I don’t get to “fun” fish as much as I did before I got into the Bassmaster Elite Series. About the only time I get on the water away from the tournament events is to take sponsors or sweepstakes winners fishing.
I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve gone fishing when there wasn’t a business tie to the trip.
Don’t get me wrong – I enjoy those experiences, but there is always a bit of pressure to put people on fish and ensure they have a good time.
I got one of those rare just-for-fun experiences recently on Lake St. Clair, which is about an hour and half from my home.
And this time it was special. I had my parents – Tim and Doris – in the boat. Both are retirees in their 60s and enjoy being on the water but don’t get the opportunity to fish that often.
I’ve always been close to my parents. They introduced me to my first fishing experiences that laid the foundation for what I do now as a Bassmaster pro.
We used to fish together a lot at our cottage on Higgins Lake in northern Michigan where we enjoyed summers when my mom wasn’t teaching school. We spent a lot of hours fishing for lake perch and other species around that lake.
But this is the first time I’ve had them in my boat to specifically fish for bass – smallmouth bass.
And we had a blast. We fished Ned rigs and drop shots to catch 40 smallmouth and another 15 rock bass. Some people call rock bass red eyes or goggle-eyes. They grow to 10 inches or more and are aggressive biters and fight to the end.
We landed a couple of smallmouth pushing 4 pounds and lost a couple of big ones to breakoffs. We were so busy catching fish we didn’t take time to re-tie. But who cares? We were having fun.
The St. Clair smallmouth are in the spawning phase right now and easy to catch. You can literally throw out either side of the boat and stand a good chance of getting bit.
The fish appear healthy and the numbers are good, so it should be a great tournament when the Elites come here for the Toyota Bassmaster Angler of Year Championship Sept. 29-Oct. 1.
My mom said the coolest part of our trip was trying to land smallmouth without a net. Since landing nets aren’t allowed in Bassmaster events, I don’t carry one in the boat.
I explained that it’s important to tire out smallmouth before you try to grab them. Once they are worn out, you can slip a hand under their bellies and scoop them into the boat.
Mom had the hot hand and caught bass on her first two casts. I must admit that I laughed at her trying to land those first fish, but she got the hang of it.
Dad preferred to just cast out and drag the lure behind the boat and he had success doing that as well. In fact, we finished the day with a double hook-up – the same way we started.
I’m glad I got to share that experience with my parents and encourage you to do the same with yours if they are able. It’s not only a good way to return the favor to those who introduced us to fishing, but a great way to spend a fun day on the water!