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Maine Fly Fish
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The Bass Tournament

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A couple summers ago, Jack Dennison, Trip Wilson, Molly Barker, and I were spending our vacation week at Cobbossee Lake to take in all the goings-on of a professional bass tournament. Being transplants to the Portland area, we all had to learn bass fishing as a fill-in during the summer heat when the trout fishing shuts down. We’d all gotten pretty good with hair poppers and started to wonder if we could compete in a bass tournament and possibly win some money, gear, or maybe even a new boat! So, off we went with our kayaks to watch the pros.

On arrival day at "Lakeside Motel and Cabins", we realized that the world of professional bass fishing was a far cry from what we had imagined while out in our kayaks, throwing hair poppers into lily pads. We were all frozen with awe as we watched hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of boats that looked like floating tackle shops being launched. Jeez! The paint on the trucks, boats, and trailers, even matched. We got in line with our rusted Jimmy and our converted landscaping trailer, loaded with beat-up kayaks. That night, we noodled around the docks with our 5 wts. and all caught a fair amount of 14”-16” bucket-mouths while the pros had a kick-off cocktail and BBQ. We drifted over toward the party after fishing to get in on a little angling banter and, hopefully, some free BBQ. Apparently, the pros aren’t very tolerant of fly fishing, hippie, hobos. We were snubbed and had to cook our own supper.

The next morning, we woke to what we thought was an “end of the world as we know it” earthquake and started confessing all our sins and our love for each other then realized the quaking ground and rattling windows was a result of fifty, or more 150 horsepower outboards, all starting at the same time. (We all kind of shied away from each other for the rest of the morning.) We kayaked around all morning watching the pros “running and gunning” while catching a fair amount of bass from the surrounding docks, floats, lily pads, and grass beds. Since this was just a practice day, all the pros came back to shore for lunch and some story swapping. It seems that most everyone got skunked and, although they all joked about the skunking, there was a bit of tension in the air. Again, our little troop of hobos tried to mix in with the pros thinking that we might have something to add to the conversation since we all had caught enough fish to qualify for the tournament. This time we were not just snubbed, we were faced down with what felt a whole lot like, anger. We figured a free lunch was out so, we left to a chorus of snorts and comments.

The pro’s afternoon practice session went the same way as the morning with most of them being skunked. Our group did not try to engage in this evening’s BBQ and drinking party. Instead, we all fished around the docks within earshot of the partyers. One of the party group hollered out, “You girls better not hit my boat with your little tinker toys”. Jack, Trip, and I thought it would probably be best not to mix it up with a bunch of drunks but Molly walked right up to them and asked if they were a little jealous and suggested that they might do well to take some free tips from those who was actually catching fish. One of the drunks shot back with, “Those ain’t fish, they’re bait.” Molly gave them a smile and walked back to the cabin. The boys shot Molly a few cat calls and gave us all some self-satisfied chuckles. Well, about ten minutes later, here comes Molly armed with her nine-and-a-half-foot 9wt. cannon. We all thought Molly might start plinking drinks out of the hand of the snobs (we all would practice casting by plinking cans around the yard with our flies) but instead, she cut her leader back to ten pounds and tied on an olive "Whit’s Near Nuff Crayfish" and started casting inches from the sides of the high powered bass boats. Once Molly got the right retrieve down, she started hauling in bass with mouths big enough to swallow a small chicken. Every time she hauled one in, she would yell, “Pig!” The people at the BBQ went pretty much silent. All satisfied that the point had been made; we walked past the drop jawed pros and headed for our cabin with Molly in the lead. As we passed, Molly said, “Did you see the mouths on those pigs?”

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