Editor’s Note: This is a column written by Switzerland County’s David Hewitt. The articles center on all things ‘outdoors’, from hunting and fishing to woodsmanship.
The steady breeze adds a chop to the water’s surface.
Dark, gunship gray clouds pile up in the sky signaling rain in the near future. You can almost smell the storm that will be blowing up later today.
But now, now is the time for fishing.
Early morning. A 5 a.m. wake up followed by an hour drive to get to our spot. I crack open my tackle box and pour over the offerings inside. The lake is too rough for a top water bait, the shoreline too shallow for a deep diving cranker. I flip the box over and grab a slip sinker and an offset 2/0 hook.
This morning will be a morning for casting along the banks with a soft, plastic worm.
Colors, colors to rival any box of crayons: motor oil, pumpkin seed, bubble gum and the old standard black. I pull a red-shad colored rubber worm from the bag and thread it on the sharp hook. A bad habit continued from nearly 40 years of bass fishing, I snip off the tag end of the fishing line with my teeth and can’t help but wonder how I’ve managed not to chip a tooth in all these years.
The wind carries the first cast of the new day wide and further into the deeper water than I cared for it to be. The bait settles to the bottom and a quick twitch of the wrist brings the worm to life. The curled tail spins as the lure flutters up and down, hoping to entice a bass with its dance.
No luck as I crank the bait in for another cast.
Chunk and wind, I make a dozen more casts with no luck. I flick the rod tip and then let the bait settle back down. I know a good sized bass is there - waiting for just the right cue from my lure.
The right move to drive him or her into feeding mode or to strike out of anger or maybe genetics.
Experience tells me it’s just a matter of time.
The soft bait lands quietly without a ripple. I let the line fall and as the worm settles, I feel the slightest pressure on the line. One quick whip and the hook is set and the fight is on. Scrappy and fat, a few seconds later, a respectable two pound largemouth is in my hand.
Deep green back and a brilliant white belly, she’s a perfect specimen of what a bass is supposed to be. I quickly unhook the fish and slip her back into the lake and she takes off for deeper water with a splash.
Cast and reel.
Cast and reel.
We fish on for several hours and I can only guess how many times I’ve thrown out my bait, hundreds I surmise. The entire lake looks promising, but I’m looking for cover. A twig, a drop off, a pile of rocks. Anything that will hold a fish, something to attract them that will increase my odds of “catching” rather than “fishing”.
The scenario plays out a dozen more times.
I try some other lures, but being a creature of habit, I always go back to what I know and what I know about bass fishing in mid-July ahead of a storm front is that artificial night crawlers in some gaudy color seem to work. I hoist my fare share of bass into the shore and even keep a few of the smaller ones for a friend that has a taste for fried fish, but most are released back to swim and fight another day.
It’s long past time that we should leave, but I can’t help thinking the next cast will be it. The one that produces a big one. A five- or six-pounder, a real fighter, a prize.
One more cast, more anticipation.
The lure secretly hits the water, settles to the bottom and the twitch and fall rhythm repeats itself. The clouds are rolling in and rain is on the horizon; time to go, but I don’t want the day to end.
Just one more cast.
– David Hewitt