Written by: Preston Ailor
I have a problem. I look through fly-fishing magazines and catalogs the same way teenage boys look at Kardashians’ Instagram accounts. One day, looking through the Orvis fly catalog, I lingered a little too long looking at the Gurglers in the saltwater section. It seemed like a good choice for good for my normal saltwater targets in the Chesapeake Bay, but a smile ran across my face as I thought of alternative possibilities. The Gurgler also looked a little froggy and mousy, which got me thinking about my local bass pond. I ordered four Gurglers because I don’t have the self-control to just try one.
Saturday was a washout, with it either being about to rain or raining the whole day. Sunday, however, I woke up to birds chirping and golden sunshine. While drinking my morning coffee, I got two notifications on my phone of severe weather threatening in the afternoon. After the kids were fed and happy, I asked my amazing wife for her blessing on a quick morning trip fishing. She happily agreed.
I topped off my mug with fresh hot coffee and hit the road. The pond was super calm when I got there, and I was positive that it would be a topwater morning, despite no signs of surface action. Tying on the Gurgler, I second-guessed myself, thinking that the big saltwater fly would cause too much commotion on such a calm pond.
I cast it out to see what the fly looked like with different retrieves. I decided on two different styles: short, quick strips that creates a small but consistent pulsing wake, and big, long strips with pauses long enough to take a sip of coffee. This created the nice gurgling noise to attract the fish, and the fly would be sitting there waiting for them to find it.
I found a fishy looking spot along a hill that dams up the pond and creates a deep drop-off next to the bank. I alternated retrieves along the bank to see what they want to chase.
Despite the pond being dead quiet, the bass loved the big gurgling strip with a long pause. My first fish was a dink, but he blew it up like a big boy. The saltwater-style gurgler was almost too big for him, but this did give me hope for more and bigger fish.
After picking up another bass, I cast near a pod of cattails just off the bank, and I got blown up again. It was like someone dropped a cinder block on the Gurgler. I was happy that I had changed my 2X tippet to the 12 -pound AR leader as he dove for cover. The fish took line and had some great digs. I had to play him awhile, and was ecstatic about the give and take of line.
The bass had sucked in the Gurgler with such hydraulic intake that the hook was wedged in the gill plate. After very carefully removing the fly like a bass surgeon, I snapped a quick photo and released him back healthy and happy.
The sky did open up that afternoon, but I was all smiles with a cold beer reminiscing about catching bass in my PJ’s.
Preson Ailor is from the Northern Neck of Virginia, the peninsula between the Rappahannock and Potomac rivers. He writes about fly fishing on his blog, Discovery on the Fly .