There’s a tale to tell behind every mounted fish

Mounted fish adorn Dykes’ man-cave.

Every outdoorsman has a tale worth retelling, be it hunting or fishing. I think I have one of the most unique that you’ve never heard or experienced.

Pictured is my fishing wall in my man-cave with my fin trophies displayed and accumulated over the decades while afloat in a boat. Included on the upper left is a 11⁄4-pound bluegill bream I snared back in 2009 in the lake of a minister friend, the Rev. Ray Bowling of Jayess.

The fish fell victim to a tiny snub-nosed black with yellow stripe beetlespin, and the fight was on!

To the right are my two trophy bass lunkers that I caught back in the 1990s from a 7-acre lake I had developed on our property we fondly called Zion’s Hill.

The impoundment was called Lake Leroy in reverence to my old preacher dad. Going from a small branch flowing down the slope bordering our neighbor, it was formed into a beautiful lake of shining waters.

It was made more special because it was a gift from a man and his son who took it upon themselves to bless me, their pastor, using their own dozers to do so.

I remember ordering the tiny bream from a man who sold and delivered such to farms and thus established a food chain for my desired bass to feed on.

I also remember the day I ordered and the same man returned with his fish truck and backed it up to the same spot on the levee to let those minnow-sized Florida hybrid bass pour out as well.

He stooped down and pointed to one that was swimming along by the bank and said, “Preacher, that little guy is aggressively looking for something to eat right now and will never stop as long as it lives. He and his buddies will grow off to be large fast!”

He was right and here are two of those little bass all grown up, weighing in 7 and 81⁄2 pounds, respectively.

The top 7-pounder was snared with a deep-running rattletrap lure in the upper end of the lake, and the bigger beneath on a Rapala topwater lure in the shallow back end.

The lone bass in the middle, also weighing in at 7 pounds, was actually the first of all displayed. I caught it in a church member’s pond up in Neshoba County back in the ’80s on a black with blue tail 6-inch worm.

Two of the fish have the actual lure still hanging from their mouths, the black worm and the Rapala.

But the featured bass, a sow fish weighing in at 10 pounds, shown here at the bottom, was caught in a most unconventional way.

It was spring 2005 and I had been invited up to join my nephew, Pastor Jerry Dillon of Madison, to fish in the prestigious 850-acre Lake Caroline located in the heart of Madison County west of Interstate 55.

The crappie were spawning and we were hard at it.

With 1,000 families living in and around the beautiful impoundment, one has to own property to fish the lake. It is maintained religiously by the owners with game biologists and is one of the best kept secrets in fishing in the whole south U.S.A.

We were found that beautiful day easing along in the shallows with crappie pole and jig when we spotted something large and white bobbing up and down ahead of us. As my nephew drew closer, we could tell it was a fish and assumed it was a catfish someone had caught on a set hook hanging on an old snag.

There were many water skiers that warm sunny day as we got close to whatever it was disabled we had spotted.

When it resurfaced right in front of me near our boat, I saw it was a large bigmouth bass, and in a blink of an eye I grabbed the dip net at my feet and in one fluid motion swept it up in the net and up and out of the lake into our boat.

It was still alive, and I could see where on the right side of its large body was a gaping wound where it had apparently been struck by one of the ski boats.

I knew my chances of ever actually snaring a bass this large were slim to none, so I brought it to my taxidermist friend for mounting instead of placing it in the skillet, and have dubbed it The Dip Net Fish ever since.

According to my friend who mounted it, it had not long laid its eggs, and had I actually caught it before spawning, it would have weighed at least 12 pounds.

That’s my fish tale worth the retelling!

God bless you and God bless America.

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