Swerving into August angling
A largemouth bass, nicknamed Mongo, was the highlight of a previous warm-water fishing season. The fly in Mongo’s mouth is about an inch long, for reference. 
Photo by Patrick L. Sullivan

Swerving into August angling

Back in 2011, for Christmas my mother gave me a copy of “The Swerve: How the World Became Modern” by Stephen Greenblatt.

It’s a dense piece of learning, full of rich detail.

But because deep down I’m shallow, I didn’t get very far with it.

But the title made enough of an impression that I think of August as Swerve Month.

August is when I temporarily suspend trouting activities for the most part, focusing on fishing a warmwater lake for largemouth bass.

And whatever else might show up, such as smallmouth bass, pickerel, crappie, assorted panfish, perch, crab, lobster and very small alligators.

This type of fishing requires a swerve in thinking.  There is nothing subtle about it. Success requires throwing large flies with heavy rods and making a fuss while doing so.

I’ll never forget learning the Yo-Yo Method when I was new to the warmwater game.

This involves attaching a heavy, weighted fly, like a Clouser, to a shortish, sturdy leader, in turn attached to a stout rod and line (line weight #8 is about right).

Tied to the bend of the hook of the weighted fly is two feet of thick tippet material, say 1X, and to that is tied a popper.

The popper is buoyant, but the weighted fly drags it down.

Once everything is submerged, the cunning angler simply jerks the whole shebang upwards.

The weighted fly comes up and then sinks again, causing the trailing popper to go up and down, like a yo-yo.

This also causes the angler to feel like a yo-yo.

However ungainly this maneuver, it does drive bass absolutely insane.

I generally bring two rods, one equipped with a floating line for surface action, and one with either an intermediate line (where the entire line sinks slowly) or a sink tip line (where a heavy section at the front of the line sinks quickly). You could also use removable sink tips, or a floating line with heavy flies, or added weight, or some combination of the above.

The rods are either weights 7 or 8.

I also use Tenkara rods, similarly equipped with floating or sinking lines, although with fixed-line fishing these distinctions don’t matter nearly as much. The fly either floats or it sinks, regardless of the line.

I fish from a pontoon boat, the small, portable, inflatable kind. It’s basically a floating chair, powered by a combination of oars and swim fins. I have also used an ancient leaky rowboat and a canoe. Somebody busted the oarlock on the former and the latter gets blown around too much.

The trick on this particular lake is to go out at dawn or at dusk. Unless it’s overcast, when the fishing tends to be consistent all day.

I target any sort of structure. Downed trees, vegetation that hangs over the water, sharp drop-offs.

Also, in this lake, there might be an old steam radiator or obscure piece of iron industry equipment moldering on the bottom.

I can always tell if I’ve hooked something like that. It doesn’t move.

It’s a restful sort of angling, for the most part. No sliding around on cobble. No getting the backcast caught in a bush.

One month of this is about right, too. By the end of August, I am usually bored by monstrous bass and looking forward to stalking skittish brookies or targeting large trout in moving water.

As for “The Swerve,” I’ve still got my copy. The classical head on the cover is looking  at me  in silent rebuke. So I will take another stab at it. I’ve got all month.

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