The black bass in Concepción reservoir have not really switched on yet but it is only a matter of a little time and, perhaps, a degree or two of water temperature. Today Johan reminded me that soon these fish will be distracted by the prospect of procreation and some more aggressiveness and territoriality will begin to figure in their behaviour.

Johan and I covered the usual bases from our float tubes: the deeps and the shallows, the margins, inlets, submerged branches, drowned stone walls. The bass, however, were having none of it and refused point blank to cooperate. Nobody was complaining, though. Fishing can be like that.

One thing that was interesting is that we found that the fish responded better when we fished from the shore and targeted fish we could see. If we did this, the occasional fish could be “encouraged” to take a pattern that might be otherwise be ignored. For my part, I discovered this more or less by accident. I needed to make landfall because I needed a wee which is not the easiest thing to do in chest waders while bobbing around in the middle of a reservoir. When I arrived at the margin, I noticed a reasonable bass that was cruising nearby. I gave him a good look at my streamer, not once, but on several occasions. He showed some curiosity but was wary. He did not spook but would swim away and circle back again. I showed him the streamer at different distances from the shore and at different depths and he would follow it. He would even look down at it if I allowed it to settle on the bottom before thinking the better of it and drifting off. This was very interesting stuff and played out at close range in plain view through very clear water. Eventually that bass took the fly. It was a pound and a half, más o menos. Sometimes people suggest that a largemouth bass “nails” a fly. Mine didn´t do that. There was no nailing today! It seemed more as though the fish´s curiosity had been piqued to the extent that he was prepared to investigate an unfamiliar object a little more directly. In one instant I could see the streamer in midwater and in the next I could not. It was inside the fish´s mouth!

I guess a fish, like a dog, has limited capacity to interact with or investigate any curious object. They cannot manipulate it with anything like the dexterity which is innate in our own responses to unfamiliar things. It may be my own experience but I tend to think that often when a bass takes it is not, as we are often lead to believe, an aggressive reaction. The lure is not being hunted down or actively chased but it is a measured and even delicate response, or at least it can be. And often, in my own experience, a fly is simply ignored during significant periods of time. You can swap and change that fly, dress it in any colour you want or even get the damn thing to turn summersaults but those bass will not give you the time of day. They may be marketed as aggressive, predatory monsters but how many of us read the small print?

After returning that first bass I took to the waves again and went trough the motions of casting and retrieving. Casting and retrieving. Casting. Retrieving. I may have run my flag up to the top of the mast but nobody had it in mind to salute.

I noticed that, in the distance, Johan had stepped out from his float tube and was fishing from the shore and I decided to do likewise. It was only then that the events previously described unfolded once more. It was as though the same film reel was loaded again and the same drama was reenacted. Another fish, bigger this time, ghosted in the vicinity of the fly. It would fade in and out of view but it was interested in the streamer and would often follow it and give it a close inspection. I showed this fish the fly at least ten times. Often it would follow it almost to my feet. It was a hard sell but eventually he decided that enough was enough and the rod arched over and I was in business.