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updated: 5/21/2014 6:22 PM

Great angling rewards await the patient wader

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It was before all the storms arrived on our doorsteps, in the midst of a series of days when the air temperature was just right and some fish were in the mood to grab a lure or fly without too much hesitation.

And it was one of those days when solo angling seemed like the thing to do, rather than two guys and a plethora of stories and jokes.

Fishing with someone can be either exhilarating or extremely challenging. The challenging aspect usually centers around an individual's personal experience or know-how.

My preference is to share my time with an angler who enjoys the sport with as much enthusiasm as me.

Of course, more times than not, I end up exploring locales on my own. And I love fishing alone -- but there are drawbacks to going solo.

Many of you know I have a great affinity for area ponds. Even though I have a completely tricked-out 17-foot fishing boat, I only pull the rig to a lake when I have a full day to scope out the water.

So, before the storms invaded our area, I rigged a 4-weight fly rod, slipped a box of sinking flies into my fishing vest, grabbed my chest waders, wading staff and a few other accessories and headed for a creek located in the far Southern suburbs.

In case anyone's interested, I had acquired a new pair of Orvis Silver Sonic zippered chest waders. Two friends suggested I get a pair of this zippered model because it's a rock-solid set with perfectly welded seams that are designed for rough use. That's me, Mr. Roughneck.

I entered the water from a sandy bank. I slowly walked a few steps and suddenly found myself rapidly sinking in mud. Fortunately for me the water was relatively shallow and didn't go over the top of my waders. So I worked to dislodge myself from the gooey stuff by using my staff and ultimately got closer to the bank.

I had a similar experience one time while fly fishing on Killbuck Creek with the late Buck Squancho.

Buck was about 50 feet upstream of me when I inadvertently stepped into what felt like below-surface quicksand. In reality it was a huge section of quagmire that had me locked tightly in its grip. It took me over 15 minutes to free myself and subsequently crawl to the bank. That one really scared me.

Squancho finally worked his way to me. I yelled to him to avoid the water directly in front of where I was sitting.

This latest, potentially dangerous misstep taught me to use more caution and not be so eager to move away from the bank.

So, I slowly continued upstream, watching the current and casting the fly.

My third cast produced a strike and, just like that, a chunky smallmouth took to the air.

I was using one of my creations again. This time I had a silver-flash minnow imitator with all kinds of glitzy, silver material.

I made another half-dozen casts, quartering the upstream sections.

On the very last retrieve, just as I stopped for a second of stripping line back in, the whole shebang stopped dead.

I could tell this was a bigger fish because it started a run that I compared to a freight train departing at a high rate of speed.

This fish came out of the water like a ballistic missile. The give-and-take last close to five minutes, and in the last 30 seconds or so I stepped back to gain more line when I stepped into another hole.

Holding the rod well above my head, I hung on to that fish as if my life depended upon it. And it almost did.

This hole was a bit deeper than my first encounter at the very start of this outing. And this time the water went over the top of the waders. Fortunately I had enough sense to hold on to the fly rod and fish and inch my way to safety.

When I got to the thick shoreline grass I literally dropped with exhaustion. I weighed the fish and realized I had tempted fate again.

This smallie went slightly over 3 pounds. But at what cost?

Next time I'll stick to the local ponds if it's alone time again.

• Contact Mike Jackson at, and catch his radio show 6-7 a.m. Sundays on WSBC 1240-AM.

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