By Larry Dablemont
The first thing I need to tell folks with this column is that we aren’t going to be able to have our Grizzled Old Veteran’s swap meet in April, but we WILL have it this year, maybe in September. I will keep you informed.
However I will be taking folks out to my special wilderness area on Truman Lake, via pontoon boat, on Saturday, April 17. At midday we will have a big fish fry on the lake and I hope to teach people how to find morel mushrooms that afternoon. I will also show you an area that is much like it was 200 years ago, with huge timber and a great variety of wildlife. The hikes we take into the woods are not strenuous. We start from Wheatland, Mo., at 9 in the morning and come in at sunset. To join us, use the addresses or phone number at the end of this column.
On the lower reaches of a small river I like to fish, the water was deep and clear and cold a few days ago. I fished hard for an hour with no results. Then I moved down into a quiet backwater of the lake and noticed it was getting murky. After a hundred useless casts, I was about ready to head in.
At exactly 5:30, I became glad I had persisted. He hit my lure with the ferocity of a bobcat on a rabbit! And I landed, after a struggle I wasn’t sure my light line would survive, an 18-inch hybrid, a fish some call a wiper. His daddy is a striped bass and his momma a white bass. It was what I had come looking for, and finally my patience was rewarded. And I knew he wouldn’t be alone.
Three casts later another struck my lure with a savagery most fish don’t display. I sat there until almost 7 p.m. disappointed to be reeling in white bass instead of the hybrids. Remember when I wrote about catching a pot-load of fish a couple of weeks ago and I said none were above two pounds? Well on this trip only a few days ago, I caught all my fish on that same lure and none were UNDER two pounds. Many of the hybrids exceeded four pounds a little, but none made it to five.
And truthfully, a four-pound hybrid isn’t that impressive because I was after eight to 10 pounders that would strip five- or six-feet of line against my drag on any run or several hard runs. I have caught 15-pound hybrids from Norfork lake and 10 to 12 pound hybrids from the upper Sac River. I expect that where I will fish for them the next week or so, I will get some bigger ones. But you don’t really complain about catching 18-inch hybrids on light tackle.
When I begin to catch bigger ones, I won’t use six-pound line and a spinning reel, I will go to my casting reel and ten-pound line. Hybrids are very strong, but in most waters they don’t run for the brush, they fight in the open water. Brother, when they get in a river current, pound for pound they will outfight a smallmouth bass and put to shame a comparable-sized trout as well.
If you want to see the difference between a white bass and a hybrid, I have pictures of the two, side by side, on my computer site www.larrydablemontoutdoors.blogspot.com. Hybrids are a whiter fish with darker lines down the side and many of the bottom lines are broken. A white bass lateral lines are not broken.
It is unbelievable to me that for weeks I have been using a lure that I found back in the winter, beach combing, as I do often in the dead of winter. I know that I could catch fish on lots of lures when you get into them as I recently have, but it is hard to switch to something else when I am using this little crank bait that has caught six species of fish since the last days of February. You can see a photo of that used and lost and refound lure on that same website.
By the way, my spring outdoor magazine and my spring Ozark magazine are printed and ready to mail now. If you want a copy of either, just call my office to get information about the cost and postage. The number is 417-777-5227. Email me at lightninridge47@gmail .com or write to me at Box 22, Bolivar, MO, 65613.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Larry Dablemont is an outdoor writer from Bolivar, Mo.