Bassin' Northwest Style
By Marc Marcantonio
So it Begins. Two more hours to go. Man, is it ever going to stop raining? And what's up with this wind? Better check out the window again. Leaves are blowing everywhere, and fir needles blanket my driveway like a wheat field. As my daughter's Halloween decorations blow past the window, I'm jolted to the realization that the phone is ringing. "Hey", says Monte. "Maybe we should try tomorrow instead?" Begrudgingly I concur, and we postpone our adventure for Thursday instead. Now I am wondering why I didn't stay in California, after having just spent two weeks there. Shorts, suntan lotion, and feisty Delta largemouth's capture my thoughts as I stare at the rain. There just isn't anything like bassin' in the Northwest.
Next Day. Almost time to leave for Spanaway Lake, where lunker bass are anxiously awaiting our carefully chosen lures. Now the rain is sideways, and the steelhead fishermen are huddling around fireplaces, talking about glory days. It's 42 degrees, and dropping faster than the 50-mph winds. Monte calls again. "I'm on my way!" YeHAW! It's time to go BASSIN'!
Rendezvous Spot (the start of all great fishing trips). Being the closest, I arrive first. Oh no, accidents all over Interstate 5! Our 4 p.m. meeting time looks unlikely, but Monte miraculously arrives in short order. You just can't keep a diehard bassin' man from going fishing! A quick scientific assessment of the weather (my hat blew away) gave me the excuse to suggest we go to Sequalitchew Lake instead of Lake Blewaway. Sequalitchew is quietly nestled in the woods of North Fort Lewis, where nobody would likely see two damn fools out fishing.
Launch. No lines here! And no fees to pay! Maybe this really is better than California?! With electric motor on puree speed, we chop a path through submerged vegetation, against the wind, to the South end of the lake. By now we only have an hour of daylight left, and yet it is only 5 p.m. Let's see, what do autumn largemouths want during a hurricane that threatens to freeze over? And how can we cover a lot of water in quick order? Heavy Metal! Time to bring out the spinnerbaits and do the "slow roll". Monte grabs a 1/4-ounce singlespin in black, with a Colorado blade. I choose the more macho 3/4-ounce model in black and red, with huge black tandem willow blades.
Fishing. In no time at all, a small bass latches onto Monte's lure in a frantic attempt to flee my spinnerbait! Monte swings the bass over the side, or was that a tornado that dropped that fish in the boat? The electric motor is heading south, but by now the boat is blowing north, so we adjust by fishing the other direction. Monte switches to a Swimmin' Image crankbait, and I keep throwing the big blade, hoping to give Mama Pesce a heart attack. Monte extracts another small largemouth from the woody shoreline, and starts grinning like he was on Malibu Beach observing a shoot of Babewatch. I keep churning the depths with my blade-on-steroids, 'cause after all, when you brave elements like this who wants to catch BAIT?
Payoff. Monte Sweeney makes a perfectly placed cast, three trees down from the one his rod points to, and KaSploosh! Fish ON! Up comes a nice bass, breaking the surface. Once it sees how bad the weather is, it decides to slug it out just below the surface. Moments later Monte lands the shortest fat bass I have seen in Washington. It was easily 2.5 lbs, yet seemed no longer than 14 inches. Its girth was bigger than it's length, and it had that typical dark coloration typical of an old pond fish. Another quick release, and the bass thanked us with a wave of his tail for returning him to more hospitable conditions.
Payback. Now Monte is pretty smug. It is really dark now, and I hear something about any bass being better than no bass. Undaunted, I make another desperate cast, hoping there is a suicidal Micropterus Salmoides looking for the great beyond. Hoping my tired spinnerbait hit water that was below air, instead of falling through it, I began my last retrieve. splash. What was that? SPLASH! SPLASH! FISH ON! This fish was destroying my 3/4 ounce blade with all it's might. No problem, with 12lb McCoy line I was going to whip this bad boy AND get the upper hand on Monte. While Monte tried to keep the boat from being blown out to the Interstate, I swung the fish over the side of Monte's new Stratos bass boat.
"I got you beat! I knew that big bait would do the trick sooner or later!" Monte looked to be in shock, so I quickly offered that he did himself proud (even if he didn't catch the biggest) for such lousy conditions. Then Monte started laughing, and I knew that he had been in the cold rain for too long. "What's so FUNNY?" I demanded? Monte looked at me and said, "That's the biggest damn CUTTHROAT TROUT that I've ever seen caught on a spinnerbait!"
Like I said, there is nothing like Bassin' in the Northwest! Ciao.