The summer months bring a fever upon those of us who fish for hybrid bass on Lake Oconee.
For the uninitiated, a hybrid bass is a cross between the striped bass and white bass, resulting in a particularly hungry and mean game fish.
Now if you did not know what a hybrid is and you are unsure about the terms striper and white bass, the remainder of this article may be of little interest to you. However, I must admit, it’s a memorable story.
A first-class outing on the lake consists of several key ingredients. These are (in no particular order), good weather, good food (beanie weenies and crackers), a funny story to carry home, and of course, lots of action. This trip made the top five of all time.
Dan Cisson (from up Toccoa way) and I made a mad dash for the lake one afternoon last week. Although the hybrids had not met our expectations for the year to that point, confidence was high. This might be the day for a feeding frenzy resulting in frenetic fishing and besides, we were hoping to catch a bunch of hybrids.
The trip started off somewhat slowly, but every once in a while one of us would land a decent fish. We moved from one of our favorite spots to another in hopes of finding a large group of predators. Alas, it began to look as if our hopes were to be dashed once more.
The fish we found were smallish and not to our liking, but we doggedly carried on. About 7 o'clock, we moved to one of the areas that had been a consistent producer over the years and began to mark a few fish on the electronics. Hope sprang anew. Almost immediately fish began to surface chasing baitfish, and we knew the game was on.
On the next cast, we both hooked up on a couple of rather large fish. The drag on our reels was singing and as we boated the monsters and returned them to the water. There was no conversation, only a speedy effort to get our plugs back to the surface where the fish were constantly breaking water and knocking baitfish a couple of feet in the air. This was no time for idle chatter.
For over an hour and a half we hauled the brutes aboard. Seldom was there a cast that didn’t yield several strikes. Often the fish would miss the plug scooting along the surface only to come back and slash at it again until hooks met flesh. It was a major league show.
Remember the ingredients mentioned before. Three of the four criteria had been met. The weather was excellent, the food was exquisite, and the fish had cooperated in admirable fashion. We lacked only the flair of a first-rate story to round out the day. The formula was nearly complete.
About half way through the flurry of fishing we had both landed nice ones and mine was acting particularly ugly to me. It was flopping around entangling itself in everything that was unsecured in my half of the boat.
In my haste to secure his release and get my plug back in the water, I made a critical mistake. I kicked my brand new bait casting reel and rod into Lake Oconee.
I stood there frozen watching my $150 rig sink.
Not so with my partner.
Like a faithful Labrador retriever, Dan dove in to try to save the plummeting pole. Alas, it was gone. I tried to help the valiant retriever back into the boat but he was too heavy. He finally clambered aboard making noises unlike those a lab would have made.
That should have been adventure enough to round out the day, and Dan should have been rewarded for his courage and willingness to help a friend in need.
He was not, however repaid in a fashion befitting his efforts.
Later, upon trying to release a squirming fish, he was unfortunate enough to have a hook bury in his finger past the barb while the fish was also attached to the hook. Nasty business.
Finally, the fish squirted off and back in the water and Dan cut enough of the hook off so he could continue to fish. I suggested we go to the emergency room to get the hook taken out, but he showed much scorn at that suggestion.
After all, the adventure was on and the fish were still biting. The components of a great fishing trip were now satisfied, and we carried on.
Alvin Richardson is a contributing writer, retired educator, and public speaker. Contact him at email@example.com.