A Younger Day Fishing Story
Text By Trent Evans  © All rights reserved.

I jumped out of the truck and said goodbye to my best friend and his grandpa as they drove off. They had just dropped me off at my house after getting out of classes to enjoy an all too short summer between my freshmen and sophomore years in high school. Little did I know, I was in for an unexpected start to the three months of summer vacation.
 
I didn't have my driver's license but my dad had bought me an '86 Chevy S-10 Blazer to drive on the rice field roads behind the house. The night before I had loaded it down with all the things I thought I'd need for the next day. I had cleaned my reels and organized my tackle box. I just wanted everything to be ready and perfect for the afternoon of fishing.
 
I ran into the house to grab a sandwich and coke and out the door I flew. I know you shouldn't eat and drive, but I didn't want to waste any of the gorgeous weather that day. With clouds of dust building up behind me, the rabbits eating roadside grass seemed to know where I was headed as I passed them. Irrigation canals have never really been a big fan to a lot of anglers because they don't seem like they produce very good results. However, for a 15 year old addicted to angling they are perfect. A turn here and a turn there I finally made it to the first canal. Eating a sandwich, holding a coke between your legs, driving a standard S-10 blazer up the steep embankment of an irrigation canal is something only an experienced excited youngster should do. The first thing I noticed was that the water was at the depth that I had wanted it to be. Not too high and not too low. I knew I was only moments away from my favorite honey hole. I passed a couple of farmers working on a combine tractor. They probably just thought I was showing off my afternoon snack to them.
 
Finally I pulled up to where the main canal makes a hard turn towards the south and a smaller one goes off o the east. I parked and jumped out. I opened the back of the blazer up and pulled out my lucky rod. It had my very first open faced casting reel on it. I wish I had kept it. It might be put in a museum one day. I grabbed an aqua blue soft plastic worm with a straight white tail and rigged it Texas style. I heard the water running through the culverts that go under the road. I looked at the swirls the water was making coming out of the culvert in the main canal. Perfect! I had a good feeling about the day. I always fish the end of the culvert that the water is coming out of. I just knew there was a monster waiting for some tasty treat to come by. I walked over to the bank above the culvert and debated for a brief second which side to drop my worm down. Aw what the heck, I dropped it down on the left side of the covert. I let it fall to the bottom and took up the slack. Patience is something that you don't have to have while fishing these waters. It wasn't but about five seconds until I felt that tap, tap, tap and my line was pulled tight. I let him have it for a count of three and then I set the hook like my life depended on it. My rod doubled over and right then I knew I had a whopper on. I never did see him, but he started running with my line off to the middle of the canal and made a few turns. I was able to bring him back to the mouth of the culvert, but that's when he had his own idea of how the day would go. He went straight for the culvert and when the line hit the sharp edge it was the start of a small rampage on my part. After jumping up and down and saying a few things no 15 year old should know, I went for a walk. Needless to say, I needed to cool down. I walked to the next crossing after tying on another rig. I never did like this part of the canal so I wasn't there very long before I decided I needed to suck up the loss and get back on the horse. I walked back to where my day was ruined and decided to see if I could recover any kind of faith in that honey hole.
 
This time I dropped the line on the right side of the culvert. Right away I went from disappointment to confusion when my line never went limp like it's supposed to when the worm hits the bottom. I then saw that my line was also starting to move towards the middle of the canal. My stomach tied in knots. I told myself that this one wasn't getting away with double-crossing me. I gave him enough time to make sure that he had the hook in his bucket mouth and then I reared back and set the hook. They must've been teaching these bass the same thing in the schools they were traveling in. He too thought he'd double back to that sharp culvert. I was ready this time. I was adjusting the drag a little tighter and walking down the bank away from the culvert. After a few minutes he knew he was whipped so he just gave up and put on a good show for me. A jump here and a jump there and he was ready to come in.
 
I horsed him up to the bank and that's when I got a good look at what I hooked. It was the biggest bass I had ever landed in my LIFE! I didn't know you could come down with bass fever like you could with buck fever in the blink of an eye. I picked him up like a real angler would, by the mouth with my thumb. I always loved showing off a hard day's fishing with a cut up thumb. He only weighed about seven pounds but to me he weighed a hundred pounds more than that tiny little record caught in Lake Montgomery, Georgia back in June of 1932 by George Perry. I didn't think I could get him far enough away from the bank of that irrigation canal. I surely didn't want him flopping back in there after I got him off of the hook. I finally calmed down enough to try to get the hook out of his mouth. I look down in his bucket and to see that I gave him a little too much time to take the worm and run. He had swallowed the hook and I needed to cut the line. Through all the excitement I didn't see the most bizarre thing until I took a double glance to see just how deep the hook was. I noticed that there was another piece of monofilament hanging out of the corner of his mouth. I looked down into his bucket mouth again and saw that the piece of fishing line went down into the gullet of the fish. I knew that this had to be the same bad boy that I had hooked earlier that gave me the slip. This took the excitement to a whole new level. I was really happy now. I knew I had to cut the line though. The hook was just too deep in him and I didn't want to cause him any harm. Well, maybe just a lil bit because of what he had put me through earlier in the day.
 
Still holding onto him with my thumb on his lip I reached in my tackle box for my trusty knife. It was one that I had gotten from my favorite fishing magazine, 'Field & Stream.' I was pretty proud of myself for opening it up with just one hand. I started to stick the knife down in his mouth to cut the line when he saw it and must've thought I was going to fillet him right there. His eyes got huge and I swear he started sweating. He then started to thrash back and forth for his dear life. For some reason unknown to me, I dropped the fish and threw my hand behind my back and tried to regain control of this monster lunker with the hand that had been holding the knife. When I had him back in my control I realized that I felt 'water' dripping off of my hand behind my back. I stopped and thought about it. I hadn't had that hand any where near the water. This is when I pulled my hand back around to the front of me and saw what I had done. I saw my favorite knife sticking out of my hand! Of course I dropped the fish and tended to the more piercing issue at 'hand.'
 
The knife was in my left thumb. This was the same thumb that had been holding the largest bass in the world, to me at the time, with the grip of death. I was now faced with a tough decision. The blade went in just above my thumb knuckle and came out just below it. I grabbed the knife handle with my right hand and gave some thought as to what I should do. I pondered on whether or not it would be best to just go ahead and cut on through or to back the blade out. Well needless to say I'm glad that I backed the knife out of the flesh of my hand. I dropped the knife to the ground and started looking for something to wrap my hand with. The only thing I had was my old Cub Scout bandana. I made a couple of wraps with that and applied pressure to my thumb and hand.
 
This is when I started to put my attention back to the fish laying on the ground at my feet. I wanted to put it on a stringer and get back to fishing but I knew that I had to get a more sanitary bandage on my hand first. I remembered those farmers I had passed on my way in. I looked around and saw that they weren't very far away at all. I walked over to them. I hated to bother them but I knew that they might have some sort of first aid kit in their truck. I then approached the men and asked if they had something better to wrap my hand with. Both of their reactions weren't good when they had seen what kind of pickle I had gotten myself into. The older of the two said that I had to go to the hospital. I was like, "no way, I have a fish to tend to and I KNOW there are more in there like that one!" However, there was no arguing with him. He retrieved the first aid kit from his truck and proceeded to wrap my hand a little better than I did and then told me to get in the truck. He drove me back to my house and asked where my folks were. I told him that they were up at the hospital visiting my grandmother. She was in there with cancer and they had gone up that day to see how she was doing. I figured I'd give it one more try and told him that I needed to get back to fishing and that I'd be fine. He had no intentions of letting me go back out there and tend to my trophy largemouth. I gave in and asked the farmer if he would go back and put my fish on a stringer and close up my Chevy Blazer. He agreed as we were pulling up to my house. I thanked him as I jumped out of the truck. As I headed into the house I was thinking of what I was going to tell my parents when I called them to let them know they needed to come pick me up so I could get the medical attention I didn't want. I paged my dad and just my luck, mom called me back at the house. I surely didn't want to tell her what had happened. I would've gone through the whole dramatic event over again rather than have the wrath of my upset mother come down on me. I asked to talk to Dad and that's when I told him what had happened and asked him if he'd come pick me up and take me back up the hospital. I asked him not to tell mom what had happened. I asked him if he could tell her that I just wanted to come up there to see Mama. I knew that he wasn't going to spare me like that so I just prepared for the worst. Of course when we arrived at the Emergency Room we were greeted by my mother. She's not one to get hysterical, but she sure had a mouthful to say to me.
 
The only good part about the E.R. trip was that I was able to spend some time visiting with my grandmother. She wasn't too happy about how I weaseled my way up to see her either. I ended up getting seven stitches. I went back to find that the farmer kept to his word and locked up my blazer and was able to tame that monster and put it on a stringer. Now I have a battle scar to show off which tingles with pain whenever I know there's a big fish around. I don't carry a knife with me to cut line. I have a huge pair of fingernail clippers that do just fine!


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