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Entries in farm pond (3)


Better Bass Fishing Is About More Than The Know-How That You Accumulate; It's About What You Pass On

With the remaining hot dogs consumed, we spread out our sleeping bags and relaxed, ready to watch the meteor showers that were predicted for after midnight.

We talked about bass fishing and building fires and other “guy things” until the first fiery arrow streaked across the sky. The wattage of the moon probably stole much of the light show from us. But we counted a dozen or so before Ursa the Devil Dog cuddled up to Jesse. He put his head next to hers and both slept the sleep of the innocent.

As I watched for more of nature’s fireworks, I thought about another child, decades before, and how lucky he was to know generous adults who made the time to take him fishing.

My father didn’t fish, but a co-worker of his did, and he took me frequently to a farm pond. One fall day, a 3-pound bass exploded under my Hula Popper, a moment frozen in time that still causes my heart to pound when I recall it.

And there were others: A neighbor took me fishing in a boat for the first time. A family friend invited me along on an overnight camping and fishing trip. I’ve been fishing thousands of times since then, but those generous acts still are as vivid in my mind as the day they happened. I feel the sun as it warms the orange lifejacket that I wore. I look down and see the purple worm with the propeller harness tied to the line on my Johnson spincast reel. I smell the coffee brewed over a fire and see the mist at sunrise on the tailwaters of Bagnell Dam.

I hope that Jesse will have the same type of memories of our trips when he is an adult. And, when he comes of age, I hope that he will share the sport that we both love with someone new.

You should do the same. Better bass fishing is about more than the know-how that you accumulate. It’s also about what you pass on.

Once upon a time, fathers did a good job of doing that. In a survey of anglers, 67 percent said that their fathers took them on their first fishing trips. But 87.8 percent of those respondents were age 35 or older. Of those under 35, just 12.2 percent said that they were taken by their fathers.

“If dad has a diminishing role in introducing new anglers today, and others don’t step in, how will fishing be passed to future generations? And how will those who miss out even know what they’ve missed?” asks the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation, which sponsors Anglers’ Legacy, an angler recruitment program.

Without participation, without a strong constituency, we will lose it all: funding for fisheries research and management; access to lakes, rivers and oceans; an innovative industry that constantly improves our boats, tackle, and equipment.

As my eyes grew heavy, the meteors faded as the eastern sky lightened and a hidden sun painted delicate clouds a soft rose. I slept, but only for a few minutes. The angler in me would not allow for more.

I woke Jesse in time for the topwater bite.

Excerpt from "Tonight and Tomorrow" in Better Bass Fishing, available at both Amazon and Barnes & Noble.


Future Record Largemouth Bass for Ohio?

This largemouth bass caught and released in a private pond by Dustin Thompson could be heavy enough to qualify as a new Ohio record next spring, and he's hoping to catch her again.

He didn't have a scale to weigh it when he caught it recently, but it was just under 26 inches long, with an estimated weight of 10 to 12 pounds.

The current record measured  25 1/4 inches long, and, heavy with eggs, weighed 13.13 pounds when Roy Landsberger pulled it from a pond in Columbiana County in May 1976.

Thompson is confident that the fish he caught could rival that weight.

“When it’s spawning or getting ready to spawn, next May, April or March,” he said, “I’ll throw big lizards and big spinnerbaits.”

The Ohio angler tangled with the big bass twice. The first time, it grabbed a smaller fish that he had hooked. He said that it was "circling like a buzzard coming in on a dead animal" before it charged and struck on the surface. But it didn't get the hook.

Less than two days later, Thompson tried again, but the lunker refused to hit an artificial. It did, however, eat another small bass that he had hooked. "I had the fish on the surface, and it went down," he said. "Suddenly, it felt like I had 15 pounds on the end of my line."


Why We Fish: The Proof Is in the Popper

With cool days already here and fall coming officially this weekend, I think back fondly to an October fishing trip to a farm pond when I was 15.

When I was 8, I caught my first fish (as well as a dog or two) on bacon. From there, I graduated to worms, my bait of choice for most of my childhood. I found the wigglers by turning over cow patties in a nearby pasture. Of course, the poop had to be aged to just the right texture to attract the critters. I turned over many that weren’t.

Although I fished exclusively with worms for years, I carried a couple of “lures” in my single-tray tackle box. One of them was a knockoff Bass Oreno and the other an inline spinner. They came with a fishing kit that I bought through an advertisement in the back of a comic book.

But I didn’t catch a bass on artificial bait until I discovered the plastic worm on a propeller rig. That was my first “confidence” bait.

It also inspired me to fish with other lures more often. Using money that I made from babysitting, cutting weeds, and cleaning boats, I bought a yellow Hula Popper, an orange jointed Inch Minnow, and a Shannon Twin Spin.

I never caught a fish on the Twin Spin --- and still haven’t --- while the Inch Minnow proved a great bait for catching bluegill and green sunfish in farm ponds.

But the Hula Popper. Wow! On that memorable October afternoon, I cast the popper nearly all the way across Turner’s pond. The water was flat calm.

Based on years of experience since and what I have learned from the pros, if I were to throw a topwater on water that still today, I probably would twitch it.

But I had nothing to guide me in the proper technique that fall day. And, since the bait was a “popper,” I popped it. In fact, I popped it as hard as I possibly could, sending ripples all across that pond.

As the pond returned to glasslike following my second pop, water under the lure  exploded, and I suddenly was tied fast to the biggest bass that I had ever hooked.

Of course, it wasn’t large enough to pull drag on my Johnson Century spincast reel. But at 3 pounds, it was a trophy in my eyes as I dragged it up on the bank. My heart nearly leaped out of my chest at the sight of that fish, and, after I had placed it on my rope stringer, I looked down to see my hands still shaking.

In the decades since, I’ve caught thousands of bass larger than the one that I caught at Turner’s pond that fall day, including more than a dozen that weighed 10 pounds or more.

But I’ve never caught one that excited me more than that 3-pounder did. In honor of that, I’ve kept that old yellow Arbogast Hula Popper as one of my most treasured keepsakes. And when fall comes for another year, I always think of that special day.