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My favorite bass lake

  • Outdoor columnist Ben Smith remembers his time on Lake Eddins, a sportsman’s paradise that enamored him as a young man.

Growing up, I went bass fishing almost every single day. We had a pond in our backyard in Jones County that was chock full of bass. I’d get home from school and head straight to the pond. Like Forrest Gump playing ping-pong, I even went bass fishing in my sleep. Seriously, my parents had to deadbolt the doors at night after my mom found me sleepwalking one night heading toward the pond with my fishing rod in hand. 

Later we moved to Jacksonville, Florida to an apartment complex and I had two lakes in the complex at my disposal. My bedroom window was no more than fifty feet away from the shoreline of one of the lakes. Being a country kid in a big city, I didn’t exactly make friends very fast, so I fished by myself a lot. Just like when we lived in Mississippi, as soon as homework was finished, I headed bass fishing. Fortunately for my folks, by the time we moved to Florida I’d pretty much grown out of sleepwalking, so they didn’t have to worry about me at night. 

For a kid that didn’t think about much other than bass fishing growing up, strangely enough I rarely ever bass fish anymore. Typing that sentence almost makes me a little sad. How could something that I loved so much as a kid not matter to me now? Is it a painful memory of the past? Is it the lack of alone time? Did I get spoiled by it being so easy? I’m not sure of the answer and haven’t thought much about bass fishing until the other day when someone asked what my favorite place to bass fish was. Even with the small lakes and ponds where bass were easy to catch in large quantities, one particular lake came to my mind as my favorite.

The first time that I ever visited Lake Eddins was with my friend Ryan’s grandparents after we moved back to Mississippi. Located in Jasper County, Lake Eddins is a private lake that is a sportsman’s paradise. It wasn’t just the fishing that hooked me, pun intended. There were also deer everywhere! It wasn’t unusual to pull in at the cabin and there be ten to twelve deer standing in the yard. I remember one particular doe, affectionately called “mama deer,” that we would feed sliced apples to out of our hands. As a young man enamored with all things outdoors it was Heaven on Earth. 

We’d spend the weekend fishing from the pier at the cabin and around the banks of the lake catching bass and sometimes stumbling upon a bed of shellcracker. Our mornings were filled with Granny’s homemade biscuits and evenings consisted of a fish fry. Granny (Ryan’s grandmother) often commented on my ability to eat half of my weight in biscuits joking that I must have had a hollow leg to store them. And fishing wasn’t all that we did while we were there. We also learned how to build, and shoot, a potato gun. I’m not exactly sure of their legality now, but if I correctly remember the destruction we caused they should probably be illegal. 

As I got older I’d go to Lake Eddins with my friend Weston. Now, I’ve mentioned Weston before in my stories and for better, or for worse, he is as responsible for my love of the outdoors as anyone. I won’t lie to you and tell you that everything we did growing up was legal, but we never hurt anybody in the process. Weston provided me with my first knowledge of fishing big, open bodies of water. He had a bass boat that would go a heckuva lot faster than I wanted to go on water, and we’d move from place to place in search of schooling fish. I’d watch how he fished certain areas and what baits he was using and try to emulate him. Sometimes it worked, sometimes I just chalked it up as him being better than me. That said, I don’t think we ever went to the lake without one of us catching a bass that weighed at least five pounds. 

When I was in college, once again I took a few trips to the lake, only this time it was with someone way out of my league. My college roommate’s stepdad is a professional bass fisherman. They owned a place on the lake, and we went with him a few times. Fishing with a pro is not nearly as much fun as it sounds. Watching him fish was fun but trying to keep pace was not. We’d fish with the exact same setup and the exact same bait, but we would not get the same results. I’d toss a spinnerbait in a hole that he said to throw at. After retrieving my bait with no luck, he’d toss his in the same spot (remember, we have the same exact lure) and pull out a lunker. I’d be madder than heck! Now that I think of it, this could potentially be where I began to lose interest in bass fishing!

Although I haven’t been to the lake in over 15 years, I still think about it often. Going with friends while we were growing up provided me with enough memories for a lifetime. It’s a place that I will forever hold near and dear to my heart. Hopefully someday I’ll get the time to go back. I’m sure that the lake has changed quite a bit over the years, but if the fish are still there, I’m willing to bet that I can catch them.

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