It was with a very heavy heart that I learned this week of the passing
of So Cal fishing legend Ronnie Kovach
. With that in mind, I was anxious to get on the water in honor of his memory. Despite the cold, wet weather that moved into So Cal yesterday, I was determined to take advantage of the free late afternoon I found myself having.
It was 58°, light rain, and a faint breeze when I arrived at 2:45pm to Lake Sherwood. Needless to say, the inclement weather kept most others off the water, as I saw only one other angler the entire time I was out there. As I prepared to throw my first cast, I wondered “What would Ronnie throw?”. Being that he was a fellow member of the Yo-Zuri Pro Staff, I figured it had to be one of their hardbaits. So, I tied on one of my faves: the Rattl’n Vibe in my go-to GBO pattern. About five casts in, I hooked into what seemed to be a giant. When she came up for the first of several head-shaking jumps I realized that she was indeed a 5 pound class fish (an estimate that, later, turned out to be a few ticks high). After a protracted battle, she seemed ready to land. But, as she neared the dock I was on, she made one last powerful run under my feet and was able to pull free of the hooks. I was, understandably, bummed as I wanted to land that monster in Ronnie’s name.
I couldn’t manage any other hook-ups on the Vibe, so I turned to what has really been the hot bait for me lately … the Gambler Lures Baby Bacon Rind. It didn’t take long to get the skunk off with a nice 2.5+ pound chunk (no pic). I quickly followed that up with another cookie-cutter that self released about halfway home. Which had me questioning, “Is this how it’s going to be, today???”. Fortunately, it wasn’t!
I moved down the dock and flipped the T-rigged bait under a boat. The bait rested on the bottom for about 10 seconds and, before I could even begin working it, got deftly picked up and started moving toward deeper water. I quickly reeled down and set the hook. BOOM! Another big fish on!! This time I was able to avoid losing her despite her runs under boats and the dock. When I finally got her home and on the scale, it was a fat 4-3 fighter!
After the pic and release, I moved down closer to where I had lost the first fish and flipped the bait under another boat. After this one settled, I actually got to work the bait once before a fish bit it and started to run. The line had already tightened, so I just swung for the fences, and was immediately tossed into the fray with another big bass with a bad attitude. I spent most of the fight with half my rod submerged into the water as she dove under the dock and boats with numerous powerful runs. When I finally lipped her, I got her on the scale which settled in at 4-11.
While I was weighing the beast, I realized that this was the fish I had lost earlier. She had a wound from where the hook had ripped free. Taking into account how fresh the injury was, the proximity to where I had lost her, and the fact that there had been no other anglers in sight, it seemed pretty obvious that this was indeed the same fish. Suddenly, I was feeling much better about my day and that, somehow, Ronnie was smiling down upon me.
After a stretch of no love, I grabbed my Big Bear Senko rod and headed over to a nearby dock to skip a Malibu-rigged 5″ 297 pattern under a boat that has usually held a nice sized Bass under it over the past year. My first skip missed the mark. But, my second skip was right on the money. I had barely closed the bail on my reel when the line moved suddenly and quickly toward open water. I set the hook and line immediately began peeling off the spool. Once again, it was an epic battle with another hawg! When she finally gave up the fight, I got her on the digi-scale which settled in at 5-0 even.
I couldn’t help but notice how fat these fish were. They had definitely been packing it on. Which had me thinking that this was indeed the early stage of the pre-spawn feeding frenzy. Even though it was several weeks premature for it, the unusually warm weather we have had throughout January had to have them moving up early. However, with the cold front that has moved in, which is expected to last at least several days, I’m wondering if they’ll stay up. We’ll see!
The bite certainly died down after that, as I was only able to manage a couple of non-committal bumps on a suspending jerkbait despite throwing a number of different offerings. It was just after dark that I decided that it was time to wrap things up. But, I had to call “last cast” … in Ronnie’s name, of course. The Bacon Rind didn’t even hit bottom before I saw the line jump. I wound down and leaned back. One more nice fight from this pretty 3 pound classer.
It was a great way to end the day spent honoring and remembering a man who always supported me and my fishing endeavors. I will miss his biting wit, and we will all miss the fishing know-how he was so willing to share. RIP, Ronnie.