The true story of a big bass
GATEHOUSE NEWS SERVICE
Sometimes you think that you can almost see the cosmic balance of good luck and bad luck, especially if you are one of those of us who stare at the water for long times - fishermen.
Something was bound to happen good for me on the fishing trip where I caught my biggest bass, because it started out so badly.
And at the risk of tarnishing my credibility even more, I’d like to exorcise any conceptions that I always know what I am doing. Bring it up to the surface and clear light of day, as it where.
First of all, I caught my biggest bass ever on this trip. It was a huge largemouth. I put my closed fist inside its wide-open gaping maw and didn’t even touch the sides until I got almost down to the heavy red-feathered gills.
So you know, you have to have a boat-load of bad luck to counterbalance the tremendous good fortune of boating an all-time hog largemouth.
And I’ve been fishing those same waters for many years and many times.
The only way to get to the island is through a narrow winding passage between granite islands and rock shoals.
Heck, during the daytime we scream through the passage at 30 mph in a winding S-turn. Our wakes pound the rock outcroppings, which has happily sheared pins, eaten props, and torn holes in hulls when boaters slip up. And the underwater granite rocks wear skeg scars like badges.
But at night, even finding the passage can be tricky.
I’ve never missed the channel; no matter how dark the night, in wind, rain, sleet or snow (duck season), that is until that one trip.
Here’s the beginning of the pattern.
Sometimes we leave the launch around midnight, after putting the boat in, loading the gear, and then begining the two-mile or so cruise between the islands to camp.
She was huddled in the passenger seat of my bass boat with her hood pulled almost shut, a blanket over her legs and staring intently into the black night. Not happy.
And it was the blackest night ever, five days before the new moon and well before the sliver of a moonrise.
I thought that I caught a glimpse of the profile of the island. But I was wrong.
The next thing I remember was seeing the depth finder register one foot of water…!
Whummppp! Up on a log.
The boat careened and tilted and she screamed. She was shoulder level with the black water.
“Lord, Lord, Lord! On no! Please Lord save me!”
Now I’m not making fun of her.
Just about anyone would have sought higher powers, too. After all, we were back in that forgotten cul de sac of a swamp, tilted askew on an ancient stump, and me at the helm of my bass boat.
Wouldn’t you? No doubt.
I put it in reverse and “walked” off the log and slowly chugged back out into deep water.
And she was saying, “Thank you, thank you, thank you…” over and over again almost in cadence with the Mercury outboard.
Of course I was relieved too and set about finding the channel to the house on the island. But I was amazed and said to her, “Ya know, most people would have yelled at me, cursed me, or said something…Why didn’t you?”
She calmly said with a condescending tone, “I wanted to talk to someone who had control of the situation and OBVIOUSLY you weren’t!”
Talk about going over my head.
Well that’s part of the cosmic balance.
Later that night, after we got settled, my buddy and I just had to go fishing.
And I fell out of my own boat.
Talk about going over my head again.
We couldn’t resist the moonless night.
The big hog bass would be up on the shorelines and fall for our jitterbugs.
I could write a boring diatribe on the pros and cons of different types of treble hooks. Suffice to say that I am not satisfied with the standard jitterbug hooks, so I buy very, very sharp expensive hooks and replace the stock hooks on my bugs.
If they so much as touch your finger, they’ll penetrate.
I was crouching on the edge of the boat at 3 a.m., switching jitterbugs and just about ready to tighten down the double knot on the 17-pound test Berkley green XT line when my buddy shifted to the other side of the boat to make a cast in the dark.
I lost my balance.
One of the large treble hooks on the 5/8 ounce broken-back plug began to effortlessly slice into my finger. Now I could have caught my balance, but hooked myself in the process, probably with more than one hook because the line was under my foot.
So, throwing my pride into the dark water (along with my body,) but placing my rod and bait casting reel gently on the carpeted deck of the bass boat, I slipped into the weedy waters of the black lake, shoulder first.
His laughs rocked the night as I came up for air covered with weed.
I didn’t lose my baseball cap, or the light that I keep on it at night for changing baits or removing hooks from fish. (It was still glowing despite it’s dunking). Evidently the sight even increased the humor of the movement.
And a few hours later, off a rock shoal in the middle of an adjacent lake, the biggest bass of my life decided to inhale my lure. (And yes, my clothes were still damp.)
I know that the correct image to present is that of the accomplished and expert woodsman and angler who knows everything and has every technique mastered.
It is he who deserves to catch the biggest fish, right?
It would be great if things in nature were as simple as that.
Seems like the real balance of things is a lot more complicated.