Jul - Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission
1 PENNSYLVANIA ANGLER PLUGGING AWAY All Things are Governed by the Laws of Relativity" By CHARLES K. FOX THERE was a heavy but sharp strike and instantaneously I raised the rod tip to set the hook. The barb sank home and immediately the light 5Va foot bamboo bait casting rod was transformed into a vibrating arc. The fish turned to make a run and its tremendous power snatched the reel handles from my fingers. Any fish which does this is a good one, and from the terrific strength in this run I knew I had hooked a truly large river bass. Away he went about twenty-five feet from the place where the little weighted bucktail and spinner had fooled him. The line started to move toward the surface preparatory to that spectacle of spectacles, the leap of a fighting smallmouth. The bottom of the Susquehanna seemed to explode as a mighty bass flung his comely proportions into the air. For an instant he "stood" there shaking his head so hard that I could see the red under his extended gills; then the tension of the tightened line tipped him over. The bass was hardly submerged when again there was a wonderful surface display as the fish skittered across the water on his broad tail. Some say that all large bass are slow and do not jump, but old age certainly had not slowed down this fish. He was old too because all big fish are old, for unlike animals they do not reach maturity when about one-third of their normal span of life is completed, but they grow until they die. For fully ten minutes the great bass kept up this terrific pace; jumping, twisting, boring and running. I knew very well that I had never before hooked anything like this in a stream. It was an ideal place in which to play a big fish for there were apparently no obstructions. It did not matter where the fish ran, and it was not necessary to try to turn him at any time. Finally I was able to work him up toward me through the fast water and after one more valiant struggle he rolled over on his side ready for the net. I thought this fish would go between five and five and one-half pounds and this guess was later verified. It was not the largest smallmouth it had been my good fortune to catch but in spite of this I enjoyed taking it more than any other I had ever caught. Here was a wonderful prize, a large bass from very hard fished fast water. I looked at the tiny bait casting lure dangling from the corner of the fish's mouth. It was my particular favorite. It has fooled quite a few highly educated fish in the past and in all probability it will repeat in the future for those of us who use it. Why fish anymore? If I caught any thingelse it would merely be an anti-climax? So I waded oyer to a flat rock in the shade, made myself comfortable, and began to think. Why did I enjoy catching this fish more than any other that I had ever taken? Somewhere, sometime I had heard someone say, "all things are governed by the laws of relativity." Here is the answer. This is the reason why many fishermen would rather catch one large bass or any other kind of fish from our hard fished waters of Pennsylvania than a great string of them from wilderness regions where they abound. To be sure a chance at fishing such teeming waters is wonderful experience, lots of fun, and a great place in which to experiment and learn, but there just isn't that satisfaction, call it ego if you like, gained there that there is in taking a good one from a place which is fished to death. It is fun to hook and land a fish which hundreds before you have failed to catch, a fish which has s:en many hooks and possibly felt a few. Charlie's Brother with that B'/j-pound Smallmouth. As a boy I spent many many hours on the Yellow Breeches Creek in Cumberland County fishing, like all boys do, for just anything that will bite, stink pots included. This was invaluable background. Kids learn how to find fish; they learn that it is necessary to sneak up on good ones, and they are continuously storing away great knowledge gained through observation and the greatest teacher, experience. From this point my fishing underwent a radical change. Instead of this boyhood backyard Tom Thumb fishing I found myself on a Canadian Lake, full of bass and muskies. It came my fortune to secure a plugging outfit. Up there it was cinch. If a mistake was made and a fish was not hooked or if it was lost after it was hooked it did not matter much, for in a short time j there would probably be another just as i big. This sort of experience is bound to » develop a certain amount of technique and j polish, particularly in handling hooked fish. On the wall at home hangs the great bulk of a bass taken on one of those Canadian expeditions. Then to me, a hard boiled college sophomore, this was the pinnacle of '
PENNSYLVANIA ANGLER 5 success. The only disappointment connected with that fish was that it missed a place in the Field and Stream big fish contest by one ounce. However, the fight of that bass was pathetic, but of course I would not admit it back in those days. The only time it came near the surface was just before I lifted it into the boat. This fish was extremely slow and not powerful. During the Whole fight, which did not last long, it just bored for the depths. The explanation of this may be that it was jammed full of food. Some fishermen believe that bass Which have just gorged themselves fight a deep battle. It was just by the merest chance that this fish was taken. We were in a weedy lake Which was known to contain big pike; supposedly it carried no bass. To enhance our chances of taking some of the big pike, Partner and I had brought along about a dozen six or seven inch suckers as bait, as Well as the box of plugs. The afternoon Was hot and the suckers were crowded in the bucket so we decided to try them first while they were still in good shape. I looked a lively one through the mouth on the large steel shank hook. We started to fish where Bond had previously located a large pike. For about ten or fifteen minutes Nothing happened and he decided we were a hout one hundred feet out of position. As the boat was moved to this new spot, I Permitted my sucker to swim on the surface behind us. There was no sinker holding 't down. In the meantime I picked up the Plugging outfit and made a cast. As the plug was being retrieved, there ^-onodoguinet Smallmouth Succumbed to a Tiny Casting Lure. A Trophy of a Light Lure Caster. was a splash behind the boat. When I turned around an amazing sight greeted my eyes. There was a huge bass chasing the sucker. The lively bait darted and actually jumped out of water trying to evads those gaping jaws. It was plainly evident that the bass was slow and having considerable difficulty catching the bait. When Bond saw what was going on he stopped rowing the boat and took the bait casting rod which I was trying to get rid of. Finally the bass caught the sucker and the hook sank home when I struck about a minute later. Subsequently, the bass was landed. Compared to his Pennsylvania fast water brother this fish was a poor substitute in speed, strength, resourcefulness and wileyness. He compared favorably only in size. Trips to Canada became a thing of the past and once again I turned to the scenes of my boyhood days. Ideas and ideals had changed. Instead of a cut sapling pole, linen line and worms it was now split bamboo, silk, a multiplying reel and plugs. I was going to step out on the streams with the lures that had been so deadly in the north country and show them how it was done. But was somebody badly fooled? One by one I tied on those big battle scarred plugs which bass, muskie and pike had taken so well in Canada. And one by one they were put back in their trays after hooking nothing but ledges and weeds. It was plainly evident that they were ineffective and not at all practical. Nary a fish touched them, yet they were tossed around for hours on end. The great attachment and enthusiasm that had grown in me for plugging could not die; there must be an answer. What was wrong with my collection of lures? Most of them traveled at a constant depth of about two feet. They hung up on everything in their paths and Pennsylvania streams have their shallows and their depths and their rocks and their weeds. It seemed logical to believe that when one of these great blocky plugs banged into a pool directly over some fish it scared them and scared them badly. These wily fish certainly would not strike after anything like this unless it almost hit them. It must have had about the same effect as dropping a ton of bricks behind a mule. What was needed the most? Everything pointed to a small lure that could be retrieved at any depth from the bottom of a deep pool to the surface just above a submerged ledge. Strange to say I had just such a lure in my box. It had rested there brand new for several years without ever having been tied to a line. The little lure, which is still manufactured in Texas, proved to be a sensation. It is by all odds my favorite, and day in and day out I would still bet on it against anything. Other suitable lures were discovered. In those days there were not many light ones on the market. The small editions of the big brutes I used in Canada have their place in our fishing. However, you must know the water thoroughly to fish the floating, wobbling lures that travel at a constant depth. They are out of place in very shallow and very deep water. I changed my tackle slightly to fit these light lures. The rod should be such that its action is brought out by quarter to half ounce lures. A line which will test ten to fourteen pounds is adequate. The reel should have a light spool so that it may easily be put into motion. Leaders are a decided asset. It did not take long to see that the way in which light lures hit the surface actually attracted bass and did not scare them. Frequently they took it the instant after it hit the water. Needless to say the amount of ground which can be covered in this type of fishing is tremendous. And here before me was my greatest reward taken on this indispensable little lure. I again admired the bass in my bag. He was a fine, tough, fast water fish, a bass probably as husky as any that ever fanned a fin in a Canadian Lake. He provided thrills and enjoyment that Canadian fish could not produce. Here was the answer to hopes and aspirations, the most treasured trophy of them all. The Writer with Another Big Fellow.