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Fishing provides reasons to smile

Published: Sat, November 24, 2018 @ 12:00 a.m.

The season of Thanksgiving is for families to feast, shoppers to shop, football fans to cheer and for all to reflect on the blessings we enjoy.

So while the wonderful aroma of Thursday’s roasting turkeys and pumpkin pies lingers in our homes – and before the Buckeyes take the field against the team from up north – we take the opportunity to savor the highlights of a fantastic fishing year.

Readers know I love my time on the water. I smile just thinking about fishing trips past and those yet to happen. It’s kind of like the saying many people use to express satisfaction: “If [fill in the blank] doesn’t make you smile, nothing will.”

For my angler friends and me, if fishing doesn’t make us smile, nothing will. So here are a few of the memories that brought the biggest grins in the season just finished.

It was a blustery afternoon not long before the first snow fell this autumn. Ted Suffolk and I were casting for bass at Lake Milton when one of the lake’s famous muskies smashed his spinnerbait.

As the fish thrashed at the side of the boat, I caught the smile that beamed across Ted’s face. It was a perfect exclamation point on the day and the fishing season.

Earlier in the year, Steve Zarbaugh and I were enjoying a great day on the upper end of Pymatuning Reservoir. The fish were cooperating, one largemouth in particular.

Steve was kneeling to retie when I heard a thumping sound. I turned in time to see him grabbing for a flopping bass and laughing out loud. The bass had actually jumped into the boat as we worked through a coontail patch where it had been hiding.

The first Saturday in June is the annual Muransky Companies Bass Classic. Jim McLaughlin of Lowellville was aboard my boat this year as our judge in the catch-weigh-release bass tournament benefiting our local United Way.

We kept Jim busy. He was like a kid on Christmas morning as he weighed bass after bass. It seemed he was having as much fun weighing as we were having catching.

Retired Major League Baseball umpire John Hirschbeck was aboard the BassCat during an especially productive morning. He was perfecting his plastic worm techniques when a good fish hit.

Little did we know how “good” that fish was until he got it boatside. At more than 5 pounds, the bass was a trophy for sure. John grinned broadly as he declared it was the biggest he had ever landed.

“Shredded thumb” is a term I use to describe a great day of bass fishing. Nothing says happiness to a bass angler quite like a shredded thumb. Tyler Converse and I experienced matching shredded thumbs, roughed up on a fine day in May after lipping 3 dozen largemouths.

Brother-in-law Gary Sipe is not your diehard November angler, so the cold weather might have been a good excuse to frown. But Gary was smiling from ear to ear after battling his first steelhead.

Ditto for John Breedlove, the skipper that day. He had as much fun as Gary and I even though he handed off most of the hookups. One look at John’s face revealed his sheer love of fishing.

If you couldn’t smile that day, there was no hope for us anglers.


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