It was a chilly afternoon on Grand Lake O’ The Cherokees in Oklahoma, and things were looking bleak. I had been fishing with guide Clint Baranowski for three hours, and the sun was starting to make its journey back into the Western part of the sky. We’d switched baits a few times, and tried a handful of the spots where he’d found fish the day before. I’d talked to him on the phone, and heard clients celebrating with rods bent in the background just 24 hours ago… but now, the clock was ticking. And if you think fishing in general can be a little stressful when times get tough… try fishing for a cure.
My time to pre-fish Grand Lake O’ The Cherokees, where the Bassmaster Classic will begin next week, was almost up, and I had nothing to show for it.
Baranowski is both a tremendous fisherman and a hilarious character to share the water with, but now we just needed a fish.
Half an hour earlier, we’d pulled up alongside a friend of Clint’s, a local boat salesman in Oklahoma, who had three fish in the livewell. I thought briefly of the scene in a River Runs Through It, where Brad Pitt’s character swallows his pride and yells across the river: “what are they biting on?” when his brother keeps catching fish on the opposite bank when can’t.
In the movie, his humility pays off, and we tried a similar tactic, asking simply what was working.
Not only did we find out (a crawfish-colored crankbait) but we were even lent a few for the remainder of the day.
The color change for the crankbait proved almost instantly magical. Baranowksi put me on a steep drop where fish were holding as the water slowly warmed up, and this largemouth nailed the crankbait as I worked it over rocks and sunken tree limbs.
The fish would prove to be the only one we’d put in the boat that day… but that made it all the more amazing. As the clock wound down on Catch a Cure’s first stop, we put bass 1 in the boat, I took a deep breath, and we’re forging ahead.
I’ll remember this fish forever.