Long day? You don't know how long a day can be until you've fished with a bass freak.
These guys don't get up in the morning to go fishing. They get up the night before.
And if they don't have any luck, they know one solution that always works-keep trying.
Glenn Peacock showed me the end of the bass season in December when we plucked a stringer full of three and four-pound largemouths from Broad Creek, which feeds the Nanticoke River on Marylandhs Eastern Shore.
Last Friday he showed me spring fishing at its best on the Transquaking River, which is sos mall it doesn't even show up on the offical Maryland Transportation Department map.
Spring fishing at its best except for one thing-for a long while it looked like we'd have to wait unitl summer to catch a bass.
We left Washington at 4 a.m. By a little after 6 we had the bass boat in the shallow, dark river just south of Cambridge and we were listening to the confounding music of big bass and carp jumping, splattering and splashing around us.
We could hear them and see them. We just couldn't catch them.
"I' can't understand it," said Peacock, the 23-year-old fishing guide from Silver Spring. "We were nailing them here last week."
The deepest water we found on the four-mile stretch of Transquaking we fished was five feet, which left the bass on place to hide. Anyway, we knew they were all around because every time we got discouraged, another big green bass jumped clear out of the water 50 feet away, thrashed around and fell back into a watery hidey-hole.
At 11 a.m. Peacock found a point he liked where the water fell off from a grassy bank to five-foot deep hole.
He tossed a huge saltwater minnowtype lure against the bank and I threw a spinnerbait.
We caught two bass, bang-bang, his three pounds and mine two, and then everthying shut down.
We fished upstream, where a flock of 100 Canada geese were bouncing between a field of fresh green rye and the protection of a bend in the river, and we fished downstream, where just before nightfall we discovered a pair of eagles nesting in a bare tree.
We fished the banks and what passed for deep holes. We had one spot we called "the tires" because some farmer had dumped a mess of old tractor tires there, making what looked like a perfect bass habitat.
We basked in the sun and smelled the sulfurous perfume of the Eastern Shore marsh. We cast spinnes and plastics worms and Rebels and topwater plugs.
But we didn't fool another fish.
Bass fishing is funny that way. Of all the gazillions of people that have pursued laregmouths, no one has yet figured out what makes them feed when they feed and stop when they stop.
Good bass fisherman, like Peacock, know the only way to win the game is to outlast the fish.
We were watching the tide, which had been going out all day. We didn't notice when it turned, but we saw the water level gaining against an old goose decoy head stuck on a rotting log.
"Tide's turned," I said, and we made a hasty run usptream to sneak back under a low bridge before rising water left us no room at all.
We made for our one successful spot. It was 10 hours and two fish since we began at dawn.
The point looked the same. Peacock rattled around and found his huge minnow lure and I matched it with a smaller one. By now the boat was in chaos. Rods, tackle boxes, jackets, lunch pails, empty soda cans and other assorted junk were strewn over the deck.
Peacock cast out against the bank. A huge swirl erupted under his plug the first time he twitched it. The lure was floating in a foot of water and coming up underneath it at that instant was a fish that for two housr Peacock believed was the biggest bass he'd ever caught in Maryland.
Ka-BLAM! The fish opened its huge jaw and inhaled the four-inch plug like Godzilla swallowing Pittsburgh.
"Get the net, get the net," shouted Peacock, who did not plan to lose this fish.
"What net?" I thought. "I don't see no net."
So while Peacock wrestled the beautiful fish to the gunwale I thrashed around in the bottom of the boat like a pig rooting after truffles. He told me later that I was throwing rods and boots and fishing lures into the air. "I was afraid you were going to throw my new graphite rod overboard," he said.
I never did find the net, and when I came up for air, Peacock was holding the big fish by the lip and wearing a large smile.
We figure it weighed a good eight pounds but like most large fish it shrank dramatically when we put it on the scales after we got in. still, 6 poungs 6 ounces is a very big bass for Maryland tidal waters.
We caught a half-dozen more one to three-pounders off the point in the next half-hour. Apparently they were waiting for the incoming tide before starting to feed.
Then they clammed up, to turn on again who knows when?
I once told a friend of mine how confusing it was that you never could tell when fish were going to biet.
"Of course," he said. "That's why they call if fishing." CAPTION: Pitcure, Glenn Peacock shows off six-pound, six-ounce bass landed without the help of a net, unfindable by partner. By Angus Phillips-The Washington Post