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Patience is virtue during a bad day on the lake

Some fishing days are easier than others. Thursday was not one of the easy days, but it provided yet another learning experience.

I hitched up the BassCat in the cool inkiness before sunrise and arrived at Mosquito Lake just as dawn broke in a molten gold splash across the lake over Cortland.

The morning seemed to hold promise as I met fishing friends “Fast Freddie” Woak and his son, Tyler, at the ramp. With two boats and cell phones to share success, figuring out a productive approach seemed like a slam dunk.

The fish, however, had other plans.

Perhaps they slept in. After all, they see the sun rise over the lake every single day. It’s spectacular for people, but probably ho-hum for the fish.

The lake was like a mirror as I zoomed out to my first stop of the morning. It’s a spot where I have had great success with largemouth bass on many a late summer day.

Topwater failed to yield a bite. That was puzzling. I made every cast and retrieve with great anticipation, but the bass were not impressed.

So I pulled out a rod rigged with a lipless crankbait to rip through the sprigs of coontail scattered across the 4- to 5-foot-deep flat. When 10 minutes of flailing the flat failed to produce even a bump, I tried blitzing a bladed jig over the next 100 yards of weeds.

That was as futile as the other tactics, so I resorted to dragging a Culprit ribbontail worm. But it didn’t even generate a tap.

I yanked the trolling motor and fired up the Mercury to check out other spots. The gorgeous morning made for some beautiful scenery, but it sure as heck wasn’t lighting up the bass. Thank goodness for the entertainment provided by the Air Force Reserve C-130s buzzing the lake and airline pilots practicing approaches and landings at the Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport.

After six stops at a variety of Mosquito Lake hot spots, I began to suspect this might be the rare day when I put the boat on the trailer and limp home fishless. The report from the Woak boat wasn’t much better. Tyler had one bass, albeit a good one, to show for the morning’s work.

But hold your horses. I wasn’t ready to throw in the towel. The nearby towns’ 12 noon fire station sirens were still echoing when the beaver-style bait I was dunking into the thickest clumps of coontail grass sent an electric-like jolt up the line and down the rod to my fingers gripping the reel seat.

It would have been easy to have fallen victim to the lack of action Thursday morning. But I was still paying attention and recognized the jiggle that signals a bass bite. I jerked and wrestled a 3-pound largemouth from the thicket of grass.

Five hours of fishing under a cloudless sky on water as smooth as a baby’s cheek finally paid off. I wasn’t going home with a goose egg on my scorecard.

Fifteen minutes later, another bass bit — icing on the cake, the well-deserved treat for the angler who perseveres even when the fish say “go home.”

Some days are easy. Some are difficult. But the tough ones force us to learn and adjust. Anyone can catch them when it’s easy. Success during a difficult day distinguishes the angler from people who just go fishing.

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