â€œTingâ€â€¦ â€œTingâ€â€¦ â€œTingâ€â€¦ could be heard coming from the cab as the fully loaded Toyota quietly pulled a little aluminum boat through the early morning stillness of a silent neighborhood not yet awake. Two months had passed since the last trip together and with the wounds healed, the emotional body armor had made a full recovery. This early morningâ€™s barrage of character attacks and insults were no matchâ€¦ â€œTingâ€â€¦ â€œTingâ€â€¦ â€œTingâ€â€¦
On the drive over I explained once again to Al that though the conditions may have improved slightly over the past week, the fishing this time of year is typically at a much slower pace than what weâ€™d experienced 2 months ago in the fall and even though we had caught some nice fish this time last year (Al 2/2005 and Doug 2/2005), this year doesn’t seem to have as many fish in the system. The insightful guy that he is, he quickly recognized my attempt at suppressing any high expectations, and assured me that he understood, and that it didnâ€™t matter.
Archibald Rutledge once wrote, â€œI knew an old fisherman who said he enjoyed the times when the fish werenâ€™t biting, for then he had time to see and hear all the things he would miss if he were too busy hauling in fishâ€.
By the end of the first day we had marked a few fish on the sonar, missed 2 grabs and each landed a nice 2 pound black bass, but no stripers.
Though the armor had taken a few dents here and there, the weather couldnâ€™t have been better and we comfortably exercised our casting arms through the unseasonably warm afternoon.
The 2nd day we awoke to unexpected rain, but by the time the sandwiches were made and the coffee was in the thermos it had ceased. As we walked down to the marina, our expectations where they belonged, we were looking forward to another day on the water filled with emotional abuse and back handed compliments, hopefully interspersed with a striper or two. We were content with the previous dayâ€™s lack of success and agreed that we had fished hard and thorough and the fish were just off, it was nothing personal. Then we ran into Dan Blanton. He asked if weâ€™d fished the previous day and how we did. We answered honestly and confidently reported that the fishing was the slowest weâ€™d experienced, without even one striper. He replied, equally as confident, â€œWe got 31, up to 10 poundsâ€.
As we idled through the No Wake zone on our way to open water Al & I agreed that â€œ31 up to 10 poundsâ€ can be easily translated to 1 fish at 10 pounds, and 30 fish under 2. After a few minutes Al broke the silence with, â€œyeah, but itâ€™s still 30 fishâ€.
With rejuvenated confidence that there were infact feeding fish in the system, we concentrated on covering as much fishable water as the stiff 15 mile an hour breeze would allow us. By the end of the day, Al had kicked the skunk off the boat with a nice 5 pound striper,
and Iâ€™d caught a very feisty 2.5 pound blackie.
The near fishless day had taken its toll and the chafed armor was showing it with a few piercing gibes successfully penetrating through.
Day 3 started crisp & clear with the same annoying breeze weâ€™d experienced the day prior. We fished new water in an attempt at a drastic change under the theory that we couldnâ€™t do much worse. Mid morning, I finally brought a striper to the boat. At 4 pounds, he wasnâ€™t a particularly large fish, but he couldnâ€™t have been more welcome.
We had lunch at The Landing, where we learned a couple of things from one of their “locals”, 1) It was Super Bowl Sunday, and 2) If you back your F$#@% tow truck into the G#@*$% water truck at the Antioch track, you canâ€™t go to work for NASCAR. The day ended at sunset, weâ€™d caught a few more small black bass and called it a trip.