Have you ever gotten smallmouth fever? You know…the disease where you spend several hours a week scouring satellite imagery for the perfect water to paddle? You spend hours studying weather patterns, fishing reports, and water temperatures in hopes of timing the perfect time to catch a lot of big fish.
My buddies Corey Galloway, Evan Howard, and I got the fever and planned a road trip to try to time the smallmouth bass spawn, a period of time when fish are typically feeding up aggressively. Such a window of time is usually a great time for big fish to eat big lures.
We settled on a date and hit the road last May after we got off of work. We crashed at our hotel that night and woke up the next day bright and early to be at our spot at sunrise.
Then it happened. I launched and immediately paddled up stream about as far as I could go before encountering a large shoal complex. As I was working my way up the right side of the bank, I saw a disturbance up ahead. I made a few strokes with my Angler Pro and then chunked my Whopper Plopper 130 topwater lure just past a rock that was about six feet from the bank.
The top water explosion I came to see.
The fish I had been dreaming to catch.
Only, it was a miss.
The fish missed both of the treble hooks on my lure.
And it was a nice fish. Most likely, I had just missed a smallmouth bass in the five pound class and it looked long. In the first 15 minutes of our fishing adventure I had just missed not only the likely trophy smallmouth of the trip, but my personal best smallmouth!
I made a few more casts trying to fool that big fish to no avail. Oh well. I decided to go fish the next spot. I could only paddle about ten more yards upstream but there was a rapid there and I wanted to see if any fish were holding below the shoal complex.
As I paddled my Coosa HD upstream, I noticed there was a bank fisherman near me. I guess he had the same idea I had about that place being a good fishing spot. He walked down to where I missed my large fish and threw his small jig in the direction of the misconnect. On the first cast, he had a big fish on the line. I figured it had to be the big fish I had missed. And then it jumped and I knew it was the one.
After a few minutes of fighting the large fish on his ultralight tackle, he worked the fish to the bank. His line snapped just as the fish was dragged onto the rocks lining the stream. He held his prize up high in the air and we both knew that was the fish I had missed earlier. It certainly was a fish in the 5-pound class.
There I was. After spending so much time researching back home where to go in hopes of catching such a fish, I saw the fish tease me and a bank fisherman, no less, catch the fish right from behind my kayak! I was a little heartbroken.
At the same time, it was only about 20-minutes into the fishing trip so I remained optimistic.
The fishing tapered off for a few hours after launch but around lunchtime we began to catch fish. We fished and laughed hard all day. By the end of the trip, each of us had landed sizeable smallmouth bass. A good trip with good buddies made up for my early morning heartbreak and catching a the three-pound smallmouth at the end of the trip was the perfect medicine.
Check out the action from the trip in this YouTube video.