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Hog Hunt Bass

Ramblings by John Higley, author badge,

he other day, with an about-to-expire pig tag in my pocket, I went to a friend’s pond in the foothills near Whitmore where some hogs hang out occasionally. I saw pigs in the morning there a week ago, when I didn’t have a rifle in the truck, and I hoped to meet them there when they least expected it. Hogs and hot weather don’t get along very well, and from the muddy wallows around the pond I knew they would come around again sooner or later, and maybe when I was there watching for them.

Then again, maybe not. Sitting in the shade, while watching the hillside on the far side of the pond, I was content and alert for nearly two hours, but then I ran out of steam and started yawning with boredom.

To stay awake, I knew I needed to move around, so I decided to get my fishing rod out of the truck and make a few casts for the bass that were breaking the surface here and there.

Hog Hunt Bass, John Higley
While pig hunting on a pond near Whitmore I caught this bass on a root beer colored grub. It was the only fish I caught on that lure before switching to a top water plug.

On the first throw with a root beer colored plastic grub, I caught a smallish bass, but that was it, at least for the moment. A blanket of weed growth all around the edge of the water made it difficult to use any sinking lure. Even one that is mostly weedless was caught briefly in the weeds on nearly every retrieve.

Eventually, it dawned on me that a surface plug of some type might be the ticket. I could cast it farther into open water and keep it on top during the retrieve. When it got too close to the weeds I could lift it out of the water and swing it almost to my feet without having to pull any weeds out by their roots in the process.

The lure I chose, from those snarled together in my tackle box, was a frog green and white plug with a propeller on both ends. As I reeled it in slowly, it must have looked like food sputtering along on the surface.

On the first cast a two pound largemouth tried to eat the thing, and its top water strike was quite a thrill.

That set the tone for the next half hour or so. With the propeller bait, I caught a few fish while standing on a rock just high enough that I could fan cast in several directions and cover the water thoroughly. I was quite pleased with myself, and I was about ready to go back to watching for pigs when I got a surprise that tested my pacemaker assisted heart beat.

One second the plug was creating a trail of bubbles on the surface, and the next it was gone in a monumental eruption of water. My gosh, I thought, hold on to the rod.

The fish went straight down into the weeds and everything stopped. I pulled the line as hard as I could without it breaking, and couldn’t free it from the weeds. Thinking it might be the wrong thing to do, I gave the fish slack, hoping it would work itself clear of the weeds without my so-called help. Wonder of wonders, it did just that, and it didn’t come unhooked. Long story short, I was very lucky. Eventually, I got the fish close enough to shore to grip its lip and hoist it into the air.

Hog Hunt Bass, John Higley
After catching several bass on the top water plug with a propeller on each end, this fish did all it could do to give me a heart attack when it slammed the lure and dove for the bottom.

I didn’t have any way to measure or weigh the thing, but I did have a camera and tripod. Quickly, I posed for a couple of self-timed photos and turned it loose again. The pigs were no shows, but that bass was, in bass angler jargon, a real hog. One of my biggest bass ever, that fish made the day a complete success. Thinking back on that incident, you can bet I’ll fish top water baits a lot more often in the future. Pig hunting is fun, true, but at the end of the day fishing for bass is a lot less work and just as exciting in its own right. Hmmm, instead of Hog Hunt Bass perhaps the title of this piece should be Bass Angling Hog.

Just a thought.

Author and writer John Higley is a resident of Palo Cedro, CA. His articles have appeared in Outdoor California and other fishing and hunting journals. He is the author of two books: “Hunting Wild Turkeys In the West” and “Hunting Blacktail Deer.”

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