Sunday, September 5, 2010

The Fish that Started it All

by Michele

        Four summers ago on Lake Kashagawigamog, a five pound smallmouth bass started my love of lake and river fishing. My husband had received a top of the line reel for his 50th birthday and a trip to Bass Pro added a near mortgage payment of supplies to it. A solid rod, many lures, jerk baits, hooks, a net, sinkers and bobbers filled up an old tackle box. He was ready. Oh, and of course he paid for the necessary license!

        Our friend and cottage owner Jane, seemed a bit skeptical as he cast from her dock. Seems her father and brothers didn’t catch much in that location in years gone by. Standing there on the dock, I decided to give it a try. In the shed, I found Jane’s old fishing rod and a “hula popper” - a glob of painted wood with a fringe and a nasty hook. I figured out how to cast with this bait-caster type reel and let it fly. It felt powerful to hurl this thing way out into the water. I did it two, maybe three times. I had just said to my husband, “What sort of fish would be stupid enough to think that the hula popper is food?“ And it hit. I felt a thunderous tug and started to holler, “Fish, fish, fish, I got a fish!” My husband was trying to keep me calm and finally I just hurled the pole to him. I didn’t want to lose the fish. I wanted to see what kind of creature was on the end of that line. It was all flurry and commands and I got the net and lifted it onto the dock. My first Ontario smallmouth and it was a five pound, eighteen incher! Jane ran for the camera and was surprised to see a fish that size on her dock. It was the opening day of bass season, 2006, and that was the biggest bass I have caught to date. We cooked up the fish, added some Lays and had “fish and chips.”

         That bass was not the only one that was hooked. I was too. We made another trip to Bass Pro, but for me this time. I wanted my own equipment. That summer we caught dozens of fish, took hundreds of photos and learned where every fishing hole was within a two hour drive from our home. Not being boat owners, we discovered unsuspecting fish under bridges over rivers, streams and connectors between lakes. We fished from riverbanks, concrete wharves and old wooden docks.

       My husband purchased a book for me called, (of course), Fishing For Dummies. I loved how in the opening paragraph it said something like, “A fish has only two goals, eat and not get eaten.” I learned a lot from that book, but most of what I know comes from imitation. I watched my husband. If he jigged the line, I did. If he just dropped the lure and it sank to the bottom, I did the same. He advised me on what bait to use and when to use it. He unsnaggled many bird’s nests of line that caught around my spinning reel until I learned to use it properly. And though he tried, with patience, on many occasions to teach me how to take the fish off the hook, I still can’t do it. It freaks me out! I’ve since adopted the use of barbless hooks. This cuts down on how many times I have to interrupt my husband to unhook my fish.

        Fishing, for me, has been a delight. Catching a trophy fish is a thrill, but other benefits outweigh this. We’ve gotten off the couch and outside. We spend long hours in the car, having “car moments” of intimate conversation and fellowship. We’ve rejoiced together when the catch has been good and we’ve voiced prayers of thanksgiving for all that God has given. I'm so grateful for the bass that started it all!

At Cragleith

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