I went to the lake with the family last week. We had an awesome time...it was pure relaxation to be away from everything and have time to spend with just my wife and kids. My plan was to bass fish in the mornings and/or evenings and then just crappie fish and run around the lake exploring things during the day.
The bass fishing was terribly slow for me. I simply couldn't find them. I knew they should be thinking about coming shallow to spawn but the back of every cove was empty. Nothing...devoid of life. I tried hitting main points and secondary points all to no avail. I'd like to blame it on the weather because it's a convenient excuse but in reality I'm sure it was me...just not doing something right.
The first night I caught a bass about the size of my iPhone so there was no use in taking a picture of that. The next night I caught what might have been the exact same bass judging by the size of it...plus a kicker in the form of a 1/2 lb yellow bass. I was disappointed.
I fished Thursday morning and caught a 2 lb bass on a rocky bluff in deep water so I thought I'd try that pattern. At some point after realizing that the day was failing I remembered that i had bought an Alabama Rig before I left home!!! Everything I'd heard said that most of the tourney's recently were won with that thing and I thought now's the best time to try it. So I tied it on. It felt a little ridiculous throwing that thing...no...it felt a LOT ridiculous...but i did it. At one point there was another boat coming toward me and I thought "man...I'm a little embarrassed to be throwing this thing..." so I put it down and started throwing a spinner. As they got closer I had to laugh...both of those guys were throwing A-Rigs. It was a funny moment and a good chance for me to laugh at myself a bit. i threw it a bit more and after snagging it perhaps 5 times something happened on cast number 20. POW!!! It sounded like my rod broke in half. It was so loud I think I ducked a little bit...that heavy A-rig snapped my line and I watched $30 worth of the winningest tackle in recent tournament history arc through the air with five little rubbery fishies flapping their tails in the wind and fly toward it's watery grave. That was the beginning and end of my Alabama Rig. I later read that it's supposed to be used with much heavier line than I used. An expensive lesson for sure...but so is any decent education. Soon enough I was run off the water by more thunderstorms. Despite my efforts I caught nothing else that day.
Friday I didn't bass fish. We went crappie fishing all afternoon and it was a ball just floating around with the kids and teaching my son how to drive the boat, navigate, deal with other boats. It was awesome. He's 12 years old and wicked smart and to see him on our 9 mile run home, hitting all his GPS waypoints, scanning for boat traffic, and properly managing his throttle and trim...it was great. Twice on the run home he had to deal with barge traffic. I was sitting right behind him like his redneck Jiminy Cricket providing advice. I loved watching him pass his first barge. I told him to keep it at least 100 yards off his side of the boat, stay parallel to him and stay on the gas. He had the biggest smile as he raced past that barge and left it behind. He had both hands on the wheel and he's flying down the lake at 40 MPH with his family on board and he's learning how to pilot this boat. He kept scanning to keep track of where it was, then had another one between us and our dock. Again I talked him through the process...making sure he was waaaaaay out in front of it before he crossed it's path to get on the other side. The rest of the trip it was like he took some pride of ownership in that boat. He'd stick around to double check that everything was squared away before we were done for the night. It was like he grew up a little bit on that 9 mile run.
After that i went out again Saturday evening after watching one of the local tourneys weigh in. The winning weight was 22 lbs...and the next three spots were all in the 20's...so clearly they were catchable. I went out that evening and I scored in a small cove with a 2.5 lb bass. I thought I was starting to figure it out when BOOM. Thunder...close. That ended the evenings fishing...I ran for the dock.
This morning was our last day so I went out intent on fishing til the bitter end. The view that greeted me as I slipped away from the dock made it all worthwhile.
I hit several places where i'd caught the two decent fish of the week...and nothing. I was very thorough in my approach and I couldn't get bit anywhere. About 9 o'clock I was making my way around a secondary point with a big rocky bluff that rounded a corner and gave way to a shallow rocky flat that gradually tapered into deep water. I was just easing along throwing a white and chartreuse spinner bait and really slow rolling it and THUMP. It felt like a solid bite. I pulled and it pulled back and it was on. It didn't fight too hard at first, but when that hog came up through that clear green water and I first caught sight of it I about passed out. It was clearly WAY bigger than any bass i had ever caught in my life. You say some strange stuff when surprised like this and I think the first words out of my mouth (and I was by myself) were something like "OMG...OMG...that's a personal best...OMG it's a hog".
I was shocked at how wide it's back was...and it's head was huge. I almost didn't believe it was a bass at first. It was a thing of beauty. Once it came up and saw me it started to put up a fight. I almost didn't notice the fight because I was having an argument with myself about what to do. My brain was screaming to wear it down a bit, don't let it jump, then lip it. My heart was screaming "GET THE NET you fool!"
If this fish got away it would crush me. It would be the worst sort of heartache. It would be the heartache borne of ones own stupidity. I would cry like a spoiled child every day for the rest of my days if this fish came unbuttoned. My heart couldn't take that type of blow after the week I'd had...so I got the net. I was scared to death that this fish would pull some hog-magic and give me the slip near the boat but I was able to get her in the net and on the deck. I ran for my scale and my iPhone. When I turned around I was just shocked at how big that pig was laying on the deck...I couldn't believe I had just caught it.
I took a quick picture or two, weighed it (7.5 lbs), and eased it back as quickly as I could. Just like that my week had gone from a totally frustrating failure...to a complete success that I'll remember for the rest of my life. One fish is all it took. One big fish. If I'd sunk my boat and had to walk back I'd have taken every step with a smile because of that fish. I don't know what that says about me...but I think people here will understand. A few pics are below...I just wanted to share the story.