Fishy Tale

This particular story has been in my oral repertoire for 15 years. Another summer has come and gone and I’ve not yet shared this fishing story as one of my Frivolities. Hopefully, this will breach the December clouds and brighten your day.

I have always enjoyed bass fishing. Sue’s fishing experiences, prior to our marriage, were essentially limited to pan fishing. Just in case you are not into fishing jargon, pan fishing is not trying to gaff discarded cooking skillets from mucky lake bottoms—though I have hooked metal junk on occasions. Pan fish get the generic reference to several species due to the typical way they are normally prepared for eating. Pan fish are indeed tasty. However, my experiences with that type of fishing usually ended up needing a whale size gulp of bluegills just to stink the pan. I’ve got pike lures in my tackle box bigger than most gills I manage to catch.

Pan fishing also requires me to spend inordinate sums of money on worms. I cannot tell you how many times the little fish suck all the bait off the hook before the sinker can get dinner down to the big ones. I used to go pan fishing with my dad. Usually very early in the morning. My mom often wondered if that was in hopes of dropping a hook in the fish’s mouth when they yawn. And speaking of yawning, I do way too much of that while pan fishing. I prefer to be more active.

Even if I don’t hook into a bass, at least I’m actively pursuing them and not just snoozing away the day watching a listless bobber. Bass fishing is cast and retrieve, repeatedly. Changing lures as well as the intended location of the cast, altering the action of the lure, fishing at various depths all deter yawns. Additionally, even more energy is expended by untangling backlash, retrieving line snarled in shoreline bushes and dislodging snags in submerged structure. Structure is often advised as excellent cover for lunker bass. Trust me, I’m far better at finding structure than big bass.

Despite not needing to purchase live bait to feed the fish, I have invested in a small bait shop. At least the inventory in my tackle boxes approximates 10 pages of a Bass Pro Shop catalog. It’s good to have lures of every color and shape in the semblance of many different living creatures …and a few lures that defy imagination of resembling anything having been alive since the Jurassic period. But, as long as you don’t snag ‘em, they last a whole lot longer than tubs of squirming nematodes

So, I set about to teach Sue the fine art of bass fishing. At least as fine an art as I have been able to glean from magazines. There are many factors to consider when bass fishing. As I’ve already mentioned, the most notable advise is that bass like “structure”. They prefer idling near docks, mingling within submerged tree branches, resting beneath the shade of lily pads or just lounging amongst any debris humans may have discarded to the lake bottom. Thus, the key to success is to fish “structure”.

Some anglers utilize weed-free lures. Personally, I don’t think that bass are particularly excited about a frog with crutches — wires alongside their limber feet designed to keep the hooks from snagging lily pads. So, with an arguably weed-magnet lure on Sue’s line, my instruction to her was to fish near most anything of structure. Allow me to reiterate: NEAR to structure.

In Sue’s defense, I prefer fishing when there admittedly are some inherent disadvantages in attempting to get the lure NEAR anything in particular. I have found that night fishing for bass is quite productive. Moonlit dining seems to be as desirable for bass as it is for romantic couples. In hindsight…not to mention Sue’s apparent lack of good night eyesight…I would have been better off taking her to dinner.

Maybe it wasn’t her first cast, but it was not long before Sue rang the dinner bell. Or should I say clanged an aluminum boat. Thankfully the boat was not occupied. It was, in fact, tipped over …on the shore. Wow, in the stillness of 1:00 AM, a 2-inch jitterbug hitting an aluminum hull resounds loud enough to stop the frogs from croaking…or maybe they croaked from fright, I d’know.

At least that time we knew where her lure had landed. A short while later, she made a mighty cast then exclaimed that she did not hear it splash into the lake. I contemplated the possible presence of flying fish. I also quickly estimated the chances of her dropping the lure into a gaping Largemouth treading water were even greater odds. The best odds were that her proximity sensor had malfunctioned again.

Take a guess on how long it takes to remove two treble-hook clusters from a carpeted swimming raft. And don’t bother to figure in the time it took to bandage my hand when the jitterbugging tail sashayed its already freed treble hooks back into the fray.

Though this may seem to be an exaggerated, if not fishy, tale. However, it has been validated many times since. Obviously, there are no disheartening snags while we fish together.