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18lber Odyssey

By Rob BelloniSeptember 27, 2004

It's been a year and a half now since I caught her, but the memory is as fresh as yesterday. When you dedicate so much time pursuing big bass, the big catches leave a permanent mark. The day was May 3, 2003 and I had slept in like usual. Fisherman are supposed to get up early, but I'm not much on that. I left the house around 9:30 and made the hour drive to the lake. Launching the boat I was amazed to see only one other boat trailer in the parking lot! San Pablo in the Spring is usually packed, but the weather forecast was for rain and I guess it kept people away that day.

I launched the boat and it was calm and warm with a mix of bright sun and clouds. I checked some of my favorite areas throwing the King Kobra jig and my favorite 9" MS Slammer. The water was way up and there was lots of cover to throw at. I had two big follows on the Slammer but they were not going to bite it, they were just looking. This went on for 2 maybe 3 hours. All day I felt like I was really in the zone. My boat was working perfectly, I was making the good casts to the good areas. But after a few hours, still nothing to show for it.

I decided to hit some other spots and pulled up on a clump of tullies. A few pitches with a senko and one runs off with it. It was a zippy 4lb 2oz fish, probably a big prespawn male. Felt good to get a bite after a slow morning of fishing. Just then these enormous raindrops start falling. Big fat rain, but just a few at a time. A few weeks earlier I had gotten soaked in a rainstorm, so I put on my rain gear and my deck boots. A few minutes later I was very glad I had done so, because it started raining like a dang monsoon. It rained so hard for 30 minutes that there was 4" of water in the bottom of my boat. The noise of the rain and the froth on the surface of the lake was incredible. I've never seen rain like that before.

It was an odd rain too, just coming straight down out of the sky without a breath of wind. Even through my raingear, I was soaked up to my armpits. Luckily I kept a spare jacket dry in my cooler and I had the rubber deck boots on so my feet were still dry. Then, just as soon as it started, it stopped ... and all of a sudden the sun came out and it was beautiful again. The lake was a sheet of solid black water, and what few fisherman had been at the lake had all left.

When the sun came out I fished fast with the Slammer, trying to get a fish to show itself or give me some clue as to what was going on. I saw a few 5 to 6lb fish sunning on top, but they would bolt when I got near. I did see one nice fish, maybe 12lbs, but it was just cruising. At one point, I was able to sneak up on a 5lber that I sighted from way far off. I pitched a senko at it but it just followed it down and didn't bite.

4lb 2oz fish

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