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One Fish

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Back during the amazingly warm weather we had in March, I took off from painting one afternoon to paddle up a certain stretch of Big River and fish back down. The water even back then wasn't very high, and it was easy paddling for the most part up about three miles. When I was nearly up the river as far as I'd planned to go, I encountered two guys in a canoe fishing their way down, which bummed me out a bit. I paddled up a little farther, and then killed a bit of time letting the water "settle" from those guys, who looked like good anglers. The place where I started fishing was a nice rocky pool, but not far below it I came to a cut bank with overhanging trees. In one spot there was a very small but flowing creek coming in with a big log about a foot out of the water completely blocking the creek mouth. I was able to get the canoe in position to make a cast in back of the log, right in the little creek mouth, which was about eight feet wide and three or four feet deep. I was using a topwater lure, and a very big largemouth blew up on it back there. I had it hooked briefly, but it soon escaped. I thought it was interesting that I was able to get that fish to hit behind those other anglers, and was happy just to see it.

Today, my brother and i were floating that stretch, a relatively short float (for me, anyway) of about six miles. The fishing had been slow when we put in shortly after sun-up, and it had continued fairly slow for most of the morning. By the time we reached the area about three miles up from the take-out, Don had caught one rather skinny 17 inch smallmouth, and we'd caught about 15 or so bass altogether. Don had been in the front of the canoe all morning, but shortly before we reached that spot where the big largemouth had been, we switched ends.

I was using my new favorite walk the dog topwater (yes, I've finally found something I have as much confidence in, maybe more, than the Sammy!) when we came to that log in front of the little creek mouth. I'd forgotten about that big bass until I saw that spot, and by the time I recognized it we were a little downstream from where you could get a cast in behind the log. it looked a lot shallower back there, anyway. So I made a cast aiming to hit within an inch of the outside of that log. The lure actually hit the log about two inches above the waterline and fell off it into the water within a couple inches of the wood. I immediately began the walk the dog cadence, and the lure traveled about two feet, far enough that I was beginning to figure the cast would come up empty, when the big green bass blasted it, knocking the lure a foot out of the water and two feet closer to me. I resumed the cadence, and the lure traveled another foot or so when the big fish came back and took it. I set the hooks and the fish took off for the log and the root wad at its upstream end, and I almost didn't stop it as the front end of the canoe was towed toward the log. But I finally got control of the fish and soon lipped the big mouth. It was a bit over 20 inches, a thick bodied, big bellied beautiful bigmouth. Don took photos of it with his cell phone, and I laid it on the paddle to snap a quick photo as well, but it gave a big flop and escaped before I could get my photo.

It's always very interesting to me when I catch a fish that I'd encountered before. It had to be the same fish. So on a day that was slow overall (we ended up with 34 bass caught with eight or so of them over 14 inches) the big largemouth was the biggest highlight. I love smallies, but those bruiser largemouth are quality fish, too.

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A few things strike me about that fish. First the fish was probably not caught by those guys because they didn't take the time to cast to the back side of the log. Second, the fish went for the bait after it slightly hit the log (I think it wakes them up sometimes). Third, the fish was still there after your last fishing trip...good news.

Btw, got a waterproof iPhone cover now!!!!

"Honor is a man's gift to himself" Rob Roy McGregor

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