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I got the chance to fish today, with my favorite fishing parter, who also is my partner in life. My wife Cindy. We don’t get the opportunity to fish together that often. In fact, the last time we wet a line as a couple was in August of 2018, when we made our annual pilgrimage to Wisconsin to fish for smallies on the Chippewa and Flambeau Rivers. The weather and water conditions were ideal. ┬áThe Little Pigeon was clear, and with the recent spate of warm weather, its water temperature was up to sixty-six degrees. TVA finally turned off the spigot at Douglas Dam, and was generating very little today, which had opened up some additional opportunities to fish the French Broad. We didn’t get on the water until early afternoon. I went straight to one of my favorite spots on the Little Pigeon, that unfortunately, has not fished well so far this spring, because of the persistent generation at Douglas Dam. When Douglas Dam is operating at two generators or more, the French Broad acts as a dam itself, and causes the Little Pigeon to back up. This reduces the current flow at this particular spot I like to fish causing the smallies to scatter. Today was the first day, I have been able to fish it with current. This is one of those holes that is not consistent (if there is such a thing) in producing fish. One day, you may get blanked, and then the next day you are catching fish on almost every cast. Fortunately, for Cindy, this was one of those days when they were stacked up. She was up to her elbows with quality smallies right out of the gate. After catching about a half a dozen or so, between seventeen and nineteen inches, she set the hook on what I knew was a big fish. It was one of those hooksets, where the fish doesn’t move for a few seconds, and the rod tip slowly pulses. It swam upstream to the top of the hole, where it materialized just a few inches below the surface. It wasn’t in a big hurry, and it appeared to be rather nonplussed about the whole event. I could see right away in that clear water, that it was over twenty-two inches long, and probably weighed between five and half and six pounds. I’m being conservative in my estimation of its size. It may have been much larger. About the time, I excitedly said “That is a huge smallmouth!” the hook popped out. It slowly began to sink, and like a ghost, it disappeared into the emerald green waters of the Little Pigeon. She had a solid hook set, and played the fish well. It was just one of those times, when they mysteriously come unpinned. I have always joked, that you can accidentally embed your hook in everything in the boat, and spend minutes trying to remove it. But in a matter of seconds, after a solid set, in the mouth of a big smallie, and on a tight line, the hook falls out? What gives? It was painful to see, and it would have bested her biggest smallmouth to date, which weighed five pounds and four ounces. After shaking off that disappointment, she did manage to catch a total of twenty smallies. Ten of those fish were between eighteen and nineteen and a half inches long. She only fished for a few hours, and caught some really nice fish. I only hope, she doesn’t have to wait another seven months, before getting back out on the water. I have a feeling that it won’t be that long. There is that lingering memory of the one that got away. It is likely, that big fish has moved on to a secluded spot to spawn. Or maybe, just maybe, she is lurking in that same hole. Waiting for some fishing guide’s wife, to make another cast of deception. But the outcome is different this time. The barb of that hook is driven deep enough into that fishes mouth, where it can only be removed by my forceps. I have a feeling we will be back on the river sooner rather than later. She has a score to settle. And I have a pretty good idea, where she is going to make her first cast…

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