by Ronnie McDonald
Publisher & Editor
Bruce Springsteen’s song, “Glory Days”, is about looking back to high school days when we played sports, were young, and looked better.
The song reminded me, of not only high school days, but back when I was “younger” (the term being relative) and fished a lot of tournaments-my bass fishing “Glory Days”. One such “Glory Day” was 19 years ago, February 2001.
On that day, my brother-in-law, Bill Castile, and I were fishing a Seniors Club tournament on Wilson Lake in North Alabama. My wife and I pre-fished the tournament a couple of days before the event. We discovered the bass were hitting a jerkbait fished over shallow water adjacent to a 15 to 20-foot drop. The 3.5 inch, mirror finish, short-billed, shallow-diving Storm Thunderstick Jr. jerkbait, that dove 1 to 5 feet, in a clown color, was the lure. All of our fish that day came on this particular lure. The small area was on the south side of the lake on the east end. The area was probably only 20 yards long.
On the day of the Seniors Club tournament, Bill and I headed directly to the spot fished earlier. To our chagrin, there were three-footers pounding the shoreline making even controlling the boat with the trolling motor difficult at best. The waves, aided by a significant wind out of the north, made fishing the area pretty much out of the question. Now, what to do. Where to go? No other area had been fished.
With the north wind, the only way to get to fishable water was to go to the north side of Wilson and find the same kind of set-up; shallow water next to a deep dropoff. We pulled into an area matching that description and started, “here goes nothing” fishing.
I started throwing the same jerkbait I had caught fish on a couple of days back at the other location. Why not? Bill was throwing something else, I don’t remember what, but not a jerkbait. I caught three smaller bass in three consecutive casts. Bill immediately, not being stupid, asked me what I was throwing. He didn’t have the same Storm bait I was throwing but did have another jerkbait in the clown color scheme. I think the lure was a 4” Rattlin Rogue. that dove to four feet.
I continued to catch fish but Bill wasn’t catching as many, even though the bass I was catching were 12” keepers and a little bigger-fish nonetheless. He
watched my retrieve and said, “Is that the way you have been fishing that jerkbait all this time?” I said yes and he just shook his head and began using the jerk-jerk-jerk all the way back to the boat, no pauses. retrieve He began to hook-up more frequently.
What was interesting was the later in the day we fished the bigger the bass got and the more smallmouth we caught. I had a near panic attack when the jerkbait I was using got hung and broke-off while I was trying to get the lure back-the only one I had. Another “What now” moment. I also went to the jerkbait Bill was throwing and started catching fish. “Great!”
… the later in the day we fished the bigger the bass got and the more smallmouth we caught.
We continued to fish an area about two hundred yards long of shallow water shoreline and threw several different clown color schemes, The pattern did not matter. As long as the bait was a clown color, a jerkbait, and fished with rapid, erratic jerks all the way from the shore to the boat. We just kept going back and forth, up and down that shoreline.
Bill and I could not believe what was going on. The longer we fished the bigger the bass we caught. I imagine we culled at least, at least, ten pounds of bass during the day. But, we figured if we were catching fish like that everyone else, or several, were also catching fish. We did not have any idea of what was happening in other areas of the lake. Clown-colored jerkbaits were the only lures we could catch fish on.
… our limit of five weighed 19 lbs. 2 oz,
At the weigh-in, our limit of five weighed 19 lbs. 2 oz, Our biggest fish was a 4 lb. 4 oz. largemouth. The total took first place and big fish. 3.825 pound per fish average. Not a bad day. The 19-2 was a new club record and won us the club Largest Stringer of the Year Award.
We were quite surprised when we discovered no other team had caught fish like we had. Club members Buddy Willingham and Houston Poss placed second with 5 pounds. Ray Moore and Jim White finished third with 3 pounds, 9 ounces.
Being natural bass fishermen, all the guys in the club went to our boat to see the jerkbaits we had used to catch the almost 20-pound bag.
Ah, those glory days of bass fishing.