The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO


September 1, 2013

Dablemont: Lightning-quick reflexes helped land this lunker

I caught a big bass this past week in one of my favorite places.

He was a hefty, hard fighting largemouth, which I admired and released. He seemed to be very appreciative as he swum away.

A smaller fish might have swum away, but all the big fish I ever remember never swam off, they all swum off. Like a sycamore tree three feet in diameter doesn’t splash when it hits the water. It goes KA-WHOOM, and echoes across the river bottom like meteor crashing into a high mountain. It is a matter of accuracy in description, proper English be darned.

Anyhow, it was 3 in the afternoon, and somewhere around 92 degrees if you weren’t in the shade. I’d jump in and get good and wet about every 30 minutes or so. Fishing wasn’t good at all, you could tell the bass were back in under logs and brush, probably gorged with the shad and fanning each other with their tails to combat the heat.

I caught a half-dozen bass that weren’t even teen-agers yet, but it doesn’t matter. I was out there to enjoy the ambiance and peace of a natural setting, and I am about sick of eating fish anyway.

Thankfully, I have never gotten sick of catching them. Finally in a flash, in an unsuspecting second during which I was just watching that lure splashing around on the surface, there was the swirl of water around it and beneath it. The lure was gone, with a large yellow-green side appearing and disappearing so quickly my lightning quick reflexes were left unaware of the happenings, like a half-grown pullet snatched by a chicken hawk.

Well, that bass wasn’t taking my rod and reel with him, so I reared back on it. The hook was large, the line strong. My rod bent in a graceful, throbbing arc with the weight of his struggle. But, to make a short story a little longer, he finally was confronted with his defeat, and lifted aboard soon to be the object of one more photo. I took out a board, and put the fish on it, then found a tape measure in my tackle box. It measured 30 inches in length… the board did, I mean.

The fish was eight inches shorter than the board. That’s a real lunker. You can see his picture on my website, and a photo or two of pretty leaves and damsel flies communing on a floating leaf.

Remember that grizzled old outdoorsmen like me do not affiliate themselves with a computer. I have ladies who work with me who take care of that website, and a face book page for Lightnin’ Ridge Publishing Company of which I am the Chief CEO. That allows me to spend more time outdoors, where I continue to try to catch or shoot something to write about. It isn’t an easy thing to do. But it is harder, I suppose, to pass this kind of column off as real writing, but stay tuned to this paper for more exciting outdoor adventure!

Costly fires

Now it is time to get serious.

The fires burning out west this summer may be the worst in history, at least in the days since the American Indian. I am not sure what those early Americans dealt with, but it was never like what is happening now. Those western fires are horrible in the destruction of wildlife and timber, and streams that will take decades to recover.

Yosemite National Park may never be the same in the wake of fires burning there now. I heard somewhere that the cost of these fires this year already is more than fires have cost this nation ever, into the billions of dollars.

Thankfully, the Ozarks has never had conditions dry enough for crown fires, which travel through the upper branches of trees, like they do out west. But we came close to having those kinds of conditions last year, for the first time I can remember.

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