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I have said, many times, that the best trips are always the last minute afternoon trips. I guess it may not be that way for everyone, but it is for me. Seems like the more effort I put into a fishing trip, the worse I do. But, you give me a situation like yesterday, and I seem to have the best time.
Around 2pm, Josh texted me and asked if I wanted to get out. He said that he had brought the boat to work and was getting off early. I didn't have any of my equipment or even a change of clothes, but I wasn't about to say no. After all, it's extremely rare for me to have a free afternoon without one of my kids playing ball or having a game, myself. So, I loaded up after work and made the short drive to Ditto Landing.
On the way, I texted Chris, my good friend who happens to be my boat mechanic, and told him we would be out on the river if he wanted to meet up. I had passed his shop and didn't see my boat, so I figured he was out working on it. He quickly texted back and said that he was indeed testing it out, and he would meet up with us.
We dunked the Bullet and made the short run just up river to fish the rip rap banks on the left hand side. Josh had caught some NICE fish in the last two weeks on that stretch and we wanted to see if they were still there. Of course, we noticed that the river was extremely muddy and both of us had our doubts that we would catch anything. But, there was only one way to find out. We positioned the boat parallel to the rip rap and cast upriver, burning crankbaits down the rocks. I was throwing a Spro Little John in Ghost while Josh was throwing the new flat sided series 3 crank from Strike King in Chartruese. It didn't take long to find the fish. We fished the mud lines and the eddies of some of the small coves off of the rip rap banks where Josh caught a small white bass, then a magnum white that went around 3 pounds. I had a solid hit on the Spro, but the fish didn't hook up. Almost instantly, Josh sank the hook into a 14 inch largemouth. The funniest thing happened right at that moment: another largemouth came flying out of the water, about even with the boat. I assumed that it was the fish that I had just missed, who was making sure I didn't still have a hook set in his mouth. It was rather confusing to me, as I was trying to figure out how Josh had a fish on the line that was jumping around down stream of where he was casting.
Seconds later, I threw in a shakey head, hoping to catch the more finicky fish that weren't hitting his crank. On the second cast, I lifted the tip of the rod, noticed it was heavy, and set the hook. The fish ran at the boat, but I was able to keep up with it and boat swing it. It was a nice Tennessee River keeper. That is to say, it was about a pound.
About that time, Chris showed up in my boat. He reported that it still didn't run right, but was getting better. That didn't make me feel any better, but what can you do? Anyway, he hung out with us the rest of the day. which was cool.
After the first spot had yielded up all the fish it was going to give, we ran just upriver into Butler Basin. The right hand bank has always been good to us, but not in the recent past. Today, however, it decided to be giving. Josh and I threw the same two cranks we had been throwing earlier and were able to catch a fish every 15 minutes or so. The size didn't improve much, but we were having a great time catching, which was a big change for us.
While casting close to the bank, I hung a fish. At first, I thought it was just another dink, so I didn't set the hook very hard or keep a lot of pressure on it. As it closed in on the boat, it decided to hit the brakes. The rod loaded up and suddenly I realized I was in a fight with a big fish. The fish felt like another white bass, so we laughed about it up until the beast surfaced and threw the crank bait at me. Now, it wasn't a 7 pound Guntersville monster, but it was a 4 pound Tennessee River monster. And away it swam. While the fish would tick me off to no end later on that night, we all got a great laugh out of it, Chris included, who was only feet away in the Skeeter when it jumped.
Before we knew it, the sun was gone. On our way out of Butler Basin, I made the comment that I needed to make just one more cast to the point of the inlet. There is ALWAYS a fish there. So, I made the cast and when the plug hit the water, I laughed and said: "Yep. There's a fish there." Sure enough, one smashed the crank. I swung aboard this little dink and we all laughed at my comments about how it was a big-un.
What a great trip. We caught a fair amount of fish, had the opportunity for a big one, but the best part was, it was a surprise to get to fish at all. When I woke up that morning, I never expected to get to fish. Jsut being on the water was great. Catching fish was a bonus!