Is it true that one particular fishing lure (not just a type or brand) hold a special place in the memory of days gone by?
As I think back to the days when my bass fishing fever arose from a spark, I fondly remember using one particular spinnerbait like it was yesterday …
The bait, an all white, quarter ounce lure with tandem white Colorado blades called a “Bush-hog” spinnerbait. It’s actually somewhat funny because if you consider my first choice in spinnerbaits today, the other Bush-hog spinnerbaits in my collection have been relegated to “B-Team” status.
Thinking back to the Fall of 1976 (OK, I just dated myself!), however, one particular all white, ¼ oz. Bush-hog definitely experienced its “Glory Days” over a short week long period.
Larry’s Bait Shop’s Big Bass Challenge
I’m sure we’ve all been there; the little “hole-in-the-wall” bait and tackle shop down the street from our home …
In my case it was “Larry’s Bait Shop”, a short drive from my first apartment in Bridgewater, Massachusetts. Even though Larry’s specialty was really live bait, he carried a few lines of lures not common in most of the other stores in the area. He also sponsored a “Big Bass Challenge” lasting from opening day (in April) through the end of October. During one of my early-season shop visits, I decided to pay the entry fee ($10.00 I think) and take a shot at the pot (100 % to the person weighing the largest bass by the close of business on 10/31).
One day during August, a friend introduced my to a “secret” honey hole on the west side of Plymouth and on that fateful day I managed to catch my first fish over 6 pounds (6.5 pounds actually; very nice for the New England States). On the way home from the lake, we stopped by Larry’s, weighted the fish only to learn a larger bass (7.25 pounds) had already been weighed. What a rush and crash within a few hours time!
In Pursuit of the “Big One”
After stopping by Larry’s shop on October 29th and learning the 7.25 pound fish still held the big bass lead, I decided to return to the “secret honey hole” and take a final shot at the shop’s big bass pot. It was about 7:30 AM on Sunday the 31st as my brother and I set out for a few hours fishing before the weather turned nasty (a major Fall front was moving in); perfect time to catch a big bass!
So off we went and hit some of the normal spots where we were catching fish over the last few weeks. We both caught several fish in all the regular holes but couldn’t hook a fish over 3 pounds.
Just as the weather started to head downhill, we ran back across the lake to the north cove where we had launched. Before we headed over to the ramp, we started hitting the last of the vibrant deeper weed edges with minnow baits and plastic worms. The same story as on the other end of the lake, we were still catching decent-sized fish but nothing spectacular.
Noticing a patch of weeds on the edge of a submerged hump, I decided to switch lures and picked up a rod rigged with … you guessed it, the white Bush-hog spinnerbait. Aiming the lure at a pocket in the weed edge, I fired off a cast.
Just as the white spinnerbait fell to the surface, a huge swirl erupted and the bait disappeared from view! Rearing back on the rod, the line sang as it tightened against the weight of the fish and the battle of bass versus man (and line) was underway.
The bass made several runs back towards the weed edge then off toward open water (thankfully) before finally giving in being landed at the side of the boat. Hoisting the beauty over the gunwale and measuring it to find she was over 24 inches; I smiled at my little brother chortling … I think she’s the one … I think we did it!
Time to Face the Music …
With all the excitement of hooking, landing and admiring the bass, we hadn’t even noticed the skies had opened up soaking us to the skin. So off we went to load the boat and head back to Bridgewater to catch Larry before he closed. Arriving just before his closing time (though he admitted he was considering closing early due to the weather), we opened the cooler and handed the fish to Larry who smiled as he positioned the fish on the scale.
The smile quickly left his face as he turned to report … 7 pounds, 2 ounces!
Our fish was two ounces short of the weight of the previous fish!!! There was a very big sigh (and perhaps a few other choice colorful words) and then acceptance of being “close but no cigar”.
After congratulating us, Larry gave each of us a few lures for our efforts and to help relieve the frustration … ohhh so close!
We left the bait shop and headed up to my parent’s house to drop off my brother and the boat followed by the drive back home to unload my gear. As I stowed the rods in the closet, I showed my wife the lure that caught the fish now in the freezer and re-told the story about the day’s events, the thrill of victory (the catch) and agony of defeat (the weigh-in).
Taking one last glimpse at the white Bush-hog spinnerbait, I told myself I would use that same bait at the start next Sunday’s fishing trip …
My final bass club tourney for the year …
That, however, will be a story for the next post … shortly …