Hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, floods and fires, disease, the possibility of a terrorist attack always looming … the world is in such an alarming state of affairs that more so than ever, it seems, we’re living in the Age of Anxiety.
These are good times financially for psychologists and psychiatrists. The former, who know a great deal about why we humans behave as we do, can administer tests that help the latter discover how to help the troubles of human beings.
I have my own method for handling anxiety and stress, and it doesn’t involve the services of members of either of those sciences.
Some people are aware of my method and practice it. Others know it but won’t practice it. They might say they don’t have the time, that there are too many big deals pending.
When events and worries start closing in, stress starts building, you simply don a pair of cutoff jeans, some old tennis shoes for wading, grab the fishing vest and a rod and reel, jump in the old pickup, and head for the Kinniconick Creek.
The soothing sound of water over the riffles, the drone of jar flies from the hills, birds singing in the trees, a smallmouth or a redeye bending the pole, digging down, leaping, tail-walking – ah, yes, a good dose of such medicine as this and your stress has taken wings and flown away.
BIG BASS BATTLE
In the spring of 1984, Dale Wilson of London, Ky., 22 at the time, was fishing Wood Creek Lake, a 700-acre impoundment created about 1960 by the construction of Interstate 75 through Laurel County.
Just at the crack of dawn Wilson, using a bait-cast reel loaded with 12-pound test line, cast a Bumblebee spinnerbait adorned with a 4-inch split-tail artificial eel onto the top a boulder down near the dam.
He dragged the lure off the boulder and let it sink into the depths. The strike nearly jolted the rod and reel from his grasp.
It looked like someone had dipped out a washtub of water where the fish split the surface.
“She never was able to get up and tail-walk,” Wilson said, “but she sure made a ruckus that one time she got most of her body out of the water.”
Wilson held on and cranked until the fish wore herself down enough that his buddy, Eddie Wilkerson, 24, was able to swoosh the dip net and bring her into the boat.
The largemouth bass weighed a fraction over 13 pounds, 10 ounces and was certified by the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources as the new state record for the species.
It edged out the record largemouth (13 pounds, 8 ounces) caught by Delbert Grizzle of Flatwoods from Greenbo Lake in 1966.
This even though Wilson’s bass was smaller than Grizzle’s.
Delbert’s was 27 and one-half inches long and had a girth of 22 and one-half inches.
Wilson’s was 25 and one-fourth inches long and had a 21 and one-half inch girth.
Delbert’s fish was caught in August, Wilson’s in April.
Wilson’s big female had not yet dropped her eggs.
“The bass hadn’t gone on the nest yet on April 14,” Wilson said. “She had a lot of eggs in her. I guess that made the difference.”
At the time, Wilson said he believed there were bigger bass than his swimming in Wood Creek Lake.
“You never catch the biggest one,” he said. “There will always be a bigger one.”
Delbert was hoping that’s true. I called his home right after news of Wilson’s catch to gauge his reaction.
“He’s not home,” said his wife, Dorothy. “Yes, he’s heard about the new record. He’s out on Greenbo fishing.”
FISH LIVE LONGER
Ted Crowell, who was the department’s assistant director of the division of fisheries at the time, said Wood Creek and Greenbo are lakes that could hold a new record.
At 180 acres, Greenbo is only about one-fourth the size of Wood Creek.
“It’s not that the fish grow faster in such lakes,” he said. “Both Wood Creek and Greenbo have levels that never fluctuate. The fish lead a sedentary life. There’s not much stress on them, and they just live longer.”
Crowell said the lifespan of a largemouth bass can reach 13 to 14 years.
But Crowell said if he had to predict where the next Kentucky record will come from, he would pick Lake Malone, a lake about the size of Wood Creek lying in Muhlenberg County.
“Malone has been giving up bass in the 9- 11-pound class every year for the past few years,” he said.
Wilson’s record has stood for more than 33 years, so it’s past time for some lucky angler to get lucky.
Reach G. SAM PIATT at firstname.lastname@example.org or (606) 932-3619.