One week after catching the 7-pound plus largemouth, I was back on the water armed with the same quarter ounce white Bush-hog bait. This week, both the purpose and weather for this fishing trip than was the case for the previous week’s trip (see previous post for more info).
Last Club Bass Tourney – November, 1976
When I arrived at the ramp early on November 7th (1976), I met Harry and the rest of the bass club members who were fishing the last tournament of the season. Harry was the person who introduced me to organized bass fishing tournaments and the club earlier that year.
Now this wasn’t one of those big-money deals you see on the ESPN or the cable sports channels, this was a small club event to qualify a team that would represent the club at the state fish-offs during the Summer of 1977. As a matter of fact, there was no money involved in the tournament at all, just points to help earn a place on the team.
Hi-Tech (?) Bass Rigs!
As we loaded the equipment into the boat (a 14-foot, v-hull aluminum boat altered to serve the needs of most fisherman in the 70s (seats, livewell, electric trolling motor, depth finder, etc.), we both noticed the increasing cloud cover and talk of snow by the afternoon weigh-in.
Perfect weather to catch pneumonia errr I mean a boatload of bass!
Once everyone had launched and the start time passed, the armada of boats powered by 20 HP outboards (yes that is 20 … not 200 HP like today … LOL) zoomed down the lake to their various “honey holes” (a.k.a. – secret spots most everyone knew about). Since this was only my second time on that lake, I yielded to Harry’s experience and we headed off to one of his spots on the northwest side of the pond.
The Quest Begins …
His main “honey hole” was located in a shallow bay (actually the whole lake is pretty shallow) with a creek in one corner delivering freshwater and nutrients on a continuing basis. Another key feature in the bay is the number of boulders, some small and submerged while others were large and partly exposed, scattered across different parts of the cove.
After shutting down the outboard and switching over to the electric motor, Harry let me know he had been catching fish off the numerous rocks for the last week or so. He suggested jigs, thin-bodied minnow plugs (Rapalas) and spinnerbaits. Once we were close enough to the boulder area, we both started fishing jigs by bouncing them slowly across the bottom. Each time the jig would contact something hard (a boulder), we noted its position so we could fish it again later when hopefully things “warmed –up”.
We continued fishing through the area with the jigs catching yellow perch and an occasional short bass (less than 12” long) but nothing to put in the livewell. Definitely not the most engaging conditions (few fish, cold temps tend to drain energy and attention) but at least the coffee in the thermos was hot keeping us in the game.
A couple of other club members stopped to say hi (checking out Harry’s honey hole of course) and find out how we were doing. Based on the information exchanged it sounded like the first few hours of the tournament were pretty slow for everyone and only a couple of anglers had keeper bass in the livewell.
So as the last visitor headed off to their next spot and Harry turned the boat around for another pass through the boulder field. While approaching the area, a plan was set so each of us would get an equal shot at a boulder first before the other would fish it. We changed baits, both switching to a spinnerbait, Harry throwing a chartreuse and white Bomber while I threw, you guessed it, the white Bush-hog.
The first few boulders produced nothing then suddenly Harry set the hook and reeled in a nice 14 inch bass weighing a little less than two pounds. He quickly let me know to stop the lure the moment it came over the top and was at the edge closest to the boat letting it “helicopter” back to the bottom. His bass hit just as it started to flutter towards the bottom.
Another couple of rocks later, Harry again hooked up, this time with a much bigger fish, albeit a big chain pickerel! Though the pickerel was around four pounds, it didn’t count since it was bass tournament not a pickerel tourney.
I have admit, though I was happy for Harry, I was starting to get a little antsy and cold since he was doing all the catching!
With the next cast, however, that all changed …
As my lure made contact with the next boulder, I quickly remembered what Harry had said about letting the spinnerbait helicopter one it cleared the edge.
So the moment bait cleared the boulder, I stopped reeling then “pop”, the line straightened and I set the hook quickly feeling the weight of the fish. As the fish started to move off it definitely felt better than the usual keeper bass and after carefully playing the fish for a few minutes, Harry netted it and swung it into the boat.
A beautiful, chunky 17” bass weighing just over three pounds lay wriggling in the nets web … cool! (Actually, I wasn’t cool or cold at all after catching that fish since the juices started flowing.)
Over the next hour and a half, I caught two more fish of similar size on the white Bush-hog spinnerbait while Harry caught his second, a 16.5” bass weighing ~2.75 pounds. Suddenly finding ourselves within the last two hours of the tournament and with the wind was picking up speed, we headed back do to the south end of the lake near the ramp to finish out the day.
Beginning of the End …
By the time our watches showed 3:00 PM (the end of the day and beginning of the weigh-in) we were already on shore; the wind had really started to howl; and snowflakes were beginning to fly.
After Harry and I both weighed our fish, we loaded the boat on the trailer and waited final word of the day’s effort. When the standings for the day were finally announced, Harry’s 4.25 pound weight had netted him fourth place and my 10.1 pounds landed me in first!
I had my first bass tournament win and on the white Bush-hog to boot!
As I loaded the tackle and rods into my car, I noticed the white Bush-hog spinnerbait had some of the paint chipping off the head and blades. While driving back home from the tournament, I started reflecting on the two trips of the last several days. It didn’t take long before I decided to retire the white Bush-hog spinnerbait and place it in the mouth of the 7 pound bass once it returned from the taxidermist …
Some bass lures truly are special and I am very glad to be the owner of one!