Woods and Water: After-work float proves successful

  • David Rainville turns to the camera during a recent canoe trip to show off a small-mouth bass he caught. Recorder Staff/Paul Franz

  • Recorder photographer Paul Franz holds up his catch, a large rainbow trout, from a recent canoe trip with David Rainville. For The Recorder/David Rainville

  • David Rainville

For The Recorder
Sunday, September 03, 2017

I haven’t had a lot of luck fishing this summer, though I admit I haven’t put much time into trying.

A recent impromptu trip to a favorite fishing hole proved to be an exception, though.

One beautiful mid-August day, I called up Recorder photographer Paul Franz to see if he wanted to go for an after-work float. Always looking for an excuse to go out on the water, he took the bait.

After hemming and hawing over which spot to set out for, we settled on a place where the fish are plentiful. It’s a spot where I usually go when I haven’t had luck elsewhere. I almost always catch something there, even if it’s no bigger than a baitfish. He introduced me to it last year, but swore me to secrecy – a fisherman’s bond stronger than blood.

While we usually take kayaks, this time we opted for Paul’s canoe, which was already on his truck. We tossed our tackle in the bed, along with a battery and trolling motor, and set out.

Hitting the water around 6 p.m., we motored upstream against the current, casting for shore on the way back. I started with a spinner and treble hook, while Paul mostly used a hard plastic lure. I had a few nibbles, and snagged a couple logs in the process. Paul was kind enough to putt over so I could retrieve my lure.

As usual, Paul caught the first fish, a dace – or as he calls them, chubs. It’s a fish almost completely without fight, like reeling in a wet sock. Usually, when I hook one, I’m sure I’m pulling in a large stick until it’s close enough to see the lazy fish at the end of my line.

Before long, we passed the put-in spot, and were headed for the flatwater downstream. I cast toward shore while Paul worked the middle of the river.

By this time I was using a green rubber lizard on a bent-shank hook, which I threw with my baitcasting rod. Paul used a hard plastic lure, the type I swore by on my hometown pond. I felt plenty of nibbles, but nothing big enough to swallow my “shark-hook,” as my brother-in-law would call it.

Just as Paul neared the end of a retrieve, something big bit his lure, right next to the boat. I watched his line zig and zag through the water as the line peeled off of his reel. After a formidable fight, it neared the surface.

It was a nice rainbow trout, and it continued to fight as Paul tried to get it into his net. We’d left the cooler at Paul’s, and didn’t have a stringer handy, so it went back into the river after a quick picture.

By this point I was a little bit jealous, but I’d have my turn.

Working my line back from a shoreline cast, I felt something big bite. I gave it a little time to take the bait, then yanked my pole to set the hook. But it was in vain.

A little later, I had another hit. This time, I hooked it proper. I pulled, let it take line, and repeated, until it was worn out. I pulled it to the surface to find I’d gotten myself a small-mouth bass, Paul and I guessing its weight at about two pounds. I grabbed it by the lip and tried to work my hook out.

It was in deep – it had gone through just in front of the fish’s eye. I borrowed Paul’s forceps, but still couldn’t work the hook out. Feeling bad for the fish at this point, I grabbed my cheap needle-nose pliers and cut the shank in half, sacrificing a hook to save the fish.

I raced to re-rig my line and get a few more casts in, since the sun was on its way down and we’d turned around to start heading for shore. I had a few more nibbles but didn’t land anything. Still, I’ll take one good small-mouth over nothing, and I can consider my slump over.

David Rainville is a former reporter and editor for The Recorder, who now works as a machinist. He enjoys hiking, kayaking, biking, and finding new ways to explore the outdoors. You can reach him at daverain82@gmail.com.