Four Second Miracle

Pardon me, but I'm going to ramble a little bit here. I promised to tell you what the heck I was doing in New York City last week, and I eventually will, but I have something else on my mind today.

I'm probably going to be preaching to the choir as I talk about a fishing situation, but here goes anyway.

Have you been bass fishing, and while using a crankbait or a spinnerbait, had a fish come up behind the lure and strike it so softly that you barely felt it, then had him swim towards you, as you lost complete feel of the bait? Your reflex finally kicks in and you set the hook. The whole process takes four or five seconds tops. It's a great feeling (or non-feeling) for a bass fisherman and you never really saw it happen.

Or how about this. You're moving a jig through some brush in 6 or 8 feet of water. You feel that slight, "was that really a strike" tic and you set the hook. You've made contact with a bass and the next 3 seconds of the struggle normally tells you what size it is. This encounter takes four seconds of your time, and once again, you've never seen any part of this — you just felt it.

One more strike example, and this is my favorite.

You've surely fished a wacky worm. It's so simple. Plain ol' hook tied on the end of your line. No weight, just a hook and a plastic worm about half way down the lure so both ends are flopping alongside each other.

Now, throw it out, let it sink to the bottom, then reel it in and repeat the exercise in a new spot.

If there's a bass anywhere around, he will swim over before it hits the bottom and swallow it.

This strike will generate a sensation up the line, into the reel and onto your hands that can be so subtle that you can't feel it. You can only think you felt it. (Did I just say that? I've lost my mind.)

Believe me, if you think you've had a strike you will set the hook and sure enough have a bass on your line.

Once again, you never saw this happen and the whole act, from bass touching lure to bass resisting the tugging, takes about four seconds.

Here's the interesting part. You can have that four-second thrill one time during the day and continue fishing without another strike for the rest of that day and the three next days as well. I don't care whether you're Rick Clunn, KVD or even me. You'll continue to strive for those four seconds with the images of it visible only in your mind.

I was talking to some folks about that the other day, and they thought that we should try to explain this whole phenomenon better.

My thought was that the perfect description is impossible because you can't describe the feel of a strike — you have to experience it yourself.

That's why I've always thought it was tough for me to get kids into fishing because I don't have the opportunity to set them up for that magic "four seconds" that can live with them forever. I can't personally touch enough kids to change their world. But parents can. Yes, their parents or relatives have a real shot at it.

And while I'm at it, let me say that this doesn't go for just kids. You can put a 30- or 40-year-old into the "four second" world and affect him or her just as big-time as any 8-year-old.

After that first fish strike becomes a part of their DNA is when I want a crack at them. From that time on, a guy like me, or an Al Lindner, or a Skeet Reese, or Bassmaster Magazine can do some damage. A passion has been lit, and the desire for knowledge and participation comes right after passion.

See, I told you I was rambling today. I went from crankbaits to wacky worms to four-second miracles and ended with Skeet Reese.

Here's my point today.

I can't talk new people into coming into bass fishing until they've had that first strike. I have to teach the ones who are already here and hope that they can then push a new prospect over the line.

That philosophy goes all the way down to the business of B.A.S.S. (Oh boy, here comes the commercial.)

I'm going to try, but I don't think I can interest a new member in B.A.S.S. until they experience that "four seconds." I can take care of the existing members, anglers, TV viewers, Bassmaster Magazine readers etc ... and let them grow B.A.S.S. I know that may sound like weird thinking but that's what I believe.

Unlike the exciting four seconds of a bass strike, and tug that comes with it, the growth will take longer. The difference is ... you can see it happen.