From time to time, reader emails end up in my inbox, most often telling me about epic trips or memorable catches. I always try to respond to them all, but last week I got one from reader Bill Mitchell that I thought was blog-worthy. While floating the Shenandoah River recently, Mitchell’s stepson Barry connected with a decent smallmouth. During the fight, the knot joining his line and leader failed, causing him to lose the bass. So the fellas rerigged and kept on floating. According to Mitchell, over an hour later and about a mile and half down river, Barry hooks the same smallmouth (below), complete with lost lure and leader hanging out of its mouth.


Now I can’t count how many fish I’ve caught over the years with other peoples’ hooks and lures stuck in their mouths. I’ve also broken plenty of fish off (smallmouth in particular) that jump so wildly afterwards, they shake my lure out of their jaw and I go pick it up. But never have I caught a fish I’ve broken off in the same day, especially not within hours of losing it in the first place.

If Mitchell’s story is true, it says a lot about how ravenous and fickle fish can be when they’re really in chow-down mode. I would think, regardless of whether this bass had shaken the lure or not, the trauma and stress of getting hooked and fighting on the line would have been enough to shut down its appetite for the day. The fact that Mitchell’s stepson also re-caught the fish a fair ways away from the spot he hooked it the first time means this bass likely stayed on the hunt, even with a foot of fluoro hanging from its yap.

Of course in this case, being a piglet was a blessing in disguise for this smallie: Mitchell was able to get the first lure out of its throat and send it away healthy. Have you ever gotten your lure back by catching a fish you busted off?