June 24, 2020
By Adam Heggenstaller
Ten-foot-tall windows encircled the spacious meeting room, affording me plenty of opportunity to look out on the spring landscape of northeastern Texas. Outside the windows stretched the well-manicured lawn of the lodge, which included a gazebo and several benches for gatherings such as weddings. Beyond that was a pond. I found it difficult to concentrate on the presentation.
The speaker was engaging and had helped design a major truck company’s flagship pickup. He provided a behind-the-scenes look at what went into producing the year’s updated model, but while he discussed specifications I noticed a large stand of cattails at one end of the pond. Before he had finished, I realized there was a steady wind blowing across the pond directly into the standing vegetation.
I imagined several Texas-sized largemouths stacked back in those cattails, waiting to ambush unsuspecting baitfish pushed toward the cover by the wind-induced current. Big bass that would undoubtedly smash whatever bait I worked along that edge.
Should I throw a buzzbait or a soft-plastic fluke? The chop on the water created prime conditions for burning a buzzbait. But a fluke would let me work closer to the cover, even glide it into the tight spaces between the cattails.
The internal argument was academic as I had no tackle, and so I went back to learning about the pickup. That changed at lunchtime, however, when my host casually mentioned there were a few rods somewhere down by the pond. It took me about three minutes to clean my plate and find them.
They all were economical spin-caster combos, and every one had an inline spinner with a dressed treble tied to its mono. It wasn’t my first choice of gear, but it was my only choice. Besides, who was I to complain about getting some unexpected time on the water?
I soon learned it would be impossible to reach the cattails with a cast. Twenty yards of swampy ground covered in a few inches of water separated me and them, and I didn’t think it wise to wade in the same shoes I’d wear when flying home later that afternoon. A large patch of shorter vegetation was within casting range, though, and as I approached it I saw a couple frogs skitter into the water. The gold spinner on my line had chartreuse hackles. Maybe the person who tied it on knew exactly what he was doing after all.
Fifteen minutes later I had landed four bass and lost two more. None of them weighed more than a pound, but did it really matter? I had squeezed in some unlikely fishing, and many times that’s reason enough to be satisfied.
As the fishing for bass and many other species heats up, get on the water as much as you can. An hour here, 30 minutes there, even just 10 casts into the pond down the road before you have to be home for supper. It might be the only time you get, but that may be all it takes.
Adam Heggenstaller is editorial director for Game & Fish Magazine.