Catch small fish, please

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 30, 2002

Never in all my born days, which include more decades than I care to admit, had I heard such a plea: that someone catch some smaller fish, please.

Here’s the scene: five of us were fishing for bream in a private lake in northern Shelby County near Vandiver and some of the best anglers, which did not include me, were pulling in pan-sized bream.

Then we noticed that several bass were chasing the bream away from the waters where we were fishing, waters just off a pier and a boat house.

Aha, we thought, we need some bream to use for bait to entice the bass.

However, the large bream kept going into baskets, with Bob Collins and Willie Teaford reeling in the most of them. Occasionally Reno Jackson, Jacob McCarley and I would catch one, but still, they all were large bream.

That led to the plea: &uot;Will someone please catch some smaller bream so we can use them to go after the large-mouth bass.&uot;

Finally, two or three smaller bream bit and were captured.

Teaford put the first one on his hook, and shortly he and McCarley, his grandson, joined forces to catch a bass.

We had no scales but the bass had to weigh four or five pounds. The pond’s owner had stocked the waters with bass and had clipped off one of each fish’s small bottom fins as a way to determine how large the bass were growing.

Hence, he asked that if we caught any of those, we release them.

However, the bass reeled in by McCarley, with the hook deep in its insides, was mortally wounded and therefore went into the basket to keep the bream company.

Then another small bream became available and I put it on the hook of a 20-pound test line on one of my reels

a line I had installed after bass had broken weaker lines on earlier trips to the lake. I cast that small bream into the water, held down the rod with my right foot, and continued to fish for bream with another line.

The only problem was that a bass hit that bream hook, but managed to escape just as I got him to the pier. Our estimate was that it was close to two pounds.

Oh well, I thought, that was my only chance for a bass.

Not so. Within minutes the line with the bream for bait took off, I grabbed it and slowly and carefully reeled it to dock-side. Teaford lifted it out of the water for me, and I couldn’t believe its size.

Now, I grew up in Mobile, have fished in salt waters many times and have caught fish much larger than the bass.

However, that was the largest bass ever for me. It is an axiom that anglers cannot always be depended on for their truthfulness, but all of us agreed that my bass weighed at least five or six pounds.

The bass had one of those bottom fins missing, so it had to go back into the lake. Not before, however, Teaford took a picture of it as evidence.

Our fishing trip took place one day prior to the start of the BASS Masters Classic on Lay Lake, which sprawls over Shelby, Coosa and Chilton counties. The winner of that tournament pocketed $203,000 for boating 14 bass totaling 45 pounds, 13 ounces.

Those experts fished for three days, while our outing lasted only three hours. Had we spent three days on the lake, with our luck, 45 pounds would have been child’s play.

Of course, we were fishing in a stocked pond as opposed to Lay Lake, so the comparison isn’t really fair. On our return, after the requisite bragging, a skeptic remarked that, hey, fishing in a stocked lake is like catching fish in a barrel.

Which probably is true, but as one of us responded: &uot;if you want to catch fish, go where the fish are. There’s no point in fishing where there are no fish.&uot;