By Mike Giles
The Meridian Star
The day dawned hot and muggy and our quest for a lunker bass for Hunter Eldridge was in doubt as the sun beamed down and sapped the energy from Hunter, his dad, Todd, and me. Were we done before we ever really got started? It wasn’t looking good for the home team that’s for sure. But years of patience and experience taught me to pace myself and to have confidence. It also helped to have been taught by one of the best bass anglers to have ever fished in the South, my grandfather, J. P. Nolen.
Paw paw Pat taught me how to fish deep offshore structure on Ross Barnett Reservoir and those techniques included being patient, and fishing slow in deep water when the bite got tough. And it was tough on this day. While the bite was slow, we started catching bass mid-morning and the action just got better.
I found a submerged ditch running through a flat and we anchored down after I caught one and Hunter quickly followed up with a bass of his own. We’d found a school of bass that were hitting, although very lightly. By now things were looking up and Hunter started perking up too. After Hunter and I had caught and released a few bass we positioned the boat where Todd could get in on the action.
Todd found the honey hole as well and reared back and set the hook on a feisty bass. It didn’t take long for him to pitch back into the zone and set the hook again. This time the bass shot out like a tiny torpedo and headed for parts unknown. He’d set the hook properly but the only question was if his equipment could hold the lunker. After a few minutes of nip and tuck Todd finally boated the 7 pound plus lunker which turned out to be his all-time best.
We continued fishing the area and catching a few fish but Hunter never caught one quite as big as his dad. I had an ace in the hole, however, and planned to use it when the time was right.
About 11:30 we started heading towards my noon time honey hole and even caught a few on the way. For some reason the bass bite on this offshore spot right at noon during the hottest part of the day. After arriving at the appointed location I anchored the boat and showed Hunter where a submerged tree was located and instructed him to cast beyond the structure and work the worm back over it.
In just a few minutes the young angler hooked up with another nice bass and quickly boated him. A few minutes later he was back in the water working the worm towards the structure again. Wham! A lunker bass nailed the Zoom worm and Hunter drove the steel home. The enraged sow bass didn’t like the taste of iron and bore down towards the structure and freedom. Hunter turned her from the structure and then she started ripping out line again and again as she fought valiantly.
Alas, she was no match for the young Collinsville angler as he calmly played her down and led her into my waiting net. After a quick photo session, he released the sow bass to grow up a bit more. The lunker bass tipped the scales at 7 pounds six ounces and came within an ounce of his dad’s catch earlier in the day.
After taking an afternoon siesta we were back on the water for a late afternoon trip and Hunter started fast by hooking up with a 5 pounder right off the bat. While the morning had been tough, but ultimately rewarding, the afternoon bite was even better and stayed hot right up to the end. In fact, Hunter caught several 5 pounders and enjoyed a whale of a day on the water. There’s not too much better than catching fish with your dad, and Hunter Eldridge had surely made a lifetime memory in the process. And I was fortunate to have been his guide and watched as the young West Lauderdale baseball player hit homer after homer. On lunker bass that is, and it doesn’t get much better than that.
Contact Mike Giles at 601-917-3898 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org