Once upon a time, one of my buddies showed up late one fall night at Knox College with a fish story. Well, thirty one years later “Hack” is back as the first ever guest blogger here on the website. Enjoy.
A 1980s action shot of my longtime friend and fishing buddy, Hack.
Hack’s Big Bass Story
My name is Hack. I have a big bass story to tell.
I always think of myself as a BASS fisherman. Although I’ve been unofficially retired for more than 20 years, I believe I can still get right back into the game. I look forward to reading Troy’s fishing exploits and blog entries every week. The time is now 2019. I have now lived in South Carolina for more than 16 years. There is a huge man-made lake in my backyard where multiple BASS tournaments have taken place. I kick myself for not taking advantage of Lake Hartwell every day.
My name is Hack. I was born and raised in Knoxville, Illinois. I have been a buddy of Troy’s since the early 80’s. I’m a Knox County born guy who spent my youth running around the Illinois Midwest area chasing largemouth BASS. Together, we spent many days carrying fishing gear to the best fishing holes that showed promise to deliver the biggest lunker. Typical targets included Lake Storey, Emstrom’s Pond, The Ponderosa, Green Oaks, strip mines, and various other water holes.
My name is Hack. My story begins with a typical 1988 fall Tuesday night in Knoxville. I’m a recent graduate of Knox College. I have a friend that lives at Oak Run. Oak Run has a Tuesday night Bass tournament. My friend that lives at Oak Run invites me to be his partner in the tournament. I’m All In!
The timeframe is September 1988. I have to be at work at Gates Rubber Company at 11:00 pm. The tourney begins around 5 pm on a Tuesday night. I arrive at my buddy’s house and we take off to meet the fellow competitors at the main dock. It’s a typical night. All is going to plan. I’ll fish. Have a couple beers. Head to work.
The tournament begins. Like every tourney night, we fish the good spots; tossing spinner baits against the docks. We let them drop and gradually reel them in. Life is good! Life is normal.
My name is Hack. This night is different. My partner and I have caught a couple keepers. We are comfortable enough to enjoy a couple of white cans while we fish. It’s getting dark and we only have an hour to go in the tournament. I cast a long side armed cast with my spinning reel that hits the float of a pontoon in its dock. The spinner bait drops. I feel a tug. I set the hook. The fight is on!
I’m fighting a big one. We both know it. My rod is doubled over and as the fish approaches the boat, the drama begins. The fish is going directly under the boat. I cannot move quick enough to keep the line from being trapped under the boat near the motor. I quickly stick my rod into the water and try to move to the front end of the boat. SNAP! My pole breaks.
My name is Hack. I’m ticked off. I just lost a big one! I throw my rod down to the floor of the boat and say a couple of my favorite cuss words. The pessimist in me is obvious.
My partner is an optimist. Thank God! He grabs my line and begins pulling. The fish is still connected to the hook. My rod is just broke. WOW! He yells at me to pick up my reel and he’ll be the rod. Sure enough, we land the fish. It is Huge!
I can’t believe we just caught a big bass with a broken pole. Time now to celebrate with a couple white cans as we head back to the weigh in. I’m sure we are winning some money tonight.
As we approach the docks, some of the other fishermen ask what all of the hollering was about that they heard. It wasn’t us. (wink, wink)
My partner in crime on this night decided that we would not bring our fish to the weigh-in until all others were done. We acted like we hadn’t caught anything at all.
The time was now upon us to show out. The totals were in except for the missing partner. He states that he is coming to the scales. There is my big fish along with the few other keepers in the bag. The crowd knew something was up. We didn’t win the total weight for the evening but we did win the biggest fish. Total earnings for the big fish was $120. A great night!
Now comes the tradition of the winners of the tourney sharing their prosperity with the other anglers. The team that won the total weight overall buys a round of drinks for all of the competitors at the local watering hole. The team that won the biggest fish overall buys a round of drinks for all of the competitors at the local watering hole.
My name is Hack. This is where the story of my Big Bass begins to be legendary.
I keep the 6 pound 4 ounce bass on ice to keep and have mounted. The round of beer that I owed to all of the participants quickly wiped out the bulk of my winnings. I split the balance of the remaining amount with my partner since he provided the boat. Oh, Snap! I forgot that the fish broke my pole. That’s another $50 bucks. This fish is going to cost me money.
I haven’t mentioned the cost to have the fish mounted. Oh man! This big bass is killing me.
By the time we’re done celebrating with the fellow fisherman, I realize that I do not have enough time to make it to work on time. I call in sick!
I find my way back to my buddies at Knox College to share the events of the evening knowing that they will provide me a shelter to hide while I miss a night of work.
The story of the fish is told. I’m a hero only in my own mind.
Guilt killed me as I should not have called out of work. The fish stayed in a deep freeze cooler for years before my brother paid to have it mounted for me as a Christmas gift.
When I finally received the mounted fish, I displayed it with pride in a house at Lake Bracken. The fish now resides with the one person who may appreciate it more than me. The lure that tricked it to bite still hangs from its mouth.
Likely not the actual lure but similar style and vintage from the 1980s
Still dig that tale having heard and told it just a few times over the years and even better direct from the source all these years later. Well done, Hack, and thanks for the contribution.
That bass hung on the wall of my house at Lake Bracken through the 90s and later made the move to several of my other residences over the next couple decades. However, by the time we made our last move from Galesburg to the Quad Cities, the bass had deteriorated to the point that it was time to say “Farewell.” When recruiting Hack to share his tale I informed him that the mount was no more. He responded, “No issues here with the retirement of the bass. He led an interesting life.”
And as the subject of a fish story, that bass continues to live on with a tale that could end up who knows where via a medium that essentially did not exist back in the day. Talk to you later. Troy