Ever have one of those mornings where virtually everything goes wrong? Pain and some level of masochistic torture follows me on nearly every trip but this one was remarkably difficult for some reason. Some days it seems that I can run through the jungle with scissors in both hands emerging on the other aside without a scratch. Other days I can’t leave the house without coming home looking like something the cat dragged in and then spat out.
Get up early, start the coffee, jump-start my brain and stumble out the door with two rods, tackle bag and fishing shoes. The goal is to find bass in the shallows or at the very least see if they are moving in.
“Should have the place all to myself.” I exclaim with brimming anticipation.
But as I roll into the parking lot I see an SUV and an angler walking out. This means he managed to get up even earlier and may have done a lake lap bruising lips all the way around. This could make the fish ultra stubborn or at the very least wary. Approaching the first area there was evidence that this would be the case. A large male had moved in to nest and its lip was already marked with a black splotch indicating a fresh catch and release.
At the parking lot I had freshly tied on a skirted jig and dressed it with a plastic craw trailer. The jig combo looked absolutely delicious and the knot went on smooth and clean. First cast at the fish and I hook up on someone’s 30lb braided line. The jig is danced every which way but refuses to come loose. One heavy pull and my line snaps with the only three or four feet from shore. Dressed in work clothes I couldn’t wade in and retrieve the lure that would never see a fish otherwise.
“&#$%!” I blurt out watching the lure sink two feet to the bottom. “People gotta fish with %$#@& rope now!?!”
And it all goes downhill from here…
I take two steps moving down the shoreline and get wrapped up in several yards of yet more braided line. The more I tried to step out of it, the more I got tangled. Frustration started to well up in my brain causing the gray overcast skies to look red as blood. A few more hard kicks and twists of my feet and I was practically hog tied.
“Oh this is how its going be?” I start cursing myself.
Realize at this point I fully grasp my error in struggling. I should have started unwinding myself meticulously by hand instead. Now I was really in a pickle. With no other option I knelt down on the wet grass and started cutting the line with my pliers. This proved to be no easy task. Shifting from one knee to other nearly half an hour was spent removing the material probably better suited for towing vehicles rather than catching fish. Every bit was collected and shoved into the pocket of my slacks.
“Sweet!!!!” I exclaim in frustration. “Got $#%^# all over my slacks. Thanks Mr. Braid thrower. Glad I pick up your %$#&@ crap.”
Make my way over to the northwest side of the lake that is guarded by a steep cliff that varies from 10 to 20 feet in height. Thick tree line forces anglers to pick spots very carefully. Three feet from shore I see a bass musing around a clump of wood structure. With only a thin alley of open space to cast through I unhook the less delicious looking grub on the second rod preparing to throw. Turn slightly to check the casting area behind me for obstacles and manage to wrap the grub around one of the many branches in front of me. Its not completely looped so I give it a small tug. It breaks free from that branch but magically flies several feet completely wrapping itself around yet another branch. My eyes witness the lure loop over and over the branch like a Maypole. Several more moments were spent unwrapping the lure. Upon inspection of the line shows signs of abrasion. No choice but to trim and re-tie.
“Oh man…not today. Not this morning. I don’t have time for this &^%#@#.”
Re-tied I cast out. The cast is flubbed by a finger on my left hand and the lure is caught in the brush just inches from the water. No choice but to walk down and unhook it. This spooks the fish and the opportunity is lost. A deep breath is taken and I move silently down the shoreline pat the section obscured in Russian olive trees.
Beyond the thorn-wall of trees the cliff rose even higher shaping itself into the edge of a subtle cove. This area was overgrown by immense cottonwood trees. The roots clung to the cliff like heavy giant fingers while the rest towered above leaning towards the open sky above the lake for additional sunlight. It was there that I saw them. Three dark shadows following one large brown shadow moving slowly under some large overhanging branches. My heart leaped in my throat while moving to an open spot to cast. With some additional time before they reached me I was able to shuffle down the cliff edge about halfway before flipping the grub just outside the edge of the branches.
The shadows continued to move into the casting area. It was clear to see that these were three big largemouth bass palling around with a 10-15lb carp. The behavior could be the tail end of a phenomenon I call “The Gathering”. [It is my belief that largemouth bass will group together in as large as numbers as possible before breaking off into breeding pairs. Yes, I come up with a lot of crazy stuff but this is something I tend to witness on an annual basis more so on smaller ponds with less pressure. Just a theory. Not bonafide by science or anything.] As these fish are moving further from the branches two of the bass separate from the group and make a run for the grub. I give the grub just a small twitch for movement as it drifts slowly downward. The larger of the two fish is enticed and makes her move.
My cliff vantage let’s me see the strike close up. The enormous bucket-like mouth snaps out and sucks in the grub with a quick implosion of air. At that point it should be money, right? Just set the hook and ride that pony to the dance. Not this day. Not this morning. I set the hook and run down to the shoreline while reeling in like crazy. (It is ridiculous how many times I do this a year.) Plant my feet at the edge with no slack in the line. Fish still hanging on and only a foot away from the shore. One foot out the fish miraculously bumps its face on one of the submerged logs and knocks the hook right out of its lip.
I just stood there for a second surrounded by trees as the shadows moved on minus one.
“Get to the next spot!” the voice in my head screams. “Hurry!”
My shoes scramble up the hill and end up slipping on the wet soil. I slide two feet down the hill completely trashing my slacks. Now my frustration becomes delirium and I don’t know whether to laugh, cry or jump in the @#$#% lake. Get back to the top of the cliff somehow with all of my gear and start considering the next move.
“Smooth move. You didn’t bring a change of clothes. Still some water left. Might as well finish it out.”
Still chasing the shadows I see them around the next bend but no option to cast through the trees. Then the squadron formation banked right and headed for deeper water. In moments they vanished completely. The rest of my tour was fruitless passing around another small cove and picking up a few hundred feet of line.
“This guy must have re-lined his pole right here on the shore. Pretty cool leaving all this @#$%^ around. @%% #$%$#!!!!
Picking up the line made me feel a lot better actually but the swearing didn’t seem to help at all. Fact of the matter I was a complete mess by the time I got to the truck and finally rolled into the office before Lumbergs do their 8:30 sweep.
“Holy cow! What happened to you!?!” most popular greeting of the day.
“Changing a tire?” Man I need to work on my excuses for fishing.
“Well it looks like the tire won.”
My name is Matt and I’m a fishaholic.