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Tuesday, March 10. 2015
My old neighborhood friend and fishing buddy from West University, Bill Priddy, and I both had jobs with a large computer company in Atlanta and had decided to go after a really big bass. We believed that our best chance at one would be a “pay” lake and we choose Horseshoe Lakes, just outside of Tifton, Georgia, only miles away from where, years earlier, the world record, twenty-two pound large mouth bass had been caught, California excepted.
The dogwoods were blooming spreading their white glory over the hills and hollows, but winter still had its grips on Atlanta as we left on Friday afternoon, March 8, 1979. We spent the night in my camper beside Horseshoe Lake number 1, were up, and on the water before the sun on Saturday.
This place had ten lakes, all stocked with Florida strain largemouth bass. We hadn’t been fishing ten minutes when, “Whamo”, Bill has a jarring strike on a yellow, Piggy Boat. The fish took line and shook its head like a redfish and we couldn’t figure what Bill had tied into. A roll by the boat told us, the high fin giving it away, a channel cat of at least ten pounds. Not the ten-pound bass we were looking for but it would look real good in the skillet!
We fished the first lake hard with spinners, worms and rat-l-traps, but only had the catfish to show for it, so far, not worth the $5.00 fee. We move on to the second lake, by picking up and carrying my twelve foot, Sears, aluminum boat and trolling motor over the levee. A feature I had added to the little boat was three coats of rubberized paint applied to the insides making it nearly soundproof.
The second lake, almost fifty acres, was much like a rice field reservoir along the Texas coast. A deep channel cut all around a square impoundment with about ten feet of shallow water along the sides before the channel dropped off into over six feet of water. The channel, the only structure, was approximately thirty feet wide, sloping up to a large, shallow flat that covered the center of the lake. On both lakes we had not noticed any bass on their spawning beds, but if not today, within the week.
We flipped our casts toward the center of the lake; me a six inch, motor oil colored, worm, rigged Texas style, and Bill, back to his trusty yellow, Piggy Boat, and drug the baits over the shallow water and across, or down, in my case, the drop-off. We finally caught two, three pound, bass, and quickly put both of them back into the water to grow up. Well, we may be onto something, casting toward the middle and working the baits back over the drop-off.
About five minutes after putting the last bass back, I had a jolting strike on my worm. The fish didn’t gently tap-tap-tap, but picked the worm up and “headed south” at full speed. I was using a Mitchell 300, Spinning Reel with ten-pound line and a fairly stiff, six and one half foot spinning rod. I exclaimed to Bill, “I got a big hit Bill, I guess it’s another cat.” I have fished for and hooked a big, blue marlin of over five hundred pounds, a one hundred and twenty pound Pacific sailfish, a sixty pound amberjack (hardest fighter) and a sixty plus pound, kingfish on light tackle, and in comparison, this fish jolted me just like the big ‘uns!
The fish took line and then came to the top and wallowed up, almost into the air and we saw the big mouth. Good heavens, a big, big bass, and all I could do was hang on and hope the hook was set securely in its jaw. Another wallow/jump, the fish was too big to get out of the water all the way, but we could see it more clearly, and it was a whopper! Another short run and my line seemed to be hung up. Guessing the bass had wrapped me around something, I turned on the electric motor and inched toward the point where my line entered the water, Bill saw a motion, a swirl, and the fish had wrapped the line around a snag of some kind.
All in one motion, I cut off the motor, told Bill to stick a paddle into the bottom to hold us, leaned over the side and stuck my arm down into the two and one half foot of cold, water. With my rod held high in my other hand, I ran my hand down the line until feeling the snag. I inched my hand around until I felt the bass, and hoping that I don’t hook myself, tried to lip the fish. No luck. I got a good hold of the snag, pulled it and the fish to the surface and then Bill slipped the net under the huge bass!
We didn’t have a scale, but estimated its weight at over ten pounds. I told Bill, “I felt like I was harvesting rice, reaching down and bringing up the snag, moss and fish, all in one handful. This one is going on the wall.” This was years before you could get a plastic replica of your fish, so we put it on a stringer and kept fishing.
This is THE bass, a 12 pounder, on the hall's wall near my 9 pound trout and my dad's fishing lures.
We caught several more bass, but none even close to the big one, so we decided to find a scale and weigh the fish, then head back home. We found the owner of the lakes who acted as proud as if he had caught the fish himself and his certified scale showed twelve pounds! I couldn’t imagine that I had caught a twelve-pound bass. More pictures were taken, congratulations accepted, the fish was packed in ice and we loaded the boat on top of the camper and headed back.
Back home it seemed like the whole neighborhood came over and the viewing turned into a party. Keeping the fish on ice, on Monday, I took it to the best taxidermist in the Atlanta area in Duluth, Georgia and within a month, my fish was ready. Today, it hangs in the hall of my ranch house, next to a picture box display of my Dad’s old fishing plugs and a replica mount of a nine, pound, speckled trout. But that’s another story.
The Sears, twelve-foot aluminum boat is still providing yeoman service to my son, Randy. He uses it to take his kids bass fishing.
Posted by Jon Bryan in Fishing at 08:05 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
Saturday, September 13. 2014
Since dove season opened up in two more Saturdays, Bill Priddy and I had gone up to our McCulloch County hunting lease to check out the prospects. A lot of birds were flying around, prospects looked good and we even took along our fishing rods. Our objectives this early morning were to see how many doves came into water in the big, two acre, stock tank along Highway 190 and to see if we could catch some bass out of the tank where we hadn’t fished before.
There was a heavy growth of mesquite trees around the perimeter of the stock tank meaning it was an old one, but neither we, nor the rancher, knew if it had ever been stocked before. Bill’s first cast put all of this behind us he was using a silver Rebel, a small plug with a suggestive, wiggle that the fish hit almost as soon as it hit the water. The question about stocking was answered! After a spirited battle, Bill slid the almost three, pound, bass on to the sandy, bank. Unhooking it, we admired his catch as he released it, sliding it back into the water.
In the next fifteen minutes, using my trusty Piggy Boat, pictured below, I hadn’t had a strike, while Bill had one more. Knawing doubt crept into my mind, should I change to a Rebel?
At the same time, in my peripheral vision, I noticed movement to my left. Turning toward the movement, along came this brightly colored snake, a big one, almost five foot long, dark, red bands, with black, yellow and black rings. First thing that came to my mind was the old saying "Red and yellow kills a fellow. Red and black is safe for Jack." Letting it slide on past, I thought it was some kind of a king snake, but later after consulting some “herp” books I determined it was a Mexican milk snake(Lampropeltis triangulum annulata). I dug this picture up from Wikipedia.
Piggy Boats, “safety pin” spinners, are great for stock tanks and small lakes, over the years I’ve had super luck using them, so, I thought, No changing for me. More casts, no hits, as Bill plugged away, out scoring me with his Rebel. Casting down, parallel to the bank, about two feet out from the shore, my Piggy Boat stopped. These plugs, with the hooks installed properly, are virtually weedless and thinking I was fouled on some unseen, underwater obstruction, pulled on the object until the reel clicked as the drag paid out, but this wasn’t a “foul up”, it was a fish!
The fish headed away from the shore for deep water, taking line, more like a redfish, then it came to the surface clearing the water and I saw it was a big, big bass. More runs, more jumps, the splashes attracting Bill as he walked over to me, but I was winning this “fight” and soon I slipped the big, bass up onto the bank. Lipping it, unhooking the plug from the corner of its mouth, I held it up for us to admire. He had a Deliar in his pocket and we weighed the bass, eight pounds, twelve ounces, not a twelve pounder, my personal best, Bill was with me when I caught that one too, see my August 6, 2007 post, "A Really Big Bass", but still, this one was a nice one too!
Keeping on fishing, we didn’t notice any doves coming into this tank and as the morning heated up, still no doves, the bass stopping too. It turned out, the doves weren’t watering at this tank, but we found two more that afternoon that they were using and had wonderful shooting, two weeks later.
Continuing to fish in this tank and catching some nice ones, it appears that we answered the question though, that the tank had been stocked once before!
Posted by Jon Bryan in Fishing at 08:05 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
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