Every time I put the boat on the trailer after a day on the lake, I have a sense that I left a little bit undone out there.
Call it unfinished business. You know, like when you leave the job knowing you could have done a thing or two more. Or when you put the mower in the garage but saved the edging for tomorrow. Or when you’ve painted the walls of the spare room but left the molding for another day.
Unfinished business is the byproduct of my days on the rivers and lakes here in Northeast Ohio and Western Pennsylvania.
Regardless of the level of success at Mosquito or the Ohio River or Shenango, I know I could have squeezed in some extra effort and caught more fish or explored more water. I could have made better decisions, tried different lures or experimented with techniques that I have not mastered.
I was thinking back recently to the last two hours of the recent Muransky Companies Bass Classic. I team with Ted Suffolk of Canfield every year for the tournament that benefits the United Way of Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley. It’s a fun event on Aqua Ohio’s bass-filled Evans and Pine lakes.
Ted and I adjusted our gameplan around mid-morning after boating just one keeper largemouth. We turned our attention to the lush spread of aquatic vegetation on Pine Lake’s north end and armed ourselves with long rods, strong line and soft plastic creature baits to pitch into the numerous holes in the weeds.
Within 30 minutes after switching gears, we had our five-bass limit swimming in the Bass Cat’s livewell.
Over the next couple of hours, we culled up to a respectable 17.26 pounds and nailed a fifth-place finish.
We felt great about our decision to adjust our approach and about hauling aboard two bass topping four pounds. We didn’t win, but we did manage to finish in the money.
I reflected back on our day as I backed the boat trailer into the garage and cleared the decks of tattered baits and dried sprigs of Pine lake’s greenery. The day was fun and successful, yes. But that familiar sense settled over me.
We had some unfinished business.
We should have switched from Plan A to Plan B an hour before we finally did so.
I could have been stealthier in boat control while we maneuvered to pitch to the weed patches. Perhaps we could have gained a few more bites from bigger bass.
And I’d made a reckless decision on a bass of between five and six pounds that bit close to the boat. I battled the fish in thick grass on a short line and felt my best chance of keeping it from digging back into the weeds was to “boat flip” the beast over the Bass Cat’s gunwale. As I heaved the bass out of the water, it thrashed and fell back where it disappeared with a flip of its wide tail.
One of the sure things about fishing is that no trip is perfect. I’ve become an expert at leaving unfinished business out on the water. I’ve got scores to settle on Berlin, Milton, Pymatuning, Lake Erie, the Ohio River and a bunch of other local waters.
And so it is. I’ve got some unfinished business with the bass around Youngstown and Warren and I can’t wait to get back at it.
Jack Wollitz’s book, “The Common Angler,” explores the fun stuff that makes fishing a passion for so many people. He appreciates emails from readers. Send a note to email@example.com.
Read More: Local angler has unfinished business on area waters