It Can’t Be Explained



My last blog post, as you might remember was about losing my grandfather, the stages of letting him go and how the simple act of fishing—being alone in one’s mind—made accepting his loss a much easier pill to swallow. Well, last week I had the chance to fish with his daughter and son (my aunt and uncle for those that don’t have a firm grasp on the workings of the old Family Elm.) I owe a huge chunk of my fishing abilities and obsession to my uncle Jon, someday I’ll post some of our stories from long ago, but to make it simple, he was the one who was always there to take me fishing and I don’t think I could find the appropriate words to state how thankful I am that he was there to do that.

My aunt Betsy is only one year older than I am, so we were raised more like brother and sister. She would come and “babysit” my brothers and I after school, my mom worked the 3 to 11 shift at a local nursing home and my dad usually came home around 6:30. I would describe Bets’ and someone who is up for anything—you can’t gross her out, you don’t have to mince your words and you cannot knock this girl down; she also loves to fish. She is as determined a fisherman (woman) as you’ll find. This past spring she wanted to start fishing the bass pond near her house as soon as the ice broke up. She called and asked me what to use, I recommended jerkbaits and gave a detailed description of the way I have had my best luck using them in cold water. I don’t think it was more than a week before she sent me a pic of a fish that looked to be pushing 5 pounds caught on a jerkbait. I think they call that a ‘quick study’.


Last week the two of them fished the Canal and invited me along to lend some insight into where to go and what to throw. Jon had caught many stripers from the surf and Canal, but Betsy’s only stripers had been caught from a boat—that needed to change.

As the sun began to illuminate the world around us, we made the switch to topwater plugs, and the deathly slow nature of the fishing we’d experienced in darkness bled over into the first hour of daylight. I assured them that when the tide began to move we’d see at least some action. To my delight, I hooked up right as the current began to roll, but then it fell quiet again. I watched my two companions fade from alert casters to ‘going through the motions,’ who could blame them? Then, like a smoke alarm at midnight, Betsy was jolted awake by a hard hit in close to shore. It wasn’t a giant but she was on the board with a 24-inch schoolie. The adrenalin rush was apparent when I landed the fish and placed it into her shaking hands.

Everyone was back on high alert now, but most of the visible action was on the other side of the Canal! One of the schools came out to just about the edge of my casting range and I fired a cast to try and intercept them; I fell short. As I was working my plug in a small pod of bass erupted about halfway between me and my plug. I looked to my left and pointed to the breaking fish, Betsy was on it! She whipped a perfect cast about four feet ahead of the breaks and began working that 2-ounce Guppy with everything she had. The plug was assaulted within seconds! This fish put a much better battle on and when she had it close I could see panic was starting to control the situation. She was frantically trying to figure out how to get this fish up on the shore. She was grabbing her rod at the first guide, high-sticking… I said, “just back up.” She did and I was able to grab the fish. This fish was no Canal beast either, a respectable 33-incher weighing in at 13 pounds. After we shot a few quick photos and released the fish, Betsy turned to me and said, “I can see why you love this!”

We’re already planning another trip in June.

She has no idea what she’s in for.

I think Gramp was smiling that day.

6 comments on “It Can’t Be Explained

  1. Awesome John

    hey Z great story thats for sharing..
    Your Aunt Betsy is a chip off the old block, Please tell her we all send her our congratulations,
    and welcome her to to wonderful obsession that is our beloved sport.
    High fives to your lovey Aunty.. God Bless and stay well.


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