The fish tried to go back into the junk but I was able to turn the head with a soft pull of the rod and cupping the reel. This could cost me the fish if there was so much as a nick on the line or sloppy knot tied to the hook. In open water the largemouth bass is allowed to run and suck up a little drag.
“There ya go, buddy.” I almost joke a little letting out a fraction of the breath that usually gets held while battling a big fish. “Play out there a little bit.”
Ziiiiing, pause, ziiiiing sings out from the reel as the bubba fish makes a steady run. My hand rests on the reel and works to keep the line tight and void of any slack. This is textbook fish battlin’ on light line. My only hope is that the fish doesn’t breach the surface and do a head shake that spits the hook half the time. The other thing that could screw this all up is structure deeper in the water. Then the fish does something completely different and unexpected. It turns around and runs right back at me.
“Oh no. Don’t do that.” I mumble in utter terror.
My hand franticly spins the reel handle trying to spin up the advancing slack in the line. Thankfully the boat had drifted away from the structure giving me a few extra yards. In hindsight this saved me completely. I was able to slow the fish down after it had passed the boat and turn it once again from the network of tree branches. The second head turn defeated this fish in both strength and mind or so at least I thought. Pulling it towards the boat my hand reached out for the lip grab.
Ziiiiing, pause, ziiiiing the fish takes off for another run and nearly breaks the line for sure this time. A decent drag set is what saved me this time. Normally a Mattsabasser is not this lucky so at any moment I expect to lose this fish, a fish that I had barely seen more than a flash of in the water. To lose this fish would cause night terrors for several nights to come. Thankfully the fish did a big circle around the boat with the wind pushing me closer and closer to the middle of the lake. Ziiiiing, pause, click, click, click sounds the drag. Checkmate. I bring the fish in while it continues to give many a defiant tug. Finally pull off the lip grab and do a quick photo op. Dip the bucketmouth towards the bow of the boat and it explodes into the water.
Moving to another stretch I see a large poplar tree section that had fallen into the water over winter. Underneath the log I imagined a large bank of shade moving across the submerged inline from shallow to deeper water. Cast the lure at the shoreline and then run it as close to the edge of the log while hopping it along the bottom. Halfway through the run I get a bump and a miss. Throw back and do the same thing but a little slower. Bam! This time I get a solid enough bite for the hookset and the dance is on. The fish is not as big as the last so the workout seems light in comparison. A freshly tied hook and checked line offers a lot of confidence on this smaller fish. I powered down on the reel and did the lip grab thing.
The bark was waterlogged and separating into strands near the bottom. It was difficult to tell how thick this wood-noodle really was. A few more casts at the log produced varying amounts of wood-noodle but not another fish. Finishing the lap I caught a few more buckets here and there but the two pictured in this post were the only ones worth bragging about.
Water quality was poor. My guess is that heavy rains mixed with algae content are taking a toll on visibility. Evaporation and moving water in nearby irrigation is also a factor. Some of the coves are becoming “soupy” and stagnant. Didn’t bother with the electronics on this trip expecting much clearer conditions. This turned out to be a considerable error not so much in deducing water temperature (guessing temps have to be around 75-80 degrees on this 40-surface acre lake) but locating fish that move to deeper water in hot conditions. If I would have gotten a lot of blips in the deep end of the pool, I might have stayed there longer as opposed to beating up the shady side of things. Now I will never know for sure. Two decent buckets, mixed numbers and some heat exhaustion.
My name is Matt and I’m a fishaholic