Submitted to the "Gone Fishin" contest
Trollin’ the islands at Texoma,
It was April, 1964.
New rod and reel in hand,
I’d NEVER been fishing before.
A Garcia 2510T casting rod.
The reel, a Mitchell 301,
Plus hand-selected worms and lures…
I was ready to have some fun.
My teacher, a master fisherman,
Had fished all over the earth...
From trout in Austrian mountain streams
To sea bass just west of Perth.
He showed me all the basics,
Including how to tie a lure.
“No snaps. They’re no good.
Tie’em on…just to be sure.”
He made me practice casting.
“Take aim with your rod’s tip
Take her back - ten, eleven, twelve, one;
Smoothly return to ten… with just a little flip.”
While I practiced the casting motion,
He said, “Large Mouths will be jumpin’ bugs.
Water’s bubblin’ with Sand Bass spawnin’.
You’ll know the difference if one gives you a tug.”
As we drifted around the islands,
He said, “I think you’re ready.”
So, I picked a lure, a pretty Heddon;
And tied her on. My hands were steady.
Yellow with black dots and a weed guard.
A streamer tail and double treble hooks.
Who knew if she would do the job,
But I liked the way she looked.
As I tied her on, I looked around
For a likely place for my first cast.
Magazine pictures always showed weeds
In the background of a striking Bass.
So, I picked a reed bed in the shallows;
Threw my first cast, watched her fly.
What happened next was the stuff of dreams.
We couldn’t believe our eyes.
About eighteen inches before she lit,
A monstrous Large Mouth erupted from the water.
My teacher screamed, “Holy Mary, Mother of God!
Kiss O’Reilly’s Ugly Daughter!”
When the Bass broke water, it scared me.
My whole body jerked and shook.
So sudden, so silent, it seemed like slow motion.
Until I heard him screaming, “Set the hook! Set the hook!”
When the big Bass scared me,
I must have set the hook.
The tussle was on, long and hard.
This fish didn’t want to be cooked.
My lack of skills prevailed, however,
As I finally reeled him in;
I grabbed him by the lower lip,
Like I’d seen Don Wallace do, time and time again.
“Oh, my God”, he murmured as he weighed the Bass;
“Jeez. Over thirteen pounds....Thirteen pounds, two.”
He took out his Polaroid and laughed,
“I’ll take a picture of this fish... holdin' you.”
He snapped the picture of me holding the Bass;
On the back wrote the date, the length and weight.
As he turned to put the camera away……
Get ready. This is the part that’s great.
I’d watched Don Wallace ‘catch and release’.
He always did that on his show.
“This fish put up a good fight.” he’d say;
“Now it’s time to let him go.”
Yes, as my teacher put away the camera,
I held the big Bass by the lower lip and tail
And ‘swished’ him in the water,
Making sure his gills would not fail.
My teacher turned and saw what I was doing
Just as I let the big Bass go.
This, too, was like slow motion
As I heard him screaming, “NOOOOOOO!”
“Why would you do that, Lad?
Do ya know nothin’ at all?
A fish like that... on your very first cast?
Well...Lad, that fish goes on the wall.”
“Well…he’ll be here next year.” I said with a smile,
“And even bigger, I’ll bet.”
He said, ”You’ll make a fisherman, Lad.
It’s not for the fish that we fish…
but for the great stories we get.”
I still have that lure…and the rod and reel.
Still in their bags and boxes, just like new.
I thought about selling them on eBay,
But 50 years later, they have sentimental value.
You see…I’ve been invited to go fishin’ several times
By golfin’ buddies and other friends;
But for some reason…I really don’t know why…
I’ve never gone fishin’ again.
They say, “Truth is stranger than fiction.”
And I believe that is a fact.
I hope you enjoyed this bit of truth and,
In the meantime…..”Ya’ll come back!”