(Fish Tales is a narration or essay written by club members or guests that relate to their experiences fishing in Still Waters bass tournaments.)

Lake Leon -- December 2003 Tournament
by Richard Rhodes

The December tournament ended the year as the February Nasworthy tournament began -- cold! The weather leading up to the December 6th Saturday had been unseasonably warm, but a cold front blew through this part of the state in the middle of the week and the morning low when we left Abilene was 19 degrees. My father was fishing with me and we bundled up as warm as we could as we made our way toward the lake. The actual starting time for the tournament to begin was before the predawn light would illuminate the surface of the lake. I wasn't in any hurry to motor out into the stump filled creek from the ramp until I could see the path that I would need to navigate. I really didn't know what to expect fishing at this time of the year for this was a new experience for me. To be honest, I probably would be at home in bed if it were not for this being the last tournament of the year.

We motored away from the ramp and made our way up the creek, looking for structure that might hold fish. I knew that we would have to fish as slowly as we could in the creek. I began dropping a blueflecked worm down by the stumps and limbs of trees. Although the lake water was cold, it was not nearly as cold as the air above it. Fortunately the wind was calm and my overalls and fishing gloves provided warmth that was badly needed to allow us to enjoy the morning fishing, but every few casts I had to dip my rod into the warmer waters of the lake to melt the frozen ice that clogged the eyelets on the rod.

I am truly amazed at the beauty of the lake on this late fall morning as the color of the trees and rising fog combine for a picture that lingers in the mind for a long time. I feel sorry for folks who become so busy that they can't sit back and enjoy the simple beauty that God surrounds us with at all times of the year. This picturesque creek with the rising fog on the water and the colors of the hills made the fishing trip worth the early morning rise and cold temperatures even if no fish were caught.

As the minutes and hours ticked away with no strikes from the bass, we moved out of the stump filled creek into the main body of the lake. I began to look for coves and points of land that might hold bass. I didn't know whether to fish the deeper water or to stick to fishing brush, stumps, and weeds that grew near the shore. We motored up to a point of land and began fishing in about 4 to 6 feet of water. My father had a strike and hooked a small bass. This at least was the beginning of some pattern that maybe would hold. We fished the structure on the point and continued fishing around the corner into a small cove, looking for brush and cover in three to six feet of water. It wasn't long before I, too had a strike and landed a small bass. A small dock floated out in the water as I tossed my worm back underneath the extension walkway to a small bush. I felt an ever slight bump on my line as I dropped my rod tip to allow the bass to take the worm into his mouth. I reeled up the slack and then set the hook. The bass was bigger than what I previously had hooked but when I brought the fish over the side of my boat, he appeared to be a little short. I got out my golden rule and measured the fish to make sure -- it was a half inch short. There was no way the bass could be stretched or turned to reach the 14 inch minimum that was required. I tossed him back over the side of the boat.

I caught a couple more small bass as the temperature had warmed to at least a tolerable degree in the late morning air. We began fishing a flat with some stickups in about two to three feet of water. I was frustrated that I hadn't caught anything to weigh. I began to think, "if I could only catch one fish to weigh -- just one..." Well, it wasn't five minutes before I made a long cast in the middle of some small salt cedars. I felt a thump and then saw the line begin to move. I took up the slack and then set the hook as hard as I could with the long distance cast. I knew as soon as I hooked the fish that this one would be large enough to weigh. The fish went immediately to the nearest bush and tried to entangle the fishing line around the trunk and limbs it found there. I knew better than to try to pull it free from the small bush. I quickly motored to the bush that was in about two to three feet of water and began to untangle the fish. I finally hoisted the fish over the side and placed him into my live well. I continued to fish again and began to think -- "oh, if only I could catch one more fish to go with the last one that I had caught."

How our old human nature changes our desires and whims. Earlier in the day I was wishing for just "one fish that I could weigh." Now that I had caught that one fish, I wasn't satisfied any more. I wanted more, I wanted another one --- I thought about the many blessing that the Lord has given me -- "a great family, a good job, a home -- real security in being one of his own." -- and I felt ashamed that from time to time I allowed myself to place higher value on things of this world than what I had been given. I would want more -- a bigger salary, a bigger house, a bigger boat, a new truck. I had allowed my old human nature to come to the surface because once I had gotten what I thought was important, I was no longer satisfied with that but wanted more.

The Lord then shows me how much he has blessed me and I know that all I have, He has given to me. He knows me better than I know myself; for, he has not given me more than I can handle. As Christians we diminish our spiritual effectiveness and witness by allowing our old human nature to bring dissatisfaction in our lives by placing a higher value on material things than what really has a lasting value. If we allow "material things" to be the utmost focus of our life, we are doomed to a life of unhappiness. Only in Christ when our focus is upon Him, nothing can be bigger or better than He is. There is no greener pasture than He. The "things" of this world diminish in comparison and do not seem important at all. Real happiness and satisfaction exist only in knowing Jesus Christ in a personal relationship. That relationship brings about true happiness and real satisfaction when the world about us wants to tell us differently.



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