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Choosing which 2021 trip was most memorable

A friend asked me recently which of my 2021 fishing trips was my most memorable.

Tough question.

First, “most memorable” implies I can remember. Barb is pretty much convinced I have a terrible memory, especially when it comes to remembering stuff she’s told me.

Kidding aside, my most memorable fishing trip is not a slam-dunk, easy choice. I remember big moments, peaceful surroundings, magnificent scenery and crazy catches. I remember good decisions, pinpoint casts and predawn boat launches under pastel sunrises.

Perhaps the most memorable fishing trip started in the morning when the first bass of the day blasted a sputtering topwater lure and leaped a foot above Mosquito Lake in a showery spray. The image remains frozen in my memory in silhouette against the 7 a.m. sky.

Or maybe the most memorable trip was the rainy day at Chautauqua Lake in Western New York when the largemouths seemed to lurk in every perfect-looking spot on dozens of boat docks. It was as though they went to them to wait for the lure I pitched.

I would also consider the last hour flurry during the Muransky Companies United Way Bass Classic at Pine Lake when teammate Ted Suffolk and I upgraded our limit of largemouths by enough pounds to secure third place. But then I’d also need to factor in the unfortunate escape of a truly giant (by Ohio standards) bass that pulled free before I could get it to the net. Talk about memorable. It, too, is freeze-framed in my head.

Thinking back, the memory bank includes an amazing day on Lake Erie near Presque Isle, Pa., when I put more than 100 pounds of fish in the Bass Cat. Never mind they were sheepshead. They were mighty fine diversions between bites of the smallmouth bass I was targeting.

For pure exhilaration, the morning run across Shenango Reservoir from the boat ramp to the day’s first stop tops the chart. It was like gliding across a mirror, with the freshest air imaginable blowing through my hair as I motored toward the rising sun.

An Ohio River fishing trip also makes my list of favorites. Fishing friend Tom Rolland and I put a bunch of spunky smallmouth bass in his boat. The day’s biggest fish didn’t qualify to earn a spot in the limit we would take to the tournament scales because it was the wrong species. But who can argue that a 20-inch walleye isn’t a memorable moment?

My first outing at Lake Milton this year was memorable, for sure. More than a dozen smallmouth bass gobbled my topwater plugs and Ned-rigged plastics. I really didn’t care if the fish were not super-sized specimens. Each hookset ignited leaping aerobatics that were well worth the price of admission to my Milton fish fest.

A single pitch I made to a boat dock on Conneaut Lake is particularly memorable. I spied an opening the size of a golf ball where two sections of a floating dock formed a 90-degree angle. A perfect pitch was required because a misfire that reverberated off the aluminum would startle any fish that might lurk under the dock. Somehow I managed to skip my lure neatly through the tiny opening and was rewarded with a hard tug from the big bass that hid in the darkness below.

So many memories fill my head as Christmas approaches. Too many, in fact, to simply select one as my favorite — and I can’t wait to drag the Bass Cat out of the garage in the spring to experience another headful.

Oh, and don’t tell Barb how vividly I remember all of those moments. She will almost certainly reject my excuse the next time I plead, “I forgot.”

Jack Wollitz’s new book, The Common Angler: A Celebration of Fishing tells the tale of dozens of memorable fishing trips and many extraordinary anglers. He enjoys emails from readers. Send a note to jackbbaass@gmail.com.

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