A day fishing, even if few are caught, is a good way to spend a morning. Last Saturday only three fish made it in the boat, but it was a good day nevertheless.
I can’t say I was enthusiastic when the alarm sounded at 5:30 on a weekend morning, but by the time we were in the car driving to Dunnellon, I was ready for a morning on the water. We made our first casts before sunrise and by 7:30, I reeled in the first bass of the day.
After some time out for sunrise pictures, I brought in bass number two.
A few more pictures. This time of clouds, and then the third bass of the day made its way on the boat.
Only three fish. No big ones. No problem. A day fishing is a good day.
John’s cousin Nancy’s husband passed away a few weeks ago due to complications from ALS. We were asked to compose a message about a special remembrance of Gary to be shared at his memorial service today. John wrote about a day the two of them spent fishing on Lake Rousseau.
Nancy and Gary decided to take a couple days off several years ago and come to Ocala to spend some restful days on Lake Weir. The weather was blustery and cool but Gary was eager to go fishing.
My father-in –law had been experiencing recent success on Lake Rousseau catching a number of bass in the 10 pound category. Gary was anxious to land his own lunker.
As we arrived at the lake we found conditions to be less than perfect. The weather was cold and windy but the sun was out.
We paid our $40 for two dozen shiners. We spent most of the day drowning bait fish at $2 a pop. With about six shiners left I decided to move to an area of the river that was littered with underwater tree stumps.
Marker 71 had produced several large bass for me over the past year. On the first pass, Gary had a hit and jumped a 10 pounder. The wind was blowing so hard we could not control the boat and lost the fish when it wrapped around the stump.
On the next five passes through the area Gary would exclaim he had a hit. He would forcefully set the hook and fight the fish. Each time with the same results, the fish escaped.
The day ended when we ran out of shiners. On the way home, all Gary could talk about was the one that got away and a possible return to Lake Rousseau to catch a trophy bass.
I didn’t have the heart to tell him that at the base of Marker 71 is a very large stump that is decorated with many a fisherman’s hooks and lures.
When we developed our list of 13 in 13, I included “catch a big bass” to the list. John asked my definition of a big bass and when I said an eight pounder, he suggested that I might want to reconsider since a bass of that size would be considered a lifetime catch by most fishermen. Since I don’t claim to be a fisherman, I took his advice and modified my definition to “at least six pounds”. (However, if you refer to the original 13 in 13 post I said – catch a big bass of at least six pounds, but hopefully closer to eight.)
Three weeks ago in my first attempt at this challenge, I caught what I thought at the time was a pretty big bass only to be told that it was “only” 2 1/2 pounds. I needed to catch something almost three times the size of my current record. This may be more difficult than I anticipated.
Yesterday we took the day off to make a second attempt at catching a big bass. We couldn’t have picked a more perfect day. The 45 degree temperature and cloudless sky guaranteed a great day on the water with or without fulfilling the big bass requirement. We returned to the Withlacoochee River and Lake Rousseau since Dad reported that he and his guests caught several big ones throughout the week.
After about three hours, we started planning the next attempt since not only had I not caught a big one neither had John. And, in fact, we hadn’t landed a single bass. In an effort to help me meet my goal, John sacrificed catches. He handed me his rod on three occasions so I could set the hook and reel in the catch…no success…I lost all three. I finally announced that I thought I should change my goal from catching a big bass to being in the boat when a big bass was caught.
Then it happened. I actually saw the bass hit my line only a few feet from the boat. John talked me through the process…let it take some line…now reel in slowly to take out the slack…jerk hard to set the hook and start reeling. I guess I followed directions pretty well. I maneuvered the bass around a stump and reeled it up to the boat so John could scoop it in the net and lift it into the boat.
Time to collect the data…24 inches and 8 pounds! I’m pleased to announce I caught a BIG bass! Yes, I even caught the once in a lifetime version.
Not only was John there to support my efforts by guiding me to the best spots on the lake and talking me through the process of bringing in the fish once I felt the hit, but he was also there to document the event with a quality picture. Thanks, John! In addition, thanks Dad for your scouting reports and the trip with Max to the far ends of the county to locate the shiners needed for this adventure.
As a bonus, we noticed a bald eagle in the top of a snag as we headed back to the boat ramp so I not only caught a big bass, I photographed a bald eagle in flight. Another once in a lifetime event for many birders!
It looks like your dad’s new boat is a keeper. He initiated it on Lake Rousseau on Friday and caught two large bass. One weighed in at over six pounds and the other over eight. He’s caught fish on both of his first two attempts in the boat so he’s pleased. On our way back from the lake he asked if I’d like him to take me out so I can catch a big bass in 2013, and I’ve accepted the challenge. I need to be included in the next edition of the Shutterfly fishing book since I’m sure Grandpa expects another to document the family’s newest fish tales.
I’m sure you’re invited as well. If you’re up for the challenge, it won’t take much coaxing for him to find time when he can take you out to catch a big one. Just give a call and say “Let’s go fishing!”