Snap, crackle, pop (per): Homemade Tenkara fly fishing meets bad-boy bass

Here comes popper! (Roland Trevino)

Here comes popper! (Roland Trevino)

By Roland Trevino

Guest contributor

The heatwave had imprisoned me indoors, and on the first cool day in over a week, I looked forward to an evening  of catch-and-release fly fishing on the LA River.   My friends would meet later to continue our ongoing competition, the object of which was generally vague until one of us caught a big fish, many fish, or a really interesting fish.  Today I aimed to set the bar pretty high – and I did!
I took my 4-foot ultralight fly rod and used no reel.  I have found this setup to have serious limitations, yet these are easy to overlook as it casts great in tight conditions and is ridiculously fun to use.  I was armed with a small array of poppers and beadhead chironomids.
My beadhead fly went mostly unnoticed, excepting a beautiful yet naïve 4-inch Green Sunfish.  I switched to a size 14 popper and the bite was on!  The serenity of the river was shattered as the bass violently struck the popper like an 11-inch  locomotive.  This is no sunfish, I thought, as the fly rod almost bent double.   I held my breath and tried to keep the line tight as the fish broke the surface, trying to throw the hook.   Then it seemed to dive down – perhaps looking instinctively for a submerged branch to break the line off against.  A friendly onlooker watched the battle and inquired about what “bait” I was using.

Bass a poppin': Eleven inches that fell for a No. 14 popper. (Roland Trevino)

Bass a poppin’: Eleven inches that fell for a No. 14 popper. (Roland Trevino)

When I landed the bass, I snapped a couple of quick pictures of it, measured it against the fly rod, removed the hook with my hemostat, and released it back to the river.   As I watched the bass swim back down to the depths, I felt honored and excited to have caught this fierce and beautiful fish — I was also glad to have photographic proof for my incredulous friends.

Their arrival was marked, as per usual, by a mocking remark about my casting — but I knew today’s competition would be mine – or would it?
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