Today is Tuesday, August 22, 2017

A great combination

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She may have caught the fish but you have to give the guide some credit.

It was hot. Nuff said.
I spent two days hanging stands for visiting writers and dignitaries and I was just about worn out. It was mid-October and bow season would open in one day. We would start hunting tomorrow. We had 25 women hunters and four outdoor writers coming in. I figured I owed myself a short break. Time to set a hook or two.
That was down in Alabama where it stays hot longer. Here, now that we have had some cool days and cold nights, the water temperature has started down that means the fish are going to get active. That means it is time for the perfect combination. I like to when I can do that. Read on.
It was Does and Bows-10. For ten straight years, we had hosted an average of 25-women bowhunters from across the country. Most of my job was to hang or set stands and guide the outdoor writers who covered the event. The men and women did not mix. We, the men, hunted a totally separate piece of ground. However, when it came to blood trailing shot deer and then, dragging them out, I worked both sides.
Did I mention it was hot?
It just so happened that the bass in the two big lakes were hungry at just about the same time. They were just starting to transition into their fall pattern and the hot weather had them on hold. Alan Clemmons was the first writer to arrive. As usual, he was a day early.  If that name sounds familiar, you may have read one of his articles or seen him on some fishing tournament, television show. I cannot remember which tournament trail he covers.
It did not take a great deal of persuasion to talk him into joining me for a late afternoon jaunt in the company boat, a beat up but serviceable Carolina Skiff. The rod holder is in the way of everything you tried to do…especially cast. Anyway, with all my stand hung, I had time to try and catch a fish.
We started catching fish almost immediately. Most of them were in the 3-6-pound class and talk about fight. These bass were hybrid crosses between Gorilla bass and Tiger bass. I saw a 6-pounder break braided line with a straightaway pull. Talk about a blast to catch. I was bouncing back and forth between a soft worm on a quarter-ounce weight and a Pop-R. Alan was throwing some new, fancy thing. It did not much matter, the bass would hit just about anything that day.
Despite the great fishing, I could not keep my mind off the hunting. I was hoping I had the stands in the right places and my writers could get some shooting. I was not worried about the women. I knew they were going to kill some deer. They always did. I might even get one to try an afternoon of fishing.
On the edge of a standing tree line in 12-feet of water, we struck ichthyologic gold. In human words, we hit a pocket of fish. Cast after cast, we stuck one, often at the same time. Since we had no net, it was always every man for himself. I was polite and let Alan land his first. That way, he could lip mine for me.
Did I mention it was hot?
By sundown we were both wringing wet with sweat and I have no idea how many we caught. In two hours, we probably landed 30 or more. We had gone less than halfway around the lakeshore.
Early morning, still hot and deer down. Three of the women and one of my writers had put arrows where they do the most good. Therefore, I spent some time trailing and then dragging. One I trailed nearly 300-yards through briars and such and the hunter was with me every step. Then, I had that big doe to drag.
Did I mention it was hot?
To my surprise, one of the women with a deer hanging in the cooler wanted to go fishing. She had some experience with open face spinning gear so I gave her one of my rods and off we went. I was still getting the trolling motor lined out when this loud squealing started in the back of the boat and there was a lot of splashing in the lake. Four pounds of bass started the afternoon and it went on for two hours.
That night at dinner, as she told and retold her story of the day, it became obvious I was going to have plenty of female volunteers for afternoon fishing. I have always loved it when I could combine hunting and fishing. However, there is some work involved. I was a busy boy for three days. Between dragging deer, getting hunters in stands, trailing deer, launching the boat and fishing, I worked at a steady pace…flat out. I seldom had a dry thread on me. We trailed and drug a lot of deer and hooked and caught a lot of bass.
Whenever possible I have tried to get a little fishing in while on a hunting trip. Sometimes it is easy. Bear hunts in Canada and caribou hunts up near the tundra almost always come with fishing as a sidebar. Sometimes on deer hunts, it is more difficult. This was not one of those  times. The fishing was every bit as good as the hunting and just as available. Not only were there trophy deer, there were trophy bass, too.
A guy named Haygood may have stolen the show. Just messing around at the boat launch, he finally landed a 13-pounder. Since it was his best ever, he was allowed to keep it for mounting. I was sweating just watching him fight the fish. I like to keep my “clients” happy.
Bowhunting and bass fishing. A great combination.
Did I mention it was hot?

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