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Backlashes, Broken Rods and The Day I Caught Moses

4/30/2017 10:28:17 AM

Right from the start let me make it abundantly clear that I am not referring to the Biblical Character, Moses of the Old Testament. While he was a great man and a hero, the Moses of which I write was also a hero in its own right and many stories had also been told about this one, some of which were likely true and others just down right false hoods. This should be enough to whet the appetite of the most readers so here is the spill. In the early days of Toledo Bend somewhere in the several hundred thousand acres of inundated forest lived a bass that assumed almost mythical statue. In those first few year the inundated forest lived and turned green in summer and since the trunks were largely covered the foliage that stuck up above the surface was a thick, almost impenetrable mass of limbs, briers and vines that defied the most ardent attempts by anglers to access the largess that they protected. Massive schools of bass grew up to the four to five pound range and never saw a lure. In an area we called the Thousand Foot Boat Road, these huge schools of bass, which often numbered into the tens of thousands, often ventured from the protection of the dense forest into the open water of the straight cut boat lane.

Many fishing guides, including me, cut their teeth on the fine art of putting clients on limits of bass on almost every outing. In those days the limit was fifteen and with two clients and the guide's fish, a forty-five limit could be caught in a matter of minutes. The truth is that almost anyone with enough sense to be able to return to the launching area without becoming hopeless loss could claim to be a guide and be successful. Many guides became famous as well as the few who made the big time and fished on the fledgling bass tours that were beginning to spring up everywhere to take advantage of the fishing bonanza. Do not read into this analogy that every bass weighed over four pounds but clients have sat in the boat with guides on the upper end of the lake for hours working one or more schools of fish with top water plugs that rarely returned to the boat without a fish. This could go on for a few hours or all day any day, regardless of the season. It is hard for the average angler of today to imagine ten to twenty miles of voracious bass which were gorging on shad and would just as soon hit a top water lure, or for that matter, any lure.

As the young princess of a lake turned into a queen a few bass got larger. Seven pound up to eight pounds were everyday occurrences and almost every day a huge dark green monster of nine pounds plus was brought into the marina from which I worked. It was here that I first heard of the gigantic bass which was quickly becoming legend. Had it not been for the reports from an old man who almost daily brought in a nine pound monster, I would have discounted the tales because then, even at my early age I had found out that one could not always[read-never]believe what a bass angler was saying. At any rate the old man befriended me because I offered to share some of my brand new plugs with him since he was bemoaning the fact that a huge bass had taken his last lure. When I open my new tackle box which held conservatively over a hundred shiny new lures, the old man's face lit up. I offered him his choice of any ten of the lures but he surprisingly reached into the bottom of the box and took out an ancient Devil's Horse, twin spinner top water plug. The plug was old and the hooks bent at awkward angles due to me using it to catch grinnel and monster gar fish. The sharp teeth of these two predators had punched holes into the soft wood from which the lure was made and cracked some of the paint. Even with my coaxing, the old man would not be deterred. This was the one and only lure he wanted or for that matter, that he fished. The old man looked at my new Ambassador 5000 and asked what line I had on it. When I told him it was twenty pound Royal Bonnell, he paused, nodded his head as in agreement, and said, "This just might work!". When I asked what he meant the old man offered me a seat on a butt-cut log and said,I believe you are the one."

Now folks I was an energetic, strapping man of twenty- three, who thought as did most people my age, that I hung the moon and had all the answers to bass fishing. I was already writing a weekly column for The Big Bass Express as well as submitting articles to various newspapers, etc.. Most times I would have listened as an appreciation of age but would have not heard a word the older person said. There was just something compelling interesting about this seventieth looking man dressed in overalls and a tattered long sleeved shirts with snuff stains down the front. Also to be honest, I knew the old man caught huge bass. The talk was that he was running gill nets but the fact remained that he consistently caught nine pound bass, so I hung on every word he said!

"Boy," he began, "I know you are a hot shot bass guide and that you catch some big bass and lots of small ones," he continued with a wink. "What I am going to tell you today is a way for you to become famous."

" Whoa Nellie," I thought, "here we go"! But since I did not wish to be rude I sat and pretended to be interested in his story although my attention span was fast waning.

"Young man I am going to tell you where the biggest bass in Toledo resides". Attention span now in high gear. " This bass is so big that he might be able to get his big mouth around anything I have ever caught," he stated with the look of a man telling the straight of it. "I call this bass Moses," the old man said as he shook his head from side to side as if reliving an encounter with the Moby Dick of all bass.

I could not wait to interrupt, even at the risk of being disrespectful. "Why on earth do you call it Moses?" I inquired as I waited impatiently for his response.

The old man paused thoughtfully, his eyes glazed over and a huge smile welled upon his face reveling the few remaining teeth in his mouth. "You know how that Old Man of the Bible parted that water?" he asked as he looked into my very sole with his kind old blue eyes, turned hazy by too many days spent at hard labor in the Angola cane fields. "Well boy, when that dang bass comes after Mister Smithwick[he referred to the manufacturer of the lure]the water parts! I want you to catch him. My equipment just one hold it. I have had it on four times and each time he busted off. Now here is where he stays," he offered as he drew from his pocked a tattered notebook and pencil. He removed a Case pocked knife, whose blade had been whetted to the point that little blade remained and sharpened the yellow half pencil. The old man licked the lead and began to draw.

I hope some of the readers will want to know how this adventure turned out so please tune in next month for the rest of the story. The Cajun Guide/Johnny Procell

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