Posted: Tuesday, December 05, 2006



My last outdoors story I wrote about my trip to Texas where I was planning on going alligator gar fishing only to be told that it was not going to be possible because the weather was too cold. I arrived in Texas and found the weather was in the low 80’s which hardly seemed too cold to go fishing.

This trip was more then just a fishing trip as it also was the first time I ever went on a trip of any kind with just my wife Taby. I have hunted or fished all over the lower 48 and parts of Canada besides Alaska. Hunting and fishing have long been my passion in life and the number one thing I do on my free time.

Living in Alaska has a few draw backs as traveling to the lower 48 and visiting relatives becomes rather difficult besides being very expensive at times. The last time I was in Texas was at least 15 years ago and yet I must admit, Texas is not my favorite place in the U.S. to go. This time I decided I would just sort of tag along as my wife visited her relatives through out Texas. For the first time in my life just doing whatever came up instead of planning each day to include either hunting or fishing. In fact I never even brought along a gun or a fishing pole!

Our travels took us all over the Lone Star state and I simply tagged along not getting excited about the time or where our travels would take us next. I really enjoyed the Hill Country area and went to the ranch that was owned by her Uncle Perry Bushong. It was there that we saw wild turkeys, raccoon, and a whole lot of whitetailed deer. They also have axis deer but the cold (28 to 36 degree) windy weather prevented us from seeing them there. It was a great time visiting the ranch; I had a lot of questions about hunting deer and pigs in Texas and they had the answers to my many questions.

On Saturday December 3, I found myself with my father-in law Richard Wagner as he was once again taking me to another little pond in the middle of a pasture. We stopped on the way and picked up some minnows and a couple dozen night crawlers from a bait shop. We arrived at the small weedy lake and I opened the electric wire gate as Richard drove through into the pasture amongst the beef cattle. We parked the car beside the lake and began fishing.

Richard was fishing with live minnows and a bobber set at about 2 feet. I tried several artificial lures and another pole with a night crawler and also a bobber set at 2 feet. It was rather cool that morning and the wind made it a little cold. The fishing was rather slow as we worked ourselves around the lake searching for Mr. Largemouth Bass. We caught several small bass as we moved towards the over flow pipe on the Lake. I gave up using anything except minnows or worms because of all the weeds in the small lake. Once the sun came out and the weather started to warm up the fish were biting really good. We were filling our stringer with 10 to 12 inch bass and catching a lot of them.

I sat down and thought how neat this was to be fishing several thousand miles from home and doing something I used to do as a kid, fishing for bass with a bobber and live bait. I thought about the many times I spent fishing with small children in my life and what a wonderful experience it has been for me. I also thought about Richard and what a dedicated effort this man has made throughout his life in taking people of all ages out fishing. On his wall there is a picture of him and Grandson Daniel Mohnke with a 6 LB bass. I also know how hard he has tried to not only get to know me through the years but also the special effort he has made to take me fishing with him. Living over 5000 miles away makes this a very difficult job.

This day was a special day for me as I watched 77 year old Richard Wagner fish and heard the ooh’s and ahh’s and excitement generated each time he caught a fish. I wondered if I would still possess the love of fishing myself at age 77. There were no children with us that day, which also meant very little noise and at times only the soft breeze that was making a slight ripple on the small lake could be heard.

I was sitting down relaxing and enjoying life as I watched my bobber when I heard Richard let out an unusual oooh.... I glanced over at him and watched the old pole that had once belonged to his father bend over towards the lake and saw line peeling out of the reel. I hollered “Richard do you need help?” He replied calmly “No I don’t think so.” I watched intently as he battled a fish I knew was considerably larger then any we had caught that day. The fish surfaced briefly and I knew it was time for me to reel in and go help him land his fish. We talked over our strategy and decided he needed to move on the other side of the over flow pipe and hopefully away from the stick that was sticking out of the water in front of him. After several minutes he had the fish near shore but also in the thick weeds. I noticed the hook was barely in the fish and we did not have a landing net! I decided if the hook came out I would try to jump on the fish and hopefully wrestle him to shore. The huge bass turned sideways briefly and I stepped into the lake and swatted the fish up on shore like a grizzly would do to a salmon. The hook came out while the fish was airborn! The oohs and ahh’s were greatly amplified now as there at the feet of Pastor Wagner was a 25 inch 10 LB. Large mouth bass, the biggest he has ever caught! We drove home with great excitement as this was also the biggest bass I ever saw caught and in one of the most unlikely places. See you next week!

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