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A couple valuable lessons for fishing trips

Over the years I have soaked up a lot of information that helps make fishing trips more fun and productive, but two bits in particular have helped me keep a healthy perspective when it comes to planning and executing during a day on the lake.

One of the big tips is this: Never cancel a fishing trip because of a long-range weather forecast. Before I learned that lesson, I recall I awoke several mornings to glorious weather that stuck around all day while I moped around the house thanks to a forecast that called for stormy weather.

At the top of my list of fishing facts is this: You never know exactly how your day will play out. The best-made plans can, and often do, go astray, and the flexible fisher will roll with the tide to salvage the day.

Fishing friend John Breedlove and I recently met at the state park boat ramp at Mosquito Lake for a day of bass fishing and quickly discovered the game plan was in serious need of adjustment.

The bass were not impressed by the tactics and lures Breedlove and I employed. By 9:30, it was beginning to look like we might finish our day with a goose egg.

Mind you, a zero is not the worst thing that can happen on the water. I’ve survived a number of calamitous moments during more than 60 years of fishing. I’ve fallen overboard, snagged my hand to the bottom of the lake (long story), injured my limbs, suffered seasickness and a whole bunch more.

So a goose egg, while not easy to swallow, seemed like a not-awful outcome on an otherwise beautiful day on the lake.

Fortunately, the early worry proved to be unfounded. Breedlove finally connected with a big fish. It smashed his spinnerbait like a speeding freight train and surged hard past the bow of his boat.

The battle was brief but furious, and it soon became apparent Breedlove’s fish was not a largemouth bass. Indeed, it was one of the growing number of northern pike that are thriving on Mosquito Lake’s abundant population of yellow perch and other small fish.

The pike stretched nearly three feet from nose to tail and splashed water back at Breedlove with a slap of its tail as he released it.

John’s northern pike was another example of the truism “you never know what might happen when you put a bait in the water.”

We were fishing for bass, but happy to have the pike interrupt the party.

Then another bruiser took a swing at Breedlove’s spinnerbait. Like the pike an hour earlier, the fish bucked hard and pulled drag. It fought with the kind of strength that soon made it obvious it was not a bass.

Breedlove pumped and reeled to pull the fish boatside where it revealed itself as a big brown catfish, nearly 10 pounds of muscle with a big, bewhiskered face and a tail as wide as a man’s hand.

As we did with the pike, we welcomed the interruption of our bass fishing. A short time later, a spunky crappie also proved bass lures aren’t simply for bass alone.

We did manage to boat four largemouths, none nearly as rambunctious as the pike and the cat.

More bass would have been nice, but it’s pretty hard to complain. All in all, it was another fine day of fishing and proof positive that you never know how your day is going to play out.

Jack Wollitz’s new book, The Common Angler: A Celebration of Fishing, was released May 11. He enjoys emails from readers. Send a note to jackbbaass@gmail.com.

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