With only 3 months left on the clock for my baby boy to arrive, my wonderful wife and I decided that it was time for a vacation. Her dream is to live in Tennessee and for years, I always just roll my eyes when she tells me this and ask, "Have you ever been there?" The response is always, "No", so it seemed like a great opportunity to get down there and see what Tennessee is all about!
We decided to drive down there and make a pit stop in Benton, Illinois for a couple of days to see her Grandmother. On our second day there, I asked if I could just drop her off at her Grandmother's house while I go fishing. Thankfully, she gave me the thumbs up! I did some google mapping to see what lakes were down that way and found Rend Lake. After dropping her off, I headed to the lake and explored a couple of different spots that looked promising. The lake was heavily flooded and I love fishing flooded bodies of water! Fish seem to love exploring these new boundaries and I have always been successful fishing them. As I was driving, I noticed some gar swimming about 30 feet into a flooded grassland area. I waded into the water and started casting one of my new gar lures. Finally after about 30 minutes, it was fish on! I have caught many long nose gar but never a short nose; until now. They seem to fight a bit harder than their longnose cousins, and seem to be even more cranky. Getting the rope untangled was a major project this time. Typically, I am gar fishing from a boat, so I typically have a net and a solid surface that gives me a good work bench to tackle this. Unfortunately, I was knee deep in water which made it much more difficult and impossible to take any pictures.
hook was straightened out. I tied on another jig head, and continued. About 20 minutes later, there was another solid tug; hook was set and the fight was on! The new Curado was spooled with 40lb powerpro and a 20lb fluoro leader, so I had my drag maxed out. The specs say that this reel has 12lbs of max drag, so I knew this was a big fish when he pulled out 3 feet of line. A few jumps later and bunch of solid tugs, I landed my personal best bass. Fish measured about 21" and was built like a tank. According to my lip gripper scale, she came in a hair over 5lbs. I was impressed when my hand almost completely fit in her mouth! I got the hook out of her mouth, snapped a quick photo, admired her for a few moments, and sent her on her way. She was amazingly calm when I let her go. She swam off as if nothing had happened or as if she didn't have a care in the world. What a great fish!
After releasing the bass, I put on a new twister tail and sent it flying. Within two cranks, I got the hardest strike that I have ever felt, followed by a huge splash. I instantly thought to myself, "No way! Could this be an even bigger bass?!" One thing I love about fishing twister tails, is that they will catch just about anything that swims. In my opinion, they can be a fantastic search bait. After a ridiculous battle that actually left me a tad out of breath, I laughed as this spunky channel cat came up on the bank. It took a few photos to get this picture because he didn't seem to think the fight was over. After I released him, I figured I had enough and met up with the wife and her Grandmother for some dinner.
The second leg of the trip took us to Nashville, TN. Let me be the first to say, I love that place! First it is absolutely gorgeous there. There is almost no traffic and the people are beyond friendly! I can't tell you how many random strangers noticed my wife's obvious pregnant belly and took the time to tell her happy mother's day. If you haven't been there, I highly recommend it.
With that said, we decided to go fishing on Monday and headed to Percy Priest Lake. This lake was also severely flooded. The first place we stopped at looked like it would be fantastic. Unfortunately, after a few casts, I realized that it was entirely too shallow and nothing of any size was there. My wife, on the other hand, quickly found the bluegill hot spot. I'm sure I'll get in trouble for saying this, but fishing with my wife is a lot like fishing with a kid. You have to put the worm on, take the fish off, etc...This naturally meant that I wasn't going to get a lot of fishing in for myself. To be honest though, I didn't mind. It was great seeing her in action. She had a blast catching fish after fish. I lost count after 10. It soon came to be lunch time and a pregnant woman gets hungry! We took a break from the sun and grabbed a quick bite to eat. After lunch we headed to another spot on the lake where the bluegill slaying continued! After a couple of hours, a rowing team started moving in on our spot so we went elsewhere. By this time, people were getting off of work, and moving in to every place on shore to fish, picnic, etc...I was getting discouraged as we went from spot to spot only to find it chocked full of people. I finally said screw it, and stopped at another crowed spot. This spot was slightly different though. There were a lot of trees in the flooded water and most people were bobber fishing away from them. As a result, I rigged up a worm on the bluegill killer's pole, then started casting a Yamamoto grub into the trees. Sure enough, after about 30 minutes, I felt a quick tug. I gave the grub a couple of little twitches and set the hook! On the other end was a decent little guy and it let me know that I was in the right spot. Shortly after that fish, the wife was getting bored, she was out of the worms, and the local teenagers were starting to get a bit too rowdy for my comfort. We moved a few hundred feet away so I could get a few more casts in while the wife waited in the truck. There was another couple bobber fishing in a spot that I really wanted to fish, so I started casting towards any structure I could see. Once again, my intuition paid off and I caught another bass. With that, I was happy.
Once I got into the truck, my wife pointed out that the guy was catching a ton of bluegill, but the girl didn't seem to be getting anything and wondered why. I told her because the guy is a douche and should be focusing on her instead of himself. If I was like that with my wife, she would never want to come fishing with me. The time I spent putting the worms on her hook and removing the fish was the best part. Seeing how excited she got with every fish was fantastic and the highlight of the week.