by Marc Marcantonio
So it Begins. Two more hours to go. Man, is it ever going
to stop raining? And what's up with this wind? Better check
out the window again. Leaves are blowing everywhere, and fir
needles blanket my driveway like a wheat field. As my daughter's
Halloween decorations blow past the window, I'm jolted to
the realization that the phone is ringing. "Hey",
says Monte. "Maybe we should try tomorrow instead?"
Begrudgingly I concur, and we postpone our adventure for Thursday
instead. Now I am wondering why I didn't stay in California,
after having just spent two weeks there. Shorts, suntan lotion,
and feisty Delta largemouth's capture my thoughts as I stare
at the rain. There just isn't anything like bassin' in the
Next Day. Almost time to leave for Spanaway Lake, where lunker
bass are anxiously awaiting our carefully chosen lures. Now
the rain is sideways, and the steelhead fishermen are huddling
around fireplaces, talking about glory days. It's 42 degrees,
and dropping faster than the 50-mph winds. Monte calls again.
"I'm on my way!" YeHAW! It's time to go BASSIN'!
Rendezvous Spot (the start of all great fishing trips). Being
the closest, I arrive first. Oh no, accidents all over Interstate
5! Our 4 p.m. meeting time looks unlikely, but Monte miraculously
arrives in short order. You just can't keep a diehard bassin'
man from going fishing! A quick scientific assessment of the
weather (my hat blew away) gave me the excuse to suggest we
go to Sequalitchew Lake instead of Lake Blewaway. Sequalitchew
is quietly nestled in the woods of North Fort Lewis, where
nobody would likely see two damn fools out fishing.
Launch. No lines here! And no fees to pay! Maybe this really
is better than California?! With electric motor on puree speed,
we chop a path through submerged vegetation, against the wind,
to the South end of the lake. By now we only have an hour
of daylight left, and yet it is only 5 p.m. Let's see, what
do autumn largemouths want during a hurricane that threatens
to freeze over? And how can we cover a lot of water in quick
order? Heavy Metal! Time to bring out the spinnerbaits and
do the "slow roll". Monte grabs a 1/4-ounce VPR-Pro
singlespin in black, with a Colorado blade. I choose the more
macho 3/4-ounce VPR-Pro in black and red, with huge black
tandem willow blades.
Fishing. In no time at all, a small bass latches onto Monte's
lure in a frantic attempt to flee my spinnerbait! Monte swings
the bass over the side, or was that a tornado that dropped
that fish in the boat? The electric motor is heading south,
but by now the boat is blowing north, so we adjust by fishing
the other direction. Monte switches to a Swimmin' Image crankbait,
and I keep throwing the big blade, hoping to give Mama Pesce
a heart attack. Monte extracts another small largemouth from
the woody shoreline, and starts grinning like he was on Malibu
Beach observing a shoot of Babewatch. I keep churning the
depths with my blade-on-steroids, 'cause after all, when you
brave elements like this who wants to catch BAIT?
Payoff. Monte Sweeney makes a perfectly placed cast, three
trees down from the one his rod points to, and KaSploosh!
Fish ON! Up comes a nice bass, breaking the surface. Once
it sees how bad the weather is, it decides to slug it out
just below the surface. Moments later Monte lands the shortest
fat bass I have seen in Washington. It was easily 2.5 lbs,
yet seemed no longer than 14 inches. Its girth was bigger
than it's length, and it had that typical dark coloration
typical of an old pond fish. Another quick release, and the
bass thanked us with a wave of his tail for returning him
to more hospitable conditions.
Payback. Now Monte is pretty smug. It is really dark now,
and I hear something about any bass being better than no bass.
Undaunted, I make another desperate cast, hoping there is
a suicidal Micropterus Salmoides looking for the great beyond.
Hoping my tired spinnerbait hit water that was below air,
instead of falling through it, I began my last retrieve. splash.
What was that? SPLASH! SPLASH! FISH ON! This fish was destroying
my 3/4 ounce blade with all it's might. No problem, with 12lb
McCoy line I was going to whip this bad boy AND get the upper
hand on Monte. While Monte tried to keep the boat from being
blown out to the Interstate, I swung the fish over the side
of Monte's new Stratos bass boat.
"I got you beat! I knew that big bait would do the trick
sooner or later!" Monte looked to be in shock, so I quickly
offered that he did himself proud (even if he didn't catch
the biggest) for such lousy conditions. Then Monte started
laughing, and I knew that he had been in the cold rain for
too long. "What's so FUNNY?" I demanded? Monte looked
at me and said, "That's the biggest damn CUTTHROAT TROUT
that I've ever seen caught on a spinnerbait!"
Like I said, there is nothing like Bassin' in the Northwest!