The lake surface was a pane of glass, still and calm. There wasn't a breath of wind. As he tied a popper on the end of a short leader, he proclaimed, "You're about to have the most fun a man can have while sitting down."
Handing me the flyrod, he instructed, "Cast it to the shore wherever there is a log, stump or underwater brush. Let it settle and then give it a good yank, so it'll pop. Then, hang on boy!"
Always the ready student, I followed his lead and was startled by the results.
I made a long cast to a shoreline littered with debris. As soon as I twitched the bumblebee shaped cork popper, the calm waters exploded as if someone had tossed a cinderblock.
At the end of the flyline, a three pound smallmouth bass danced across the surface, tail-walking. It startled me!
It took me a while to land the fish, but it was the first of many to come.
In the years since that experience, flyfishing for bass has become an obsession.
While it will never replace the joy of fishing for brookies on a small stream, it offers a thrilling alternative when the weather is warm and the ponds are quiet.
My collection of poppers now includes imitations of mice, bumblebees, dragonflies and even a small redwing blackbird.
And, I never look at a glassy lake or pond without hearing Mr. Gaines' query, "Any bass in these waters, boy?"
Boy, am I glad he asked!
Joe Hackett is a guide and sportsman residing in Ray Brook. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org