It’s Bass vs. snook in this lat­est fish­er­man’s tale

The Bradenton Herald (Sunday) - - Sports -

More than a decade ago, I spent many late win­ter nights walk­ing the docks of Eck­erd Col­lege. While many of my col­leagues were out chas­ing par­ties or girls, I was chas­ing some­thing else with a few friends.

We would get a few dozen large shrimp and walk the water­front docks slowly sink­ing them in the dim shad­ows. Big snook were in the deep canal seek­ing warmth on cold nights. As our shrimp slowly fell be­low our feet un­der the docks, it took only sec­onds to turn a big snook that made a meal of our of­fer­ings.

The smart ones made quick runs, weav­ing in and out of the pil­ings and leav­ing us with heart­break more of­ten than not.

Liv­ing on a canal, Lee Bass has also no­ticed big snook fre­quent­ing his dock re­cently on cold nights. With three green deep glow lights un­der­wa­ter, bait of­ten cir­cles the light while preda­tors hang out in the shad­ows.

On a re­cent night, Bass de­cided to take his shot at one of the snook he saw lurk­ing. Merely feet from his back­door, he of­ten goes out to ob­serve na­ture and fishes with buck­tail jigs, crys­tal min­nows or X-Raps.

“I nor­mally fish from the sea­wall, and I saw a big snook stick­ing out from the dock,” Bass said. “I threw my lure past him and it caught his at­ten­tion. I stopped it in front, then cranked, and he got it.”

When hooked, the story Bass told re­minded me of my days at Eck­erd Col­lege.

“Right as I hooked it, I fig­ured I was go­ing to get bro­ken,” Bass said. “He ran around the un­der­side of the front left pil­ing. I was hung up, but the fish was stay­ing out in the chan­nel.”

Bass grabbed his phone and called his girl­friend who was in­side, ask­ing her to get a flash­light and a net.

“I loos­ened up the drag and kept feed­ing the fish line,” Bass con­tin­ued. “I had just got a new reel, a Stella, for Christ­mas. I thought the only way I’m get­ting this fish is if I dunk my reel and go around the pil­ing with the rod.”

Go­ing down to his stom­ach, Bass reached the rod around the pil­ing to grab it from the other side. When he pulled it up the fish was free, but only for a mo­ment.

“It then made a hard right turn and went around a pil­ing be­hind my boat,” Bass said. “I then jumped on the boat and go around to get him free again.

“Then it started to run to­ward our neigh­bor’s house, but I got him turned and fi­nally see him. He did a jump like the big ones do where the head barely came out of the water. That’s when he darted be­tween my legs and went around an­other pil­ing so I had to put the rod back un­der­wa­ter to get it free again.”

Bass had seen the big snook, but it wasn’t sub­dued yet.

“The line then wrapped around my tip when I went un­der the dock again and I had to un­wrap it,” Bass said. “Fi­nally, the fish went by the small dock and my girl­friend was able to net it.”

The fight, which took about 15 min­utes, forced Bass to drop his rod un­der pil­ings four times. The snook was some­where around 38 inches.

“I only had one of the fold­able 36-inch rulers, and it was well past that,” Bass said. “It might have been big­ger than 38!”

And yes, Bass did take his reel apart to get it cleaned af­ter its salt­wa­ter bath.

“My tackle store friends thought I was crazy when I told them what I did.”

Cour­tesy of Lee Bass

Lee Bass shows off the snook he caught fish­ing off his dock re­cently. He es­ti­mated it at about 38 inches.

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