BY JOHNNY SAIN
I don’t recall the year, but it was a while back. A steamy, late summer day found me waist deep in the cool waters of Hurricane Creek. The sun was an hour from setting, and the fishing was getting better as the solar rays softened. I had already caught four or five smallmouth bass; a couple of them were nice ones in the 14-inch range.
As is the case in early September, a few of the hickory trees had started to drop their nuts. It was a poor year for mast; the summer had been very hot and dry. However, the trees on the creek bank had fared better than those on the ridge tops, and the steady “plop” of falling hickory nuts added to the relaxing atmosphere on the creek. The squirrels and chipmunks had taken note of this as well. It seemed every square foot of creek bank had a foraging rodent on it.
As I waded around a bend in the creek, a deep pool opened up. A fallen sycamore was jutting into the deepest part of this pool, and I noticed a squirrel running out onto the sycamore. The squirrel reached the outermost branches of the tree and there it grabbed a hickory nut sitting in a knothole. The squirrel sat there, casually shucking the hickory nut, when I noticed a wake from the middle of the pool. The wake gained speed as it neared the fallen sycamore, and then the biggest smallmouth bass I have ever seen exploded on the poor squirrel.
I stood there stunned. While it was awesome to watch a bass take a squirrel, I was astounded at the sheer size of the smallmouth. This fish was easily more than 25-inches long. Smallmouth bass in Ozark creeks aren’t supposed to get that big.
As ripples from the attack settled down, I shook off my stupor. I had to find a way to catch that monster. Rummaging through my little tackle box brought no answers. This bass wanted a mouthful, and my assortment of creek lures were hardly bite size for such a giant fish. All I could do was sit and watch the pool, hoping to see the giant smallmouth again, which I did and it was incredible.
Now a 27-inch smallmouth swimming in Hurricane Creek is unheard of. If word gets out about it, bass anglers from all over the world will be lining the creek banks. If anyone caught the beast, the old world record would be shattered. Seeing a fish that size is incredible.
But I’ve got to tell you, watching that bass swim up and place another hickory nut in the knothole…well, that was way more incredible to me.