Don’t ruin a good fishing experience


I still feel like I’m getting away with something when I tow the BassCat to one of our local lakes for a midweek fishing trip.

After so many years of awaking Monday through Friday with either school or work as that day’s driving force, I am still adjusting to the relatively relaxed schedule that retirement brings.

As I join the morning commute on Interstate 680, I have to pinch myself to remind that my office is now wherever I want to fish on Mosquito, Milton, West Branch, Shenango, Pymatuning, Lake Erie or the Ohio River.

It’s a tough job, but I’m up to the task. Still, some of the experiences are just like the world of work. Good things happen and disappointments come, too.

Thursday was a good example of a great day but with a discovery that marred the outing from being perfect.

First the good.

Splendid weather and uncrowded conditions greeted me as I drove up to the launch ramp at West Branch. I fished for an hour without a bite but was unbothered by the lack of success. The bass are busy spawning or getting ready for that business, so I went to the lake to check out the conditions more than to catch a bunch of fish.

A 30-inch muskie chased my lure as I lifted it out of the water next to the boat. Many of the anglers on West Branch Thursday were targeting the big, toothy muskies that help make the reservoir famous.

Other anglers were anchored up next to trees that had toppled into the water, working jigs and minnows through the twiggy brush.

I pitched plastics, meanwhile, to cover in the arm of West Branch I shared with a pair of crappie fishermen. I heard them before I saw them. To clarify, I heard their dog.

The two anglers were fishing near a big crappie brush pile with their frisky pup announcing every squirrel it spied on the nearby woods and every crappie they reeled in.

From my perspective across the arm of the lake, I marveled that they seemed to tune out the yappy pooch as it barked out loud and often.

After a few minutes, it became apparent the dog was having as much fun as his human buddies. Perhaps it was enjoying the delightful weather and productive crappie fishing as much as the two men in the boat.

That’s a good thing.

The bad things were the two tangles of braided fishing line I pulled from willow bushes Thursday morning. Both had snagged my bait as I reeled it through the cover.

If you want to leave an ugly footprint at your local lake, a surefire sign that you are a person who pays little respect for the creatures that live in and on the water we enjoy fishing, then you can hardly do worse than leave braided line in the water or the bushes.

Braided superline is great for catching fish, but it’s going to be around for centuries. Leaving it in the water or in the brush that rims our lakes is almost a guarantee that it will snag a mammal or bird and probably result in that animal’s death.

Don’t be a disappointment. If your lure is snagged at the end of your braided line, do not simply cut the line and leave it out there.

I was able to pull two tangles into my boat and take them home for proper disposal. If I can do that, so could have the people who carelessly left their deathtraps at West Branch.

jackbbaass@gmail.com

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