For The Record- By Capt Dickie Colburn
As you would probably suspect, I receive a number of texts concerning fishing every week that usually include a picture and a word or two, but seldom if ever the name of the sender. Therefore, if I don’t recognize the person in the picture I am left with little more than a phone number and another fish that I certainly don’t recognize.
As a rule, if I don’t recognize the phone number (I can barely remember my own) I briefly admire the fish before deleting the text.A text this past week, however, demanded more attention on my part.The little girl in the picture was holding a bass that appeared to be larger than she was with no message at all.
Because the eye of the bass appeared to be nearly as large as the youngster’s face, I felt compelled to seek more information.Since texting is not my strong suit, I reluctantly dialed the number.
Lionel Melnik answered the phone and I was treated to the rest of the story.“We are from Wisconsin, but the people staying at the same marina are friends of yours and said that we should send you the picture,” said Mr. Melnik. ’The bass wasn’t bigger than our granddaughter, Meryl, but it did weigh almost eleven pounds.”
“You don’t have to apologize for a fish that size,” I assured him.“I guided on Toledo Bend for 15 years before I caught my first ten pound bass.That is quite an achievement.”
“I think it was just meant to be,” replied” Melnik. “We drove over and fished on Sam Rayburn for two days hoping to catch a bass over six pounds, but it never happened.We caught a lot of bass fishing a three-quarter ounce Rat-L-Trap, but nothing over five pounds.”
The following day it was raining and the family decided to stay around the camp.“Not wanting to miss a single day of fishing, when the rain slowed down to a mist around noon I ran out on a flat in the Arnold’s Bay area that I was somewhat familiar with.There was no grass where I had fished the last time we were here, but I did find a few small patches in 12 to 15 feet of water.”
Rather than try anything else, he fished the same Trap he had been fishing on Rayburn.After catching two small keepers he broke his lure off and tied on the only other three quarter ounce Trap in his box….a dark green one that he said resembled a perch.
“I would love to make this sound more professional than it was,” said Melnik, “but I really thought I had hung up and was about to lose my last Trap.When I realized that I had only hung up in the grass, I started slowly pulling and gaining about a foot of line at a time.”
As soon as the wad of grass cleared the surface the Wisconsin angler saw the massive jaws of the bass with his Trap wedged in sideways.“That is when I panicked and should have lost the fish.I was afraid to put my hand in there with all of those treble hooks and because the bass was just lying there, I began peeling away the grass.I should have netted it grass and all!”
“That is when,” in Melnik’s words, “All hell broke loose.”After two drag burning runs that included a return to the same patch of grass, he was able to net her and collect himself. “I think everyone in the camp site took their picture with her before we released her.It was an unforgettable experience.
I don’t like the odds of Mr. Melnik topping his personal best anytime soon!
The unseasonably warm weather on both lakes has apparently lured more pre-spawn bass into the staging areas a little earlier than usual.It looks like Rayburn is a little bit ahead of T-Bend, but I have talked with several local anglers that have done well on both lakes since the recent freeze.
Not surprisingly, the Trap has been hot on both lakes as has a Chatterbait.I have never fished the Chatterbait much, but it fooled some very nice bass on Rayburn last week.I am not sure as to the most preferred speed of retrieve, but the anglers I spoke with were crawling it near the bottom in 12 feet of water.
Regardless of your choice of baits, if it is a double digit bass that you most covet….I would get the boat out of the garage this afternoon!