Jaycob Gough of Lewis, a third grader at Willsboro, show off his first smallmouth, a 4-pound 2-ounce monster caught on a tube in the Windmill Point area of Champlain.
There was a time years ago when fishing was simple. I’d grab a rod and reel and jump in the wooden homemade jonboat with my granddad, crank the 3 hp Johnson outboard and putter to our favorite fishing hole. We would drown a couple dozen minnows catching white bass, crappie or largemouth bass until dark and then putter back home. Life was good.
Not today. Now it’s hook up the 21-foot Ranger bass boat and trailer with the gas guzzling 250 horsepower Evinrude ETech motor, drop half a house payment at the gas pump filling it all up, pull it to some far away lake, buzz around at a casual 50-plus mph, all the time watching the screen of a state of the art Lowrance GPS with depth locator, 3-D imaging, contoured Navionics maps showing rock piles, ledges and points, looking for that magic fishing spot, hoping it holds the next 20-pound stringer of bass to load into a 25-gallon live well with fill pumps, automatic recirculating pumps, oxygen tank, and special aeration systems to keep the oxygen content at as high as possible. If it’s going to be a long day we can add ice and Rejuvenade that by the manufacture’s claim revitalizes our catch. I have a trolling motor with intuitive programing that will follow a contoured depth break with the simple push of a button on the remote on my right wrist, so not a single one of those little green fish will get away.
You won’t find the old paper bag with a baloney sandwich and coke on this boat. What you will find is 20 gallon built-in insulted cooler large enough to hold three days of electrolyte drinks, energy bars and various flavored waters along with enough baloney, mustard and gluten-free bread to feed myself and half of Wadhams.
Of course, the old Mitchell 300 spinning reel taped to my 6-foot fiberglass rod has since been replaced by at least a dozen high modulus graphic rods with ceramic eyes matched with 10 ball bearing bait caster reels and another 6 or so 7-foot medium action spinning rods with high speed 8 ball bearing spinning reels. All cozily sit in a rod locker on board with fitted holders to protect the very expensive and sensitive cargo. Each rod has its own function: there are topwater rods, frog sticks, spinner-bait rods, worm rods I and II, flipping sticks and drop shot rods and on and on. If there is a type of lure there is a special type of rod. Then, there are several different types of fishing line from monofilament to Copolymer, to Braid to Fluorocarbon all in combinations of line strength from 8-pound for finesse fishing to 12-pound for crankbaiting to 20-pound for flipping.
Are you confused yet?
How about lures? It used to be just the classic Zara Spook invented by James Heddon over 100 years ago. Now it’s evolved to dozens of versions of topwater lures from Japan or China all with creative looks to resemble a real fish, with magic designs and colors. And after spending $15 to $25 for this very realistic lure we have to send it to “Buddy Bill” who charges another $15 to strip the factory color scheme and replace it with a special one –of- a- kind paint job that more resembles a minnow that bass are likely feeding on today. Since this column is about to end, I’ll save for another time the types of spinnerbaits, jerkbaits, chatterbaits, crankbaits, jigs and soft plastic baits that only the mind of a bass fisherman can dream up.
All this…and we still have to explain to our wives that we do in fact need all this to catch a silly green fish with a big mouth. Somehow, I don’t think the loves of our lives believe us.
Howard Hammonds is a guide and experienced bass fisherman living in Westport. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.