Giving Up My Spot

Twilight at Azalea Park Pond in East Asheville.

By Matt Mittan

Bank fishing season is in full swing and laying claim to the best places on the shores of our local lakes, rivers and ponds can get pretty competitive. At several smaller ponds around Asheville, anglers are good sports about rotating around the perimeter, fishing several casts and then walking to the next open spot. On the prettiest of days, it can look like a well-choreographed dance of numerous people taking their best shots and then strolling along the edges simultaneously. It’s a gracious and beautiful habit of courtesy.

It’s this rotating process that I want to talk about today. With a busy work and family schedule, I try to carve out little sneak-away times during my day. I keep some gear and tackle in the back of my car just waiting for those random moments, where being between client appointments and having some extra time collide. Fortunately, there are plenty of small parks with some fishing in and around the greater Asheville area. One such place is the pond by the Azalea Dog Park in East Asheville (pictured with the article). A lot of folks don’t realize there are such splendid spots hidden within the city limits, but they are.

The small pond has ample open bank fishing and has a pretty good population of Catfish, Bass, Brim and even a few stocked Trout at certain times of the year. But the Largemouth Bass is what I like to go after in this pond. There are a few lunkers that swim these waters and the blessing/curse of this pond is that you can often see them! The challenge is that because of the fishing pressure the pond gets, you have to be crafty to get them to hit. They’ve seen it all, and often. Occasionally you come across a Bass that just has an attitude. These are the fun ones, because they will go after your offering a few times, if you miss them the first cast or two.

Recently, I found myself walking from spot to spot, rotating the bank with several other fishermen, on Azalea Pond. To my right was a young man that was about 14 or 15 years old. He was using a basic rod/reel combo and didn’t have a tackle box. His only offerings were the few lures that seemed to come with his complete fishing combo kit. To my left was a seasoned gentleman who had a couple of poles, full fishing tackle vest and the look of a guy that might have some stories to tell. He was a Bass hunter, for sure.

As I took my position above a cluster of fallen trees, I noticed a pretty good size bass come in from the deeper water and start to circle. I took one cast with my green speckled tube lure and the approximately 2 pounder rushed right at it like it had done him wrong. I missed the hookset. The fish quickly went back to his circling pattern. It was obvious to me that his dinner bell had rung and he was intent of filling his belly. I looked to my left, I looked to my right. Neither the semi-pro looking guy nor the kid seemed to notice what happened, despite my booming grunt when I misfired my set.

I had already landed a couple bass that evening and made a decision. I called out to the kid to my right and asked him if he wanted to go after a hungry bass. He seemed a bit confused at first invite, so I added that there was a nice bass that had just struck my bait and that I was pretty sure he would hit again if he wanted to take a shot at it. “Really?!?,” he responded. I waved him over. As he arrived I pointed the bass out to him. He saw it. I told him to cast his silver spinner out beyond the fish and draw it back in toward its right side, closer to the fallen tree.

As I stepped back to watch, he let his cast rip. In his excitement, he whipped it about 30 feet beyond the target zone. He grunted and began to bring his bait back in. Within seconds… BOOM! He hooked into a great fight. But it wasn’t even the bass we saw. He landed it and it looked like his face might break from the size of his smile. I congratulated him and told him to cast to the left side of where the fish was that we had been scouting. “Whoosh!” Out went his second cast. BOOM! Second fish on! It looked to be the one we were after.

After all the excitement, he shared with me that he and his family were visiting the area and that he hadn’t caught a fish the whole trip. The back-to-back landing of two nice bass, he said, were the highlight of his trip.

I’ve got to tell you, giving up my spot and seeing this kid light up brought me more joy than if I had caught the fish myself. And there’s the lesson in it, whether you’re talking about fishing or not, when we offer kindness, courtesy and generosity to others we have the chance to find even more happiness within ourselves. Perform a random act of kindness this week and see what happens. See how many smiles you can create.

Matt Mittan is the daily afternoon host on Biz Radio in Asheville. You can listen Mon-Fri from 4-6 PM on WZGM 1350 AM or with the TuneIn Radio App. He is also the owner of Mittan Insurance and Employee Benefits, an Agency serving businesses large and small across WNC. Connect with Matt through his website: