Thursday, July 5, 2012

The Float Tube

Fly rod not included
I've been interested in the idea of a float tube for some time now but needed the nudging of a friend who had one to finally take the plunge (into the tube). And for less than $200 with fins, it wasn't too bad of a risk. You can spend much more, but I decided on the Caddis...something. It's not the Caddis Navigator IV or Nevada Gold, but just Caddis, for $90. The Caddis fins at $48 seemed a bit over priced to me for what they are: fin shaped hard plastic with nylon straps that you need to tie on yourself. The fins fit over your wading boots unlike snorkeling fins, so they are kind of specialized. In hindsight, some research would have been apropos, but I wanted to get in the water tonight, dammit.

If you're reading this from somewhere in the upper midwest, you'll know that its currently the hottest it's been in a long time. Over 100ยบ F and humid all week. The metaphor I'll choose is, it's like walking around inside of a hot, damp fart. Being outside during mid-day is a silly thing to do in this weather, let alone disturbing delicate trout. So trout fishing was out. Besides, bobbing down a trout creek in a tube, as awesome as that sounds, might be frowned upon amongst my trouting brethren. 

Warm water species have been safe from my fly rod until now. It was exciting to try fly fishing for bass and panfish. After buying my new fishing vessel, we headed to Devil's Lake State Park. We didn't get there until about 9 PM, but with a nearly full moon and the sun out of the picture, it was the best time to be there. Fishing with the same rig I used to catch my big trout, I casted into the darkness. I'm just getting used to casting a fly rod from a wobbly sitting position. I suspect if I spent a $100 more on a tube, there'd be less wobble. But it's not that bad, and after my first hook up with a feisty little large mouth, I was officially satisfied with my purchase.

Devil's Lake bass on a wooly bugger

This is the ONLY way to kick it on a hot summer evening!

Aside from the fishing, just being out on a lake in one of these things is a pure joy. In colder weather, one would normally wear their waders while floating, but in this heat we were wet wading and couldn't be more comfortable. Throw some cold Coors into the mix and you'll have a hard time getting back out of the water for the night.

So hard in fact, I had to go back early the next morning. I made it to the lake at about 5:00 AM to beat the heat and vacationers. I had the place virtually to myself in the predawn stillness. I quickly hooked on to a small bluegill with a #10 leach pattern. Then something bigger. I thought I had a good sized bass on as this fish was pulling drag out of my 7wt rig and bending the rod. When the fish finally surfaced near my floating throne, I was treated to the biggest bluegill I've ever seen. I would continue to fish until about 7, catching my first bass on a dry fly (a PMX).

Biggest bluegill ever for me

First bass on a dry fly

I went back home with my big bluegill and had a big bluegill breakfast before returning to bed for the 4th of July. Throughout the day I received a few phone calls from my float tubing partner, Greg, wondering when we could go out and try Blass Lake, in Lake Delton. He finally convinced me to leave the air conditioning at around 6 PM and an hour later, we were awkwardly walking backwards into the murky depths of Blass Lake with our tubes. Blass is a surprisingly secluded small lake located in the middle of the Wisconsin Dells tourism madness. It is bordered on one side by I90, but ignoring the highway noise, its a very plesant place to fish. Like Devil's Lake, Blass is devoid of motor boat traffic and thus safe for float tubing. We caught several bluegills and a couple of bass between the two of us.

Tubing partner, Greg out on Blass Lake

Greg with a very purdy fish

In conclusion, I'd have to say that fishing from a float tube rocks. The only down side is that you won't be moving that far from where you put in. They're only as fast as you can paddle with your feet. But we need the exercise, right? They can also be pushed around in the wind, but this hasn't been a problem for me yet, and anchor systems can be added.

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