Red Sky at Night with JB Cornwell | The Kid That Wouldn’t Quit VS The Bass That Wouldn’t Quit
This was late 40s at “my” woodland pond. I was tossing a small popping bug for bull bluegills and finding a few on scattered beds that I could flycast to from shore.
I could usually see the beds in the sandy bottom in the gin-clear pond and sometimes even the fish. But they were wary, often simply pecking at the feather tail on my favorite popper, the Weber Nitwit in fluorescent yellow.
There was one spot. . . a sandy bar that ran about 20’ out into the pond. . .that I could wade onto up to my waist. A large bed of the bluegills was within reach from there. But I had to crouch so that the fish couldn’t see me or they completely ignored my offering. I still managed to hook a few. Those were pretty large bluegill, averaging about 9”, so each catch was a good one for the table back in town.
Eventually I spotted a pretty good bass lurking around the edges of the bed. I just had to get that bass to see my bug. I cast it almost on top of her. She slowly rose to inspect the bright yellow offering, then tugged lightly on the feathers and sank back down to near the bottom. Rats! I went back to enticing the bluegills.
About mid-afternoon Major Magid drove up in his gorgeous 1936 Ford woody, with his boat on top and his Wonder-dog hanging out of the passenger side window. Major Magid was interested in three things that I noticed: cars (he also had a metallic blue 1948 Buick convertible), dogs (Wonder-dog was a fine German Shepherd that lived on raw horsemeat and adored Major Magid) and fishing. He treated me like a surrogate son and had brought me my hand made Japanese bamboo flyrod in gratitude because, when he was stationed nearby during the war I had taken him fishing to this very pond.
Major Magid hallooed me. He shouted that we needed to get out on his boat and catch some bass. I was all in favor of that proposition and quickly waded ashore and put on my shorts and shoes. I tied my stringer of bluegill to a branch and joined him getting the boat launched and oars installed.
Major Magid preferred to fish live bait under a bobber, slowly rowing the boat around the pond. I helped him catch a few shiners with dough balls on tiny hooks and we loaded up and pushed off.
As he rowed the boat slowly around I cast my little popper to every lily pad patch looking for whatever was hungry. I started catching rock bass, locally known as goggle eye. They were small, ferocious biters who ran out of fight very quickly but still provided sport. When they rose to the popper it was a spectacular splash followed by one hard run and then they went limp.
I suggested the sand bar bluegill bed to Major Magid, telling him about the nice bass that had frustrated me there. So, we moved over that way.
As his bait moved over the spot his bobber disappeared. As was his habit he let the fish run with the bait and swallow it before he struck. As he heaved back on his rod it briefly bent double, then there was a sickening “pop” and his line went limp. I don’t remember him ever swearing in front of me, but he sure did look disappointed.
We fished until dusk, catching a couple of medium bass and a lot more goggle eye. I asked him to let me have one more shot at the bass on the sand bar, so he rowed over near there.
I tied on a different popper, a white fly rod Hula Popper. I had difficulty casting the larger lure, but I managed to get it in the right area. It sat quietly for a couple of minutes, then I twitched it, making a nice loud “POP!”
Suddenly my lure disappeared, sucked silently under the surface. I sat back in surprise, jerking the rod as I did. Ms. Bass shot into the air, shaking her head trying to get rid of this thing that had bitten her lip.
It was a very flashy fight, with many jumps and short runs, but I hung on and didn’t try to force her. Under Major Magid’s coaching I gently let her wear herself out until he slipped his net under her.
When I was removing my bug from her lip I noticed a piece of mono sticking out of her throat. It was Major Magid’s line that she had broken.
That was the biggest 4 pound bass I ever caught, or ever will.
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(JB Cornwell writes from “The Hideout” in Whitt, TX, and is also an expert moderator, instructor, and fountain-of-knowledge in the iboats.com Boating Forums, where he may occasionally share a yarn of his own.)