First catch of 2001

Friday, February 23, 2001 at 1:00am

I had to drive more than 200 miles to find good bass fishing this week, but it was worth every mile.

My fishing friend Dave Hughes of Hendersonville is a Dale Hollow Lake fishing fanatic. Seems like every year around the last week in February, his casting hand begins to itch. Dave dreams of smallmouth bass. He sits around his home in

Hendersonville contemplating what those lead-head jigs look like jigging through the water.

These are fishing lures, commonly known as Doll Flys. Now, I'm not going to get into the reason why these lead-head jigs are called Doll Flys because it would take me back many years, and there isn't enough paper here in my office to write its history.

Anyway, Dave arrived at my home at about 5 on Tuesday morning. I had my boat hitched to my Expedition and was waiting when he drove into my driveway. We quickly loaded his gear into my vehicle and struck out for Dale Hollow via Interstate 40 to the Dale Hollow Dam and Gainesboro, Tenn., exit. Looking at my watch as we drove into Gainesboro, it was 6:40 a.m. We were on schedule, planning to launch our boat at the Holly Creek boat dock around 7:30 a.m.

Now to tell you the truth, neither Dave nor I had any idea how the fishing would be. I had heard rumors of anglers catching smallmouth bass on the floating fly rigs, but Dave and I, I assure you, know very little about floating fly fishing. I was thinking about how it was my first fishing trip of the 2001 season. Dave commented that it was also his first trip of the year.

With the boat in the water and the engine purring, we idled out to the end of the "no wake" zone and eased slowly over to a point, where we began our fishing. Dave had the black Doll Fly and pork rind on his rod, while I cast a white jig and pork rind. We figured when one of us began to catch bass, then we would have the right combination.

Dave got the first strike, set the hook, and I watched his spinning rod bend intensely as the bass moved to deeper water. Keeping the rod tip high and cranking, Dave got the bass to break the surface; the fish shook its head trying to free itself from the hook. But nothing doing

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