he tip of my ultralight fishing rod nodded
once, bent and bounced with purpose, then
pitched downward and sliced into the river’s
surface. The reel clattered as line clicked off the
bale. Only a firm grip and raising the tip stalled the
heavy, wobbling ascent and kept the relentless predator
on the other end, and the entire rig, from going under
To this day, I may not remember the names of the other
anglers on the boat that morning, but the adrenaline
rush of fighting that smallmouth bass and countless
others since is unforgettable.
“They are just nasty,” says guide Rivers Grove of
Orrtanna, who has fished for smallmouths all his life.
“They think they are the King Kong of the water. Thank
goodness they don’t get three- or four-feet long.”
Those of us who’ve wrestled northern pike, king
salmon, muskellunge, catfish, and largemouth bass
onto the boat or to shore attest that, pound-for-pound,
no other gamefish matches the fury of a smallmouth
fighting for its life.
The King Kong of the Water
By B.J. Small