Tales from the trail

Have you ever had something happen — something so bizarre it was hard to imagine how it was even possible? Well, that's precisely what this column is about — a series of strange occurrences that some B.A.S.S. veterans experienced and agreed to share.

I hope you enjoy them.

An Instant Limit

Have you ever caught a five-bass limit on a single cast … without using an umbrella rig? Zell Rowland did. Here's how.

While fishing a tournament on the St. Lawrence River in the early 1990s, Zell made a cast with a tube jig into open water and got a bite. After setting the hook, he quickly realized something massive was on the other end of his line.

Initially, he thought it was a giant smallmouth. But after several strange tugs and twitches, something didn't feel quite right.

Eventually, as the mystery catch neared the surface, he could see it was a school of fish — all smallmouth — connected to a stringer.

That's right! Apparently another angler had caught and strung the fish, then somehow managed to lose the entire catch in the choppy waters of Lake Ontario. Miraculously, Zell was able to coax one of the tethered fish into biting his lure. And luckily for all of them, he reeled the entire stringer in and released all but the one that bit his lure.

Unscheduled Boat “Launch”

Have you ever backed your boat into a parking spot and disconnected the hitch, only to find it suddenly disappear? B.A.S.S. pro Harold Allen did, and the outcome wasn't a good one.

During an event on the Alabama River near Montgomery, Harold returned to his hotel after a long day of fishing and backed his trailer into an area designated for boat parking. It was the last day of practice, and he was running late. With an impending tournament briefing some miles away, he rushed to uncouple the hitch, then began jacking the trailer up.

Just as things tend to go wrong when you’re in a hurry, Harold's trailer hitch failed to release. Alone and unable to break it loose, he decided to use the truck to free the connection. Back in the driver's seat, he put the truck in gear and gave it a slight jolt. That worked, but to his dismay, he watched in the rear view mirror as the trailer slowly rolled away and down a steep embankment. He said it was like watching the bow of a ship sink slowly beneath the surface … at least initially.

The parking spot Harold chose was on the top of a hill overlooking I-65. Once the boat and trailer crested the lip of the parking lot, they rolled some 75 yards down the incline, eventually crashing into a muddy ditch below.

Fortunately for Harold, there was a wrecker nearby tending to another accident. He asked the driver to recover his rig while he attended the tournament briefing.

In the end, things worked out well enough. Harold's boat and trailer suffered only minor damage. Even better, he was able to borrow a boat and go on to a Top 10 finish in the event.

What's Mine Is Yours

Back in the late '80s, Boyd Duckett was paired with an angler by the name of Tee Watkins. The two had entered a draw tournament on Smith Lake in northern Alabama, and both had discovered the same pattern — cranking 45-degree banks for prespawn spotted bass.

Instead of arguing over whose boat to take or who would have control, they decided to fish side by side and alternate casts. According to Duckett, they both were having a productive day when, suddenly, he hooked a magnum spot.

The fish struck his crankbait so aggressively it knocked slack in the line and proceeded to swim directly toward the boat. As Boyd tried catching up with the streaking fish, his partner set the hook on what they believed was another giant spot. Like Boyd's, Watkins' fish swam directly toward the boat at warp speed.

With both anglers busy, there was no time for the net. Eventually, Boyd managed to gain control of his fish. Leaning over the gunnel, he clutched the bass and hoisted it aboard. That's when he noticed a second lure deep within the fish's mouth. At the same time, Watkins reeled up enough slack line to also realize what had occurred. The giant spot had eaten both plugs nearly 10 feet apart!

Not knowing who should get the fish, they kept it and took it to weigh-in. There, they explained the situation to the tournament director and asked him to decide. But he was stumped, as well. Nothing like that had ever happened, and there was nothing in the rules to help them decide.

In the end, they all agreed the fish should go to the angler with the most to gain. And because Watkins had the most weight between them, he got the fish and went on to finish in the Top 5 of the event.

Of course, that would never happen in today's format. But it would still make for some interesting conversation. Speaking of which, if you have a notable fish story to share, please post it in the comments below. I'd love to hear it.