In the fall of 2019, shortly after the official launch of Wildlife Enthusiast Magazine, I rewarded myself by going bass fishing on Lake Fork, just a few short miles from the hobby ranch where my wife and I live in East Texas. Before launching my boat, I thought I would try a few casts from the dock to see if I could land a fish or two before heading out on the lake for the day. After about 30 minutes, the only bites I had gotten were nibbles, which told me that the fish in the immediate area were so small they couldn’t get their mouths around my lure (or that I was just rusty).
At first, I didn’t pay a whole lot of attention to Kristi, whose name I would learn later. As she and her boat grew closer to the dock, I became intrigued by how Kristi quickly and precisely moved about on the water in “stealth mode,” using the remote foot control that was wirelessly connected to the trolling motor on the bow of her boat. I noticed she had several fishing rods laid out on the fore and aft decks, with what appeared to be a different lure attached to each one. This gal sure look prepared!
I watched Kristi’s effortless casting method—a flick of the wrist that placed her lure just where she wanted it almost every time. She really knew how to make her lure dance! But playing the part is one thing; actually catching something is another.
As Kristi moved closer to the dock, I decided it was time to leave. She could have that empty hole I’d been fishing for the past 30 minutes. With my rod in one hand and tackle box in the other, I was just stepping off the dock to head for my boat when I heard Kristi’s voice. “Gotcha!” I stopped and looked back over my shoulder to see her rod tip jiggling as she quickly reeled in a nice sunfish.
Cast after cast brought in more sunfish. At this point, Kristi had my full attention, even though the little voice in the back of my mind was saying, “What a piece of luck!”
When Kristi finally reeled in an empty line, she had moved close enough to the dock that I heard her mutter to herself, “So that’s how it’s gonna be, eh? The buy guy runs off the little guys.” Curious, I watched as Kristi quickly switched to a heavier, longer rod with a larger lure.
Moments after the next cast, the rod tip dove straight downward, almost touching the surface of the water. This was no sunfish, that’s for sure! Kristi jerked her rod with just the right amount of tension to set the hook and then began reeling. After the fish passed under the boat a couple of times, Kristi brought it to the surface, and wow! This was a nice largemouth bass, at least three or four pounds!
That little voice in my head was no longer mouthing off about luck. This woman obviously knew what she was doing. No sooner than the bass had been placed into the boat’s livewell than I watched Kristi’s lure hit the water again. This time, the rod tip actually did touch the water when it bent down, as the strike was fierce!
I could tell by the look on her face that Kristi knew she had hooked something special. Carefully, she used her foot-controlled trolling motor to move her rig out to deeper water, while at the same time masterfully reeling and pulling. As her catch swam deeper under the boat, I could hear Kristi say, “Oh, so you wanna play, huh?”
Finally, Kristi was able to wrangle the fish out from under the boat. She then let her prey run in a series of lateral movements, slowly pulling it closer. After what seemed an eternity, the fish broke the surface, and I gasped. This was no three or four-pounder. It was what bass anglers call a “hawg!”
I watched, enthralled, as Kristi landed the hawg, deftly removed the hook from its gaping mouth, and held the massive fish up to the sky. She then turned and looked at me, grinned broadly, and triumphantly stated, “And on my 30th birthday!”
Within a few seconds, Kristi had the monster bass on her scale. Almost eight pounds! She turned and asked if I would take a picture with her cell phone, and I was more than happy to oblige.
I haven’t seen Kristi since that day, but every time I go fishing on Lake Fork, I fondly recall that experience. I think I enjoyed it even more than she did!
~By Kent Huffman
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Kent Huffman is the Editor-in-Chief for Wildlife Enthusiast Magazine. Kent is an avid fisherman, hunter, and wildlife conservationist. He also serves his clients as a fractional Chief Marketing Officer, specializing in building successful brands, creating unique customer experiences, constructing proprietary “marketing machines,” and driving profitable growth. Kent has won numerous awards and honors from Forbes, Adweek, CEO World Magazine, Brand Quarterly Magazine, Social Media Marketing Magazine, the CMO Club, TCU’s Neeley School of Business, and the World Marketing Congress for his accomplishments as a marketer.