Schooled By A Legend

On Wednesday, I had the good fortune to take Dee Thomas out fishin on my boat. This was the first time I ever got to have first water and fish ahead of the old man. Usually, he's up front, picking the water clean. I get his "left overs"...if there ARE any!

Well, the day started out great. He said "Let's go to YOUR water and you fish it YOUR way. I'm just here for the ride today." I don't know why I didn't see the set-up coming. Anyway, I took the bait. We ran south and I got exactly the right tide for "my" favorite water down there. Within a few minutes, I put a decent fish in the boat on a spinnerbait. That's when the lesson began.

I held up this chunky fish and said, "Not bad. Huh Dee? I'd say it's about 2 1/2 pounds." Dee replies. "I think it's closer to 3 pounds. Is that the best you can do?" He obviously wasn't impressed. I released my fish and was determined to catch a better fish.

After a few minutes, Dee catches a small fish...maybe a pound. So, I start teasing him back. BAD MOVE! That's like priming a well full of verbal crap! He started with his trash talking.

"Boy, when we gonna go to some real water? You sure know how to pick good water...only one keeper in an hour. Shoulda had fifteen pounds by now. I'm havin fun catching your dinks but it's gettin a little boring!" He yawns and acts like he's gonna take a nap. I finally run to my next spot, hopin to shut him up. He doesn't even fish...just kept runnin his mouth.

"Lemme know when you're done with this crap. Think I'll use this lousy water to eat my sandwich. When you wanna catch some REAL fish, let me know." His comments were laced with sarcasm. Of course, I fish harder than before trying to get just one decent fish in the boat. Had something to prove to the old man. After two more hours, I fly the flag of surrender and ask the old fart, "Okay. What do you suggest?"

Dee refuses to give me any help. Just says, "Now wait a minute, YOU'RE takin ME fishing. YOU figure it out!" He proceeded to ask me questions about MY water. He wouldn't offer any answers, just saying these were the questions I needed to answer if I was going to find a better bite. He ended his coaching with, "Don't you worry bout me catching all your little fish. When I'm ready to catch good fish, I'll let you know. I only need an hour to catch a good limit on MY water!"

I think about his questions and decide to run up into the middle Delta where the tide is swinging. I was hoping for some better luck fishing outgoing current. For the next hour, I listened to Dee as he belittled my decisions. The small fish kept coming. We had agreed to fish until noon. It was now about 10:30 and Dee speaks up...

"Okay. If you've had enough of those little fish, I'll take the trolling motor and show you how its done. Take this boat right over there." He points to a bank only a couple hundred yards from where I had us fishing.

Dee takes the front and proceeds to catch several fish, none of them as big as my first fish that morning. I make the mistake of returning his sarcasm. "Great fish Dee! I'm impressed. I'll order a cheese pizza for your anchovies!"

He says, "Okay Sault. Fire up that big motor, I'm gonna show you what you missed when we run up here."

We make a short run to some water I've fished for years. I think to myself, I "know" this water! Finally, I've got a chance to "show" the ol man that he's not the only person who can catch fish. I grab my frog rod and get to work. Dee starts laughing at me.

"You just don't learn, do you Dean? Well, you keep throwing that frog. I'm gonna catch some fish."

Dee managed to catch a limit that went at least 17 pounds in the half hour. And, they were clone 3-4 wasn't based on one lucky kicker fish.

I can't disclose the bait or methods he was using, but I finally gave up using my own ideas and copied his presentation. I immediately caught a decent 4+ behind him...he says he left it for me, but wanted to know why didn't I catch the couple others he left for me? When the day was over, he reviewed the entire day. He told me what was wrong with my early water choices. What was wrong with my choice of bait and presentation. He was able to point out a common theme in my thinking that was hurting my decisions. He also critiqued my boat handling, even offering me some tips of body and rod posture.

This was the single BEST day I've ever had on the water. I didn't even come close to matching Dee's results but I don't ever recall learning more in a single day than I did fishing with Dee on Wednesday. He is truly a master of his craft!

Thanks Dee!