This week was fair week, which in looking back at my childhood days always seemed to signal the beginning of the end of summer for a kid who reveled in the freedoms that summer afforded me. Once the fair had come and gone I began to count down to the day when school began. Going to a country school made the inevitable beginning of a new school year much easier to take, but once I started junior high, things changed because there was an element of the unknown that didn’t exist in grade school.
In country school you knew who the kids were that you would have in your class so there was a sort of comfort zone. When I started junior high there was an element of the unknown; like who my teachers would be and who I would have for classmates. It may not seem like a big deal these days, but for a country kid it was quite an adjustment. It wasn’t long before I found new friends to fit in along with the old ones.
After the fair finished for another year we were plunging deeper into the month of August with its hot days and cool nights. This meant that fall was just around the corner and thoughts of football were dancing in my head. I have always loved football and the unmistakable smell of fall that goes along with it.
In late summer, as the days get shorter and fall looms on the horizon, not only does the thought of football overtake me, but fishing is on my mind. I’m not sure if it’s the changing weather and the colors that get me excited over fishing or if it’s the thought of open-water fishing coming to an end that does it. There is something about the thought of hitting the lake early on a cool August morning. This is the time of year you may possibly wake up to a foggy mist hovering over the lake as the cool morning air meets the warmth of the water.
I have awoken on many an August morning with a heavy fog hovering over the lake and, as I headed out to my favorite fishing spot, I would have to tentatively feel my way along, staying close to shore to mark my progress. Once I arrived at my destination I made sure I was out of the way of where I thought any boat traffic might be heading. There is nothing like fishing on a cool, still foggy morning with the silence broken only by the sound of a fish jumping nearby. A foggy morning leaves you with only your imagination to tell you how large that fish was.
A couple weeks ago while fishing with my friend Mark we decided to drop anchor in a small bay on this little lake. I decided to use my ultralight and cast for panfish. After a few casts I had a hit and it was no sunfish, but a nice largemouth bass. After battling him for a couple minutes I had him in the boat. On my very next cast I had another taker; this one felt even larger than the last one and before I knew it I was in a battle. The fish was under the boat, around the boat and then it went to the bottom. I tried to coax it off the bottom, but the fish stubbornly wouldn’t budge. After playing tug-of-war with that fish for a few minutes, I finally wore it down and the fish began to begrudgingly give ground and eventually came to the net. That bass was 18 inches long, but the thing that impressed me was that I caught him on an ultralight with 4-lb. test; that fish really tested me, but my line held strong. There was no way I thought I would ever get it off the bottom, but eventually I managed to win the battle of wills.
This is just another fish story that had a happy ending, but I’ve been in on more than my share of unhappy endings. When you lose a big fish there are many excuses you can come up with, but it all boils down to you versus the fish and you don’t always win that battle. The thrill of the battle will usually suffice, but there are times when losing a fish that would have been your personal best, even though you would have released it, is just a little tough to take.
Until next time: It doesn’t matter what time of year you fish; that lunker could be lurking in the shadows just waiting for your next cast. Please take a little time to make some summer memories by sharing time in the outdoors with family.
Please take some time to honor those that have sacrificed so much for the freedoms that we enjoy today. Take a little time to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice, those who served and those troops that are serving today.