Editor’s note: Our former blogger Trey Schroeder finished his first semester at McKendree University and his mom reported he is doing great balancing school and fishing. She said he always struggled with writing until he started writing about what he loved. He started with a writing strategies class at McKendree to help him with his writing and the professor told him he could write about fishing. Here is one of his essays from his writing class.
October 26, 2018
Winter vs. Spring
Frigid cold nights with frost filled mornings or crisp chilled mornings with sun-kissed afternoons. Wherever I find myself I cherish the moment and chase after what I love.
Sugar coating the temperature is out of the picture… the sudden sunken sinking slack in my line and weight resembling a wet towel indicates it’s my time to play the cards I’m dealt. Slamming my rod into a forty-five-degree angle I am met mid-swing by the locking of both my rod and reel. At this instance, gasoline douses the fire in my raging heart. Heavy bulldogging headshakes are soon to greet me and everything I’ve lost feeling in has come to life. My feet are racing struggling to stay pinned in a steady position. My hands and fingers concealed with neoprene and are coping the urge to rush and tug my rod and reel. Steadily gaining and carefully executing my play I am astounded at the first sight of my opponent. The water is as clean as drinking water, and I can see the gargantuan bass lethargically shaking its open mouth side to side. The beast isn’t twenty feet away and these are the most crucial final moments. The fire in my heart has blazed through the cold and I find myself starting to sweat with anticipation. Continuing to slowly gain line I have the bass next to the boat with less than ten feet outside of my reel. The lethargic beast seems worn out so I push my luck raising my rod and leaning over the side of my frost laced boat. With my line between my thumb and index finger, I follow it into the clear near freezing water. My neoprene cast hands soak with water but I don’t feel cold at all. The only focus I have is on the freak of nature I have pinned and coming toward my drawn open hand. Making eye contact with the beast she throws two last viscous headshakes not six inches from my fingertips. The first head swing the right misses by barely an inch. The second leftward headshake meets my thumb and the rest of my hand slides under her bottom jaw. Hoisting her into my frostbitten boat nearly puts me into the water with her, but I regain my balance and come out on top. Dropping my rod and reel combo onto the deck on my boat I fit both thumbs into her mouth and both hands locked under her jaw. Studying and gazing upon the beast that I have just hoisted out of Bull Shoals Lake leaves me in awe. Surgeon like I remove the hook and get onto my knees to release my opponent. Unlocking a hand at a time I push her head toward the depths of Bull Shoals Lake and she follows. Releasing this fish is a feeling that can’t be explained, as she lethargically cruises off I know I may never see a fish of that magnitude again.
Near freezing water is a beast even the most seasoned anglers struggle to conquer. Finding myself in this position I tend to go for broke, hunting for one to two bites in a day. No matter the water temperature, no matter the air temperature the fire in my heart fuels me to continue the hunt. It’s seven in the morning, I’ve lost most the feeling from my ankles to toes and wrist to fingertips. Although the feeling of nothing is taking over the edges of my body, my concentration remains on one not so simple task. The task of fooling the largest finned freak of nature into committing to feasting upon my offering. After many outings on this body of water I love to call home I have found the windows seem to open the widest in the early morning and mid to late afternoon.
The moon is near full and the sun is warming the shallows and exposed dark structure. The banks have started to spring with highlights of green and the familiar fog lingers in the early mornings. Migrating from chasing ghosts and hoping for a bite or two a day to hours of absolute mayhem. My appreciation for spring is unmatched to most. Beauty above the water blinds most of the chaos that lays laced beneath the surface of Bull Shoals Lake.
The bliss of a bass fisherman in the spring in incomparable to most experiences in life. After a numbing cold windy morning, I am granted to a calm sunny afternoon. After a fast start to my morning running around my boat, and scrambling with decently sized bass. I choose to switch my approach and fish the way I have the most passion for, going for five big bites. In my eyes bass fishing in the spring you’re left with two inviting ways to fish. Running through decent sized fish or try to eliminate the smaller bites and hunt for fewer but bigger bites. Embracing your style of fishing and confidence in what you’re doing is essential, any cast this time of the year could be the fish of a lifetime. More times than not I find myself as far up a creek I can get fishing in a foot or two of water.
It’s now mid-afternoon and I have already stripped off two layers of clothes that were necessary not only three hours ago. I have my fish finders turned off since they are useless in this shallow of water. Creeping my way through skinny murky water flipping every visible log, rock etc. The bite is slow and it is a little early in the year to be fishing like this but with these conditions, the fish should be here any day. I make a flip onto a refrigerator-sized black rock, I know that this rock has to be the warmest thing in the water right now. The entry of my jig is perfectly quiet hardly leaving a ripple. Mindful this rock is in about two feet of water, my jig takes off to the right of the rock and I swing my rod into position. The screaming of the thick line under extreme pressure soars through the crisp spring air. Instantly I know I have tied into what I’ve been looking for. Three big bulldogging heads ensure that what I have hooked is a bass. Leaning hard against the bass my line is still screaming, a horrid sound cracks through the air that leaves me stunned. My rod snaps into two pieces leaving me with not guides just a bare eight inch blank of graphite. The other three-quarters of my rod rush down the line with speed. The fish not being ten foot away my seven foot of broken rod soars down the line like a guided missile. The tip of the rod enters the water, abruptly stopping upon the jig that is logged in the fish’s mouth. The shock of the rod hitting the jig dislodges the hook and slings back lazily into the murky shallow water. I fall to my knees distraught and confused. The beastly fish breaks the surface of the water, jumping and taunting my defeat.
Whether it is winter or spring the potential to come face to face with a fish of lifetime is there.
However you play the cards you’re dealt your execution will determine your success.