A Day Of Oddities
The fish weren’t exactly jumping in the boat that June afternoon. We launched at 1:30 from Lake Sonoma’s public ramp, and caught an almost-legal smallmouth over by the bridge at 2.
An hour later, we caught an identical smallmouth down by the line of buoys on the west side of the Warm Springs Narrows, and 10 minutes later we caught and released a massive bluegill in the same general area.
By the end of the first two hours, all we had on the stringer were a 12-inch smallmouth and a 15-inch largemouth. Were we using the right bait, we wondered. David caught the largemouth while trolling a gray diving Bomber, and I got the smallmouth by casting one of our favorite lures, the Jointed Shad Rap.
What if we had tossed worms instead? Those bass boats in some of the coves, were they jigging, drop-shotting, Senko-ing? Would we do better if we parked the Valco in a sheltered cove, if we could find one, or ought we to keep on beating our heads against this wall of nibbles that were few and far between?
It’s the angler’s dilemma. Do you return to where you caught fish last time, or try someplace you’ve never been? Do you do what you’re good at, or try to perfect a new technique? I confess to being a poor wormer, but we generally take along the gear so that if all else fails …
You guessed it. When all else fails on our boat, so does worming. David used to be a good wormer but I must have jinxed him out of it by being such a bad one. The key to success is probably to force myself to fish worms during a wide-open bite. This is not likely to happen any time soon.
That night we discovered what the bass were biting, too late to do us any good. While David was fileting the catch, he picked up a chunky largemouth that appeared to be swollen with roe. No. It was her stomach that bulged, with the leadhead jig she had swallowed, salamander skirt and all.
Now we have found oddities in fish stomachs: fish, crabs, rocks, and birds. Never have we found a jig. David called to me to come and look, and he reached for the next largemouth. You’ll never guess. Inside her stomach was another leadhead jig, this one wearing a grub skirt.
What are the odds on that? Fifty years fishing and nary a jig in a stomach, then two in one trip. I checked my notes. One of those fish was caught up the northeast side of the Warm Springs arm while the other was caught on the south side of the Narrows, three and one-half hours later.
Looking back on that June excursion, time of day was probably a major factor. Shortly after 7:30 the cove came alive. Schools of bait ruffled the water, and the occasional minnow went airborne. “Big fish on the sonar,” said David, and I cast my Shad Rap into open water.
I had barely begun the retrieve when I got nailed. “Trout!” I cried. This fish was hot. It ran out and away from the starboard bow, then changed course and charged the boat. “Don’t jump!” I whispered. It flashed in the dusk and shook its head, then worked its way down the port side.
Don’t jump, please don’t jump! David stood by with the net. If only I could keep it from jumping. I crossed my fingers.
And then it jumped. And landed IN THE BOAT.
Still laughing, I’ll look for you on the banks.Back To Reports