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It has almost become a habit to get up halfway early on Saturday and head for Mark Twain Lake with the family and then the next day after church we do the same thing.
We have an old pleasure boat in a boat slip at Indian Creek Marina, so it doesn’t take long for us to be out on the water once we pack the gear into the boat and untie. Within minutes, we are cruising the lake and enjoying the day. This has been our habit for the last four weekends, as well as a day or two tossed in during the week for good measure.
Our recreational boating used to be on the Mississippi River, but it seems now days every time someone in Iowa flushes their stool the river gets up and picks up a lot of logs and trash off the shoreline then the river gets too big for its banks. The lake is a lot of fun and the drive isn’t all that far, and I only have to trailer the boat at the beginning of the boating season and when we bring it home in the fall.
Going to the lake is a great time for the family and we enjoy every aspect of it. It is fun to see the many, and I mean many boats, as you see everything from kayaks to houseboats. We enjoy tubing and my grandson enjoys it so much that he never signals us that he has had enough and the only way to get him off the tube is to simply stop and tell him his time is up!
The lake is 18,000 acres in size and there is always an empty cove you can motor into and drop anchor and swim or enjoy a lunch.
There always seems to be a number of bass boats high tailing it across the lake and I’m sure that there are a number of small bass tournaments going on all the time. Well, two weeks ago when we were swimming a bass boat pulled up at the edge of our cove and began casting like crazy and eventually one of the fishermen hooked into a bass and boat it alongside the boat and his buddy netted it and they tossed it in the live well. Aside from a lot of bluegill getting caught at the marina it was the first bass I had ever seen caught at the lake. When I mentioned that it was the first bass I had seen caught at the lake my daughter asked, “So, Dad, why don’t you ever fish when we come down to the lake?”
I mentioned that the first thing I noticed about all the bass boats was there weren’t a lot of swimmers in the water alongside the boats or a tube tied on the stern of the boat. Our time on the lake is a family time and I’m not being some kind of saint or anything like that when I said that I get a lot of pleasure out of just seeing the family enjoying the boat. I also told them the story about a guy my age who walked over while I was fueling the boat and complimented me on how good of shape my old boat was in. I replied that I had nothing to do with that as the previous owner had taken care of it very well.
The next question the guy asked me was, “How did you talk your wife into letting you buy a pleasure boat when you already had a jon boat?”
My response was that I started looking at motorcycles and she said the “Family” would get more enjoyment out of a boat. He laughed and said…”I’ll have to start looking at motorcycles!” But the wife was right, the family does enjoy the boat and they certainly do not need me in the boat telling them to keep the noise down while I’m trying to catch fish. Somehow that sounds as if I’d be the only one having fun.
My daughter said that perhaps we could come back down on Monday and I could fish as much as I wanted. But rather than do that, I tossed a fishing pole and a small tackle box with some spinner baits and some rubber worms in the bed of the truck and after church we headed back to the lake. When we unloaded the gear the family saw the fishing pole and I said that while we were eating a snack on the water I might make 30 casts. I might even make those same 30 casts if they would allow me the time when we pulled back into a cove we had discovered the day before.
The lake had been up a foot or so from the recent rain and had raised enough that it had gotten backed up into some cover in this cove. We pulled back into the cove and watching the depth finder when it got to around 11 feet I killed the motor and we tossed out the anchor. I had stopped within casting distance of the north shore and after 30 cast and perhaps a few more I quit fishing and we hopped over board and swam for the next hour or so. This was followed by a little snacking and while everyone was still relaxing we pulled anchor and went a little deeper back into the cove.
The only thing I knew about the lake was that there were a lot of crappie and panfish to be had, if you could find them. There are also bass, but they receive a great deal of fishing pressure and can be difficult to catch at times. The depth finder read about 9 feet and there was a lot more cover that I could reach. Cover included a couple dead stumps, a few willow trees, as well as just rocks along the shore line. I had made a promise to limit my casts again as it was beginning to warm up and everyone was ready to burn some fuel and cool off.
I had a red and yellow spinner bait tied on my Billy Westmoreland rod. My reason for choosing it aside from it being my favorite combo with a Mitchell 308C reel is that it is a short rod (Only a little over 5 foot) and it fits out of the way in cargo bay in the floor of the boat. I had on the reel 12# low – viz green Berkley Trilene XT Extra Tough monofilament line, so I wasn’t too concerned about working the cover. There was a small willow in about four foot of water and I cast directly over it on my 8th or 9th cast. As the spinner went through the top of the tree, there was a small explosion and the family never heard it, but as my line begin cutting through the water I knew that I had my first Mark Twain Lake bass. I didn’t say anything, but someone on the bow of the boat looked back and said, “Dad’s got a fish on.” The fish was not a monster, but put up a spirited fight and I brought it in. I was very happy to see it was a little over two pounds, but very chunky and thick and just a great looking healthy bass.
To say I was thrilled was a huge understatement and since I had been successful in what I had set out to do, I put the rod away and we began a long and enjoyable boat ride.