With a little help from your friends

Since the end of my season I’ve been fishing local circuits here in the Columbus, Ohio area. One of them is Hoover Reservoir. It’s small, covering just 2,800 acres, but it’s an example of two things that I’ve been watching happen over the years.

The first is the explosion of bass in our waters. There’s no one reason for it — water quality, fish management, better fishing equipment and techniques — but catches today are far and away better than they were when I first started fishing. The other day I saw a bag of five fish from the reservoir that weighed 19 pounds. Back when I was a kid most tournaments were won with three fish. A five fish bag turned heads at the dock.

Hoover Reservoir is also a prime example of small waters producing top bass fishing. She has a 9.9 hp limit so about the only thing on the water at this time of the year is a fishing boat or two. That’s something we should all think about. We don’t need to travel to big bodies of water where the fish get constant pressure. We can fish small stuff right in our backyard, and have a lot of success doing it.

Of more importance, however, is the help I’ve been getting from two old friends, Don Fry and his son Don Fry Jr. It’s amazing what a little assistance can do to your catch. They’ve been towing me around the lake to various places that produce and they’ve showed me more than one trick that’s helped me catch Hoover Reservoir bass.

There’s no way I could list all the things they’ve done for me. But let it be known that I had a better experience fishing around here because of my relationship with them. I’ve said before, and I’ll say it again: The greatest part of this sport is the friendship and camaraderie that develops between anglers.

I don’t want to change gears without mentioning that the other day we had two teams fishing an open on Hoover from my namesake fishing club, Hartley’s Hawgs. They had their Hawg jerseys on and everything. Go Hawgs!

We’ve had good fishing here for the past two or three weeks. I expect that to continue for another two or three weeks. After that, it’ll start to get cold. Before that happens, though, I’ll make my annual trek to Lake Erie to jig blade baits for giant smallmouth before the water goes hard. That’s always one of the best trips of the year.

I say that “one of the best trips of the year” thing a lot, don’t I? It seems like whenever I go someplace more than once I end up telling everyone it’s one of my favorite places. And that’s true. It is one of my favorites.

I’m addicted. That means that my next fix is the best one I’ve ever had. Of course, my next fix is always about going somewhere that gives me the opportunity to spend the day searching for bass —largemouth, smallmouth, spots — makes no difference to me.