Dale Hollow Lake Part 3

(You can find the first part of this story here.)

On Your Mark. Get Set. Rig Up.

Continuing education is a necessity if we are to have long term success at anything. One must be a constant learner. Fishing (and hunting) is no exception to the rule.  Non-anglers would be amazed at just how hard it is to outsmart those fish. Fishing could perhaps be defined as the mind and money of fishermen being exhausted proving the intelligence and resourcefulness of the fish.

Daniel had arranged for us to meet our guide, Bobby Gentry at the Dale Hollow State Park Marina boat ramp at eight o’clock Thursday morning for four hours of continuing fishing education. An hour before that Daniel, Ryan and I were on the water strategically putting out four dozen juglines, mostly homemade but a few from Walmart. The mixture of the fishing depth of the hook on our juglines is 5, 10 and 15 feet.  https://www.dalehollowmarina.com/

When we returned to the boat ramp at eight o’clock after putting out the juglines, Bobby was there ready to go. We had an enjoyable time on the lake fishing with our 30+ year guide-educator.  Bobby’s lure of choice was the Ned Rig. In those cool water and windy conditions combined with Bobby’s savvy of multiple places for us to fish, three out of four of us caught a good size Smallmouth Bass. Each time a fish was caught Bobby would say; “Ned strikes again!” Bobby and Ned Rig, good job! bobbygentry.com Quoting Bobby Gentry, “Dale Hollow Lake and Smallmouth fishing has been a passion of mine for 30 years.”  

Where Eagles Dine

Toward the end of our time with Bobby we were fishing about two thirds of the way into Lanear Creek Cove when up high in the sky at the head of the cove a pair of Bald Eagles glided quietly into view crossing the cove from our right to our left.  One landed in a tall tree at the top of the ridge. The other one started circling over the cove coming within a football fields length from us. Each time the majestic bird circled, each circle of his flight pattern got smaller and smaller as he also came closer and closer to the water.  We realized that he was circling to get into position to snatch from the water what we thought to be a floating fish.

Sure, enough as he flew his tightest and lowest circle over the water between the treelined shores of the cove, having just flown over his prey he flared his wings pulling his head and body almost straight up to a point where at the exact moment he lost his momentum he turned swiftly to his left cutting the circle in half and swooping down skillfully with gracious finesse snatching lunch from the water.  He regained altitude flying upward toward the high ridge returning with “take out lunch” for him and his business partner. An outdoors adventure etched into our minds we had not expected but thoroughly enjoyed and will always remember. VIDEO

Odd Man Out

Yep, I was the odd man out. Maybe it was my rusty technique. Back at the Marina and in Daniel’s boat I could tell that my not having caught a Smallmouth Bass bothered Ryan and Daniel. They were doggedly determined that they were going to do whatever it took for me to have the pure fishing pleasure of catching Smallmouth bass on the lake whose reputation is known for its Smallmouth Bass.

Daniel and Ryan were not going to be denied accomplishing what they had purposed to complete on my behalf. Although Ryan and one or more of his five daughters had caught a bunch of perch and put them in the freezer in the couple of weeks before our fishing trip, we ran out of bait quickly since they were cut up and used mostly to bait up all those juglines.   We needed more bait to persevere in our determined pursuit of those Smallmouth bass in Dale Hollow Lake.

It turned out that we had plenty of live bait thanks to Daniel’s friend George who lived in his houseboat at the Dale Hollow Lake State Park Marina. George has an umbrella net and a spotlight rigged up on the back end of his houseboat. With it he had filled his large baitwell. George had the baitwell tied off at the dock just a few feet from the umbrella net rig. Big shiners. Perfect. George very generously said, “Take what you need for each trip out but not too many because you don’t want them to die.  When you run out just come back and get some more!” Thanks, George!

Pressure On

Friday morning, we checked out our juglines. Each time Ryan saw that there was a catfish on the jugline in good humor and a big grin he would say; “D-O-N-A-L-D-R-A-Y, get the dipnet!’ Done with the juglines we headed out on the lake to try catching the elusive Smallmouth Bass.  After moving from one trusted proven fishing hole to another yet without catching anything, Daniel and Ryan decided to go to a totally different area of the lake.

We reeled in, put our rods up and sat down for the trip. Daniel turned the boat in the right direction and began picking up speed. Just about the time the boat had leveled off and was running smooth across the top of the water we came around the corner of Boys Island onto the main lake. There was a huge flock of coots floating in the water less than 50 yards in front of the boat.  This is not unusual on the lake. We had already gone through multiple flocks of them while moving from one fishing spot to another. Typically, the coots fly away before the boat gets too close.

For some reason these coots hesitated a little bit too long before spreading their wings and starting their webbed footed wind sprints along the top of the water air lifting themselves into safety. And perhaps Daniel slightly accelerated the motor. Before the rear guard of the coots could get airborne more than a few inches, for a split second the front of the v-hull boat caught up with a few of them dividing their flight formation as they were lifting off from their water runway.

Some of the coots were on the right-side of the boat and some on the left picking up speed inches above the water but below the side of the boat. Seasoned dodge boat players as they are, their bad timing in ducking to dodge the boat made watching their frantic escape hilarious. We laughed heartily. It came at just the right time for this intense fishing trio.

Read the next part of this story shortly!