Baptism In The River Photo Essay

The Waco Fly Fishing Club will hold a fly-tying Thursday at 5:30 p.m. at Uncle Dan’s BBQ, located at 1001 Lake Air Drive in Waco.

Associated Press — Mike Stewart, file

A lot of strange and funny things happen during fishing trips, and some are so outrageous that anglers, a group of people naturally prone to exaggeration, have gotten a reputation as liars.

But things really happen out there that will make you scratch your head in wonder.

I’ve watched as an osprey dive-bombed a friend of mine who was wading shoulder-deep in the lake to get a pole back that was pulled out of his hands. The bird realized at the last second that Bernie wasn’t a fish or turtle and veered off, crashing into the water just a foot away.

On two separate occasions, I personally watched my dad reel in fish that were already dead before he hooked them. After that, he’d always say, “Anybody can catch a live fish, but it takes real skill to catch a dead one.”

I’ve caught my share of oddities, including articles of clothing, a wallet, and once, after having a fishing rod pulled into the water and tying on a big treble hook to try and get it back, succeeded in catching another rod and reel that was a lot nicer than the one I had lost.

One of my favorite fishing stories happened on a trip to Sam Rayburn with my dad and uncles back in the 70’s.

I was in the boat with my Uncle Don, and the further back into a creek we went, the more fish we were catching. At one point, Don hooked a big bass that wrapped itself and the line around a submerged tree trunk, so he kicked on the trolling motor and moved into position to extricate the fish – or at least his lure.

The line eventually snapped, putting him into a pretty foul mood, which was soon made fouler by the realization that the trolling motor had gotten buried in the mud near the shoreline. After uttering a couple of words unfit for publication in a newspaper, he set about the business of getting his motor unstuck.

First, he tried using the trolling motor to free itself from the mud, but the blades were sunk too deeply to turn. Next, we tried rocking the boat back and forth to pull it free, but that wasn’t effective, either, so I picked up a paddle from the storage area and tried pushing us off the shoreline to deeper water while Don lowered the big motor and cranked it to get the boat unstuck.

As the motor churned the once clear waters into a roiling mud-cloud, I kept pushing with the paddle and rocking the boat. All the churning and noise, I thought, was going to put an end to the great fishing, but before I could complete that thought, we saw something that made us both stare at each other in disbelief.

A 3-pound largemouth bass, disturbed by all the chaos in its neighborhood, tried to escape by flinging itself out of the water, inches past my nose, and crashing down into the bottom of Uncle Don’s boat.

It was the most high-energy fish I had ever seen, since every other one had been through a fight that decreased its power at least a little. It flopped a few times, knocking over drinks, whacking some lures around from an open tackle box, and was flipping in the air high enough to make it over the side of the boat and back into the water.

So, paddle in hand and quick thinker that I am, I gave it a whack on its next jump and slowed it down enough to allow me to lip it and drop it in the live well. That was the hardest I ever saw Don laugh, and we retold that scene over and over through the years.

Waco Fly Fishing Club to hold fly-tying

The Waco Fly Fishing Club will hold a fly-tying Thursday at 5:30 p.m. at Uncle Dan’s BBQ, located at 1001 Lake Air Drive in Waco. Whether you’re a novice or expert, or if you’re just interested in seeing how it’s done, you’re welcome to attend.


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