John's Journal... Entry 199, Day 1
HOW TO GET THE MOST OUT OF YOUR BASS-FISHING GUIDE
My Bass-Fishing Guide Produces
“I need to catch a bass weighing from 5 to 8 pounds to photograph,” I told Charlie Ingram, a guide on Lake Eufaula for Lake Eufaula Guide Service near Eufaula, Alabama, on the Alabama/Georgia state line. Lake Eufaula historically has produced numbers of bass weighing over 10-pounds each. But I had less than four hours to fish. Regardless of the credentials of your guide, you’ll find producing a 5-pound plus bass in less than four hours on any lake in the nation a very tall order.
“I think I know where we can catch your bass,” Ingram said with a smile. “There’s a rock pile in the middle of the lake where I’ve taken some big bass. Although I haven’t fished this spot lately, if we need a big bass this month, that rock pile will provide our best chance. Let’s do it.” We got into his Ranger boat, raced across the lake and came to an abrupt halt 100 yards from the bank. Ingram pointed at the open water and told me to, “cast over there. Crank your bait down to the bottom hard and fast. When you feel the lure hit the rocks, slow your retrieve to swim the bait just above the rocks.”
The first cast brought no action. Two more casts failed to produce a bite. But on the fourth cast, I felt a solid thump on my line. When I set the hook, the rod dove toward the surface of the water. Unable to stop the charge of the bass, I watched the line pull off my reel as the drag added the required pressure to keep the treble hooks of my Bagley DB 3 crankbait lodged firmly in the bass’s mouth. “I see him,” I said while watching a big bass blow skyward with flared gills, open mouth and scales that sparkled like diamonds in the brilliant sunlight. Ingram quickly looked up from his tackle box and grinned like a possum caught by the tail. “That’s a good one, John,” Ingram observed. “That’s your photo fish. Now please put it in the boat. Don’t horse the fish. Take your time. Let the rod and the reel play the fish.” When the bass breached the surface for a second attempt at freedom, Ingram calmly said, “keep your line tight, and I’ll get the net.”
In less than five minutes from the time the boat had stopped, I watched a 6-3/4-pound largemouth slide over the lip of the net. For the next five minutes, I photographed and aerated the bass. When I finished talking all the pictures I needed, we released the fish.
Two years later, I received an assignment to write another article on big bass. I called Ingram and told him, “we need to catch a good bass for this article I’m writing. If I come down next Thursday, do you think we can get one?” “We’ll sure give it a good try, John,” Ingram answered. “I know of a stump on the edge of a creek channel in the middle of the lake. The stump sits on a point where the old creek channel runs into the main river channel. This stump is the only structure on that underwater point and has produced many big bass before. I won’t fish it until you get here.”
The next week Joe Price of Birmingham, Alabama, and I headed to Lake Eufaula where we met Charlie Ingram at the dock and headed straight to the stump in the middle of the lake. “We’ll vertical jig a 3/4-ounce Hopkins spoon around the stump,” Ingram explained. “Let the spoon fall to the bottom, and lift your rod tip slowly. Then raise and lower your rod tip gently until you get a bite.” Price scored first with a nice-sized crappie. Then I hooked a 2-1/2- pound bass. “I don’t think we’ll find the big fish here,” I teased Ingram. “Maybe not,” Ingram shot back. However, Ingram never got to complete his sentence as he pulled back on his rod. “Here we go,” Ingram said with the kind of pride that comes to a pool shark when he predicts the 4-ball will go in the side-pocket on the break in a game of pool.
Ingram wrestled with the big bass while standing on the front of the boat. I retrieved the net and slid it gently under the 8-1/2-pound largemouth. While the fish remained in the livewell, I got out my cameras. Then I began taking pictures of the bass. In less than an hour, we had caught, photographed and released the kind of bass about which most anglers only dream. As we headed back to the dock, I told Ingram I couldn’t believe he pulled out in the middle of this lake, found bass and caught it as quickly as he did. “I’ll admit you put a lot of pressure on a fishing guide,” Ingram chuckled. “I’m glad all my clients don’t demand as much as you do.”
When we returned to the dock and sat down in the cafeteria to eat breakfast, I asked Ingram what a fisherman should expect from a bass guide and how an angler could get the most from a bass-fishing guide for the money he pays. “I’ve found that the most-critical key for a customer to be satisfied with a guide is for the client to let the guide know what he expects from a day of fishing,” Ingram said. “Decide whether you want the guide to teach you how to catch fish, take you to a spot where you can catch a lot of fish or help you take that one big fish of a lifetime.”
To learn more about Lake Eufaula Guide Service, contact Jackie Thompson at 334-687-9595
TOMORROW: TO LEARN HOW TO CATCH BASS