The story brought to mind an event from my college days, spent in my home town as a commuter student. I knew trout were nowhere to be found in the Ohio waters I fished, but I remembered stories of Todd’s Fork, a branch of the Little Miami River, and reputed home to Smallmouth Bass. I also remembered a sign which read “Fishing, but no Hunting or Camping.” It proclaimed its message where a back road passed near the fabled creek.
I had caught Largemouth Bass before in the nearby lakes, but it was only from photos that I knew the look of one of those “bronze backs.” Wishing to experience them for myself, I picked up a friend with his fishing gear and we headed for the spot. When we arrived, the pull off accommodated our car and left room for one more, though that second spot was never taken. We hiked a dirt road through a cornfield, and we were at a bridge overlooking Todd’s Fork.
My friend unhooked his spinning rod and eyed the creek with disdain. It was narrow, but looked to my eye as though it held deep pools with some promise. As he complained about time spent on a “Wild Goose Chase,” I pulled out a few feet of level fly line and attached a leader and a red and white deer hair fly. Not exactly a Royal Coachman, but close.
On my second upstream cast a fish hit and I landed it after a short fight. I noticed the dark bronze color, checked the size of the mouth, and discovered it did not extend behind the eye. Smallmouth Bass! My friend looked at the fish and watched me release it, only slightly the worse for wear. I usually ate the fish I caught, but this one was too small for the frying pan.
Three more casts and I had another, slightly larger fish, but my friend was unimpressed. He didn’t see any fish that would make the pages of an angler’s newspaper, and was now anxious to leave. I don’t believe he ever cast a line.
I haven’t spoken to that friend in years, and don’t know if his opinion of our fishing adventure has changed. As for myself, I left with my heart full of a pleasant morning fishing a creek I had never before explored. For me, the morning’s adventure was not in the fish, but the fishing.
The events I describe here took place in the mid 1970’s. I later learned that the really good fishing was further downstream, and that I was actually fishing a small branch of Todd’s Fork. The main stream has since become noteworthy as a canoeing destination and continues to be known as a great spot to fish for Smallmouth Bass.