! There is a lot of water there and I know the carp will show up. Next time I think I will take the canoe though. That primordial ooze is a pain to walk in.

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