Let’s travel back in time about 20 years. It was the spring of the year and fishing fever had set in on the true anglers of Trigg County. I had the pleasure of teaching with Mr. Terry Shelton at Trigg County Middle School for the last few years of his career as an educator. Terry and I shared a passion for fishing.
One day, I began to tell Terry about some of the ponds that I frequented in Trigg and surrounding counties. Within minutes we were making plans to try one of them out one day after school.
The day of our planned fishing trip came around quickly. It was a beautiful day in every sense. The sun shone brilliantly in a crystal clear sky and the temperature was in the low-to-mid 70s. You couldn’t ask for anything else, except maybe to catch a few fish and leave with a good story to tell. Man oh man were we ever blessed with the latter. Let me explain.
Terry and I were in my two-man boat equipped with only a small trolling motor. We were cruising around an approximately seven-acre lake in an adjacent county. The blue water was adorned with lilly pads in certain areas. Other sections were clear to fish. Terry, being the excellent angler he is, was catching some bass, and I lucked into a few also. It wasn’t too long before Terry discovered a bluegill bed, and we began catching them on four-pound test line. It was at about that time that the stars of this story made their appearance.
Terry and I heard a commotion at the far end of the lake or pond, whatever you want to call it. We looked that way and saw two fellows carrying a John Boat and approaching the water. We watched from afar as the two really big guys, possibly the inspiration for the Biggest Loser show, launched their boat.
As we fished, we couldn’t help but keep track of the new arrivals. First of all, their boat seemed to be a part of Noah’s fleet. It was old and leaky looking. It was definitely not sea worthy and barely pond worthy. Secondly, from a hundred yards away, we could see that the guy in the front of the boat was using a spinner bait a foot long. His rod doubled up every time he reeled it in.
Terry and I made the astute prediction that he would never catch anything on that. Each time his spinner hit the water it sounded like the fourth of July.
Then it happened! We heard the explosion and saw the water churn. The guy had hooked Moby Dick.
For the next 10 minutes, we witnessed the fiercest fight ever waged between man and pond fish. Finally, as we were about 75 yards away, the man reached down and hoisted the biggest bass I have ever seen out of the water.
Now, this story is just getting interesting.
As we rounded a bend, we momentarily lost sight of the two fellows and their monster bass. When they came into view again, the man up front was slumped over the side of the boat as he attempted to fish. We observed him fishing with this odd posture for some time. He even seemed to have one arm hanging down in the water.
As we continued to watch while we fished, we witnessed the unthinkable. The slumped man either dove or fell out of the boat, causing the pond version of a tsunami. He flailed crazily about in the water for about three minutes. Then he started to try to get back in the boat.
Terry and I had come to within 50 yards by this time. We watched the guy in the back of the boat try to pull his partner back into the boat. It was an exercise in futility as they about sank the boat several times.
Finally, near the point of exhaustion the wet fishermen made his way back into the boat.
Once we realized they were safe, I have never witnessed two people laughing as hard as Terry and I laughed. But our curiosity was killing us. We had to know! Slowly we made up the distance between the two boats. When we got to our fellow fishermen, we managed to stop laughing long enough to say, “Man, that looked like a big fish you guys had, what happened?”
The story those good ole boys told should go somewhere in the fishing hall fame. It went like this. “Well, I hooked a really big bass on my favorite spinner. I got it in and it must have weighed pert near 10 pounds. We didn’t bring a cooler or stringer or nothing, so I just wrapped fishing line through its mouth several times and tied it around my arm. (Hence the slumped over fisherman) Dang if that fish didn’t somehow pull loose and get away, line and all. I went in after him but couldn’t catch him. Then my Buddy here almost couldn’t get me back in the boat.”
Terry and I expressed our condolences about the one that got away and quickly rounded another bend in the pond. It was there that we exploded with laughter. We also realized that we had witnessed one of the funniest and greatest fishing stories of all time.
To this day, when I see Terry Shelton we usually burst out with a laugh or two over that this shared memory. We can only thank the two unknown fishermen for tale.
By the way, Terry, I think you owe me a fishing trip. No telling what we might run into. Hey, I know a good pond..........
OT: This story was true.
Double OT: Rick Woods story coming.
Triple OT: Trigg County’s Greatest Athletic Families Coming soon to a paper near you. As a matter of fact, this one.
Enthusiasm Makes the Difference Mike Wright is the head coach of boys basketball and cross country at Trigg County High School. Emails concerning Coach’s Corner can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.