Lake Luxembourg was were I began flyfishing, over 30 years ago. My rod was a generic white fiberglass model, along with a Japanese reel and cheap line. I didn't have much money for leaders, so I often fished them as short as 3 feet. It didn't seem to matter much, as the lake's largemouth bass weren't picky, and heavy plastic Hula Poppers seemed to sail through the air better on a stout leader. The lake is home to several coves, and all would bring excitement to any bass angler. Before going to college, I fished those coves every chance I had. One cove became my favorite, and I quickly adopted it as my own. I knew just where and when the largemouth would take my plastic popper, and took great pride not only in catching nice bass, but catching them with a fly rod.
I went away to school, and spent less time fishing at Lake Luxembourg. After graduating school, I moved to away from the lake, and eventually to another state. While visiting my parents, I would drive past the lake, and tell my wife and son about the fishing I had done there, while pointing out the best spots. We never stopped to fish the lake, however. Most of our visits were during
the winter holidays, and other visits didn't allow much time for fishing.
A few years ago, we moved back to a town that was near the lake, and I quickly decided it was time for a reunion. My old cove had become shallow after 20 years of silt deposits. My wife and I decided to try another of the lake's coves on Christmas Eve 2006. It was around 2:30pm, and we were wading during an unusually warm afternoon. I was fishing a small wooly bugger, and wasn't really expecting much action. After about 15 minutes, something had taken my bugger hard. It didn't fight like a largemouth, but
was tugging nicely. When I got it in close, I realized it was a rainbow trout. I always eschewed the stocked trout in Lake Luxembourg, and even the bait fisherman that flocked along the banks every April. Fishing for stocked trout always seemed like clubbing seals to me, and I often avoided the lake entirely, until I was certain that all the hatchery fish had been consumed by the corn and bobber crowd. This was different, however, and I had just caught a trout that managed to survive the summer heat. This wasn't any old trout. This was Super Trout
! This was also the first trout I ever caught in Lake Luxembourg.
The following day, I discovered that the state fish commission had just stocked the lake with trout, but that didn't diminish our excitement. The lake was filled with trout, and that cove became a haven for many of these fish. We spent the next month fishing that cove in weather that was way too frigid for any sane person. The trout were biting, and I decided that I wasn't getting any younger. This was a deal too good to let slip away. We fished right up until the very last day of February, when the lake would be closed to all fishing until April 1. When April 1 arrived, we ran back to our cove, and began to catch trout once again. Later that Spring, we discovered that this cove had a nice largemouth population as well. As the trout were all consumed by the Powerbait and bobber crowd (I don't know if Powerbait existed in the 70's), the largemouth were better than I remembered from my high school days. I wasn't the one catching the big bass, however. My wife's luck was incredible that summer, and several framed photos of the largemouth she caught began to adorn our walls.
We fished that cove with great success through the Fall of 2008. The PA fish commission did their part by stocking the lake in November, and the trout seemed to swim straight into the cove. Life was good, and we couldn't have asked for more. We caught as many trout as the bait fishermen, and often more. I made a few friends among the bait crowd, mostly guys that fished the mouth of the cove. They stood on the bank, while I stalked the cove in waders. It's hard for me to stand in one spot for too long, but I often made my way back around to talk with the guys. Toward the end of February,we all said, "See you in a month."
My wife and I were back in the cove on first day of April this year, and we couldn't get a bite. A few days later, I saw my bait friends, and they were doing quite well in the cove. I tried every pattern in my vest, but still couldn't get a bite. Did the new fish prefer balls of flourescent dough over my wooly buggers, and had they somehow corrupted the the trout that had been stocked a few months earlier? I was determined not to give up on what had become our cove, and went there every afternoon during that first week in April. The end of that week was very cold, and talking with the guys on the bank was a much more comfortable proposition than standing in icy water. After watching my friends catch almost their limit of trout, I decided something had to be done. I waded to the back of the cove, in a shallow area that had often held a good number of trout. I cast my wooly bugger to the
usual spots, and after only 5 minutes, I had a fish on! The bend in my rod made me suspect that this was not a trout, however, and the line peeling off my spool convinced my that I had something even better than Super Trout
hooked. After a few minutes, I was able to see that it was the biggest largemouth that I had ever seen in person, and it was on my line! I played it into water that was about a foot deep, but it ran again. My friends were as excited as me, and I realized I had to land this fish. Fearing that I would tear its jaw off, I used my little trout net like a spatula and was able to finally scoop the monster out of the water. My friends and I ran toward each other, and the cameras came out. That bass not only erased a week of bad luck with trout, but also reminded me of my dreams 30 years ago. Dreams of catching a trophy bass.
That bass measured 25 inches, and weighed as much as the Easter hams I remembered. The temperature never got above 40 degrees that day, and after releasing the bass, my mind turned toward my numb limbs. After saying some long goodbyes, I was barely able to hike back to my Jeep. When I got home, I downloaded the photo onto a disc, and ran to WalMart. I had an 8x10 print made, bought a frame, and had it hanging above my wife's bass pictures by the time she came home. Thirty years ago, I would have kept that bass, with some crazy notion of having it mounted. I knew back then I couldn't afford to have that done, and now I'm just glad to have caught it on film. I managed to land three nice rainbows in that cove last week, and things are looking good for the upcoming new year.
Here's a picture of our cove: