Jason Root had a tough first day. His second and final day wasn't looking all that good either. Then, out of the blue, fortune smiled on the Fostoria, Ohio, angler.
"It was a crazy thing. We were checking out a few deep areas out in the lake — without much success — when my co-angler and I saw birds feeding, diving and pretty much going crazy over in shallow water. We ran over there and found a school of the biggest smallies I've ever encountered.
"They looked like dark submarines under the water. They were big enough to force 6-inch perch to jump into the air trying to get away from them. At first we weren't prepared for what we got into. Our tackle was too light.
"My co-angler caught one but then broke several off. I lost the first four I hooked. It was startling, and took us a few minutes to get ourselves together. Finally we realized we had to beef up our tackle if we expected to get a limit of them into the boat."
Fighting a mixture of awe and excitement, Root swapped his lighter line for 15-pound-test Berkley Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon and tied on a 3/4-ounce Red Eye Shad in Sexy Shad.
"The big one grabbed the Red Eye Shad on the first cast after only a couple of cranks. It was an awesome experience. When the day was over, I weighed in a 20-pound, 6-ounce sack of smallies. It was a really good day."
Root threw his Red Eye Shad with a 7-foot, medium-heavy Exos rod and a Quantum Tour Edition PT Burner Reel (7:1 gear ratio).
"I learned a lesson Saturday... maybe. I started casting too quick. I might have done even better if I'd taken a minute to upsize my tackle before I started throwing at them. But that's the kind of thing that's easy to say at the ramp and hard to put into practice on the water. Hopefully, I'll find another school like that sometime and find out if I really did learn anything."