The Back 40

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The Back 40

Doing The Jitter Bug By John A. Hallock

Posted on June 14, 2015 at 1:20 AM

I know a man, a neighbor, and friend who once caught a hellacious large mouth bass on our little wilderness lake. It measured at least 26 or 27 inches long in laymen’s terms. And if that wasn’t exciting enough, he caught it on the surface, over a weed bed. 

His was the only boat on the backwoods lake at the time he made the long arcing cast and began a slow retrieve. The swimming bait, a black Jitter Bug, cut a perfect V in the flat lake surface. He would stop his retrieve every few feet and twitch the lure slightly, then let it sit quiet for a count or two. It wasn’t but a few seconds after the second or third twitch when the big brute hit the sitting lure like a pig in a splash, and then leaped straight into the air trying to pick up slack in the line. But the old fisherman was ready and so very experienced at fighting big bass. He set up hard. It pulled all the slack out of the line and sank the hook into the hard cartilage of the fish’s mouth.

This beast, with gaping jaws, black stripes, and the girth of a linebacker walked on its tail across the lily pads before it dropped back into the water and dove deep into the weeds. The fight of a lifetime was at hand for both the fish and the fisherman.

It took him until almost dark, fighting with a bucking rod, to get the tangle of weeds at the end of his line all the way back to the boat. When he pulled away the last piece of cabbage, he reached down into the dark water, grabbed that big bucket mouth by the jaw and hoisted it into his boat.

He held the dripping bass up in front of him. Oh what a fish it was, long and fat. He took a good long look, then lowered the fish over the side of the boat and released it. He never took a photo and never talked about that big bass. The only reason I know about it is I saw it all happen. I had just pulled my boat off the lake and into the brush along the shore to get out and pee in the woods. When he showed up out in the bay I stayed quiet and watched. When the fight was over I got back into my boat I followed him back to the dock. I was tired, thirsty, and bug bitten. I tied up my boat, grabbed my tackle, and ran down the dock to shore.

“What’s your hurry?” he shouted at me from the next dock over.

“I gotta’ get to the bait shop,” I yelled. “I’m clean out of Jitter Bugs.”

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