From big catches to having a son, 2019 was quite a memorable year

John Liechty

Now that we are all done with the days of Christmas and have unwrapped all the wonderful presents, it is time to wrap up one more thing: 2019. Once again, we have completed a calendar of 365 days and we can come into 2020 with high hopes and a new set of goals. 2020 is the year to see things clearly, as we can all be fortunate to have 20/20 vision. But before we put 2019 away, let’s take a look back and reflect on some of the great moments it brought us.

For myself, the year started off as planned and January was full of fishing fun. We boated many nice bass during that cold winter month, and actually saw some pretty warm days along the way. But it took us until February to find true magic. I had the pleasure of making a lifelong dream come true, as I guided Jeb Bunker to his personal-best bass, which weighed in at 10.70 pounds. This fish came on a severely stormy day on Lake Don Pedro, and is a catch that I am extremely proud of and is one for the books.

As the weather warmed and we slipped into the beauty of March, I worked diligently to expand my business, continuing to do multiple trips each week. By the end of the month, I was able to purchase a brand-new Ranger RT188, giving my clients a comfortable new ride and fishing platform.

On April 6, we started things off right. We found ourselves fishing out of my new boat on the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta in a small team tournament, when I set the hook into a giant fish. After a white-knuckle fight, I managed to hoist a 9.19-pound largemouth into the net. We took second in the tournament, but what a great way to break in the new boat.

The month of May came with some heat, feeling like summer was here. Then, all of a sudden, the weather changed and gave us some crazy days of wind and rain, feeling like spring would never leave. Through the changes in the weather, we adjusted and had many unforgettable days on the lake.

As we settled into June, the lake levels began to increase. The grass of spring flooded and the giant bass thrived under these conditions. However, the most rewarding fish catch of this month was not a giant and it was not a bass; it was a bluegill caught from my childhood lake by my daughter, her first fish catch ever. It was the greatest fish of the year and possibly my lifetime.

July, August and September went on as they typically do. Hot days on the water, but still fishing and finding a good amount of action on all of the Mother Lode lakes, including some of the most epic top-water action I have ever witnessed. But, soon the fishing and fish talk would be put on the back burner.

On Sept. 22, my beautiful baby boy was born. A happy and healthy little man would become the newest addition to my beloved family, and would forever mark the greatest day of this year. October was a month of changing diapers instead of lures. I spent the month with my wife, daughter and son and cherished every moment.

It was time to get back out on the lake as November came. I jumped right into it and picked up where I left off. That’s right, catching big fish. My buddy Rob Betsch and I fished the Swimbait Tournament Trail on New Melones Reservoir and again took second. We missed the coveted first spot by only a little.

Happy to be back into the swing of things, I began guiding in the month of December and worked my way up to Christmas. As I look back, it was a wonderful year of fun, fishing and family. I couldn’t have asked for anything more. Happy New Year!

John Liechty is the owner of Xperience Fishing Guide Service in Angels Camp. Contact John at 743-9932.

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