All fresh-water fishermen remember the biggest largemouth bass they ever landed. I do, and kissed her right smack in the mouth once I got my hands on her.
Every detail on that glorious moment is still etched vividly in my mind as if it were yesterday.
It was a normal late June afternoon, hot and humid and no breeze.
It was at a pond that fed into the nearby river, and I had already scouted it many times in the earlier spring days to find any bass beds along the edges where they lay their eggs.
Along one shoreline I saw so many beds where they were laying eggs that it looked like a condominium community.
I was using large minnows as bait and casting with an open-face spinner.
Out of the corner of my eyes I noticed a slight ripple in the water on the edge of a small island nearby.
It was in a shady area and probably a female moving around in her bed or nearby protecting it.
I put a new fresh minnow on the hook and tossed the line to the spot of the movement.
It was perfect timing because as the minnow hit the water she hit it and took off.
The game was on then.
The bell was open and the fish took off nearly across the pond before she stopped.
I slowly reeled in the line and set the hook at the right moment.
She fought and fought and came out of the water several times dancing on her tail on top of the water in her efforts to shake loose from the hook.
It was set firm and I kept the tip of the rod up and slowly reeled her in, tightening the drag as needed.
Finally I got her in and used a net to scoop her out of the water and into the safety of my cooler — but not before I kissed the sweet thing right in the mouth.
It was the biggest largemouth I had ever caught and weighed in at eight and one-half pounds.
I had her weighed at a neighborhood supermarket where witnesses were on hand.
Was I a proud young’un? Ask me.
The big catch was mounted and hung on the wall in my house for years.
Years later, I was living at the beach and someone broke into my apartment.
The only thing they stole was my prized fish.
I still have the memory and all the vivid details the moment it was made.
They can’t take that away.
Do yourself a favor and take a kid fishing.
That was the way the late Franc White, the Southern Sportsman, always ended his weekly television show.
It is appropriate here, too.
William Holloman is a staff writer for the Mount Olive Tribune. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.