Monday, September 5, 2011


Just for the record;  I throw all mine back----carefully.
I'm sitting in the truck at an out of the way boat ramp along Route 11W on Cherokee Lake.  The ramp is called the Correyville Boat Ramp.  The time is 5:30AM.  I just woke up earlier than normal this morning and got the bug to go fishing.  Actually Shade rolled onto her right side and about crushed me when she did.  

Rain is gently falling, as it has done all night, and I'm wondering what the hell I'm doing here in the rain, in the dark and at this ungodly hour.  The Gheenoe is behind my old truck and I am waiting for first light so I can see what I'm doing.  I thought I would have the boat ramp and parking lot all to myself but, there is another truck and boat parked in the lot just to my right.  Two guys are hurriedly moving here and there about the boat adjusting this and that and carrying boxes and fishing rods from the truck to the boat.  They briefly stop and lean on the boat to confer.  Their voices were mumbles as I'm too far away to hear their conversation.  One guy goes to the rear of the boat and presses the button that raises and lowers the engine.  He then lifts both rear deck hatches, peers in and closes them.  It's plain to see they can't wait for the light of day;  and the rain comes down harder.
Just what is it about this "bass fishing" that compels grown men to exit home at early hours of the morning, leaving family and responsibility, to venture out on a lonely lake at sun up to chase a fish?   Many own boats that cost almost what most houses cost.  Well;  they have to get to the bass before the other guy gets there first.  I am on the water every day performing my job and see first hand the intensity of the anglers as they search for this finned,  piscivorous creature of the lake.
A  bass angler's tenacity in the bass search is super human.  They blast from cove to cove in their boats trying the water with rod and lure.   Unsuccessful bass catches result in new search efforts in other suspected bass lairs like rocky shoreline areas, underwater valleys and humps and the mouths of streams and coves.  This process, search and fish, continues for the entire time the angler is on the water.  At times one can hear a jubilant "Gotcha" mingled with reinforcing laughter from his partner,  echoing clear across the lake from a successful fisherman.  But, what is it that motivates this child like attitude toward the search for bass?   Part of the explanation, I think, is that the search for the bass involves the application of fishing gear which is considered by some to be, not only a child's toy but, an adults as well.  Of course the well equipped angler needs a boat to get him to the bass spots.  Boats are fun for adults to drive.  Then there's the truck.  The well equipped angler needs a good truck to pull his bass boat.  Trucks are fun to drive also.  So, we have our angler driving his really neat four wheel drive truck with his new bass boat on his new trailer to the boat ramp.  Once there, he puts all his fishing rods on the boat along with a well equipped tackle box loaded with all the newest, hottest baits and launches his boat for a day's bass fishing.  In reality;  if his equipment is fairly new and of the professional variety, he has showed up at the boat ramp with $80,000 worth of gear not counting food and gas.
This does not hold true for all fishermen but, it does for those who like to fish tournaments.  However, the two guys sharing this parking lot with me appear to have a $1000 boat and a truck almost in the same shape as mine, which isn't a pretty sight.  Point is that there is a lot of effort that some guys put into their bass fishing.  Imagine spending $80,000 to catch a fish worth, well, worth----who knows?

Others are pulling boats into this parking lot now.  It's starting to get crowded and the sun is a half hour away from lighting up the world.  There are now three additional fishermen standing with the two originals.  One thing about fishermen;  they are a gregarious bunch.  Total strangers will walk up to total strangers and exchange conversation as if they knew each other all their lives.  Lake fishermen are a great bunch of common sense guys.  Very level headed and practical thinking.  I like em--especially the old timers.
I can hear bits and pieces of the conversation being held next door.  It's all about strategy.  It's about where to go first, then second.  Not a word about politics or Obama.  It's all about the bass.  Lots of boats are arriving at the lot;  expensive rigs with high horsepower engines.  This is too crowded for me.  I'm moving on down the road to Caney Creek where the ramp is located on a tiny parking lot.  The high end guys won't go there.  The water is too shallow to risk launching their high end, expensive boats.  As I slowly pull away I noticed each of my neighbors tilt their heads toward the dark sky as if imploring the sun to hurry up and light things up so they could be under way in search for Mr. Bass.

Listen to me talk.  Here I sit in this truck also waiting for the sun to rise.  What have I become?
Douglas;  I hope you're not watching me this morning.