“Life, so they say, is but a game and we let it slip away.”
We May Never Pass This Way Again – Seals & Crofts (1973)
End of the line with a gaunt bass from a dying Knox County, IL public strip pit – July 30, 2017
Back in 2006 I wandered well of the beaten path at some public strip mines and found a few bass in a secluded lake partially surrounded by a grove of locust trees. Since it didn’t have a name on a map, I christened it Locust Lake.
For the next several years I made a handful of visits and even managed to portage a boat into the spot on a couple occasions. It was a decent fishing hole in terms of numbers and worth the effort to reach. However, I could never find any heavy bass that I suspected called it home. Closest I got was a big bite that busted off my Mann’s Baby 1- crankbait one afternoon but I never got a look at the fish. But I’ve done this long enough to know that not only was it a good fish but also that it could be as big as the story I chose to tell.
Fast forward to the summer of 2017 and I finally got my look at what might have been on my line, actually several examples. All floating on the surface as I crested the rise that effectively hides the lake. The collection of dead fish, including several bass in the four pound range, was an unfortunate explanation for the foul stench that permeated the air during my approach.
Having put forth the effort to haul in my little boat, I decided to give it a go for old time’s sake to see if I could find any survivors. The picture above from the Blog Banner was one of three bass that came aboard in a couple hours of rowing around the rotting fishing hole. It measured 17.5” and tipped the scales at a sickly weight of only 1-13. I was surprised it even had enough left in the tank to bite and I remember at the time thinking that I didn’t really even want to lip it as it looked almost infectious.
Truly a sad end to the remote body of water and even more disheartening when observing those quality floating bass on its surface. I guess at least it confirmed my suspicions of some decent fish. Sure wish they would have been on the end of my line instead of at the end of the line. Talk to you later. Troy