- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 27, 2008


In meteorological terms, a soft mist apparently means a rip-snorting downpour — because two of us recently sat in the middle of monsoon rains while local weather forecasters continued to insist all we’d see and feel would be a bit of a mist, nothing worse.

Horse hockey! What planet do these people broadcast from?

It didn’t matter, though, because any bass fisherman worth two plastic worms wouldn’t leave home without a decent rain suit.

I usually wear a hooded rain jacket and waterproof (well, almost waterproof) pants. My partner, the river guide Dale Knupp, owns an outrageously priced GoreTex rain suit that cost about $400. In addition, he wears a rain mask when he drives his powerful bass boat up and down the Potomac or Rappahannock and any other body of water. The mask does not allow any rainwater to sneak past the sides of his face, which is something I can’t say for my outfit.

When Dale wears the face shield he definitely appears to be from the Dark Side, kind of Darth Vader-like. He looks sinister through the safety glass — until he smiles. Then he’s a happy Bugs Bunny.

Rain or no rain, we sat inside a large cove, firing lipless rattle baits toward the shore, retrieving them in erratic speeds — slow one minute, fast the next.

A bald eagle sat high up in a dead Virginia pine, oblivious to our presence, but with the rain pelting his suit of feathers, he didn’t look nearly as regal and proud as his breed normally demands.

Right around the time I hooked a 3-pound bass on a red rattle lure in shallow water, a nearby great blue heron speared a small white perch. We were both quite satisfied with our good fortune.

Next, Dale nailed a juvenile bass with a Baby 1-Minus lure. The bass was waiting in ambush, hoping for unsuspecting minnows or baby perch to happen past the predator’s sunken log. It saw the little crankbait and struck but couldn’t make a meal from the plastic fake that had all the appearances of a fat baitfish.

The red rattle lure found another bass, but it was so young it really should not yet have been away from its mother.

With the rain cascading from our fishing caps’ bills and water accumulating in the bottom of the carpeted boat, Dale and I tried stopped fishing long enough to solve all the world’s truly important problems.

We agreed that not one of the presidential candidates — not Obama and Clinton, nor McCain — would do anything about the dearth of Chesapeake Bay blue crabs, and that’s a problem nearly as important as outrageous gasoline prices. Then we agreed that they won’t do anything about creating a much needed flat tax for one and all, no exceptions, and getting rid of all the tax lawyers in the land.

And what are the chances of using U.S. oil for U.S. cars? Will either candidate do anything about the high price of gasoline? Not bloomin’ likely.

After all that, Dale stuck the hook to a fat 3-pound largemouth. Then we packed it in and went home.

Incidentally, do you know how naked one feels after filling up a pickup truck that sports a powerful Triton V8 engine? More than $80 a tankful is de rigeur these days. But you’re not going to tow a tandem-wheel trailer and a heavy bass boat with a Toyota Prius, my little cupcake. Now add the gas tank of a bass boat that might carry a 225 h.p. outboard. Add another $50 or $60 to quench its thirst.

Oy vey!

Look for Gene Mueller’s Outdoors column every Sunday, Wednesday and Thursday in The Washington Times. E-mail: gmueller@washingtontimes.com

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