The sudden action on the rod brought both of us to quick attention. Jim set the hook and the fight with the Florida largemouth bass was on. It felt bigger than a typical bite, but when it broke the water and shook its head, we both knew he had a hog. It was huge and was sure to weigh double digits. Our excitement quickly turned to serious nervousness. I began shouting recommendations on what to do even though Jim was just as experienced as I was and had everything under control. The fight went on long enough to know that the lunker was well hooked, Jim’s fishing gear was in good shape, and it was just a matter of time before we had this prized fish in the boat.

Back and forth the fight went on, gradually, getting closer and closer to the boat. As I positioned myself to help with the net, the bass made one final massive dive. Jim’s rod bent over to the point that it looked like it would break…and then the unthinkable happened…the rod went straight!

The line had broke! The limp line dangled in front of us. Both of our reactions were of shock and disbelief followed seconds later by complete despair and devastation. We had both seen the monster. He was hooked solidly and wasn’t getting off. We slowly realized that the drag on his reel had not been set properly…it was a detail that we just had not thought about and it cost us a once in a decade trophy bass. It took us days to recover. Maybe we still haven’t fully recovered.

Setting the drag correctly is as important as having great fishing gear. Its purpose is to provide enough traction to enable the reel to pull in a fish but with low enough resistance that, when a fish fights to get away, instead of breaking the line, it just pulls back out from the reel.

As a responsible hunter and fisher and guardian of family traditions and legacies, it is important to always be aware of the small details. It could be checking a gun twice to make sure it is unloaded, remembering to put the plug in the boat, or checking to make sure the drag is set correctly. Perhaps more importantly, it could be simply noticing when one of your family members or friends just needs to be in the outdoors where talking and sharing feelings seem to come a little easier.

It is often the case that someone a little older needs to set the drag of life a little easier so that a loved one has a chance to come and go without breaking the line. Losing a trophy bass is one thing…losing someone close who just needed our attention is…well…it’s our job to make sure it doesn’t happen. Tight lines…correct drag.

Share This