It’s said that to catch big fish you have to be in the right place, at the right time. The same can be said about life-changing moments. Yesterday, I was fortunate enough to be at the right place and time for both!
After the recent sudden cooling trend in the So Cal area, I felt that the big Bass could finally be strapping on the Fall feedbag. So, I made tracks for Westlake where I found partly sunny skies, a slight breeze, 68° air temps, and gin-clear water around 60°. I casted around a rattle shad for no love. So, I switched out to a Yo-Zuri Sashimi Suspending Jerkbait in Chameleon Skeleton Perch. After putting a cast just past an abandoned private dock, I worked the bait right in front of it, and gave it a few small jerks with long pauses in between. Suddenly, after one of those twitches, my bait was completely inhaled. BOOM! I quickly realized I was tied into a toad when this 6.5 pound pig made the first of three jumps. She dogged me hard, but the 10-pound Yo-Zuri Hybrid line was more than up to the task of getting her home.
I worked the area hard for another 45 minutes, but couldn’t find any action save for a 1+ pound keeper on a split-shot Roboworm. So, I changed my area of operation to a spot about 1/4 mile away. This time, I began with the jerkbait and was using the same retrieve that had worked earlier – I’m a firm believer in the old adage “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!”. It didn’t take long for that belief to pay off, as my second cast behind some docked boats got slammed on a pause about halfway home by this 3+ pound battler.
Shortly thereafter, I switched over to the other side of the same dock and worked the same pattern. Sure enough, again about halfway home, I got nailed by another 3 pound-class cookie-cutter. You can see why this has become my new favorite hardbait (I will be writing a full review of it shortly. But, you might not want to wait for that and go ahead and get yourself one … or ten! ;)).
After a few more fruitless casts, I shuffled on down to the next dock and began working the hot bait behind some more docked boats. This time, I didn’t get any love until the third cast. It was only about 7 feet from shore when the lure hit a small submerged rock. Which was all it took for this six pound monster to shoot out from under the dock to annihilate it! She ran under the dock and tried to saw me off on the shallowest boat. But, again, the line held strong and I got her ashore for this quick meet and greet.
Of course, I worked the bait a bunch more, but couldn’t manage any more action with it. I thought about moving to a new area again, but something was telling me to stay put. I changed over to a Yo-Zuri Rattl’n Vibe and quickly was rewarded with this stout 3.75 pound beast after burning the bait over a small grass bed.
I thought this fish was the reason my gut was telling me to stick around. But, I quickly found out that it was not. As I released her back into the water, I heard a big “KERPLUNK!”. I looked around to see what the splash was and saw that a woman docking her boat at the far dock had fallen into the drink. When my calls to her were only answered by “Blub! Blub!”, I quickly swung into action. As I was racing the 30 yards over to the dock I saw her struggle to pull herself up and then slip back into the water several times. By the time I got there, she was losing her strength and beginning to panic in the 10 feet of water. I grabbed her by the hand and pulled her back towards the dock, then got a good hold of her and pulled her up onto it.
Once she caught her breath and regained her composure, she thanked me profusely “for saving my life”. I assured her it was the least I could do, and that she was my best catch of the day. Though, I told her that no one was going to believe this fish story! She readily agreed to a picture to prove it … but, I told her she should cover her face to protect her anonymity. By the way, this is also why you should never drink alcohol while on the water … just sayin’!
After making sure she was okay and on her way home to dry out, I went back to fishing. Despite the fact that I was sure I would get an instant karma rebate for my good deed, I couldn’t get any more love on anything I threw. Once the sun finally set, and the temps began to drop, I was ready to call it a day. But, not before I made a few last casts with a Gambler Ace in Xmas (my new favorite dark-conditions color). My first cast with the Big Bear worm rod never made it to the bottom. When I realized the drop had stopped too soon, I reeled down and set the hook hard … BAM! At first, I thought I might have been hung up on the dock piling, Then, it began to peel line. After a protracted tug-o-war, I finally got this 4.75 pound toad to shore.
I decided to go ahead make that my last cast. A great way to end an incredible, yet surreal, day. It also leads me to remind you to have fun out there … but, please, be safe!