Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The Best of Friday

My apologies for the dearth of postings, all you regulars (the three of you) are aware of why the postings have been so sparse. There has been found a remedy, albeit temporary, but a solution it is. I have Cactus to thank for it.

Thanks Cactus!

OK, so back to telling you how phenomenal last Friday was. At 0600, I arrived at my parents’ house to disembark on a fishing expedition with the elder Mr. Soderberg; my Dad.

We headed to the private lake (I REALLY can’t tell anybody else where it is, he blindfolded me at a crossroad as a security measure) where he reported in the neighborhood of 20 fish being caught last Monday. This lake is loaded with black bass.

The twisting, turning, convoluted double footpath on the other side of the locked gate ran us deep into the tallow and hackberry forest, with glimpses of lake and partial lake meadows in between. We finally arrived at the corner of a man-made lake with glassy water and some miniature islands, grasses and hydrilla along a channel not three feet deep. But the water was clear and in good shape.

We started out with worm fishing (Dad) and spinnerbait (me). He drew first blood, and while it’s nice to watch your dear old Dad catching fish and laughing, there is only so much you can stand while not duplicating the activities. After about three of the joyous outbursts, I had endured just about enough and abandoned the spinnerbait.

A Cocahoe minnow was my weapon of choice, red with a white tail. On the first cast, I hooked up with a small bass, and that was the way the day ran for several hours. The quarry ranged from about a pound-and-a-half to a beast that was over five pounds. Well, it was five pounds on Friday, but today I think it had grown to nearly six, and I am not sure how much she will weigh next week. I anticipate the growth to be a geometric progression. It was, in fact, the biggest black bass I had ever caught; just look at the unretouched telephone photo and where it comes on me. Good sized fish, brothers and sisters.

My Dad caught one nearly as big (operative word “nearly”) a little later, and you can see the scale in the next photo. The sizes ranged from my thirty-seven pounder and my Dad’s four-and-a-half pounder down to two pounds and the one to one-and-a-half pounders. All were athletic and well-marked, healthy and sparkly green.

As the morning progressed, the action eased up a bit, and we tried some different lures. The sun rose a little more over the trees, and a slight breeze came up. The cicadas began their raspy chainsaw chorus in the trees, immediately raising the temperature just by virtue of the relentless sound.

Changing to topwater seemed to be the strategy of the moment, so thus armed, we attacked the water with a renewed vigor. The first cast of the big treble-hooked topwater lure yielded the big fish that I so proudly display above. This continued for a time, and as expected, that action slowed as it inevitably does.

That indicated a change back to “the worm strategy”. My Dad used a Texas rig and I, dedicated as I am to saltwater soft plastics, used a sand eel in a pumpkinseed color with a yellow tail on an eighth-ounce jig head.

We both noticed an increasing number of tiger striped dragonfly couples darting up and down across the surface of the lake, and the bass of all sizes were cartwheeling after the (apparently) tasty insects. As a matter of fact, one of the fish I caught still had a half-swallowed pair of dragonflies in his throat, alongside my sand eel and hook.

The sand eel served me well, even up until a particularly savage strike removed half of the brave lure. The body was roughened by the rasp-like teeth of the bass and was barely recognizable. As a side-note, my left thumb was beginning to look the same. After removing the hook from the bass’ mouth, I decided to throw the truncated plastic bait a couple more times. To my surprise, the hungry largemouths kept relentlessly attacked my offering, until which time I retired it to my pocket, to show as a trophy.

The breeze kept blowing, the fish kept hitting and the sun began to beat down with a purpose and by eleven, I was beginning to show signs of wear. At one point, I sat down at the bank and cast to the grass across the channel. Sure enough, a fish hit the lure and I had to stand up to bring him in. That was when, jokingly, I exclaimed, “I’m just BORED!” with my hands on my hips, looking down on the fish with feigned disgust. My dad replied with a hearty laugh.

Shortly thereafter, HE caught another one, and then HE exclaimed, “Now I’m bored, TOO!”

My thirst began to build, and staring into the clear water, I nearly tempted myself into flopping into the lake to take a long drink. Of course, the proximity of the old landfill was also in my mind (the reason we didn’t keep the fish) and wondering what dangerous lead/mercury/arsenic/cocktail had maybe leached out into the water was deterrent enough.

Along about then, my Dad proffered a suggestion that whenever I was ready, we could go. I countered by asking him if he were anywhere near ready. After a couple of hems and haws by both of us, we finally admitted that we were just TIRED OF CATCHING BASS!

That’s a hard statement to make, that’s why it took another couple of casts to convince ourselves that we were still Texans.

On the drive out, we reveled in time spent together, the smell of fish slime, and the scars borne by our shredded thumbs.

SO much better than a good day working, I can’t even fully express!


invigilator_tex said...

Oh man! That WAS worth the wait. What a great fishing story, Geez. And pictures to back it up too.

You know what the best part was though? You were with your dad. What a great post Father's Day tribute.

Now if I can enlarge and scan the horizon for recognizable landmarks I just might be able to figure out where this hot spot is...

aA said...

Thanks Tex! It was great to be with my little Daddy at-or-near Father's Day...serendipity really.

As far as your geographical sleuthing, forgetaboutit. It's just the standard "coastal plain with tallow trees" landscape that covers an area roughly equal to the state of Connecticut.

Howlsatmoon said...

Good fishin' is always good, 'cept that I have found that there is a fine line "atween fishin'....and standin' on the shore lookin' like an idjit"

The latter is usually fishless ol' Wollf.....

aA said...

Wollf, you shoulda been with US on Friday, then. I think there was enough for everybody.

Besides, my Dad is a Marine, you guys coulda compared notes! In between landing bass, that is.

Rob V. said...

aA --

If you did not suffer from the "shredded thumbs" caused by handling the fish, then you probably would not suffer from eating fish caught in the lake. Shoulda took 'em home and had a fish fry. You can always cook a small one and feed it to a neighbor's cat to test the poison level. Neighbor's cats make good beta testers.

cactus mary said...

I hope Rob V. doesn't live near me!