2020-2021 Youth Writing Contest Special Recognition – Senior Category – Maine (Grades 9–12)
Small Rod, Big Bass
Sam Young, Age 16, Topsham, 10th grade, Mt. Ararat
It was a warm summer day, and my family had rented a pontoon boat to take onto a lake. Also with us was my aunt and her boyfriend Tom.
We spent a few hours cruising around the lake. We had brought a few rods to fish with.
My father anchored next to a small rocky island so we could begin to fish. For a short time, everyone was having fun hooking bluegill from beneath the rocks and reeling them to the boat. I showed the newer anglers how to safely release the fish, and what lures to use. I thought that the next best things to live bait would be small beetle spins.
Tom was casting an ultralight rod with 6-pound test on it off the back of the boat into the deeper water. I did not expect him to hook onto anything large. But boy, was I wrong.
After a few minutes, I heard him yell, “I think I’ve got something!” Must be another bluegill, I thought to myself. But then I turned to look, just as a fish jumped out of the water. “Wow!” Everyone on the boat was impressed by that. I got really excited because I realized that he was not hooked on bottom nor was he hooked onto a bluegill, he had hooked onto a nice smallmouth bass.
I went over to him and said, “That looks like a very nice fish!” He nodded his head. But then he handed the rod over to me, “I don’t want to lose this fish, and I know you know what you are doing more than me.”
I hesitated at first, but then took the rod and walked to the bow of the boat. This fish was peeling the drag very quickly as it darted toward the bottom of the lake. I could not do much to resist, knowing that the light line could break easily.
I let the fish tire itself out. After a bit, I started to reel the fish to the boat. Then I could see the golden shine of the sun hitting the fish’s broad back. At that instant I realized this was a trophy.
I led the fish up to the surface, and since we did not have a net, my dad reached into the water and grabbed the fish by the lip. He held it up and handed it to me. I was smiling from ear to ear, realizing this was the biggest smallmouth I’d ever held. Then I gave the fish to Tom so he could hold it.
We measured and weighed it quickly in order to give it a safe release. It topped the scales at over four pounds and was exactly 20 inches. I placed the bass carefully back into the water and watched it swim away. I gave Tom a high five and thanked him for hooking that beast. Our teamwork had landed that amazing fish.