[Editor’s Note: Part One of this story can be viewed here]
The sudden big boiling swirl quite a ways back in the pad field grabbed all my attention.
“Surely,” I thought, “that can’t be a bass. Whatever the hell tore up those pads is feeding like a shark!” My actual thought was that the surface ruckus had probably been made by a whopping big carp.
There were some really big carp in the lake I was on. I’d caught a few of them myself. They didn’t, however, usually create the surface disturbance back in the pads like the one I’d just seen.
It was mid-July and I had been fishing some of my favorite spots on Southwest Washington’s Silver Lake since daylight. I had just moved into the outer edge of the pad field I’ve mentioned. I’d caught bass there before from time to time.
Few of the bass anglers I knew then were throwing the simple bait I was showing those pad field bass. It’s not being everyone’s favorite didn’t bother me a bit. At the certain times of the year, especially when those pad fields were thick in summer, it certainly was one of mine. And in the process I had as much plain fun as I’ve had with anything else I’ve ever tied on a leader.
The thing I had attached to the end of my leader that day was a pork chunk. An Uncle Josh Pork Chunk to be exact. If you’re imagining a piece of pork rind with fancy legs or some such, guess again. It was simply a piece of pork.
Remember now, this was in the middle of the last century. The chunks I was using haven’t been marketed for years. At the time I’m talking about these chunks were a regular part of the Uncle Josh lineup of pork rind baits.
If you’ve not seen one of these once available chunks, and chances are you haven’t, note the pictures I’ve used along with this issue of Let’s Look Back. The Uncle Josh Pork Chunk I loved sort of looked like a hardboiled egg that had been sliced in half. It had a hole through the rind at the front end for you to poke your hook through and that was the size of it.
I said I loved the darn thing. So did the bass. Not all the time, of course. But then what the heck can you guarantee those fickle buggers are going like all the time? It doesn’t exist. Be that as it may, I had about as much fun with that that plain hunk of a hog as anything I’ve ever thrown at ‘em.
I’m well aware of the array of the odor impregnated plastic lures currently so readily available. And certainly I’ve used certain of the liquid and jellies you can smear on the baits and lures you choose to throw if you’re so inclined.
Back in the middle of the last century I did none of that with the Uncle Josh Pork Frog. But let me say something else about that simple hunk of a pig—when a bass latched onto the thing it didn’t want to let go.
I know just as well as you do that a bass can spit something out even faster than it grabs it. I swear that didn’t happen to me often with the plain old Uncle Josh Chunk and that’s one undoubtedly why I catch myself smiling when I think about some of my experiences with them.
But let’s look back more closely at what happened that summer day when I spotted that big disturbance in the pad field I was fishing. I was throwing my pork chunk on 20-pound line with a 15-pound leader with a bait casting rid.
I couldn’t get much distance with that lightweight chunk. More often than not I’d usually just throw into pockets in the heavy pad cover from 20 to 30-feet away.
Trouble was, that swirling surface boil I’d seen was between 40 or 50-feet away from my boat. For a few heartbeats I considered rowing a tad closer (this was well before electric trolling motors were available) but then decided not to.
I had been seated while fishing so I was less visible to the bass I was seeking back there in the cover. I knew I could probably reach the spot where I’d spotted the movement if I stood up. Then I’d need to let out a little more line to my pork chunk and then do what resembled the Hungarian Hammer Throw more than casting to get it out where it needed to be.
And that’s exactly what I did. The pork chunk landed with a light splat next to one of the pads at the edge of the hole the original swirl had created. I immediately started it plopping its way back through the cover.
It didn’t move far. Again there was that same huge boiling swirl as I’d witnessed before but this time there was more—a really big bass had grabbed that thing and now it was off and running.
I’ve spent half a century fishing Silver Lake. I lived right on its shoreline for more than 35 years. During that time I hooked two fish that I know would have topped 10-pounds. The monster that smashed my Uncle Josh Pork Frog that day is one of them.
I should have attempted to get at least a little closer before I had cast. I did nail the fish solidly on the 4/0 weedless hook I had attached to the nose of the chunk. I did try to control things from where I was but I might as well have been hooked to a truck.
That monstrous fish jerked line from my reel and tore up the pad field for at least 20-feet before my line went slack. When I finally recovered enough to reel in, my pork frog was just barely still hanging onto a 4/0 heavy hook that had almost been bent out straight.
I’ve just shared one of my countless memories of what’s coming fairly close now to a century of bass fishing. I’ve since caught bass undoubtedly larger than the one I’ve been talking about but they came from places where larger fish are common. You don’t run into many 10 or 11-pound fish in the Pacific Northwest because they just aren’t there.
When you do run into one—and that day I did—it’s going to grab a top spot in the golden pages of your bass fishing memories. And you know what? I wouldn’t change one darn thing about that special memory even if I had the ability to do so.