As soon as the sun began to fade I knew I was on the clock. I started fishing at a frantic pace hoping to get another shot at the big bass that just took me under the dock at Webster Lake. I knew it was a big bass by the way it bulldogged into the dock after my bobber went crashing under the surface. The bluegill would make your bobber dance a few times before pulling it completely under, the channel cats would slowly pull your bobber down, this looked like my bobber was grabbed by a runaway train going at full speed. When I went to rear back and set the hook my entire set up came flying back at me from under the dock.
With my heart beating out of my chest I tried to remain calm and thread another nightcrawler onto a hook. Then the worst thing possible happened my mom pulled up in her brown Toyota Corolla station wagon with the lights on honking the horn. When my mom wasn’t busy she’d come up to the dock and fish for a little bit with me, but when she was busy she’d just honk. I knew I had a few minutes after the first honk before she’d get pissed off seeing that I was still fishing. My mom is one of the sweetest women you’ll ever meet, but she’s also a 6-foot-tall Irish gal that later in life I’d find out had a killer right cross, but that’s a story for another day. Long story short if I was to keep fishing while my mom was waiting there’d be consequences.
For about two seconds I thought about packing up my stuff and running to the car to avoid getting yelled at, but my inner voice said for the first time and certainly not the last “one more cast”. I loaded up my Eagle Claw pack rod and sent a night crawler under a bobber flying at the dock. By the time I realized I’d given it just a little too much distance on the cast it was too late. I spent a couple seconds trying to free my set up from the dock before breaking it off. I look to my right to see my mom flashing her lights and honking again. Without thinking I took a few steps towards the parking lot lifting up my right hand with my pointing finger up signaling I needed a minute. Immediately after doing that I realized I was in trouble and there wasn’t a lot I could do at this point to change that.
I reached down into my one tray tackle box and grabbed one of the four lures I had and started tying it on. A yellow panther martin with red dots the same lure I’d watched my uncles slam trout in Estes Park earlier that spring. Before I cinched the knot I decided to toss the Panther Martin back into the box and grab another hook and bobber. Little did I know later in life I’d be notorious for getting bit on a lure then immediately opting to tie something else on. Luckily this time I decided to stick to what was obviously working.
I get ready to make my final last cast when my mom starts honking again. This time the she was laying on the horn a bit. The horn on an early 80’s Toyota station wagon is far from intimidating but I knew my mom was inside steaming calling me every name in the book. I knew this cast was it. If I didn’t put this cast exactly where it needed to be I’d be getting my ass chewed for nothing. I remember letting go of the line with my finder and watching the bobber fly towards the dock. Now it was dark but the lights around the path gave me just enough light to see when to grab the line and stop the cast. It was perfect. It was too dark for me to tell exactly where the nightcrawler hit, but the bobber was about six inches under the dock. I was thinking come on dude hit it! The bobber quickly dipped under then popped right back up like a bluegill was playing with it. I reel it in a few inches then in the distance I could hear my mom screaming “god damn it Eric”… As soon as I put my hand on the reel to bring in my rig and head to the parking lot the bobber flies under the dock. I set the hook and my drag starts screaming! I reached down to the bottom of my spinning reel and tightened the drag just a bit hoping the bass wouldn’t run me all the way under the dock and wrap me up on something. I hear a loud splash that was amplified the fish coming out of the water under the dock. It was huge! After a few more runs under the dock the big bass started taking off into open water. About a minute later the big bass was worn out and I lipped her on the bank right next to the dock.
I walked her up on the dock and set her down next to my box so I could grab my pliers and remove the hook. I was so happy the sound of my mom laying on the horn didn’t even phase me. Before I set the fish back into the water I had a brilliant idea! I’d run the bass to the parking lot and show my mom so I didn’t get in trouble. If she took one look at this fish she’d realize me being late was no big deal and although she might have missed her favorite show Cheers it’d be on next week, no big deal.
I sprinted with the big bass about a hundred yards to the parking lot to show my mom. I was expecting her to get out and scream oh my god son that’s huge great job. What I was expecting and what happened are two different things. Before my mom said anything I could see by her facial expression we didn’t see eye to eye on how important this bass was. I yelled “look mom it’s huge” she immediately responded with “put that god damn fish back and get your ass in the car”.
Even with the complete silence on the car ride home I was still smiling from ear to ear. When we talked into the house my dad was right there and asked my mom what took so long. When he asked that I just looked at the ground thinking an epic tag team ass chewing followed by a spanking or two was coming. My mom’s tone completely changed and she started telling my dad about the huge bass his son just caught. Not sure if my mom was really excited about that big fish or just doing what moms to and keeping me out of trouble with my dad. Thirty years later I can still remember that night like it was yesterday and still feel grateful not only for my mom covering for me, but for her always taking me fishing…. Even when I’d “one more cast” my way into trouble.