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Going after Mr. Big Mouth Bass provides other distractions
The occasional fisherman
Ernie Mitchell
Ernie Mitchell is retired Navy and lives in Pembroke. - photo by File photo

The weather claims a high of 86 degrees one early March Saturday, with clear skies and winds 5-10 knots. Early morning fog would be one more plus for going after Mr. Big Mouth Bass. I’ll fish the lake where very few boats would venture.

I paddled across to the opposite shoreline. Looking south at the peak of a bald cypress was the biggest bald eagle I have ever seen. Against the blue sky, it resembled a patriotic photo. A great start to the day.

I was paddling and casting a 9-inch plastic worm deep into the grass and brush. No strikes at all, but it was still cool. Maybe they needed to warm up.

Then 50 feet ahead, charging full speed out of the high grass, an 8-foot alligator splashed into the water. I flashed back to the early Tarzan (aka Buster Crab) movies. When the Olympic swimmer was churning through the river, and every crocodile in the jungles of Africa dove in to devour the Crab.

However, I won’t dive in and wrestle with that alligator like Tarzan did.

I head safely into a cove with lots of cypress trees along the shoreline. Immediately, I thought there was somebody on the inaccessible shore. Looking through the brush I saw it — a great blue heron.

How patient a fish stalker! Perfectly still, until the lighting flash strike. Normally they come up with a minnow, but this fella pulled up a large fish.

It was a fierce struggle, and the fish nearly got away. But in the end, the heron got his fish dinner.

The waterfowl were very active. Coots were frequently doing their prolonged squawking. They sound like the bird calls heard in, yes, Tarzan jungle movies.

The producers fooled us, you know. It was not filmed in the Congo, but at Silver Springs. That’s only four hours and seven minutes away, so those could have been our coots.

The water surface was not indicating fish movement. But it was broken by turtle heads. They were everywhere — on logs, small grass islands and just floating, each enjoying the warm brilliant sun.

Definitely not warm enough for me to join them sunbathing.But they sure are cute little fellows.

Then it happened at about 11 a.m., after what seemed like 100 casts with different colored and flavored worms. My line was moving very, very slowly to the right, no tugs. I let it continue.

I recalled from last year’s early spring, bass are slow movers in cold water. Giving it a few more seconds, I reared back and set the hook.

Oh, that beautiful sight of a bass jumping out of the water. The fight was worthy of the most sought after fresh water fish. Grabbing him by the lip, I admired that pretty 2-pounder.

Unlike some of the professional bass fishermen, I do not kiss my bass before I release them.

It was a great day for the first time out this year. There will be many more this year, I promise myself.

This column will not be a typical fishing report with numbers and places. It will be a place for fishing experiences, present or past, funny or exciting.

This week’s question: How was your first fishing trip in 2018? Email me at

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