I’m just like you. I have a full-time job, three beautiful daughters, a lovely wife, and a cat. I’m just like you, except way less good at fishing. Recently, I found myself in need of a hobby that did not consist of tea parties, Dora the Explorer, or a multitude of animated movies.
“Fishing!” I thought to myself. “Now, there’s a nice, peaceful way for me to get back to center and calm the frayed nerves of a busy life.” I went to get a couple of rod and reel combos and a bit of tackle.
A bit of back story. I have fished before, but I haven’t wet a line in 14 years when I was in high school. I borrowed my dad’s rod, threw some chicken livers on, parked my rear on a dock, and called it catfishing.
So, here I go. I walk into the big box outdoor store to do some serious shopping and be on my way to the lake. I walk over to the fishing section as proud as you please, and Oh. My. God. What is all this stuff? Soft plastics, crankbaits? Sure, I got it. But what the heck is a jerk bait and a buzz bait? And why are those plastic worms shaped like lizards and giant roaches? Why is there so much . . . everything?
Ok, I’m not proud, and I don’t want to spend a bunch of money on stuff I don’t need, so I grabbed the sales associate to lend a hand. I couldn’t tell if Steve, the sales associate, knew what he was talking about or if he was selling what the store told him to sell. Either way, it was more than I knew.
Steve took me over to the combo rods and showed me medium action and medium-heavy action. “Steve,” I said, “No matter what you tell me, I’m not going to understand it right now. Just put me on something that will hopefully catch some fish.”
“What kind of fish?”
“No,” I said. “I just didn’t realize there was this much to fishing.”
So I ended up with one smaller combo for pan fishing, which I’m told is used for fish like bream and crappie, and two combos for bass fishing. One was a spinning reel, and the other was a baitcaster.
“Have you ever used a baitcaster before?” Steve asked me ominously.
“No. I’ll Youtube it. I heard it can be tricky.” Steve’s lack of response was some Shakespearian foreshadowing.
Rods and reels down, bait to go. I came armed with a list from the Internet of the “Best Baits for Bass Fishing.” An hour later, armed with about seven lures and a couple of packs of plastic worms and critters, I am ready to fish!
I traveled down to the local greenway, parked, and was ready to set the state record for catching largemouth bass. I’m no dummy. I told Steve that I would watch a few videos on using a baitcaster, so I did. Seems pretty straightforward, turn that knob there, so the lure falls slowly, turn the other knob for some arbitrary reason, use your thumb to stop the spool, and boom, you’re fishing! I even went so far as to make a few practice casts to ensure that I would be alright. Perfect. No problems.
Down to the water, I went. I found a nice spot on the bank that was relatively cleared off and even offered a few downed logs that I thought would be good for a few hidden lunkers. With a finesse worm attached to my baitcaster, I reared back for a powerful cast, snapped the rod forward, and whack!
That didn’t sound like I thought it would, and it only went about 10 feet. So I wanted to give it another shot. I looked down at my reel as I went to wind in the line, and it appeared as if one thousand white spiders had exploded in my hand. No problem, I thought, I’ll pull this out, and I’ll be fine.
It didn’t pull out. “Hmm. Maybe if I pull on some of these loops.” Yea, that didn’t work either. After an hour of wrestling with the spool and only a half a cast under my belt, I decided to give the spinning reel a go.
Seeing how the finesse worm was bad luck, I tied on a Rat-L-Trap. This was a beautiful arcing cast that went about 60 feet in the air and twenty feet in front of me. “Release point,” I thought to myself, just like throwing a baseball. The next cast was a low liner that skidded across the lake, but it was farther out, so I went with it.
I varied my retrieves from fast to slow, and the one thing that I learned was if there was a branch in that lake, the Rat-L Trap would bring it to me. I felt like the lord of stick fishing. “Deeper water is what I need.” I moved around the lake, which was its blooper reel in itself, until I found a place with a large stump sticking out of the water. I aimed at the stump and threw one out there, and it was a beauty. It fell inches short of the stump with a soft plop.
“That’s what I’m talking about!” I shouted to no one. As I went to reel in this beautiful cast, the reel would not turn, and my line tightened. “You have got to be kidding me.” I was hung. Despair, disguised as anger, took hold. “I am not losing this lure.” I tightened down the drag and started walking backward. To my unsurprise, a big branch came boiling up from under the water. I walked, the branch came, but then the line went slack. I hung my head. I went to reel in the line, and lo and behold, that gritty little Rat-L-Trap was still there.
I rewound it in to cast again when the lure stopped. “God. Bless. America.” I mumbled. Then my line started moving and moving. Can it be? I reeled furiously and saw the great behemoth soar out of the water. “FISH ON!” I got the fish to the bank and beheld it in all its glory. A largemouth bass!
I caught my first bass! But now what? All six treble hooks points had lodged themselves in the monster’s lip, face, and mouth region. I broke out my needle nose and went ER surgeon on the bass. When all was said and done, the hooks were out, and about four of the six available hooks had attached themselves to my fingers.
But who cares? I caught a fish, and it’s picture time! I put the bass back into its habitat and was ready to go again, but my phone rang. Mrs. Fishnoob said that the kids were ready for bed. Well, I guess this is an excellent time to stop. I wanted to go out on top.
I got home with bloody hands, dirt on my pants, and one reel that looked like a sparrow’s nest. My wife looked at me with great concern and asked, “Are you ok?”
“I’ve never been better.”