Fishing for Bass with Your Bare Hands
Proper Equipment is Essential
The five-pound-test line that came with my new reel was obviously too weak, but with the sky threatening rain, my son and I were impatient to get started. So we headed to the lake, with high hopes of landing a big one, but with equipment that was not equal to the task.
Who could have known...
The Best Place to Fish
Shortly before five in the afternoon we arrived at the back end of the lake, where several fingers of water extend inland to form the “inlet”. It was a weekday, so we had the place all to ourselves, and immediately took up our usual positions at this prime location. Sean stepped onto the massive drainpipe on the south side of the dirt access road, and I took up a similar position twenty feet away on the other side of the road, standing on the opposite end of the same pipe.
For bait we were both using frogs – fake ones – which we had attached to our lines before leaving home, and we settled in for an expected long wait. This was by no means our first try at fishing. On the contrary, we had come to this spot on many occasions, often catching small fish such as pumpkinseed, sunfish, and perch, but the big one had always eluded us.
Hooking a Big Fish
I think it was the third cast; maybe the fourth. At any rate, just before my little fake frog hit the water, I saw a fish break the surface and lunge for it. I could scarcely believe my eyes. As the line pulled taught, one thought instantly filled my mind – it would never hold.
As I eased off a bit, trying to adjust for the weak line, I said to Sean, in a hushed voice, “I think I got one. A big one.” He dropped his own pole and came running over, and we watched as my line moved among some serious lily pads, as the fish tried to escape among the underwater vegetation.
The line seemed to get heavier.
I walked along the water’s edge, gingerly working the delicate line, while still guiding the stubborn fish towards shore. Sean walked along with me as the fish drew nearer and nearer. Swamp reeds grew all along the water's edge, making it difficult to stay near the shoreline, and the line felt to be near its breaking point. I made progress though, and when the fish was within about five feet of us, Sean said, “I’ll try to get it.”
The Fish That Got Away?
He slipped his socks and shoes off, stepped into the water, and followed the line to the point where it disappeared into the murkiness. As he bent down, hands stretched towards the mirrored surface, the line, which had held up so heroically until now, went limp. A wispy coil of clear filament floated on the surface, attached to nothing.
I watched as Sean desperately groped with his bare hands for the escaped fish, water up to his armpits. I knew it was a lost cause; that fish was long gone.
An Unbelievable Fish Story
As soon as the line broke I felt sick. We had come so close, so very, very close. But as I prepared words of consolation, Sean suddenly stood bolt upright. Clutched to his chest, covered with aquatic vegetation, was a beautiful eighteen-inch largemouth bass. Somehow, some impossible way, after the line broke he had managed to get his hands around the struggling mass of fish and weeds. He had actually caught the fish with his bare hands!
Maybe that fish was just tuckered out from the fight, or maybe Sean is really quick. In any event, on that day in June we finally caught the big one, and I’m glad I didn’t change the line.