Pitching worms names the game we played. It's all about hitting selected targets like brush edges and submerged stone, letting the worm descend, and retrieving back (sometimes letting it descend twice more on the way back, etc.) to make the best of the next cast or flip or pitch. A lot of tight space exists in back. Skill in getting a worm where it needs to go results in bass. And once we got back among the trees and rocks, Matt climbed a rock face, found a big slider turtle shell, and observed two full-grown bullheads mysteriously hanging right against shore under thickets.
We tried to get all the way in the belly furthest back, pretty much did, and then we would make our way to the other side. A machete would have helped. And heavy-duty, waterproof boots. Nothing's impossible, but my upper back ached like hell and I judged we should leave. We had fished two hours and both of us felt ready to go. Before we exited in the car, I pulled aside and looked for any possibility of accessing the other side easily. It's fenced off from that approach.
Five of my seven bass would have measured the scale between about three to 3 1/2 pounds. I caught a 19-incher so skinny it couldn't have quite weighed three pounds, at least I guessed not, maybe an ounce or two more. I've never before caught a bass I thought about to die. This sick fish clearly seemed on the way out. I've never before seen bass eyes shrunken in sockets as this fish suffered.
The way I'm looking at the fish as I hold it: no conscious reckoning of the sign of my own impending age.