Fall is seriously looming, a beautiful season when the leaves turn to various rusty colors, squirrels feverishly bury acorns, and birds begin migrating south. A remark on Facebook recently recounted sighting of white pelicans on their southward journey.
There should be plenty of topics for anglers like the lake turnover, topwater action, and jig fishing, but most of those were covered in the last few columns. A topic for this week started as an exercise in futility, but when that happens, scrolling through images (read memories) sometimes helps.
And so it was when the image with three of our grandchildren holding fish caught my attention. It was taken 18 years ago during the crappie spawn and our grandchildren were visiting.
The first day I fished with 11-year-old Michael, the next day with 10-year-old Nicholas. Each day we caught some nice crappies using 1/8-ounce Blakemore Road Runners. Full of bravado, I took both boys and their 7-year-old sister, Courtney, the following day. The boys were catching fish but Courtney could not get a bite.
She looked at me almost in tears and said, “The fish don't like my lure, may I have a different one?” Courtney was using the same thing as her brothers so her problem was not the lure, more likely it was depth control.
The solution was to use a bobber and minnow instead of a lure. The bobber kept her minnow at the crappie’s depth where she caught fish, and I was off the hook, pun intended. We had a great time and created some lifelong memories.
Michael is married now, he and Robyn love to fish, and will no doubt introduce baby Annabelle to the sport when she can reel in a fish. Nicholas works a charter boat for salmon on Lake Michigan, has his captain’s license, and hopes to have his own boat in the future. Courtney is a mom to 5-year old Blake, who loves to catch bluegill. Fishing has a way of grabbing children and hanging on to them.
Another image triggered the memory of an event that happened a month after the grandchildren’s visit. Marjorie had just taken a few photos of me holding a nice bass when the telephone rang. It was a ‘relative of a relative’ telling us they were nearby and “what were we doing for dinner?”
Normally we only eat white bass or walleye but today this unusual colored bass would be the guest of honor for dinner. Later I learned the fish was a spotted bass, and would have been a ‘Catch/Release’ World Record for the 10-pound test line class in the Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame.
Obviously, it was not my time for a world record fish because a few months later Marjorie managed to land a Catch/Release World Record hybrid striped bass.
We were trolling a Storm Wiggle Wart across a point, watching the rod tip for signs the lure was bumping the bottom. The tip bounced and Marjorie said, “There’s the bottom, more bumps, I’ve got a fish!” The rod bent in a precarious arc and the drag complained loudly.
I turned the boat broadside, shut off the engine, picked up the net, and waited for the fish to wear down. After three strong runs, the hybrid was close enough to net. The problem was, the net’s diameter was 17 inches, and Marjorie was struggling with 28 inches of unhappy hybrid. Note to self – get a bigger net.
Luckily, I netted the fish and lifted it into the boat. We took some pictures, measured, weighed, and released it. The hybrid qualified for a new Catch/Release World Record on 40-pound test line at 9.9 pounds and 28 inches long.
Another image triggered memories of fishing with a neighbor, Bob Godair. We shared an enthusiasm for fishing with a little competitive spirit mixed in. One time, his competitive spirit led him to give our daughter some ‘secret’ lures, hoping she would outfish me. She did, and he responded with a delighted twinkle in his eyes.
Another photo was of my brother Ed who loved to fish for bass, catfish, crappie, or whatever – just as long as it was edible and fun. We often fished off the dock where the catfish liked his nightcrawlers and the crappie ate his minnows. An occasional bass fell for his crayfish and he was happy.
Bob and Ed have gone to a better place, where the bait is always fresh and the fish are always hungry. However, they helped create some lifelong memories.
I am delighted a topic escaped me this week.