Pend Oreille River Fishing: Largemouth Bass

So the first one didn't work. How about a 645 pixel photo? Do you think this will work?

Good bass habitat along the Pend Oreille River system is common. There are a number of good sloughs and backwaters where bass like to sun themselves and hide while they wait for small fish, mice and whatever else may appeal to their healthy appetites.

Fishing Largemouth on Pend Oreille River

Lake Pend Oreille, among most fishermen, is known for its population of large rainbow trout imported into the system from the interior of Canada.

For this reason, it may surprise many that North Idaho actually has some rather fine bass fishing for largemouth. Not only do the Clark Fork / Pend Oreille River systems hold this species in relative abundance, many of the smaller lakes such as Shephard, Cocollala and even Robinson Lake near the Canadian border in the Panhandle hold Micropterus salmoides. For size they range to an occasional 8 pounds, with a six-pounder common enough that most bass fishers in North Idaho have caught at least one in that size category.

For good largemouth bass habitat, look for grass shorelines, trees that have fallen into the water (especially sunken) and cattails. Little islands of cattails and grass are best because they may actually be floating above deeper water. And never overlook beaver runs near lodges.

The Great Metaphor of Fishing

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One Fine Passion

I am fortunate to carry a passion for fishing in my heart. I’ve learned many things from it that apply directly to successes in life, in relationships and in the study of things.

North Idaho has it all when it comes to the great outdoors. Taking part in what’s here in a meaningful way adds life to my old bones and brings enthusiasm into my daily enterprise. I find that when I relate to the Nature around me in this positive way that I then also relate in positive ways to the people and challenges found in business.

So fishing became a metaphor where I could lay things out for comparison and see a little better into other events unfolding in my life. The river flows. On it and in it there are many dangers, many surprises and a delightful bounty when you learn to read it and become one with it. I call this latter notion my Zen Attitude, though I don’t study Zen or practice it knowledgeably. Like the metaphor, my Zen Attitude is simply a parallel to a known philosophy. I like to get into The Zone, for instance where thoughts are not being thought, but realizations and insights occur in the moment where I’m in a fully cooperative relationship with the water and air environments around me.

At this stage of my life when most of my friends have retired (but not all, and certainly not me), recreational fishing is a way of analyzing the complexities of modern life and of finding balance within it all. I’ve made many solid friendships too along the way, either on shore or wading or in a boat; and many of those relationships like Mike Robertson of Calgary’s Bow River Blog have become lifelong albeit long distant fishing buddies.

It adds richness to life even in these times.

~Dwayne Parsons on Twitter @IFishWrite

Why Fish Color Varies from One Location to Another

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Camouflage

Coloration within a fish species quite often varies from one lake, river or stream to another. Sometimes these color differences are so slight they can hardly be distinguished from one location to the next.  In other cases, the distinction is so prevalent, the fish can appear to be a variety of the same species; but to my knowledge the variance in coloration is simply a camouflage adaptation to match the general color of the bottom of the body of water.

Fish Wear Camo Too

This unretouched photograph of a prize large mouth bass was taken on a rather dark, grey day. The particularly dark coloration of near black on this bass, however, is typical of MacArthur Reservoir large mouth. It’s a species adaption that allows individual fish to blend with the dark color of this shallow bird sanctuary where fish hawks are plentiful and capable.

~Dwayne K Parsons on Twitter @IFishWrite

The Proof’s in the Picture

How to Capture the Exact Moment in Photography

One of the strongest reasons we fish is to show others what we caught. The advent of video and digital cameras and their subsequent migration into cellphone technology has made picture taking a part of everybody’s trip to the lake. Sites like Facebook, Flickr, Pinterest, Twitter and LinkedIn have given us the place to show what we caught.

Rick Lawrence of Fish N Fool Lures being photographed by Ben Fiest

Rick Lawrence of Fish N Fool Lures displays a fine largemouth bass taken from the edge of cattails on MacArthur Reservoir north of Sandpoint, Idaho where I live. His success is recorded by fishing buff, Ben Fiest of Sandpoint, and yours truly (for the sake of illustration).

Four Basic Types of Photos

The mug shot is when someone holds their catch up in front of the camera and that’s about all we see with a smiling fisherman in the background. Sometimes that’s worthy, especially with an exceptional fish; but more often it’s quite boring to look at. You won’t receive many comments from a mug shot.

Another type of photo common in the outdoors is the standard scenery or landscape photo. Some of those are absolutely gorgeous; but in my younger days of photography when I had to study in order to compete, I discovered that I sold more scenics when they showed human involvement and almost guaranteed when the human in the shot was either looking into the scene or doing something in it. Why is this? Because when there is someone else in the picture and they are anonymous or representative (not hogging the viewer’s attention), then the person looking at the photograph has reason to imagine themselves playing or standing in the same scene.

The action shot is usually best when the sport or activity is caught at the pinnacle of involvement. If you don’t have high speed digital settings on your camera (and cell phones don’t), you have to train yourself to see the pinnacle moment coming before it happens.

Combine All Three in Illustrating the Story

It took many years of shooting and analyzing before I learned to combine all three when I could. In the photo above, I anticipated the moment when outdoorsman, Ben Fiest lifted his cell phone and Rick Lawrence of Fish N Fool Lures held up his catch, lure dangling. Rick sells these fantastic plastic swim baits so he’s always looking for photographs that show proof. Ben, on the other hand, who works in construction just wanted to record the memory. I was there, not only to fish and write about it, but to illustrate my blog. So here was the perfect opportunity.

I saw it coming. I barked no orders. Just grabbed my camera from its case, turned it on and took a rapid succession of photos as Ben and Rick got into the action. The one you see here was my illustration for this article. That’s MacArthur Reservoir in the backdrop, June of this year. The photo is a mug shot, a scenic, an action shot and an illustration all in one.

Here’s a different kind of illustration, one I took this spring specifically for Idaho First Realty, owned by long-time friend and broker Ed Ostrom. That’s my famous Bijou, the registered long-haired chihuahua, an unpaid model posing as I captured the southern shore of Sandpoint, Pend Oreille River, our infamous Long Bridge and the Cabinet Mountains in the back drop–all in one to give Idaho First Realty’s website a unique and truthfully illustrated banner.

Last, I want you to look another kind of story illustration that can provide memories for you on your trip. I took it when I had no fish to photograph and little to write about accept the topic: what you do when you’re not catching fish.

Get the picture?

~Dwayne Parsons on Twitter @IFishWrite

Fishing for Knowledge

I enjoy my time on the water enough to ask myself why. Sometimes it is in fact the solitude I find of just being in the zone. But more often, especially in this portion of my life, I find a greater pleasure in sharing the experience with another.

Rick Lawrence of Fish'n Fool Lures has become one of my favorite catches on the boat companion side of fishing. He's extremely knowledgeable and very creative when it comes to catching bass of either species. His experiential wisdom applied to fishing has greatly increased my catch to cast ratio.

Rick Lawrence of Fish’n Fool Lures has become one of my favorite catches on the boat companion side of fishing. He’s extremely knowledgeable and very creative when it comes to catching bass of either species. His experiential wisdom applied to fishing has greatly increased my catch to cast ratio.

In my opinion, this guy is quite outside the proverbial tackle box. It’s not uncommon for him to show up with a new prototype bait he’s just designed and is testing. He’s one of the more accurate bait and spin casters I’ve ever met. His body memory, developed from countless numbers of casts, places his bait time and again in the exact spot of his mind-eye coordination. I’m talking precise. Sometimes I can only shake my head at it and wonder how the human body knows exactly how much whip to put in a rod tip to place a lure weighing so many ounces exactly where the man thought it ought to go. I admit, I’ve never detected a laser beam emanating from his eye nor seen a red dot on the water on the edge of those reeds, but “plop” there goes his swim bait or floating mouse or sinking fool. And the next thing of course is a nice bass. If it’s large enough, it’s brought into the boat, weighed and photographed and then released again for another day.

You can’t help but love to fish with a guy like that. For me it’s always a lesson in learning, always a new discovery either in technique or presentation and so I’ve enjoyed one of the best seasons of my life, because this kind of learned knowledge coming from the other person in the boat allows me to pass it on to the lesser experienced guests I like to host.

Aside from methods, lures and the what-not of bass fishing I’ve learned something else from this gentleman of the water. Quite often he will invite a third person, someone he barely knows, who has inquired about his lures through some store where he’s given a clinic or through his FaceBook page. That person is always along to learn and Rick demonstrates great candid patience in assuring that they understand how a particular bait is to be presented and where it should be cast. He’s a natural teacher in that way, never lecturing, always willing. And when our guests watch him boat one fish after another with relative consistency, they start to pay attention.

Me too!

# Dwayne Parsons on Twitter @IFishWrite

How to locate bass on a new lake

It's hard to resist the waggle-down action of a soft plastic Sink-N-Fool worm.

They Like Structure

In normal years we’d be fishing the rivers by now for trout, casting flies and nymphs; but North Idaho is like everywhere else in North America: mid-June waters are swollen with run-off from mountain snow packs far in excess of normal years.

Bass fishing has become the reprieve for most of us. For me it’s also the enjoyment and the discovery. Fishing with men like Rick Lawrence of Fish-N-Fool Lures, I’ve learned more about consistently catching bass in two months than I had previously understood over years of fishing.

Lawrence is one of those guys who hates not catching fish. Honestly, if he hasn’t boated a bass within 10 minutes, he’s ready to move elsewhere.

What’s the secret to feeding such a voracious appetite for catching fish?

Structure. You cast onto, into and around it. You fish every kind of structure you find from weed-bed edges to submerged stumps, rock ledges, beaver channels and their stick lodges.

On this day, we put in on what appeared to be flat, weed-infested water. My first thought was, “Structure? What structure?”  But as we fished, my eyes opened to the hundreds of pockets, weed coves, undercuts and floating islands this lake had to offer. Bass were everywhere. Most were caught by casting right to the cattails or even into them and gently pulling the weedless soft plastic out into the drop. Most of the bass, some to four and five pounds, were hugging the shadows and roots of the cattails in waters I would never have thought to fish before.

If you think a lake has no structure, take another look. Go to the edges, cast against the reeds, hit every little separation of foliage you can because something big might be lurking there. Just before the fish in the photo above was landed, I had on the largest bass of my life. It almost took the rod out of my hand when it hit. But that’s another story. I’ll talk about hooks and sharpening hooks in another post.

Find the structure; fish the structure.

# Dwayne Parsons   Twitter@ifishwrite