North 40 Hosted Trip: World's Best Bass Fishing - Lake Picachos - Day 4

Picachos Dia Cuatro

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Session 6

Marv started the final morning with me and I was really hoping to show him some action on poppers.  Marv had yet to get into popper mode, but soon hooked up and found out how fun the explosive surface eats can be.  While Marv worked from the front with a small popper, I backed him up with a black surface critter I’d crafted from some packing foam. I had liberated the foam from a trash can in our receiving department.  I colored it black, stuck hackle feathers out the back, added some big eyes, and coved the body with a thin layer of epoxy.  It landed on the water on its side with a nice splat.  On the retrieve, it stood up and moved water. It was lighting them up.  With a 1/0 wide gape hook, the smaller fish were bouncing off, but the bigger fish were sucking it in nicely.

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After the sun got higher, Marv switched to the reliable black Jawbreaker.  I decided to experiment with some different flies.  For round one, I broke out a 6-weight with a floating line.  I tied on a really cool looking wiggle bug that Lucas Jones had crafted.  The response from the fish was impressive.  The hookup ratio was not.  On a steady retrieve, the wiggle bug swims like a crankbait.  Bass were swallowing it from behind, but the foam lip was blocking the hook gap.  Grab after grab, I was missing the fish.  I trimmed the lip down a bit and managed to hook several fish, but decided we needed to take that particular one back to the drawing board.

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Next, I switched back to an 8-weight with the SA Titan Taper Intermediate line and tied on a customized Rich’s ultimate worm.  The ultimate worm is a chenille creation tied on a bass style worm hook.  I tweaked mine by slipping a cone head on my leader pirated from a demolished Jawbreaker.  On the back, I lashed on a purple Wapsi fly tail.  The bass loved it and did everything they could to destroy it.  By late morning, there were six whip finishes holding the chenille together and the hook was bent all over the place.


After lunch, we took a quick group photo with our host José before retiring for the final siesta.

Over siesta time, I combed through a pile of destroyed flies and put together a worm-like creation I was sure would be my afternoon game changer.  I took a black Jawbreaker sans fly tail and lashed on a 4-inch black zonker strip.  Then, I added my last purple fly tail to the tip of the zonker strip. Look out bass!

Session 7

Marv took off with Modesto and I partnered up with Dan Hinckley.  Dan came down with me in 2018 when we fished both El Salto and Picachos.  Dan has a wealth of knowledge on many aspects of the natural world and he likes to identify the unique variety of ducks and birds we’d see while on the water.  If a bird caught his attention after say, he’d made a cast with his signature red and white popper, he’d disconnect from fishing and become a birder.  I’d watch a fish eat his popper and say, “Dan, you’ve got a fish!”  Then he’d say, “What?” and I’d say, “A fish ate your popper”.  Within about 30 seconds, he’d finally react and somehow the fish would still be there.  This happened more than once when he fished with me.  Dan Falcon witnessed the same.

The stories of Dan’s extended popper eats have made the rounds of the North 40 Fly Shop so many times on Saturday mornings that they’ve become legend. We were not fishing poppers, but Dan still managed to pull off an impressive feat of distracted angling.

While I was busy tossing my two-fly rig on an intermediate line and fishing fairly fast, Dan was content to sit in the middle seat, cast toward shore with a floating line, and let his fly slowly sink while he watched for birds.  He claimed to be worn out after a busy morning fishing solo with Modesto.  He’d already logged in a pile of bass.  I think he may have started snoozing.

I kept my left eye on him and noticed his floating line behaving strangely.  When a floating line sinks from the weight of a fly, it pulls down gradually from the tip.  His line was pointing straight off his rod at a 45-degree angle.  “Dan, you’ve got a fish.” He stirred a bit and said, “What?”  “Dan, set the hook.”  He did, and his rod jerked violently down.  As he switched hands to reach his reel handle (on the right), the line was spinning off like he’d hooked a bonefish.  He was almost to backing by the time he got control.  When you’re in snag-infested waters, having eighty feet of line out is not good.  But this was Dan.  It was touch and go, but he worked the fish back in and Diablo put it in the net.

After Dan’s do-nothing presentation clinic, I decided to try my siesta creation and fish deeper water.  I switched to a 9-weight and an Airflo streamer max.  I tossed out my Jawbreaker zonker twisty tail fly and let it sink.  Wham! Fish on. Next cast. Wham! Tree branch.  Then it was, good-bye killer fly.

As I was combing through my fly box for something new to try, Dan also decided to change flies and dumped his box on the floor.  In the middle of the cluster were two white game changers.  “Hey, Dan.  Mind if I try one?”  “Go ahead.  I’ve never used them.”

The Real Game Changer

We’ve carried them in the shop at times and sold a few to guys, like Dan, who generally never use them.  You see, the game changer is not a typical Montana trout fly.  But now that we were bass fishing, I was glad Dan had purchased them and eager to give one a try.  I was not disappointed.  Man does that thing swim!  “Hey, Diablo. Take us to a good spot for swimbaits.”

Ever wonder, if you could only fish one fly...?

I started fishing the game changer off a deep bluff by casting to shore and letting my line belly downward.  On the retrieve, the fly would get pulled deep.  Usually, right at the apex of the belly, it would get crushed.

While the sun was high, I kept tossing the streamer max line and fishing deep.  When the shadows began to lengthen, I switched the game changer to my 8-weight with intermediate line.  I never touched a popper that evening.  I began working the game changer near the surface like a zara spook and the eats were explosive.  If a fish did not eat near shore and at the surface, I’d pause to let the line belly and draw the fly down about 3 feet deep.  I could still see to work the fly visually and witness the deeper eats.  What a blast!

Informe Final

The entire crew enjoyed a great final day, and everyone was happily worn out from all the casting and catching throughout our seven sessions.  Several of the guys were calling buddies and saying, “You’ve got to come down with me on the next trip.”

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It also turned out that Dan did not have the only interesting story of the day.  While Marv was out with Modesto, he generated another good one.  Marv was cruising through the afternoon and catching lots of fish when, as sometimes happens, he hooked a dink. Not only did the dink get educated on his first fly, but it was savaged by a grande before Marv managed to lift it from the water.  Modesto grabbed the net and tried to scoop the jumbo bass crushing Marv’s dink, but it let go just out of range and swam away.  Poor little bass.  Poor Marv.  Maybe Modesto needs a bigger net.  Good final fish story.

Stay Tuned...

I’ve got one more blog on the way where I’ll discuss in more detail about what we learned, the tackle we used, the flies that worked and potential dates for our next trip.

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I fly fish to live (25+ years guiding). I live to fly fish (obsession). At the age of two, I captured my first Bluegill in Southern Michigan. Since then, I have never stopped looking into waters for fish. My first wild trout came from the waters of Glacier NP a few years later. I spent much of my youth chasing fish in Wisconsin, the Great Lakes and throughout central Canada. I went to Alaska in 1989, where I met my wife, started a family and spent 26 seasons guiding anglers. Great Falls and the North 40 Fly Shop are now home base. Stop by and lets talk fish, bear encounters or even my experience with Bigfoot.
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