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Tuesday, May 17. 2011
On a late spring Saturday morning, my father-in-law, O.H. Buck, my dad and I had driven into the bottoms along the Trinity River north of Dayton, Texas. Weâ€™d taken this opportunity to go camping, hunting and fishing and Saturday afternoon, both of them were hunting squirrels and Iâ€™d taken this opportunity to try out Buckâ€™s jigging pole.
The only difference was that weâ€™d rewrapped the rod and left over 6 feet of line on the tag end where a spoon was attached. Usually we jigged from a boat and used a short line with 2 hooks, but this time Iâ€™d be walking stealthily along the backwater, back from the almost level, bank, using trees for some cover, trying to make the spoon look like a small fish, darting about the shallows, for a better word, we called it dabblinâ€™. In the same area this past duck season, while sneaking ducks, Iâ€™d come across a man using a cane pole and a long piece of line with a spoon attached. He was bass fishing, had several on his stringer, we both quipped that this was a good area for mallards and bass, but neither of us had ever encountered another group in this place!
Hearing Buckâ€™s .22, pop in the distance, I knew that weâ€™d have squirrel for supper, but my attention was focused on the long, Calcutta pole that I was dabblinâ€™ in the shallow water of a slough off of the Trinity. My bait of choice, tied securely on the end of 6 feet of 60, pound, braided line, was a silver spoon, with a single hook and fluorescent attractor, that I dabbled along slowly, awaiting, what I had hoped for, was a savage strike from a largemouth bass.
The savage strike wasnâ€™t long in coming! The 3 pounder set the hook when it engulfed the spoon and when its thrashing around subsided, I hand over handed the cane pole back towards me until reaching the fish that I unhooked, then walked back and tied the stringer to a handy tree near the water and slipped the bass on.
My dadâ€™s 20, gauge, boomed, probably another squirrel, as I walked past where the bass had hit. Dabbling along, trying to use the trees for cover, 100 yards down the slough, another bass smashed the spoon and I held on, but this one was a 14 incher, not the big, splashing fight of the bass on the stringer. This was a keeper too so I unhooked it, walked back to the handy tree and slipped it on. Deciding that this wouldnâ€™t work too well, me walking back to this particular tree with anymore fish, I carried the stringer until Iâ€™d fished a spot, then Iâ€™d find a tree, put the fish in the water and keep on dabblinâ€™
Staying back from the bank was made easier with the long pole. However, it looked like the more hidden I became, strikes would follow, so trying to get my 190 pounds behind a 6 inch tree was impossible, but the pole helped me to get back away from the fishâ€™s line of sight.
Walking almost a mile down the slough, I picked up another bass, a 16 incher that I slipped on the stringer, then turned around and walked back to our camp. This was really a different kind of fishing for me, sneaking along, dabblinâ€™ the spoon in the shallows, waiting for a strike and most surprising, catching 3 bass. The bass would fry up real good for breakfast, too!
Posted by Jon Bryan in Fishing at 08:05 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
Friday, March 26. 2010
The period of my life from 1960 to 1964 was spent finishing up my Army Reserve duty, working three jobs and welcoming my first child, Brad.Â All of this left precious little time for any outdoor activities.Â However, several times during this period I did have the opportunity to spend a Saturday hunting or fishing in the Trinity River bottoms, between Dayton and Liberty, Texas.Â
We would enter â€œThe Bottomsâ€, as we called it, at a remote place near Dayton, at the Kennefic Fire Tower, then proceed down seven miles of probably the worst road in the United States.Â This road was always flooded, mud axel deep on a jeep, deceiving ruts that covered bogs and the home of the largest mosquitoes on the Gulf Coast.
In March of 1964, my Dad and I, along with our redneck, friend from Philadelphia, Mississippi, John Henley, braved the bad road with Johnâ€™s Jeep and hauled a twelve foot aluminum boat into the oxbow lake.Â Surprisingly, going into â€œThe Bottomsâ€ we only got stuck twice, no problem with a big winch and a lot of cable!
John took out for an afternoon of squirrel hunting, while my Dad and I hefted the boat into the lake for a go at some bass.Â Â We would meet at twilight to head back to civilization. This oxbow lake was, in reality, an old river channel that always had water in it but the depth varied according to rain and subsequent flooding of the Trinity River. The river hadnâ€™t flooded this year so the lake was â€œdownâ€ a little.
We both were â€œarmedâ€ with six foot, bait casting rods and red, Ambassaduer casting reels loaded with fifteen, pound line.Â My bait of choice was a yellow, Piggy Boat spinner and my Dad was using one of his favorites, a Pico Perch, a swimming bait with a tantalizing wiggling action.Â The action was hot and heavy and during our afternoons fishing, I donâ€™t believe we changed our lures one time!
After we launched the boat, for silences sake before casting, we paddled up the lake for a hundred yards.Â My first cast was met with a solid strike and the fish, a two-pound, bass, took to the air, spending more time jumping than in the water.Â My Dadâ€™s second cast was a duplicate of mine, so within five minutes, we had already boated two bass!Â The bass kept hitting and within an hour we had a good mess for supper and started culling the fish, only keeping the good ones.Â Several times during the afternoon we heard Johnâ€™s .22 crack, so we knew that he too was scoring on some squirrels.Â
Casting into a likely spot, just as the spinner hit the surface, I had a savage strike, but didnâ€™t get the hooks set.Â My Dad sped up his retrieve so he could cast into the likely spot, but with the change of pace of his retrieve, he had a big strike too.Â Feeling the hooks, the fish, a three- foot, alligator gar, went airborne immediately!Â Several short runs and five or six jumps later the gar tired and as my Dad kept the pressure on, I was able to grab it behind the head.Â Â Long nose pliers made getting the Pico Perch out of the gars mouth easy, but looking at the teeth, I couldnâ€™t do it fast enough!
As the afternoon wore down, we started rowing back to the Jeep, casting to fishey looking spots.Â My Dad had a heavy strike and unlike the bass and gar, the fish didnâ€™t take to the air.Â It made a long run down the middle of the channel, we both wondered, what kind of fish was this?Â My Dad said, â€œThis ones fighting like a red or a big drum!â€Â Another long run and a wallow at the boat only told us that it was a big fish.Â Neither one of us could identify it.Â As the fish tired, Daddy grabbed it by the lower jaw, or lip, and held on.Â The long noses helped retrieve his lure, we slipped a stringer through both lips and then tied it down.
We guessed the fish was a fresh water drum, but, back at the Jeep, John correctly identified it as a buffalo, Ictiobus bubalus and said that they were quite bony.Â (No, he didnâ€™t know the scientific name.)Â Before we released the buffalo, we weighed it and it pulled the hand scales down to the max, twelve pounds.Â The fish must have weighed fifteen or better?
We had a good mess of bass, good memories of the gar and buffalo, and John had a bag full of â€œtree ratsâ€, so this afternoonâ€™s fishing/hunting trip could be called a success, however, the drive out still awaited us!Â It was â€œa piece of cakeâ€, we only got stuck three times and winching out in the dark wasnâ€™t so bad after all!
Posted by Jon Bryan in Fishing at 08:05 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
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