6-12The tournament started like many other ones do for me- a fast run across the lake to a pre-chosen spot with a plan to work a Zara Spook until I catch a few fish. “Durham Shoal” as I call it produced a couple decent smallmouth as well as a couple 12.0001 inch fish that I didn’t even want to keep. With four small fish in the livewell, and a goal of 7 nice fish for the day, we had our work cut out for us as we moved on to the next spot.  Within minutes of arriving at our next area, an extended main-lake point, I had a nice largemouth bass that weighed about 4 pounds on the end of my jigging pole. I had cast to where I thought a large boulder was and it engulfed my jig while it was sinking. This is exactly what anyone fishing a bass tournament wants to see! What happened next was something I wanted to see..followed by something I didn’t.

My partner, KC, set the hook on what judging by the arc of the pole appeared to be large fish. It didn’t take her long to figure that out for herself. I, being the experienced and all-knowing bass angler that I am, decided that this was the perfect time to give her a bunch of pointers for fighting fish. “If it jumps, point the pole down” I said…and as if I had just foretold the future, a very large bass jumped out of the water not 15 feet from the boat, shook a very large mouth from side to side (throwing the hook), looked at me and laughed (might as well have) and then disappeared back into the water. This was poor decision number one of the day-adding pressure to an already pressure filled one. “That fish would have been the Lunker of this tournament.” I told KC-mistake number two…”It was at LEAST 6 or 7 pounds”-mistake number three. 

The day took on a different tone after that. The battle between concentrating on what I was doing and what had happened/could have been was a constant one. The little voice in the back of my mind kept talking about how nice that fish would have been to bring to the weigh-in. The little voice in the back of my boat wasn’t any more supportive. We fished our third spot and I was probably only half as effective as I could have been. Same thing with the fourth spot.  By the time the tournament was half over, we were back at the original spot where we  had caught the small smallies in the morning. My concentration had come back and we were able to fish “Durham Shoal” very effectively…we just couldn’t catch any fish. I thought of returning to the extended point that had produced the only largemouth we’d seen that day, but the little voice was telling me that the chances of going there and catching anything were slim.I decided to go out swinging. Good decision number one! I drove over to the “big fish spot” and as we idled by, marked the high point with a buoy and put the boat in place to fish I was noticing some serious schools of baitfish in the area. While prefishing for this tournament, I’d caught only a large white perch followed by a large black crappie. Even though I didn’t see a bass that day, the spot looked like a very likely one. After an hour and a half of cranking, jigging, carolina rigging and, in near-desperation, spooking- and only hooking and losing a small smallmouth-I decided that enough was enough. We needed ONE more fish to fill out a very small (and embarrassing) limit.It was 2:09 pm-there were a mere 51 minutes left in the tournament. I had to weigh-in first because I was going to emcee the weigh-in ceremony.After getting everything stowed, life vests buckled up and telling KC why we needed to go to one last place that I was pretty sure held at least a couple small smallies we were on our way.


If you like to fish deep water structure like humps, shoals and points you always have one eye on the sonar when you are moving across the lake. Good thing. Just as I was ready to blast toward the last spot of the day the boat moved across the very end of the point we were fishing. The Lowrance indicated that the bottom had gone from more than 20 feet, up to eight feet, and then back down to more than 20 again quite suddenly.
  I took a look at the point, my waypoints, and my shore-references and realized that I had been fishing what I thought was the end of this long point, but that I had been too short and THIS must be it. Good decision number two: I turned the boat around and marked the ledge’s shallowest spot. Seconds after putting the trolling motor in the water to position myself in a place where we could fish the spot I made my first cast. As I retrieved the crankbait toward the most likely spot for a Lunker bass I could feel it digging into the water and vibrating…just as the lure passed the spot that I was visualizing as the very front of the ledge I felt a bass take the lure. The fish decided that it wanted to dive deep when I set the hook and my pole decided it wanted to bring the bass to the boat. There wasn’t anything special about the fight-I could tell I had a decent fish on and I assumed it was a largemouth. When I felt the fish start to surface I lowered my pole as it came up just shallow enough to where I could see a flash of largemouth and then tried to dive back down. The water in Sebasticook Lake is stained a brownish color with suspended algae so I wasn’t really able to tell how big this fish was until I pulled it close to the boat. When KC put the net in the water (she is an expert with a net) the fish JUMPED right over it. I really thought it was lost at that point, but I was able to pull it back up and slide it into the waiting net.  So now I have this large fish in the boat. It was the largest fish I’d caught this year, the largest fish I’d ever caught in a tournament and the largest fish caught that day. “This bass is seven pounds” I said. KC agreed. I placed it in the livewell and without even missing a beat asked KC what time it was (2:14) and made another cast. Nothing-I moved the boat a bit with the Minn-Kota and made another cast-WHAM! Another fish hit the crankbait. This one weighed 3-4 lbs, I don’t know to this day because I threw it in the livewell and culled one of the 12.0001 inch smallmouth. Just then, KC set the hook. Visions of giant largemouth were again appearing in my head, but this was “only” a 2 lb-12 oz smallmouth-allowing us to cull the remaining 12.0001 incher.  At 2:49 we stowed some gear, snapped on the life vests and shot off toward the Newport Town Launch for weigh-in! I don’t like weighing in first, but anytime I get to weigh in some nice fish it is great. The tournament scales said that the fish weighed 6 pounds and twelve ounces-good enough to take home the prize for “Lunker Largemouth” and put KC and I into fourth place for the tournament.

I always try to give my performance in a tournament a good critique afterwards, assuming that I can learn from the negative AND positive things that happened during the day. Looking at this one, the success or failure teetered at the point where I had to make the decision to stay and fish the new spot I’d just found or to move on to a place where I had a very strong feeling that I could catch a small fish or two. Obviously, I made the correct decision that time, but I still chalk most of it up to the luck of finding that spot… 

lightningWith Tournament Season ramping back up and thunder storms in the forecast, arming yourself with some basic knowledge about the indications of lighting danger and what to do when you are in the path of a storm can save your life. 

 

Anyone who spends much time outside has experienced thunder and lightning and wondered if they were at risk or how much danger there were in.  Personally, I don’t think that there is another group of people who spend as much time outside during Maine's lighting season than Bass Anglers, nor is it possible to be MORE at risk of lightning strikes in Maine than by being on a large body of water during a passing storm waving a high-modulus graphite rod in the air for hours at a time.

If you do find yourself exposed on a lake during an approaching storm and you feel your hair stand on end and/or notice a sizzling sensation at the tip of your fishing rod (which could indicate that lightning is about to strike), put down equipment and immediately head for shelter away from the storm if possible. Don't fool yourself-there is NO best way to avoid lightning when you are out of doors.  Well meaning sources that  urge you to do things like crouch with hands-on-knees, lay flat on the ground, shelter beneath bushes or even get into the water are all badly misinformed and taking this advice may result in your death, bottom line.

  

Once a bolt of lightning flashes toward the Earth, it will strike the tallest object in an area approximately 50 yards in radius. In other words, it won't "look for" a tall tree that is 100 yards away from you. If a bolt is going to hit near you, don't be the tallest thing (or even near the tallest thing) within that 50-yard radius.  The only completely safe approach is to avoid being exposed. Given a choice, get inside a building. Your second choice should be a car or truck with windows rolled up.

You can usually hear thunder 10 miles away, unless the noise of rain and wind interferes. When you see lightning, count the number of seconds until you hear thunder. Sounds travels one mile every five seconds. Many sources recommend 30 seconds (6 miles) as the signal for you to stop what you're doing and get to a safe location. Other sources indicate that even this may be too late. Even if you don't see lightning, thunder is a great indication that it is nearby, you should act accordingly. 

A passing thunder shower need not end an entire day's fishing! The typical lightning threat in Maine lasts less than an hour. Try to wait at least 30 minutes after you see the last lightning bolt or hear the last thunder before going back on the lake and always be aware of other storms that may be moving in.

  

A great rule of thumb for lightning safety is: "If you hear it, fear it....if you see it, flee it!".

M.C.

afterworkThe after work session, (more like obsession ) as it is referred to by my regular fishing partner and I makes up quite a chunk of the 120-150 days each year I spend on the water.  I’m lucky enough to live about 100 feet from the water and 1/3 of a mile from the public boat launch. Every morning when I come downstairs and look out the kitchen window at Lake Wassookeag I have to quash thoughts of taking the day off to fish by reminding myself how much stuff I have to do at the office. This works most of the time. “I can always go after I get out of work” I’ll tell myself...and most of the time that is just what I do.

Sure the leaves need raking- from last fall…seriously. I left them there because fall fishing is the absolute best. I rationalized by telling myself it is good for the soil to let those nutrients stay there. The lawn in late April doesn’t look like it appreciated the gesture. I started to rake them up last week and I’m about 90% done, but there are big piles of dead leaves all around… 

Yes, the great weather in the last week and a half has caused the grass to turn green and grow, but I can’t mow it until I pick up all of the branches that the Patriots Day Storm blew off the trees….and take care of the leaves…Besides, the lawnmower is still up in the shed. Yikes. There is trash to take to the dump. Not just trash but all of the recycling. Tin cans, jars, jugs, cardboard and even returnable bottles (When I was a kid, there would never be a bunch of bottles laying around, but 5 cents ain’t what it used to be I guess) all need to be placed into their respective barrels at the dump…but it is only open for another 15 minutes…plus the boat is hooked to the truck... 

There are a thousand things I could be doing. I see my neighbors doing them all of the time. “They don’t fish”. Sometimes I wonder what the hell they say about me when I pull my boat past their house as they stand there on a nice lawn with some gadget in their hand. “They don’t fish” I say to myself. I wonder if they get as excited by a new weed whacker as I do a new fishing pole…or even and old fishing pole. That reminds me. Have you seen those John Deere commercials? There is usually some guy riding around on his shiny green lawn mower as a neighbor looks over the fence in envy? He looks like he is thoroughly enjoying going in circles. That gives me a guilty feeling, and I’m not sure exactly why. What is it with people? All of my neighbors live just as close to the lake as I do, yet they drive little green tractors around their yard instead of driving big red bass boats around their lake. “They don’t fish”. 

I haven’t had a speeding ticket since September 20th, 1987. This fact really surprises me. I’ve had a few warnings in the interim, but I’ve escaped being awarded #2. On the days of a planned after work session (almost every day) I drive the 40+ miles back from work as fast as I dare. After a few years, one really gets an understanding of how the minds of those folks who would ticket us speeders really work. You know where you can and where you can’t speed. You know which days you see those shiny blue Chevy’s on what road and about when. I’d pay extra for gas for the right to hurry home as fast as I could just to get in three hours of fishing. Just three hours? I’d do it for one.Evening fishing is fine, ANY fishing is fine, I’d prefer dawn but I won’t complain. Like I said- Evening fishing is great! When I get home I’m into a pair of shorts, sneakers and a tee shirt…”wanna go fishing?” I say to the dog- who has been cooped up in the house all day…we bolt out the door and jump into the truck. Now we’re driving down the road past the folks on their little green tractors. I wonder to myself what they are thinking…It takes 2 minutes to get to the launch. There is usually someone LEAVING the lake. They’ve probably been there all day, but LEAVE? After launching the boat, I throw a stick or bottle out as far as I can and watch as the dog dives off the dock and swims for it…then we are off chasing bass again. 

25. Great Moose Pond: (11/9/2014) Rutherford/Carroll: 21.68, Lunker 6.26 LM-Carroll

24. Salmon/McGrath: (11/18/2012)Rutherford/Carroll: 18.85, Lunker 6.38 LM-Rutherford

23. East Pond: 10/30/11: Rutherford/Carroll: 19.48?, Lunker 5.04-Rutherford

22. Great Moose Pond: 10/23/2011: Carter 19.11, Lunker 5.32 LM-Carter

21. East Pond: 11/7/2010: Desjardin/Austin 21.32, Lunker 5.19 LM-Desjardin

20. Great Pond: 10/31/2010: Rutherford/Carroll 14.34, Lunker 3.58 LM-Carroll

19. North Pond 10/24/2010: LeRoy/Mabee 16.96, Lunker 4.58 SM-Mabee

18. Great Moose Pond 10/17/2010: Rutherford/Carroll 27.32, Lunker 7.20-Rutherford

17. Unity Pond 10/2/2010: Harris/Harris 17.91, Lunker 5.48 LM-Harris

16. Long Pond 12/6/2009: Rutherford/Carroll 17.55, Lunker 4.75 LM-Rutherford

15. Salmon/McGrath 11/29/2009: Rutherford/Carroll 20.40, Lunker 5.95 LM- Carroll

14. East Pond 11/22/2009: Rutherford/Carrroll 21.15, Lunker 5.50 LM- Butler/Wilson

13. North Pond 11/15/2009: Rutherford/Carroll 22.50, Lunker 5.75 LM- Carroll

12. Great Moose Pond 11/8/2009: Rutherford/Carroll 23.80, Lunker 4.95 LM- Rutherford 

11. East Pond 10/31/2009: Brian Mooney 19.88, Lunker 5.0 LM- Fitzgerald/LaLiberty 

10. Salmon-McGrath 10/17/2009: Cooper/Cooper 24.00, Lunker 6.2 LM- Rutherford 

9. Unity Pond 10/3/2009: Mooney/Mooney 14.5, Lunker 5.2 LM- Desmond/Pratt 

8. Salmon-McGrath 11/9/2008: Mooney/Mooney 20.5 (8 fish), Lunker 6.02 LM- Carroll 

7. Unity Pond 10/26/2008: Mach/Mitsin 25+ (7 fish), Lunker 5.26- Mach/Mitsin 

6. Salmon-McGrath 11/18/2007: 24.7 Rutherford/Carroll, Lunker 8.0 LM- Carroll

5. China Lake 11/4/2007: 16.35 Carter/McCollough, Lunker 4.75 LM- Brogan

4. East Pond 10/20/2007: 17.45 Mooney/Mooney, Lunker 4.35 LM- Team? 

3. Salmon-McGrath 11/19/2006: 19.2 Bartlett/Sirois, Lunker 5.1 LM- Bartlett/Sirois

2. East Pond 10/24/2006: 18.28 Rutherford/Carroll, Lunker 4.81 LM- Team?

1. Great Pond 9/2/2006: Castagin/French, Lunker ??

*Red indicates MBDC Record in that Category.

P.C.T.D-are you a victim?

ocfGreetings everyone. I know that in the past I’ve written a lot of stuff trying to be funny or sarcastic or funny/sarcastic. Not today. This article is about something that I don’t find humorous at all, in fact, it is downright frigging serious. Thousands of bass anglers across this state suffer from a condition that causes untold amounts of pain, anguish and malcontent. Most anglers suffer from it and don’t even know that the affliction has a name. I’d like to be here reporting that scientists have done some funky molecular-level experiments with rats or republicans and a cure is on the horizon, but I cannot. To my knowledge, nobody is working on a cure, heck, I don’t think that anyone believes that a cure can be accomplished....I hope I’m wrong. 

I’m talking about PCTD, of course. PCTD renders the bass angler incredibly susceptible to things that are normally avoidable and routinely preventable by those unaffected. The poor souls suffering from PCTD are 87% more likely to get sunburn and insect bites, as well as suffer from bouts of malnutrition or dehydration. If you have PCTD you may live in an unhappy domestic situation; you may be constantly late for dinner, you may even find yourself in the middle of a Maine lake long after the sun has set, with no visible structure or cover to cast at. PCTD is a silent stalker; you may be suffering from PCTD in isolation, not realizing that the person constantly casting away in the back of your boat is dealing with this dastardly disorder too. 

castagainI first realized I was a victim of PCTD in early 2000. I’d bought a bass boat a few weeks before and was spending in inordinate amount of time fishing. It was one of those hot, humid, hazy August days and I was doing some deep cranking. I remember a feeling of stickiness all over my body. My shirt was drenched in sweat and the sun seemed like it was focused only on me- I felt like a breaded smelt in a cast iron skillet. After every cast I would realize I was incredibly thirsty. It was after all, 87 degrees in the shade and I’d been working my tail off all day with the cranking pole. I had a cooler full of ice cold bottled water and coca-cola not more than 6 feet behind me, but it didn’t help. Since I couldn’t reel in a crankbait and get something to drink at the same time, I would remind myself “after this cast, I need to get a drink”. Well...the crankbait would come closer, and closer, and closer until it was reeled up out of the water, then something in me caused an automatic reaction...I cast again. Half way through reeling this cast in I remember, again, that I really needed to get a drink but the same thing happened when I pulled the lure out of the water...I cast AGAIN. This went on for several hours. Sure, I caught a few fish, but I remained really very incredibly freaking thirsty.  

bushtwinsIn fall I like to fish a lot. Those who put the boat away in October to pursue deer or football probably do not realize how fast the temperature can drop on the water during a blustery November afternoon. Sure the days can start off warm and you’ll be very comfortable in shorts and a light sweater, but the wind and weather can pick up and blow right through you without a moment’s notice. If you are unfortunate enough to suffer from Post Cast Task Disorder, you know the mental anguish this can cause. Symptoms can be triggered merely by seeing rain falling a mile across the lake. “Wow, that rain looks cold, I should put on some clothes”. Several casts later, as the clouds block out the life-giving sun you may be telling yourself  “my rainsuit is in the duffle bag opposite my rod locker”. After a few more casts (and maybe even a couple nice bass) you may start to feel pin-pricks of ice cold water assailing you. “Better get that rainsuit on before I get SOAKED” you say as you take aim and make you next cast. Soon, you may be drenched and cold, standing there like some Typhoon Nargis survivor holding a 5 lb largemouth that just took a black and silver DT-16 off the top of your favorite shoal. PCTD strikes again. 

dickTake the case of “Skeeter Joe”. By all accounts he’s your average bass angling fanatic. Truck, boat, wife, child, dog, home, trolling motor, etc. Skeet knows that he has a long drive back from the lake tonight and he also knows that his wife hates it when he is late for dinner, in fact, she can get downright volatile.  Skeeter has told uncountable stories about his spouse’s feats of dangerous domicility. (He’s also related that he frequently spends a little too much time on the lake, fishing long after he should have left). “One more cast and I’m outta here” he says to himself at 8:07, 8:08, 8:09, 8:10 and again at 8:11. “OK, after his one. OK after THIS one, OK now, now NOW.... This goes on until nearly 9:15. The sunlight is already exhausted and the run back to the launch is a tricky one since his GPS is on the fritz (he is going to jiggle the wires after his next cast). Getting back to the truck, he looks at his cell phone. “17 missed calls”. “Crap, not again”. Skeeter quickly goes through the probable excuses. “Had a flat tire on the truck last week, flat tire on trailer the week before that, boat motor wouldn’t start last night, already lost 3 cell phones in the lake, all four of my co-worker’s have passed away, hit a moose, went shopping for her birthday present, had to have a fish hook extracted (that one hurt putting it in) and spun my prop off”. Nothing really left that she’d believe. If Skeeter knew he had PCTD he could be honest and open with his family and maybe, just maybe he’d be able to reconcile things. 

Maybe you’ve read this article and can now take that first step toward happiness by saying “My name is Dick H.-and I have PCTD”. If this article prevents you from looking like a giant piece of turkey jerky by helping you put down that fishing pole for 30 seconds in order to apply some badly needed sunscreen, I’m happy for you. If your newfound knowledge of PCTD snaps you out of the recurring casting issue that is making you chronically late for dinner, eat up and enjoy that extra family time. Tell the little woman you are home early for dinner because you love her cooking and reap the benefits all night long. Although...she won’t believe you, and probably suspect that you weren’t fishing at all.... Tell her that smell is the bug dope she bought you six years ago and that you’ve used it and it really works. Most importantly of all, take your new diagnostic skills to the lake with you and set others free by filling them in on the silent iller, PCTD. 

M.C. Bass lives in Dexter, Maine and has been a PCTD sufferer for nearly twenty years.