G. Sam Piatt
PDT Outdoors Columnist
My fishing this year has been more limited than any I can remember. I was yearning to discover again what it feels like to fight a good rod-bending fish.
That yearning was satisfied Oct. 24. That’s the day Vince Royalton and I, fishing an area lake in an all-day rain, battled a double catch.
We were trolling with white Bandit crankbaits with a red dot behind the eye when wham! Wham! Simultaneous strikes, he on the left side of the boat and me on the right. Largemouth bass.
We first thought we might be hooked into the same fish. But then his leaped completely out of the water, twice, while mine continued to boar
I tightened down on the drag and got mine to within about 10 feet of the boat. I still hadn’t seen him. Suddenly he dove down deep and went under the boat. My rod made a U bend!
I finally cranked him up to where his head was out of the water. I wanted to lip him with thumb and finger but feared getting a sharp hook in a finger. I dericked him up over the gunwale and into the boat.
He was 21 inches long and weighed a good five pounds, maybe a little more. Vince’s would go three pounds.
But once again he cleaned my clock. He boated five lesser-sized largemouth, while mine was the only fish I got.
But oh, that fight was enough to give me sweet dreams on my pillow that night.
On Monday, the 26th, Bill Ottis Carver and I fished a stretch of the Little Sandy River noted for its population of muskellunge. We put his Basstracker in and motored about four miles upstream, then fished coming back down.
We put our lures in tight against the bank and around every sunken log and brushpile. I have never seen such excellent-looking muskie cover, all along both shores.
The late “Muskie” Joe Stamper, who used to guide muskie fishermen on Kinniconick Creek and who Soc Clay has written many words about, once told me that stream muskie will “den up like ‘coons” and venture out of their hideaway only when hunger drives them to do so.
If that’s the case, then they weren’t hungry on this day Bill and I went after them. Weather conditions seemed to be right for action. There was a storm front approaching. The water temperature was 58 degrees.
But in four and one-half hours of casting, we never saw a muskie.
COULD HE SWIM?
Muskie Joe once told me this story: He was guiding a preacher when the preacher hooked a big one. The preacher, not wearing his lifejacket, became all excited. He stood up to battle the fish, lost his balance, and fell overboard, dropping his pole in the bottom of the boat as he attempted to grab the gunwale on the way out.
“I didn’t know if he could swim or not,” Joe said, “but I couldn’t lose a muskie like that one was. I picked up his pole and fought the thing ‘till I brought him in. Then I saw the preacher floundering and going under, probably for the third time. I grabbed him by the collar and brought him in. He coughed and wheezed quite a while, but had a big grin on his face as he watched me put his muskie on a stringer. He had it mounted.”
When we came off the water, Bill Carver took me up behind his house to see his beagles. Three of them came bounding out of their doghouse, leaped up to put their paws against the fenced enclosure, and yelped excitedly. I didn’t see a calendar pined anywhere in the pen, yet they seemed to know: rabbit season came in yesterday at one-half hour before sunrise, according to the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources’ publication, “Kentucky Hunting and Trapping Guide July 2015– February 2016.” It’s a bit unusual that it opens on a Sunday.
Rabbit season runs through Nov. 13, then closes for the opening weekend of deer gun season, set for Nov. 14 – 29.
Rabbit hunters will have to contend with an extra hour of darkness as clocks were to be turned back one hour early this morning.
It reopens Nov. 16 and runs through Jan 31 2016.
The daily bag limit is four and the possession limit is eight.
Wing shooters were to get in on the action, too, as the seasons on grouse and quail also opened today.
The Buckeye state’s rabbit season opens this coming Friday, Nov. 6, as do the seasons for ring-necked pheasant, chukar and quail. The season for ruffed grouse opened Oct. 10 and remains open through Jan. 21.
Check the publication, “Ohio Hunting & Trapping Regulations 2015-2016” for a full list of regulations.
If we live long enough, we eventually reach the point where our legs no longer will carry us through the deadfalls and briars and up the steep hills of southern Ohio and northeastern Kentucky in pursuit of the ruffed grouse.
And, ahh, how I miss those days of doing just that with Ken Franks and Bill Litteral, both of who kept well-trained grouse dogs.
And the late Dr. Bob Goodpaster. No man ever enjoyed grouse hunting better than he.
What a pleasure it was to watch those dogs work, then wade in, gun ready, as they stood on point – tail straight back, one foreleg raised, and their eyeballs rolled back to make sure you were coming.
G. SAM PIATT can be reached at (606) 932-3619 or [email protected]