Today is Wednesday, August 16, 2017

"Hula Popper's" Personal Best!

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"Hula Popper" Durham & his personal best 8-pound, 5-ounce bass

When David Earl Durham, now, better known as "Hula Popper" and I, went to White Oak Plantation May 9-11, our stated goal was to catch, keep, fillet and bring home, as many bass under 14 inches as we could.

In addition, we wanted to catch, keep and fillet, about 35 of the big "titty bream". The bream catching took up about 45 minutes, total.

Talk about a blast on my toy super ultra-light and Dave's flyrod! Then, we went bass fishing. The lake needed some bass culling.

And with the possibility of the lodge selling, we realized, this may be our last trip to the place I have called my second home, for 25 years.

Keep in mind, we were not working at it. We were there to enjoy and also remember and relive good times. We had no intention of killing ourselves, fishing.

We fished in segments of about three hours, then filleted and vacuum packed our catch. We were filleting everything under 14 inches. Longer than 14 inches, they go back. But that amounts to a lot of filleting.

So here is the breakdown: In three sessions-two afternoons and one morning-we fished a total of 10 hours. That is 600 minutes.

We filleted 100 fish. That is just about a fish every six-minutes and that does not include the 50 or so we threw back and time spent taking pictures and tying on lures etc.

That, friends, is catching fish on a regular basis and some of them were big enough to require a little more time.

To say it was good, is a gross understatement. And keep in mind, W.O. offers weekend, fishing packages for families.

It is a kid friendly kind of place. My new bestest friend, "Bulldog" almost got kidnapped and brought to Lebanon. She loves kids and is a real sweetie.

But anyway, about the fishing.

I wanted to experiment with the bream. I started with a 1/16-ounce, brown Crappie Master jig.

They absolutely tore it up. Destroyed it. I was fishing it on an ultra-light rod and four-pound test line.

Most of the bream approached a pound in size. Talk about a fight!

"Hula Popper", (yes, I'll explain in a minute), was fishing a small popping bug on an ultra-light flyrod.

He had the same results. In 40 minutes, we had a sink full of bream to fillet. So, we did.

Then we had lunch, one of Mizz Jeannie's best enchilada casseroles. Following nap time, we went back down to the lake as sunset approached. Time to go bass fishing.

We fished for not quite three hours and filleted 27 bass under 14 inches.

Everything over that, we threw back. You see, the lake needs some regular bass thinning to keep the bream numbers up.

Also, bass that small eat great. The larger ones, bass over about 1.50 pounds, go back to provide catching enjoyment and brood stock. That way, the 14-acre lake stays healthy.

That night, we barely made it through supper.

Ribeye steaks done to perfection, baked potato and a salad. We ate quite well. Hot shower and off to the land of nod. Never turned on the big screen TV.

A word about White Oak is required.

It is a private club. No license required, no maximum or minimum size limits, no possession limit.

All that is determined by the Pitmans, as the lake dictates. The bream fishing is unbelievable all summer and the bass fishin aint bad. They offer a family/kid friendly weekend package that can't be beat.

Here is what I suggest. If you have kids and want to get them hooked on fishing and fill the freezer with fine fillets. This is the place.

Call Robert Pitman at 334-727-9258 for full details. It is cheaper than any two night stay at a fancy hotel and twice the fun.

Fish in the lake are Florida bass, Tiger bass, Gorilla bass, bream, shellcrackers and catfish. Lake record bass is 13 pounds. I know for a fact, there is at least one larger.

So, as always happens, comes daylight and I finally get Hizz Honor up and some Mexican coffee down him and we head for the lake. He is going to use his flyrod and an old, worn out Hula Popper fly he stole on Ebay.

I have something shiny tied on. As the sun comes up, we put fish in the box regularly and throw a few larger ones, back. Then I hear that sucking sound, only a bass can make as they inhale a tasty morsel.

Being the expert guide that I am and having worked hard to put "Hula Popper" in the right place, I know what has happened.

Immediately I start assembling his landing net, cause I know we are going to need it. When a bass starts pulling your boat around circles, you are, as they say, "attached".

Four minutes later, under my expert tutelage, "Hula Popper", gets the bass close enough for me to make a superb, one handed grab with the net.

At 8 pounds, 5 ounces, it is the largest bass Hula, has ever caught and the largest by far on a flyrod, in 51 years of fishing.

Great fish and I am sure, had I not had to work so hard netting her, I probably would have caught one larger. Great fish.

Later that afternoon, after another filleting and vacuum bagging session, I wanted to try something. We set two chairs up in a shady spot on the bank and fished red wiggler worms under corks, just the way kids would. In 15 minutes, we caught 17, huge bream. Even "Bulldog", my new best friend was happy.

The fish fry that night was great.

Trust me, call Robert and book a weekend for the kids this summer. They will like it better than any theme park. White Oak, 352 miles from my driveway, is for sale. Don't wait too long to book a weekend.

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John Sloan - Outdoors
bass fishing, David Durham, John L. Sloan, Outdoors, Robert Pitman, Sloan, White Oak Plantation
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