Fox River MemoryBy Robert Piorkowski - May 1, 2000
It was late in the summer and I wanted to fish a little after work. The sun was setting so I only had about a half hour of power fishing. The plan was to try the Fox River near Batavia for smallmouth bass. Because of the calm water and shaded steep banks, I decided to use top water baits. I slowly waded out to get the best angle to the shore line structure. My lure choice was a brand new Rebel Pop-R, with a tiger/bass pattern. (My wife is tired of me buying new lures, she thinks a full tackle box should satisfy me, but I can always use more.) I started casting to the shoreline and retrieving erratically. Because of the protected shoreline, many casts caught either a nice branch or submerged weed. Finally, on one of the many "last casts", I hooked a bass. It took three or four casts to the same little pocket to bring a hefty smallmouth to attack. After considerable pulling, the bass moved away from the bank, and performed his own "river-dance" in the open water. I slowly worked the fish towards shore, all the while watching him thrash about. He was wriggling so wildly that I chose not to get a hand full of sharp treble hooks. The only choice was to swiftly pull the line and heave the fish to a safe spot to remove the lure. I didn't want a long fight that might possibly over stress the fish. Less than one foot above the river, my line broke. The big bass landed back in the water, hesitated and calmly swam away with my lure. I was surprised my line broke, then I felt the roughness on the cut end. To many casts through trees, stumps and rocks. I was doomed to loose my bass from the start. This was a great way to spend a half hour, even though I lost a nice fish. I learned my lesson about trusting my line and knots. The frequency of checking for line damage should increase with the amount of rough cover. I tied a new knot prior to fishing, but should have checked my line and re-tied the lure after about 10-20 casts.
On a separate trip to the Fox River, I brought two friends who were eager to catch something. I had told them about the big bass I had lost, and showed them the exact location. It was sunny and in the high 80's. We waded the river with shorts and old shoes, no expensive waders were needed. We had a great time, despite no fish. Was getting dark so we decided to get out of the water. On the way to the parking lot, I decided to make several more "last casts" to my hot spot. My friends proceeded to their cars, and I waded into the river where previously this summer I lost a big smallmouth. The current was pretty slow, so it was easy to move around. I was wading in water just past my knee, so maneuvering to a casting spot only required being quiet. I was trying to catch the elusive smallmouth who had retained my lure from our previous fight. While in mid-river, I tied on a frog pattern Chug-Bug. During certain conditions, this lure has worked well on the river. My first cast over a log to the hot spot produced a chunky largemouth. After some photo's we released the bass back to the river. The fish wasn't the elusive bass of my hot spot, but I assumed he was a friend. If you're ever fishing near Batavia and you catch my smallmouth with the Pop-R in his mouth, keep the lure but let me hear your story.