I plucked out a real nice one and pinched it in half. I tossing the smaller
half back in the container and shut it, letting the ladies know what great
escape artists these squirmy little guys are, and how they need shade and
cool conditions or you're in for a smelly, mushy unusable bait while the fish
are jumping all around you at the end of the day and the tackle store is too
far away to go get more. With a worm in one hand and threader in the other I
took a quick look around me, then I pierced the worm and quickly ran the
threader though its body and strait out the other end! There! I said as I
held up the finished squired worm. Oh yes, I heard a few whispers of "oh my!"
and saw a few of their eyes widen the with looks of "she expects us to do
that? I don't think so!"
I laughed calmly and asked whose first? I pulled some
line from the ladies rod closest to me inserted the end of the hook into the
end of the Threader and while making a silly sound ran that fat crawler right
on and up that hook! While a tiny end of the worm twisting around hanging at
the bottom of the hook I said PERFECT! That looks great, I would eat it. They
all laughed and off she went to put on her bobber.
One by one, the class of 10 ladies cast their lines into the lake and not 5 minutes later, SHRIEKS of FISH-ON! sounded off like echoes around the small lake. With pliers in our pockets, my two assistants and myself were off running down the lakeside to
assist and calm the excited "WHAT DO I DO NOW's?" around the lake. They
learned quickly and began helping each other. Every lady had caught fish,
lots of fish! When I asked how many did you catch?, I got answers like "I lost count!"
The ladies were filled with confidence. Smiles, Laughter and a lot of WAHOO'S
filled the air that afternoon.
That is what it is all about, I proudly said with a smile to one of my assistants.
It was nearing the end of this class, so I called out for the ladies to come
in, strip down their equipment and come over for the "Care and Cleaning of
Fish" part of the class. One fish was kept for this purpose, a nice largemouth Bass would do the trick! As they gathered around, I explained the importance of keeping fish cool, using a stringer, etc.
I usually would keep 2 fish, one to demonstrate field dressing and one to fillet, but during the excitement we forgot to keep one of the larger crappies. Well, how
would I do this? A compromise! I will field dress and scale one side, then
fillet the other! So I grabbed the bass klunked him over the head hard
between the eyes as the ladies watched and learned. I flipped him on his back
and slit him open.
As I was gutting, I was telling the gals how my Dad used
to let me look inside the stomach to see what the fish had been eating to
give us a good idea on what to use for bait. I looked around at my on-looking
students and slowly squeezed one end of the stomach I held in one hand. There
was definitely something large inside! I ran my fingers down and out came a 6
or 7 inch fresh alligator lizard one lady yelled "ITS A SNAKE!" at that we
all SCREAMED! I couldn't believe I freaked to! They couldn't believe I lost
it! We all LAUGHED!!!!
What a great story, I said, in all my years of fishing, I had never seen something like that! What a great example of what bass can swallow! And the appetites they have. Another great class completed.
Trish Sharman teaches fishing workshops for the California DFG sponsored program "Becoming an Outdoors Woman". For more information, email Susan Herrgesell, Program Manager or call her at (916) 653-7448.