By Ashley McCleery

The North Jefferson News

As dusk approached one hot June evening, Kay and Ray Jones picked up their poles, grabbed some bait and hopped in a boat at Smith Lake, unaware of what the night and the murky waters below them would bring.

Although Kay had grown up fishing, her husband Ray had never even touched a fishing pole until that night. “My dad went fishing all the time,” Kay said. “He was a commercial fishermen, so my first fishing/camping trip was when I was six weeks old. But I quit when I got married.”

However, Kay never forgot her special trips to the lake with the father. So, she decided to surprise Ray with a fishing trip. Since Father’s Day was coming up, Kay consulted with her two daughters about the gift. When they agreed to the surprise, Kay said she couldn’t wait to get back out on the water.

“My husband had never been fishing before, and I wanted to start a new hobby,” she said. “I had been wanting him to try fishing. I think the best way is to go ahead and do the whole hog and try it.”

And, so they did. After 42 years of marriage, Kay and Ray returned to Kay’s favorite past time but not without some guidance from Jim Mayfield of Smith Lake Guide Service. With Mayfield in the boat directing their path, both Kay and Ray baited their hooks with live shad and threw in their lines.

About 30 minutes later, Kay felt a strong tug on her line. Planting her feet firmly on the ground, she wrestled with the powerful creature caught on her hook and swimming beneath the water’s surface.

“I begged for help,” she said, “because it felt like a whale or something. I couldn’t get it in by myself, but Jim wouldn’t help because he said if he reeled it in, then it really wasn’t my fish.”

So, Kay struggled with her “whale” until she triumphantly reeled in a 25-pound striped bass. Sitting down to recover from her catch, she stared in disbelief at the large fish lying before her.

“I couldn’t say anything because my mouth was wide open. I kept saying, ‘Oh my goodness,’ because I couldn’t believe this.”

Kay said she would have been happy with a couple of 10-pound fish, but she soon discovered that large bass was the norm for the night. Once she reeled her fish into the boat, her husband was struggling with another large bass.

By the end of their trip, Kay and Ray gripped four large striped bass, the largest of which was 30 pounds. And to celebrate their successful adventure, they held a huge fish fry, inviting all their friends and family.

“Now, we own a boat and go fishing almost every week now,” Kay said. “He’s obsessed with fishing now.”

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