It has been years since I sat on the bank and fished with my Dad. I remember the times he would take my sister and I to the small catfish ponds near his home knowing that the only skill it took to catch there was the ability to cast a hook. This kept us kids interested in actually catching and not so much the fishing part. It wasn’t that many years ago that we drove past the old ponds and noticed they were filled with dirt for an industrial project and the memories came flooding back. Recently I began yearning for that same feeling and I knew I had to get back to the feel good relaxation of fishing. This is where all the planning and gathering of gear became a big job in itself, as my ride to the “secret spot” would be in a single seat off road vehicle. I just kept thinking, Challenge accepted!
Having an off road machine like the Polaris ACE 900 gives the adventurous outdoorsman a way to get to the really far out places, hidden fishing holes even if the trails get tight. The process of planning a fishing trip was a little more than I had remembered but excitement began filling my mind and with a visit to the storage shed I began to find all of my gear as well as some of my fathers. I picked up Dads old tackle box and when I opened it the memories of each item inside just seemed to grab me. I remember so many times when Dad would hook these long cork floats on the catfish lines and when we caught a whopper he would use the handy multi-tool to get that mud cat off the hook. He loved the simple baits and seemed to stay away from the “fishing propaganda”. I have to admit, there were more memories in that one old box than I could take in.
When I began planning for my trip I knew I needed to think small gear and compact everything into a few bags to make sure I didn’t overload the cargo areas on my Polaris ACE. I mean, how do you carry a complete fishing rod on a machine in tight woods without it grabbing every branch in the trails? I could not find even one case or rod reel holder for the off road. Maybe someone will see this and produce a case for the masses. I wasn’t really worried though as I knew I had the will to find a way to get the fishing rod to the pond carefully.
I love the lighter action rods myself just because it makes even the smallest catch feel exciting and honestly I was taught with this set up to keep me excited about fishing as a young boy. I visited the local bargain store to find a new reel for my Berkley lightweight rod as I had broken the reel on my last trip and had never replaced it. These smaller rods and reels are fairly inexpensive and I knew that if I were to break it or loose the combo it wouldn’t kill the budget. The items I knew I needed to take were a compact version of a tackle box, a good cooler for snacks and drinks as well as my trusty rod and reel but one thing I didn’t think of until I walked to the checkout was my fishing license. After another $17 I had both regular fishing permit and my trout stamp. Of course riding off road as well as fishing is potentially messy so I needed to get a protective cover to keep them dry. And then there were the worms that would make the final key ingredient for the trip.
It was now time to load all of the gear on our Polaris ACE 900. The cargo box in the rear of the ACE seemed to hold our Yeti cooler and Tackle bag/box fairly easily. I knew I wanted to relax on the bank but I did not know exactly how clear or clean the bank would be so I brought one of my Browning Turkey hunting blind chairs to rest my tail on. It was also snug in the cargo bed. Knowing that the weeds on the banks might be severely grown up at the private lake I had in mind I knew there might be a few slithering reptiles and that just reinforced my need for a chair. It seemed like I had to lay everything out on the trailer and then cut it by half to get to the real bare essentials for the trip in my Polaris ACE.
Taking in the scenery on the way across the ponds Dam I noticed a lady and her horse coming right at me. Not knowing how the animal would react to the noise or presence of the machine I shut off the ACE and waited until they had come right up beside me. Ms. Carolyn was her name and “Dixie Echo” was the beautiful horse she was riding. Carolyn is a horseback riding instructor and guide in the area that had recently started giving trail rides on the same trails of this private land we would ride on in the SXS or our ATV’s. I love meeting people in the outdoors who enjoy and appreciate nature in the wild. She mentioned that she had spooked up a “gang” of turkeys just out the trail a bit and there were also fifty or more doves in the planted food plots right around the corner. As I went on my way I never spotted the doves but a few turkey were still hanging around at the food plots.
As I reached the “private pond” the weeds had over grown the bank but the property owner had cut some of the trail along the bottom of the dam for a little better passage along there. Finding a good spot to fish was not really tough because as I rolled across the dam I could see the many bass beds in the water. Now this doesn’t mean an easy catch but it did mean that where Mama was hanging out, big Papa could be as well. The reeds along the bank would also be a great place for anything from small mouth bass to large blue gill or sunfish to hang out.
After finding a great spot to park my rig I unloaded the chair as well as my tackle and began flipping a deep diver crank bait through the water. The reeds had shown some promise as the rolling of the underwater action, taking place began to spill out onto the treble hook on the rear of said crank bait. A few misses and then it was on. The small Bream had taken on a little more than he could have even fit in his mouth but the valiant effort was surely recognized by this guy. It wasn’t long before I had caught and released several of the little bluegill and after hooking a couple of these nice 1lb smallmouth bass I was realizing the sun had started to set. It was about a 3 mile ride through the woods to the truck and in bear country you just need to get a good start before dark.
The trip that started out in my mind was indeed much longer and took some effort that I was not expecting. But when I look at the entire day and the stroll down memory lane while plundering my fathers old gear with thoughts of him it was all well worth it. The fishing for me was an exciting end to a very excited day and actually contained zero stress. I was happy to be planning for the trip and I was blessed to meet up with Carolyn as well as her horse “Dixie Echo.” I also could not have made it to the shore of the small pond without the help of my trusty steed the Polaris ACE 900. This little machine is an adventure waiting to happen and if you get a chance to ride one you should never turn that down.