It Was A Record

Jake Shroder and I were both fisherman and some of our first adventures together in Arizona were several trips to Lake Pleasant, north of Phoenix, at the time a 20, minute trip up Interstate 17. Now the town has almost surrounded the lake.

Back then, the spring of 1972, Jake had an original Skeeter Bass Boat with a 55 HP, 3 cylinder, outboard. It was an early model of the Skeeter with a flat bottom and, of all things, not a steering wheel, but stick steering. If I remember correctly, you pushed the stick forward to turn to port (left) and pulled back to turn starboard (right), however, it served our purposes well!

We would put in at the State launch ramp and head straight for the dam and try to fish inside the restraining cables. The dam had a watchman, or “The Troll” as we called him. We never met him, but almost became friends, because he ran us off from inside the cables so many times, he surely couldn’t have been a fisherman. Until the “The Troll” would run us off, we would cast up on the side of the dam and bounce our special multiple jigs back down the side, awaiting a strike from a white bass.

White bass in Arizona you say? Yes, years before, Texas had traded millions of white bass fingerlings to Arizona for a large number of Rio Grande turkeys. Texas repopulated most of the State with turkeys and Arizona, at Lake Pleasant, created a great fishery for white bass.

This particular trip was on a beautiful desert morning, clear, no wind, and for a while we were the only folks fishing around the dam. I asked Jake, “Do you see “The ‘Troll’,” “No ‘Troll’ in sight,” he replied, so under the restraining cable we went. After several casts, I had a strike with some weight behind it, must be a catfish I thought. It made a nice run, more like a red fish, then swirled the top of the water and took off again. Soon we lipped it and swung it into the boat, maybe the biggest white bass ever. We estimated it was 7 pounds or more. What a fish! Onto the stringer it went, and back to casting.

Catching another white, much smaller, out came “The Troll”. “You boys get behind the restraining line, OK.” His first warning were always nice. We waved to him and kept fishing. “Behind the restraining line!” More firm. We waved and kept fishing. He was beginning to annoy us. “Move that blankety-blank boat or I’m going to give you a blankety-blank ticket, blankety blank it!” It was time to move, so we started up and headed out into the lake. We noticed a fisherman in a boat right up on the restraining line laughing at our encounter with “TheTroll”. He said, “I saw you caught a nice white, let me see it.” We showed him and said we thought it would weigh 7 pounds or more. “Real nice,” he said as we motored off. We took both white bass home and ate them.

Several months later I got a call from Jake and he said, “You remember that big white bass you caught out at ‘Unpleasant’,” our new name for the lake. I said, “Sure do, it ate real good!” He went on to tell me that the fisherman we showed the fish to was an outdoor writer for the local newspaper, and of all things, he wrote and was published in a national outdoor magazine, an article about the white bass fishing in Lake Pleasant, and most embarrassing, about 2 Texas boys who caught a monster white bass, easily a new state record, didn’t register it with the state, but like all good meat fishermen, took it home and ate it.

Always remember, that if records interest you, most times the state will keep the fish, and you can’t eat it