The sun was just hitting the treetops when I pulled up on the first spot-a rocky point of a small island. I set the boat in 13 feet of water and cast to the edge of the big rocks. Three-turns of the reel handle and I set the hook. A 15-inch smallmouth. First cast of the day.
Foster Butt and I have had some good days on J. Percy Priest. Tuesday, April 30 was one of them. The wind was slight from the southwest, very few boats on the lake early, and 68-degree water. Hard to beat that.
Early, it was just cool-just enough to require a light jacket. Later it would bump into the upper 80’s.
We rounded the point and I missed a fish. Then Foster caught a largemouth, then I lost one right at the boat. We picked up a couple small ones as we went down the bank. Oddly, my favorite stretch of bank produced nothing. We moved.
The second bank gave up only one, 16-inch largemouth and we missed a couple. The fish were just not where they were supposed to be. We moved again.
This bank gave up three keeping-size largemouth. To me, that is a 15-17 inch fish. Everything larger goes back. We pick up a couple more small ones and again, change banks.
I find the old, sunken roadbed in 10 feet of water and Foster quickly sticks 3.5-pound smallmouth.
Then, I get a solid tap. My first thought was, it is a drum. It felt like a drum hit. I quickly changed that to either rockfish or hybrid. On four-pound test line, the fight is on. Four minutes later, Foster nets a 5-1/2 pound hybrid for me. Great fight.
I have been fishing Priest since 1972. I have seen the crowds come, the tournaments proliferate and the fishing decline. But still, now and then, you have a good day.
Oh, not days like the late Mickey Pope and I had when the first eight fish would have won any tournament.
Not days such as the one the late Harold Dotson and I had when we caught 30 smallmouth in four hours.
Probably not days like one of my clients had when his first six fish were the largest smallmouth he had ever caught and probably weighed 25 pounds. But good days, relatively speaking.
You see, I mostly fish for smallmouth. I use light lures and light line. No deep running crankbaits and for sure, no A-rigs.
They wear me out and I fish for fun. I do not, ever, fish on weekends. And, I don’t run all over the lake. I fish specific spots and seldom fish more than five hours at a time.
So, Foster and I putt along, bank to bank, point to point, pockets, islands, gravel banks, and rock banks. A fish here, one there. We try to keep count but lose the count somewhere along the way.
In four hours we caught and put in the boat, 12 bass and a hybrid-by our guesstimate.
We lost a couple big fish and had at least six, jump and throw the hook. I took home, six eating-size bass. The rest, we threw back.
In the last cove, I see the Osprey family is doing well. Mom tends the nest and dad flies right over us. T
hey have been nesting there for many years. I wish them well. On another sunken roadbed, the one where Mickey once caught four smallmouth over four pounds in four casts, I told Foster, this is the last cast -- he had a doctor's appointment to keep.
He cast and nailed a nice smallie. Last cast of the day.
Hard to beat a day when you catch fish on the first cast and the last cast and quite a few, in between.