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How Fishing Saved My Life

Or

Jonah and the Largemouth Bass

By Benjamin Rogers

Even the happiest go lucky person experiences high levels of stress in their everyday life, but the key is how they handle it. At thirty eight years of age, I can fool even the most analytical person into thinking that I’m handling everything okay. The problem is that below the surface is a raging turmoil of anger, stress, and frustration.

This past year truly accentuated this with its rather unpleasant events. Between working to find my mother an assisted living facility and my wife leaving me in January, I’ve been a mess. I’d be lying if I said the scant thought of leaving it all behind didn’t cross my mind. On top of those two events there is always work (who knows if you’ll have a job the next day) and my writing career on the side (which hasn’t been stellar).

I hadn’t fished in nearly fifteen years when my neighbor at the apartment I live at asked if I wanted to go down to the Scioto River to fish. My tackle was old, my rod and reel were old and so were my skills. I caught nothing. Zilch. The classic skunk until one day I got a gorgeous Large Mouth Bass on the line using a Texas Rigged Worm in motor oil color. Needless to say I spazzed. I had forgotten how to hold a bass and as a result she threw the hook and jumped back in the river. She had to have been about three pounds and just stunning but of course no one saw her.

Watching her swim away I knew I was hooked. I kept fishing the Scioto to no avail. Oh, I caught a couple fish but nothing that truly made me really excited like the girl I’d caught a few weeks prior.

Why Choose Bass?

Catfish, carp and sunfish (like Bluegill) are not overly difficult to catch. The right bait on a hook and you’ll catch them. Bass are much different. They hide, they are ambush feeders, and they appear to be rather intelligent. Now, I know fish have brains smaller than a pea, but if you’ve ever fished for bass you’ll probably agree that they are different. Yes, they are creatures of pattern and understanding that pattern is the key.

In the beginning it was all about Largemouth Bass which are known as Bucketmouths or my favorite name, Hawgs. As the season progressed this year I learned out to fish the jig and pig which is a weedless jighead that has a rubber lure attached to the hook which is known as the pig.

The problem with the jig and pig is that it’s difficult to cast using a spinning rod because you don’t have that much control. The main concept of this lure is to get it into tight spots where the bass are hiding like deadfall. What is deadfall you ask? Deadfall is downed trees where the branches and or trunk are in the water which is absolutely a PRIME spot for them to hide. You want to get that lure right in side those limbs and make it look like a crawfish. Cast the lure and then lift the rod tip up in the air. This makes the lure appear like a crawfish moving through the water. Some jigs also are painted to look like small bait fish.

To continue with the chronological events it was at this time I bought my bestfriend a very simple rod from a chain store and took her out to Prairie Oaks Metro Park to fish one of their larger ponds from the shore and teach her the basics of casting and setting up the Texas Rig. On one of the casts where I was showing her how to pause during the reel in something hit the end of the line and took off. A small large mouth. The first fish that I had caught in nearly fifteen years that someone actually saw.

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Source Elizabeth LaFond

A little dink largemouth had launch himself out of the grasses and taken my worm for a ride. You can tell by the smile on my face how I felt at that moment. ON TOP OF THE WORLD!! Who gave a crap about how big he was! I’d caught a fish and proved I could do it!!

So what was next? Now what? Well I wanted a new rod. A different type of rod than the spinning rod I’d been using. I wanted a baitcaster. Now understand that a baitcaster is VERY difficult to cast because you use thumb pressure to control the spinning of the actual reel. This prevents the reel from backlashing and providing you with an all new type of problem called a bird’s nest. Typically this is a huge ball of loose fishing line that defies you to untangle it along with hurling four letter insults at you the whole time. It’s like the game ‘Operation’ but on crack. Pull the wrong piece of line and you’ve got a tightened knot that will make you cuss and cry at the same time.

My neighbor, we’ll call him Tim (he reminds me of Tim Allen in Home Improvement) used a method called pitching with his baitcaster that allowed him to drop a pig and jig exactly where he wanted it. I was game, what did I have to lose? My sanity? Already gone. We went to one of the local chain sporting goods stores and I picked up a forty dollar reel and Tim loaned me a rod to use. The eyelets that guide the fishing line on a spinning rod are much larger than a baitcaster rod because of the way the line comes off the reel. We painted some sinkers bright red with his girlfriend’s nail polish and proceeded to practice in the yard of the apartments. It worked out pretty well other than tossing a simulated lure that was bright fire engine red. We pitched at a Wendy’s cup holder and then power boxes as he taught me how to get some distance out of the cast.

We continued to fish the Scioto but started branching out into some different ponds, working the banks and trying to entice those elusive bucket mouths that they wanted to bite down on the lead lure so I could puncture their lip with its hook, bring them into shore, take their picture and then let them go. Sounds pretty bad when you put it in those terms but that’s how it works. Stalk the bank, find a good spot, utter the basic prayer of ‘Here fishy, fishy’, and toss the lure into the water. You’d hear Tim or I utter those words repeatedly as we’d pull in empty lures. This frustration of not catching a fish led to one of the most fateful and stupidest moments in my life.

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