Mike Race of Wadhams, a second grader at Westport Central School, shows off the smallmouth bass he caught with Howard Hammonds.
Fishing is about making memories. I have a ton of great ones dating all the way back to childhood. Some of my fondest recollections are of fishing with my grandfather on a lake bank in rural East Tennessee on a bright sunny day catching bluegills and carp. Other times we would fish all night from the highway bridges that spanned the section of the Tennessee River near my home. Then there is another memory of catching that first wall hanger bass at age 13, a monstrous 4 ½ pounder. Or the 40th birthday gift mom gave me of a long ago picture of me at 3 years old holding my first bass. Priceless!
Recently, I had the opportunity to take my neighbor’s second grade son fishing. On many days I would return from fishing and find young Mike waiting to see if I had caught anything or watch me fillet perch. As soon as I would unhook the boat, he’d climb in and look in the live wells or ask a thousand questions about how the four electronic units on my go-fast bass boat work. He would listen with wide eyes as I described how my GPS unit could tell me where I was and my depth finder could show structure in 3-D images.
Finally one day I asked the dumb and obvious question: “Hey Mike, do you want to go fishing after school one day?”
Well, you know the answer.
So the plan was set: “Have a good report from your teacher tomorrow and you can go fishing” said his dad.
One stellar report from his teacher the next day and off we went.
Mike buzzed me with rapid fire questions about where we were going and what we were going to catch. I finally launched the boat, zipped up Mike in his life jacket and then set a heading for Button Bay — I knew the smallmouth were staging for pre-spawn and there are many rock piles along the bank. It was time to prove the Wacky Senko technique would work.
Howard Hammonds is a guide and experienced bass fisherman living in Westport. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.