Back in '92 I thought I knew something about fishing but I didn't. I'd read what Michael Furtman had to say in the Boundary Waters Fishing Guide so the gear we had would catch fish. But that didn't mean we would. Readin' and doin' ain't the same.
One thing was for sure, timing was the most important thing in the Spring. Too early and the bass were still out deep. Too late, they were spawning and not interested in being caught. Just right was what Rod and I had back in '66. We didn't know that but we did know we were having some fine fishing.
We also hadn't read the Guide. Didn't know small lures were the right ones. Instead we threw floaters that were perfect for big largemouth. Turned out that we were doin' it right. Big fish tend to like big lures.
As for me and Allan, we were armed with a fistful of two and a half and three inch floating rapalas. Had we been there a week or two earlier we'd have been undersized. As it was, they were just right. Ignorance is bliss. In my hand I had an ultralight rod and Al had a light medium. Both of us were hopin' for rod benders but afraid we'd find nothing.
From the slab we paddled to the right just like Rod and I had. For the first ten minutes we found nothing. Then things changed and we began to learn what the fish wanted.
As it evolved we hugged shore no more than fifty feet out. Not for any more reason than that's as far as we could cast the light lure. A near perfect cast landed within a coupla feet of the rubble shoreline. Even better was a bounce off the rocks back into the water. Then just let the rapala sit. For a minute or more. Not exactly exciting unless you knew what you were looking for.
Eventually the lure would bounce around a little bit just like a bass was rising and nudging it. Once the floater moved we'd give it a twitch. Then, bam! Fish on. Not big bass, just little males around a foot long who were guarding the nests while the ladies were off in the deep water recovering from spawning.
They weren't the monsters we were hoping for but they were smallies. And there were lots of them. Catch a couple, move twenty yards, catch a couple more. Little and frisky. Run and jump and run some more. We caught bass till it was time to get off the water and back to camp before it got dark. We quickly learned that three hours from the tent was too far. Better to have our site right on the water we wanted to fish. And that meant more and better gear. Already I knew we were coming back next year.