Inner monologue as I am leaving for work:
“Should I stop at the Fox before work? I could stop at Kimball Street and take Irving Park to work. But downtown Elgin is always a hassle. Maybe OTTO in Carpentersville? Nah. Bugs have been nightmarish and it is out of the way. It’s early…I can fish for 20 or 30 minutes and still get to work at a decent hour. I’ll just try Kimball Street. Haven’t fished it since the temps hit the 80s. Maybe the smallmouth are back and hungry.”
Driving. Listening to Millennium Funk Party compilation at full volume, windows down.
“That damn Rooster Tail has been tied on to my line for a couple weeks and hasn’t elicited a single strike. I am going to tie on a big white Loos spinnerbait. Less likely to get snagged on the mats, easier to work slow and bounce through the rocks.”
Parks car. Removes rod from trunk, removes Rooster Tail, ties on white Loos spinnerbait with willow leaf blade, proceeds to not-so-secret-spot. Considers, but then doesn’t bother readying camera.
“Wow. Water level is up. I used to park my tackle bag on that rock that is halfway submerged and a foot from the shore. Current is pretty strong, but the shoreline here is nice and slack. Maybe this pool will produce like it did earlier last year. Let’s see if I can’t put this spinner right on the seam out by that rock and eddy.”
Cast falls short of desired landing area, but still right on the seam. Current pushes spinner towards shore into the slack water. Slow, steady retrieve. About 6 feet down current and 3 feet from the shore, a large, bronze flash in the water aggressively slams the bait and begins to thrash and pull, putting an unexpected bend on the ultralight Ugly Stik.
ME: “Holy shit. First cast!”
“Definitely a smallie, and if it isn’t the biggest I’ve ever caught, she certainly is the most aggressive and putting up the the best fight. Let’s hope this Loos Lure is spit-proof, because I’d hate to leave here with no proof that I just hooked a big fatty.”
The fish runs upstream behind the aforementioned rock I used to put my tack bag on. The water is calm here and she uses this space as a place to try her damnedest to shake off the spinner. Keeping tension on the line and cautiously reeling in when she stops, the fish is tantalizingly close, and her size becomes evident.
ME: “Whoa you’re a big girl!”
“PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE!”