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Today’s trip was a birthday present for Will’s 17th. birthday from his Dad (Spencer). I spoke to Will on the phone a couple of weeks before we scheduled the trip and it was quite apparent from the first few minutes of our conversation that I was speaking with an enthusiastic and experienced angler. Will’s personal best smallie to that point measured 17 1/2 in. His hope was that he could achieve a new personal best smallie on this river smallie adventure. TVA was going to run two generators or more at Douglas Dam early in the afternoon which gave us the opportunity to fish a couple of my favorite spots on the French Broad River. Will and Spencer managed to catch three nice smallies on the French Broad before I made a move to spend some time fishing the Little Pigeon. Will landed a nice 17 1/2 in. smallie that tied his personal best in the first hole we fished. After that fish it was quite apparent that the smallie bite was not going to happen on the Little Pigeon so we made a move to fish one of the few spots I like to fish on the French Broad when TVA is generating heavily at Douglas Dam. We just got settled in to fish and after a few casts Will set the hook on what appeared to be a nice fish as evidenced by the substantial bend in his St. Croix spinning rod. He played the fish well and when we got the chance to see what we were dealing with it was quite clear that this was the personal best smallie he had been looking for. It appeared to be in the nineteen inch range. Will continued to work the fish to the boat and right before I was getting ready to slide the net under the fish it just simply popped off the hook. It was nothing Will did as an angler. He did a great job of playing the fish. I told him it wasn’t his fault and that some times “they just come unhooked”. At this point he had dropped to his knees crestfallen that he lost his personal best smallie. He took it like a man and jumped back up and began fishing in the hope that there was another fish of that size in the area. As we approached the end of the six hour trip I told them that I wanted to continue to fish beyond the allotted time and do all that I could to get Will his PB smallie. I told them I would not charge them any more for the extended time on the water. They both agreed as we soldered on to find that one special birthday smallie. I took them to a spot where there was some extremely swift current in about four foot of water that periodically had been fishing well over the past few weeks. Spencer starting dialing them in and caught four really nice smallies between 16 1/2 and 18 1/2 in. He was fishing a little bit differently than Will and after a quick adjustment Will set the hook on what appeared to be a really nice fish in that same spot. When the fish finally showed itself it was clear that this was his PB smallie. After a hard fight in that swift current I put the net under Will’s new PB smallie that measured 18 1/2 in. The picture of Will proudly holding the fish is included in this report. I would have to say this was one of my more memorable guide trips. Persistence certainly paid off today. I was happy that our hard fought mission to get Will his PB smallie was finally accomplished.

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