Seriously…I hate open water fishing!

Fellow blogger and registered Maine Guide, John Floyd often posts pictures of big fish he has caught, and almost as often I comment on how I rarely even DREAM of catching fish that big! Accepting that catching a bass in the four-pound class is just not going to happen for me.

Being a great guy, he has politely invited me up to some of his favorite fishing holes to share some insight on catching the big fish and I always decline, telling him that I would prefer to avoid disaster, and/or embarrassment. You see, I REALLY am the unluckiest fisherman there ever was when it comes to open water fishing.

For example, I took a friend of mine who really loves fishing out ice fishing a few years back. While he caught some really nice fish, and LOTS of not so nice fish and he SEEMED to be having a good time, he revealed it was simply not his cup of tea. But, since he was a good sport and went ice fishing with me, I decided that I should be fair, and join him in some fishing when my family, along with him and his girlfriend all went camping back in July.

I bought a mid-priced rod and reel and hit the lake on the first night at camp in my kayak at sunset for some topwater bass fishing. The first cast produced a nice little two-pound bass that broke the mirror calm surface and danced on his tail silhouetted against the rising moon. It was just like something out of a fishing video! Before long I had boated 3 other bass almost identical to the first. I thought maybe my long-term champion standings for bad luck while fishing just might be in danger. But alas, the brand new reel started getting backlash, and in the dark, I didn’t notice it. Before long I had about 790 feet of fishing line in the kayak, and a $10 topwater lure stuck in the bow line of my kayak, that is STILL there almost 3 months later.

The second time I went fishing this year was when a long time family friend had come up to a campground in my neighborhood, and brought his boat with him. We decided we would both try and change our luck. He claims HE is the unluckiest fisherman in the world too…But I knew better.

We got out onto the lake in a spot another camper had told him about and we started fishing. I was using a topwater soft rubber frog type thing, and I had a lot of bass interested in the lure but it would be another 5 years or so before they would ever be able to open their mouths wide enough to swallow the lure.

Meanwhile, my buddy Bob IS catching fish. First, he caught the cutest little bass you ever did see! I have lures that looked just like him, ‘cept they are a little bigger. Next he caught a little bluegill sunfish that was about the size of a small maple leaf. Then, just to make sure I knew my sunfish identification he caught a pumpkin seed sunfish almost the same size! Finally, he caught THE SMALLEST pickerel I have ever seen in my life! I’m serious, this thing was so small that had I known he was going to catch it, I would have had a bucket along so I could put it in my aquarium at home with the guppies! OK…Maybe it was a little bigger than that…But seriously, he was so small he should have been hiding under a sunken log somewhere, not swimming about where the first bass Bob caught could eat him!

Meanwhile, I was having a lot of fun watching fish jump at my lure, and miss. Oh yeah! I was also having fun with my reel resetting itself out of cast mode every 5 or 6 casts. I would be aiming for a log sticking out of the lily pads 30 feet or so away, and as I casted, the lure would sail smoothly along for about 10 feet or so before coming to a dead stop and snapping back at the boat at a hundred and fifteen miles an hour. A couple times it bounced right off Bob’s head! It’s a good thing it was just a soft rubber lure!

I was getting pretty annoyed after about the sixty-fifth time it happened, and I told Bob that I was likely to throw the whole frigging rod and reel overboard if things kept on like they did.

That was when the “weedless” lure I was using snagged hard on a weed. I’m serious, this thing was stuck in the stem of a lily pad so deep that I pulled 2 grown men, and a 14ft aluminum boat a good 20 feet through thick weeds before it finally came free. And since I was pulling so hard, it came flying back at me at Mach 3 and landed in the boat in a huge tangle of monofilament line.

I spent about 20 minutes trying to untangle as much of the line as I could because fishing reels come with a limited amount of line strung on them. I managed to get about 30 feet or so untangled before having to cut out a giant snarl.

Once again ready for action, I tie on 2oz Kastmaster to get some distance on my next cast so I can reel the line in with a swivel tied on, and a little tension on the line. And it was a BEAUTIFUL cast too! The golden Kastmaster gleamed smartly in the sun as it flew through the air, not even slowing down as it snapped the line two feet into its flight! I lost track of it in the afternoon sun but heard it splash down roughly two and a half miles from the boat.

I uttered some sounds that likely were supposed to be words. Probably it was a good thing they didn’t form properly because I am pretty sure they were VERY naughty words and hurled my rod and reel unceremoniously overboard into the weedy depths of Stetson Pond.

My buddy Bob just looked at me, trying very hard to process what he had just witnessed, and said something about it being time to head back to the dock anyway, and started the boat.

The good news in all that was now I had a very good reason for turning down fishing invitations…Or so I thought. It seems that the next day, while my wife and I had been out running errands for most of the day, I had been visited by the fishing fairy or something, because sitting on my porch right next to the front door was a brand new Zebco 33 rod and reel combo with a cute little weedless frog tied on to the end.

Incidentally, my buddy Bob won’t fish with anything BUT a Zebco 33 Classic…I guess he wants me to fish with him more often because next to me he looks like the greatest fisherman on the lake!

Personally, I think I will stick to ice fishing.  I almost always have good luck ice fishing!

(And before you get all irritated because I say fisher”men”, it is deliberate. Fishermen typically lie about the fish they have caught. Women out fish men every time, and are therefore referred to as fishing masters)

Doug Alley

About Doug Alley

I grew up in Bath, Maine in an upper lower class family with 3 step sisters, a step brother, and a little sister. After high school I spent 3 years serving in the USAF at Elmendorf AFB in Anchorage AK. I've competed in, and won, demolition derbies. I've competed in, and never won, stock car races. I am the 47-year-old father of an 11-year-old boy who is pretty sure he is smarter than I ever was. We live on a little less than an acre of land in a 1973 mobile home in Stetson with my wife Jen, some cats, a few chickens, and rabbits, and a couple of goats. I hunt, fish, camp out, dabble in photography, gardening, and I cook in variable degrees of near success.