A special trip for a very special person

What do you do for that special someone in your life to celebrate a milestone birthday or anniversary? How about a guided fishing trip or hunting trip!

Avid outdoors persons may have all the gear and equipment they need to pursue their chosen sport, but a guided fishing or hunting trip for that special someone adds special memories that last forever.

For a special occasion, a trip such as this adds a truly blessed moment in your lives that will burn in your memory for years to come.

Kathy and Chuck Smick with a pair of fall slabs caught on crankbaits while on a special trip to celebrate Kathy’s birthday.

Granted, this person needs to have a love of fishing or hunting (or both) as much as you do, but is well worth the time and expense.

My favorite fishing partner, who is my beautiful wife Kathy, loves to fish as much as I do! I wanted to give her an unusual gift that I knew she would enjoy and cherish for a long time.

We were celebrating her 60th birthday, and decided that a guided fishing trip would be just the ticket for this occasion.

We decided to fish our home reservoir with our good friend, Capt. Doug Wynn, of crappie-gills-n-more guide service. Our hectic work schedules and Doug’s schedule worked out so we could book a trip with him in the early fall.

Doug is an outstanding and gracious guide, and is also a very gifted taxidermist. We both enjoyed Doug’s company and our time on the water with him during this trip.

The late September morning proved to be a chilly ride across the lake. A strong east wind made the lake choppy, and Kathy and I both regretted not having a jacket!

We arrived at one of Doug’s favorite bays on the lake and started putting out baits with the rods and reels, which Doug provided for the trip.

We were fishing with small (1.5 to 2 inch) medium and deep-diving crank baits that mimicked the forage fish that the crappie ate in the lake.

In less than a minute after the baits were in the water, Kathy had a nice big slab-sided crappie on the line! The fish was netted and placed in the live well for a fish fry to come.

A short time later, we both lost a nice crappie… and learned a valuable lesson that served us well for the rest of the trip.

We had been instructed to steadily reel the fish in, and lift the rod so the fish would “skid” across the top of the water into the waiting net that Doug held in his hand.

In our excitement, we both forgot, and lost a couple of nice fish! DANG! (Even mature fishermen get excited!) Oh well, that’s fishing.

Doug’s chosen method to catch these fall crappie was trolling small crankbaits behind the boat. We had two 6-1/2 foot rods directly in the back of the boat, and a 14-16 foot rod on each side of the boat to thoroughly cover the water column and as much water as possible.

Each rod had a baitcasting reel, with a line counter on it. Different lengths of line, from 40-60 feet were let off the reel. Each rod also had a different color crankbait, and there was a mix of deep and medium running baits on the lines, too.
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The reels were spooled with 12-pound Trilene Big Game line, and the terminal end had a barrel snap swivel to allow the baits to have the maximum action in the water.

There was no current on the lake that day to position the fish on structure or cover, so we zig-zagged across the bay, and up and down the bay throughout the early morning.

After the short flurry of activity, the fishing got slow. We eventually moved back into the bay where we first caught fish, and the action heated up again.

Once we started catching fish, Kathy and I very often each had a fish on and that kept Doug busy netting crappie and placing them in the live well… a pleasant and happy occasion!

We were both anticipating a fish fry later in the year, and the taste of those delicious crappie in the late fall during the holiday season.

Kathy and I had never done any trolling during our numerous trips on Kentucky and Barkley lakes, so this was a great educational trip for both of us.

Kathy loves catching bluegill, redears and crappie. I am an avid bass fisherman, as well. Our love of fishing brought us together early in our courtship, and we have enjoyed over 19 years of happy marriage, especially when we had fishing rods in our hands on our home lake!

After Doug instructed us on the methods of trolling and what we would need to do to be successful, Kathy and I can now take our newfound knowledge and apply it on our fishing trips as well.

Doug uses these trolling methods throughout the year, for a variety of fish. Trolling will allow you to catch crappie, largemouth bass, white and yellow bass, bluegills, redears, sauger, yellow perch, and catfish.

We caught a variety of fish during the trip, but our target fish were crappie on this trip, with an occasional yellow bass, catfish and a largemouth bass to add to the excitement for the day.

Trolling appeared to catch the bigger crappie, also… a real benefit for the freezer.

Kathy has endured my hunting and trapping exploits over the years, and has learned to prepare venison for us. She enjoys the taste of it, too, in chili and stew, along with a roast prepared in the crockpot.

As long as I bring home tender does or young bucks for the freezer, she doesn’t mind, but a big mature buck gets donated to the food bank!

She chooses not to hunt, but does enjoy an occasional trip to the woods for a walk with me.

A guided fishing (or hunting) trip can be a welcome surprise for that special someone in your life, if they enjoy the outdoors, too.

This is a great way to experience the outdoors together, and build a lifetime of pleasant and wonderful memories together, that you both will cherish.

Take your special someone on a guided trip soon!

(Chuck Smick lives in Paducah, Ky., and can be reached at csmickpaducah@yahoo.com.)

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