The sun was almost up as Bill Priddy cast the silver Rebel fishing plug about 36 inches out from the bank and was greeted by a solid strike, with the bass immediately taking to the air. Looks like this stock tank had been stocked with bass before, the rancher didn’t know for sure and Bill and I were checking it out. Bill slid the 3, pounder on to the sandy bank, unhooked it and slid it back into the water, commenting, “What a way to answer the rancher’s question.”
This trip to our newly acquired McCulloch County hunting lease was set up to scout for dove, the season opened in 2 weeks, but the rancher “insisted” that we check out this 2 acre stock tank, so mixing scouting and fishing, we “killed 2 birds with one stone”!
My bait of choice was a yellow Piggy Boat, pictured to the left, an early “safety pin” spinning bait, almost snag less if the hooks were installed properly, almost weed less and a proven “killer” for small lake and stock tank fishing, but his success cast a knawing doubt, if this was the right choice of baits. Several casts later my doubts increased, so I thought Four more casts and I’ll switch 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 5 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 “Bing”, I determined that it was a Mexican milk snake, pictured below from Wikipedia.
More casts, no hits, as Bill plugged away, out scoring me with his Rebel. Casting down, parallel to the bank, about 2 feet out from the shore, my Piggy Boat stopped, 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, 8 pounds, 12 ounces, not a 12 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 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 stopped too. It turned out, the doves weren’t watering at this tank, but we found 2 more that afternoon that they were using and had wonderful shooting, 2 weeks later.
Years later, my son’s and I went up to the lease to fill our corn feeders, after this chore was taken care of, we had some time, the boys choose to go after some bull frogs and I opted for bass. I drove up along side of Hwy. 190 and with my spinning rod and trusty Piggy Boat spinner bait, climbed out of my Suburban, went through the fence, walked over the tank damn and began casting out into the 2 acre tank. Years earlier, before dove season, Bill Priddy and I had scouted out this tank and enjoyed some good fishing, catching several almost whoppers, me adding an 8 plus pounder, but didn’t see any doves that morning.
Catching and throwing back several 2 pounders, I worked my way around the tank and along the shore, not 50 feet in front of me, on its side, was a big fish. Walking up to it, it turned out to be a bass, a big one, its gills were barely moving and made no effort to escape to deeper water.
Never having seen this before and putting my rod down, I knelt beside the fish. The fish made no effort to escape my grasp as I turned it over. There was no sign of injury on either side, so I edged out into the water and tried to resuscitate the bass by moving it forward, forcing water over its gills. No luck with that try, so I replaced it on its side stepped out of the water and the bass had stopped moving its gills! It was gone and loosing heart for fishing, I left the bass on the edge of the water. The next morning, no bass, I bet it fed some turtles?
If predators don’t get ‘em, bass have the ability to live a long time, 16-20 years. My best guess was that central Texas’ hot weather and low oxygen content of the water could have combined to kill it. For sure, extreme cold didn’t cause this one’s death.
I’ve always wondered if this was the big bass that I had caught several years before?