Rock and Roll Smallmouth

It seems that I get a lot of the same questions when I do seminars at tackle or outdoor shows around the country.

What's your favorite smallmouth lure? What's the biggest smallmouth you've ever caught? What rod and reel do you like for fishing a jig?

But one of my favorite questions is this one: What's the funniest thing that ever happened to you when you were smallmouth fishing?

I've done a lot of smallmouth fishing and had a lot of strange things happen to me over the years, but one story stands out for me. I told it in BASS Times about a year ago, but some of you might not have seen it there. If you have, here it is again (and I apologize for the repetition). If not, you really ought to subscribeto BASS Times. It's a terrific magazine.

I was smallmouth fishing on Dale Hollow a couple of years ago with one of my best friends, Cobby Hayes, when he hooked into a giant on a jerkbait.

As soon as Cobby set the hook, the fish made a beeline for deep water. He had the rod bent as far as it would go, and every time I moved the boat with the trolling motor to give him a better position to fight the fish, the drag would scream. It was heading directly under the boat, and Cobby couldn't seem to do anything to slow it down.

After he had fought the fish for a couple of minutes, Cobby said to me, "Headrick, this is the one I've been waiting for. It's the biggest strongest smallmouth I've ever hooked."

Now Cobby has been fishing Dale Hollow for 50 years, so when he said that, I knew it was an enormous bass — maybe even a new world record. Every time he'd gain some line on the fish, it would go deep again, and the line would peel off his reel.

Finally, he got it near the boat and told me to get the net. I was dying to see the fish that could fight so long and so hard.

He was fighting it directly under the boat, and I was leaning over the gunnel holding the net when he finally got it up close enough that we could see it.

The giant smallmouth that was giving Cobby such a fit turned out to be a piece of shale rock about a foot square and hardly any thicker than a piece of paper. It was just sliding toward deep water and pulling extra hard when we changed direction with the trolling motor.

As soon as I saw it, I fell to my knees in the bottom of the boat — laughing so hard I was crying.

"You ain't gonna tell anybody are you?" Cobby asked.

No, I told him. "I won't tell a soul."

Until next time, if you have any questions or comments, I'd love to hear from you. Please e-mail me

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