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Bob Kavanaugh

Tripod Woes

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I hit the water at 8:00AM today, temps in the high thirties, water temp 57 degrees with current scheduled to run until 10:00. I didn't even have to leave the dock for minnows, they were everywhere, the biggest I've caught yet. This should be a good day.

     I'm debating where to go as I'm headed out of the marina. Do I go up river toward the dam? Or, do I drift down the bluff as I'd planned. I decided to stick with the plan. I rig up my trusty live bait rig with a circle hook, check the current and depth and decide on 2 split shots, pop on a big ol' yellowtail and cast it all out, only to find that my line is a coiled twisty mess, making maintaining contact with my lure an impossible task. I reluctantly take out my drop shot setup, grumbling about not wanting scales all over my nice rod and new reel. I get the rig all set up, pop on a minnow, and sail out a cast that seemingly goes on forever. As soon as the weight hits bottom, the line tears away from the bluff, toward deeper water. I whip the rod tip up, and out of the water comes a beautiful three pound smallmouth. My heart is in my throat, and despite several full body jumps, drag tearing runs toward the depths, and hitting the fish in the head with the landing net, I manage to boat the thing. I turn on the aerator and set her down in the livewell, planning to take a picture at the end of my trip to help remember the great fishing that is sure to be ahead of me.

    By 10:15 all that remains of the once powerful current is a slight movement of the glassy smooth water, noticeable only by watching leaves drift ever so slightly past the shore. The sun pops out from behind the clouds, and I whip the boat around for the best possible light for my much awaited photo session. There are now 5 keeper sized smallmouth in the livewell, and I'm really trying to get my camera set up on the tripod and positioned just right for that perfect photo. A large part of me feels terrible for keeping those beautiful fish captive, so that I can selfishly take a photo of myself holding up two handfuls of fish. But soon, they will be again swimming freely. A quick glance at the screen, and I think I'm set. It takes some time to wrangle the fish from the livewell, the sudden burst of bright sunlight seems to have startled the fish, making what for me is usually a tough task, that much tougher. I grab my first fish, the largest, and one of the other 4, who all seem to be the same size.I plan to take the first photo of myself with only 2 fish. I walk around the camera, press the timer button with a free pinky finger, nearly knocking the tripod over, and press the button on top with the same. I scurry to the back of the boat with my fish and hold them up, waiting for the "click." Once that photo is complete, I get a great idea. I'll press the timer button, then try to load up with the other 3 fish, and all I'll have to do is hit the shutter button with my nose. I try my best to hold all 5, but can only manage 4 total. I decide that this is sufficient, and press the shutter button with my nose, as planned, before scurrying back to wait for the "click." After the picture is taken, I plunge the fish in the water with both fists, wiggling them around a bit before watching them swim off. I toss the fifth fish in on my way to review my pictures.

    This is where things get bad. I am greeted by a white screen as soon as I hit the button to review my much awaited snapshots. "Oh no", I think to myself as my heart drops to the bottom of my gut. I knew right away what went wrong. The camera auto focuses and adjusts for light when you press the shutter button, making no more adjustments before firing off 5 seconds later. By pressing the shutter button with my nose, I blocked the lens, making it pull in the maximum amount of light, while also trying to focus on my cheek, only an inch or so away from the lens. I press the button to check my first picture expecting the worst, and what do you know? My head is cut off. The focus is perfect, but I am the headless fisherman. I also fail to capture the beautiful stripes and patterns these fish have, making them look dull and brown.

    So, despite having the most productive day of live bait fishing for smallmouth I've ever had, I am pretty much disgusted by my lack of photographic prowess. Such is life for the solo fisherman. Pictures of personal best fish at arms length, awkward angles of self pic attempts, and now, tripod and timer woes.

   I can't wait to do it again.

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Ordinarily I'd have some sympathy but since I've never had that kind of fishing success, the green monster makes it difficult. Your photography wasn't too great, perhaps, but the fishing on that occassion sounded phenomenal.  Kudos for that!

p.s., I'm glad to hear you use circle hooks.  You probably spared a few basses lives by using them.

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