Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Fishing From the Back of the Boat

It all started with an email telling my how much he loved my Blog and Web Site, how much he looked forward to every posting I did because I am such an incredible writer and how it would be an honor to fish with me.   At least that’s how I remember it…! 

Jim Hamlin asked me to go fishing with him…of course that was before he had actually met me.  Come to think about it…no one has actually invited me along to fish with them AFTER they met me.  I’m sure that’s just a coincidence!  At any rate when someone tells me that he and a friend routinely catch 20-30 bass every time they go fishing…well…to be honest…I don’t know what to think.  It’s like when people tell me they caught a 5lb. bass…I want to believe them but I also know that a REAL 5lb. bass is HUGE and even I (the Hemmingway of Blogs…and probably the greatest unknown fisherman of all time) catch very, very few legitimate 5lb. bass. 


What if…?

So when Jim asked me to fish with him...well…like I said…you just never know.  So…I said, “Yes”.     

Of course I didn’t know what to expect but I did know one thing.  He wanted to meet at 6:00 a.m.  That’s 6:00 in the MORNING…no seriously…he wanted to meet at 6:00 in the MORNING…!  Clearly we were starting out on opposite pages…I don’t go fishing at 6:00 in the morning.  To me any time before “10:00 in the morning” and “fishing” just don’t go together.  It’s like 5K and “run”.  5K and “run” just don’t go together.  Heck…5K and “walk” don’t go together.  6:00 a.m. and “fishing” just don’t go together either.

So here I am meeting a stranger I don’t know at 6:00 in the morning…while it’s still dark…at a small dark unlit parking lot in a small town along the highway.  Yeah…my mom didn’t raise a fool huh…!  Well…actually she did and that was my sister….but that’s a story for another time.

Well…we fished two different lakes in the same day starting at Howard City Lake (also known as Polk Daniels Lake) located in south east Kansas. 

To set the record straight…Jim is not just your average fisherman…turns out he is a world class fly rod fisherman literally fishing all over the world for both freshwater and saltwater species.   Yes…it’s true because I actually saw the pictures of places and fish he has visited and caught.  So the pressure was on to try to keep up with this world class fisherman. 

The first challenge was when I found myself fishing from the back of the boat…something I rarely do.  The second challenge was that Jim fishes completely different than me…at least in terms of boat control…we are polar opposites.   Actually these weren’t so much “challenges” as they were learning experiences.  That’s why I enjoy fishing with others because it invites learning along with the challenges.

Fishing from the back of the boat required having to make backhanded casts with my baitcasting rod.  His boat is similar to mine only slightly bigger…but not big enough to safely cast sidearm…and because of the overhanging cover along the bank I could not cast overhead and expect to reach inside and under the cover.  So…that left me having to cast backhanded…casting low to the water…with a lot of force.  Why so much force.  Because we fished a long way from the bank…at least compared to how I fish. 

Thus, challenge number #2.

Jim fishes at a distance from the bank that requires extremely long casts.  I routinely fish so close to the bank that if I fell overboard I could just stand up and walk to shore.   So on Howard City Lake I found myself making extremely long (about as long as I am capable of making) backhanded casts in order to reach under overhanging limbs.  Casts that could never be more than 2-3 feet above the surface of the water…and…do so without backlashing the reel. Good thing I am a highly skilled professional angler. 

Did I mention highly skilled?   Whew!

NOTE: I use the term “backlash” because it is a term most amateur fisherman can relate to when describing the “birds nest” that will occur when using a baitcasting reel.  But…to be honest…I don’t “backlash” anything.  I do however (from time to time) have an occasional “professional overrun” while using a baitcasting reel…but never an amateur “backlash”.   

This may be why Jim remarked, “You are without a doubt the best and most accurate person I have ever seen with a baitcasting reel”.   Well…at least that’s my recollection of what he said and since it’s my Blog…that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. 

(Note: I offered Jim an opportunity to write any comments he might like and I would include them in this posting.  He politely refused.  He said something about “no association” and “how sorry he was” and “never again”.   Hummmm…wonder what he meant by that?)

Come along with us as we go fishing on a lake that I had never seen before…until that early cold morning…and see if I keep the “Streak” alive…15 in a row?  Come along with us…pay attention to the “commentary”…because there is a lot to learn from this trip that will help you catch more fish.

By the way…Howard City Lake is a GREAT lake…I strongly recommend you do what I am going to do again someday…go fish it…!   Trust's FULL of fish...!!!

Perhaps what is most amazing about this trip is that Jim decided to go ahead and fish the second lake with me later that afternoon and I will be posting that trip later.   Amazing?  Most people I fish with always seem to have to stop fishing and go home by noon…usually mumbling something about “making a mistake”.    But not Jim…no way…a real trooper.   I’m sure me agreeing to buy him lunch was not a factor in his decision.  Note to golfing buddies…don’t get any ideas...not going to happen!

NOTE: Actually we had a GREAT time together.  Jim is a lot of fun to fish with and really is a good fisherman.  I didn't do a "What We Learned Today" video on this posting.  However, take note of these two tips:  First, during the colder days the best fishing typically happens after the sun comes up and the water warms up.  Second, do NOT spray line conditioner on your spinning reel spool unless you are EXTREMELY careful to get it only on the line and NOT the spool.  Jim had to fish for 2-3 hours without a drag system because the drag/washers got wet and trust me…this made for some very, very difficult fishing since he could not wind in a fish once he hooked it.   But, being a world class fisherman…he managed to somehow catch fish anyway until eventually the reels dried out and things got back to normal.

Stay tuned for the posting on our afternoon trip.  Things couldn't have been more different and there is a very important rule of fishing that I will be passing on to you.  A rule that Jim broke that made me break out in a cold sweat and had me all but hyperventilating.   Something he did on purpose just to see me "suffer".   One that helps separate the amateurs from the pros...and will help take your fishing to another success level.   

Until next time…go fishing…catch a lot…keep some to eat…and turn back the rest.

PS: As I was going to press with this incredibly entertaining posting I received an email from Jim.  Seems he went fishing Dec. 3 and caught “40+ bass and 10-crappie”.  Bet it wasn’t at 6:00 in the morning…but…you just never know…!

Clay Dixon
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