From the moment the big ‘PLAWWWOP’! ripped a demolition hole into the otherwise calm surface of the eddy water, just upstream and bank-facing, of the old sycamore log, the smallmouth bass; resident Boss-Bass; of this pool; had his eye on this newly arrived bounty.
Altered State: a Smallie Eyemare, eLITHOGRAPH, 24″x24″, oil output ; ©2015 Les Booth
He saw it coming before it even made its nuclear landing. He had not budged an inch. He didn’t even miss a fin-flap. Afraid? Not him! He was the meanest thing for 1,000 yards up and down the stream. He let everything know it, too. If he didn’t eat it, he chased it away. Fish, reptile, amphibian, insect … it didn’t matter.
He took on an interloping muskrat, just a two-light-cycles earlier. That rat may have been too big to eat, but it wasn’t too big for Boss-Bass to gnaw off some rat-skin. It’s a sure bet, that rat, won’t be wiggling his nasty tail in the Boss’s water any time soon.
So when the Boss saw this big white wiggly thing falling from the air, he knew one thing for sure: he was gonna eat well!
Boss watched that funny-looking white thing. He saw it appear in the land-above, hovering over his domain. It was there- above in that place above his watery home- then it was gone. There it was again. Then gone. He could not figure out what it was, be he just knew it was going to be good-eats … if it landed in his area.
Immediately following the big noise and crashing water, Boss Bass positioned himself to make good the capture. But first, he had to determine the size of this thing. He was mean and cantankerous, but he wasn’t stupid! If this ‘thing’ was too big to eat or to dangerous to mess with… Boss would have to defend himself and his domain. So he was prepared for battle. But, if it was ripe-for-the-pickings, he was ready for that, too! Seriously. He really only thought of eating well. Either way, the next couple of seconds would tell.
The big white wiggly thing, was a white bundle of deer hair and rabbit fur: known as the Pat Cohen Rabbit Strip Diver… or, ‘RSD’. This RSD thing was slowly being dragged out of the eddy by the current, inching away at the fly-line, to which it was tethered, via the leader and tippet. All human terms, unknown to Boss, but he didn’t care. All he saw was the RSD and it was food to him.
The fisherman, was doing her best to keep the line in a proper mend, but time was running out. The RSD would soon be popped-out of the quiet eddy and thrust alongside the sycamore log to run the gauntlet of riffle, wave and flotsam. Going the distance of the log, in faster current, to end up in the catch-eddy at the end.
This wasn’t this lady-fly-fisher’s first cast to this sycamore. No. She knew instinctively, there was a big bass here. She also knew she had maybe 15 seconds before the RSD would hop-the-coop of the protected eddy, and she would have to be on the alert for an unexpected ambush, by the resident bass, as the RSD swam the gauntlet.
Boss saw the big white wiggly thing just laying there – on the water. No diving. No kicking. Nothing. Just setting there. All vulnerable and still, just SCREAMING, “Eat me!!!!” Boss was just getting ready to oblige, when suddenly the RSD began to move. Slowly, then suddenly, ‘ZIPP… ” it was gone. But Boss wasn’t fooled. Nope. He knew just where to go.
As the RSD fly, rounded the downstream edge of that old sycamore log, Boss came roaring up. From along the bottom, over one rock – two – inside the shadow of the sycamore log and up through the water column. Launching his entire, 28″, 6lbs. 8oz. body, out of the tail-water’s swirling surface, like a Poseidon Trident missile. He hit that RSD hard enough to knock its tail off .. if it had one. But instead, the RSD had a surprise waiting for the Boss. Instead of the Boss grabbing some skin and fur from the distressed RSD, the RSD gave the Boss, a serious taste of ‘Rabbit Fever’, courtesy of a Partridge Predator X hook in size 2/0.
Boss Bass was not sure what to do when that big white wiggly thing grabbed hold of him and bit down. He dove to the stream bottom; trying to rake the big white wiggly thing and its bite off of him. This did not work. So, Boss swam for the root bundle at the shore, under the remnant of the old sycamore. But, the lady fly-fisher was already ahead of him. She started applying the bent sweetgrass rod’s persuasive sweet-strength. The energy in the rod’s bent limbs brought Boss Bass’s surge to the root ball to a screeching halt and nearly rocketed him back to the middle of the stream.
Then the Boss hit the fuel and thrust himself toward the land beyond his water-home. As he broke free of the water-air interface, he was flapping his mouth trying to break free of the big white wiggly thing‘s hold on him. But again he just could not shake it. Swimming wildly: upstream; downstream; across; around rocks; into log-jams. None of them worked. Finally too exhausted to try again – Boss Bass – surrendered and just waited for the strange ‘big white wiggly thing creature’ to eat him.
Suddenly and without warning – Boss Bass was still. He sensed the ‘bite’ of the big white wiggly thing was gone. He could feel himself getting stronger. But he was confused. The big white wiggly thing was not eating him. Why? While he was awash in confusion he felt himself being moved. Two large gripping things clamped him so that the could not move. He tried to swim away. But he was helpless to so. He relaxed; more out of exhaustion than anything. He was so confused.
Then there were some loud noises; all around Boss. Some bright flashes of light. Then… he was back in the water, being dragged – by his tail – back-and-forth, through the water. This frightened him at first. But then began feeling stronger. He waited. Then suddenly, he was free. No ‘gripping things’. No big white wiggly thing. No loud noises. No exploding surface. Just the familiar and missed, quiet of is regular Boss Bass Domain. He just remained there for a moment – catching his breath; gathering his thoughts; and looking. Yes! LOOKING!! Looking around him to see where the creature was: big white wiggly thing, with ‘a bite’ and ‘grippers’. But he saw nothing out of his normal surroundings.
In a flash of his big tail, Boss Bass was again under the shadow of the sycamore log and hidden deep. Safe. Safe at last!! But he was not taking any chances. He kept watching the place above his area. Watching to see if there was another big white wiggly thing in that space. He did not see any. Not that day, or for many days. But, he saw the big white wiggly thing one time during each of the next 4 cycles. Then it was time for the long-cold-rest.
During the long-cold-rest time – Bass Boss would startle awake from his long ‘cold rest sleeping’ to a strange vision – the memory of the big white wiggly thing, the bite and the strange ‘grippers’. He still did not know what to make of the regained freedom. Though he was no longer fearful of the big white wiggly thing… he continued to be see the same image in his eye. His memory of the big white wiggly thing. He could not understand what he saw – only that he knew for certain what to avoid. No more would he ever try to eat anything that come to rest on the water, unless he already knew it was safe! Nothing that even remotely resembled the big white wiggly thing.
But, he was not free. For Bass Boss continued seeing this strange image. It bothered him. He did not know what to do about it. He just knew he would be very particular about what he would chase, in the water.
Altered State: a smallie eyemare is an eLITHOGRAPH digitally created image, influenced by a photograph of the work-area – where such creations as the Rabbit Strip Diver are created, much to the consternation and worry of all members of the Micropterus dolomieu and Micropterus salmoides and assorted other game fish, by the infamous Cobelskill, New York fly-fishing fly designer/tier and wildly known tattoo artist, Pat Cohen. Altered State measures, a full 26″x26″ edge-to-edge. If printed on paper it would appear as an acrylic painting. Altered State is created by Les Booth and ©2015.