I caught a big bass this past week in one of my favorite places. He was a hefty, hard fighting largemouth, which I admired and released. He seemed to be very appreciative as he swum away. A smaller fish might have swam away, but all the big fish I ever remember never swam off, they all swum off. Like a sycamore tree three feet in diameter doesn't splash when it hits the water. It goes KA-WHOOM, and echoes across the river bottom like meteor crashing into a high mountain. It is a matter of accuracy in description, proper English be darned.

Anyhow, it was 3 in the afternoon, and somewhere around 92 degrees if you weren't in the shade. I'd jump in and get good and wet about every 30 minutes or so. Fishing wasn't good at all, you could tell the bass were back in under logs and brush, probably gorged with the shad and fanning each other with their tails to combat the heat.

I caught a half-dozen bass that weren't even teen-agers yet, but it doesn't matter, I was out there to enjoy the ambience and peace of a natural setting, and I am about sick of eating fish anyway.

Thankfully, I have never gotten sick of catching them. Finally in a flash, in an unsuspecting second during which I was just watching that lure splashing around on the surface, there was the swirl of water around it and beneath it. The lure was gone, with a large yellow-green side appearing and disappearing so quickly my lightning quick reflexes were left unaware of the happenings, like a half-grown pullet snatched by a chicken hawk. Poetic, wasn't it.

Well, that bass wasn't taking my rod and reel with him, so I reared back on it. The hook was large, the line strong. My rod bent in a graceful, throbbing arc with the weight of his struggle. But, to make a short story a little longer, he finally was confronted with his defeat, and lifted aboard soon to be the object of one more photo. I took out a board, and put the fish on it, then found a tape measure in my tackle box. It measured 30 inches in length… the board did, I mean.

The fish was eight inches shorter than the board. That's a real lunker. You can see his picture on my website, and a photo or two of pretty leaves and damsel flies communing on a floating leaf. Remember that grizzled old outdoorsmen like me do not affiliate themselves with a computer. I have ladies who work with me who take care of that website, and a face book page for lightnin' ridge publishing company of which I am the Chief CEO. That allows me to spend more time outdoors, where I continue to try to catch or shoot something to write about. It isn't an easy thing to do. But it is harder, I suppose, to pass this kind of column off as real writing, but stay tuned to this paper for more exciting outdoor adventure!

Now it is time to get serious… The fires burning out west this summer may be the worst in history, at least in the days since the American Indian. I am not sure what those early Americans dealt with but it was never like what is happening now. Those western fires are horrible in the destruction of wildlife and timber, and streams that will take decades to recover.

Yosemite National Park may never be the same in the wake of fires burning there now. I heard somewhere that the cost of these fires this year already is more than fires have cost this nation ever, into the billions of dollars.

I wonder if our great leaders of this nation realize that terrorism may be behind some of the fires in the west. Those Muslims who want to kill people in the name of something they call jihad, have surely figured out what a few well placed matches can do, and who knows what may do in the future. Fires are hard to overcome when the wind is right, and they begin in the middle of the night.

Just a week after the bombing in Boston this past spring, when the two Muslim men whom our government had actually paid to come over here and go to school tried to kill all the Americans they could, I saw two young men with turbans around their head in a Joplin truck stop. They looked just like Osama Bin Laden's bearded soldiers, and they were speaking loudly in a foreign language. One had a heavy backpack, like the one used in Boston, and the other was carrying a heavy canvas bag in his hand. They were laughing and grinning, and it was obvious to me they were at the very least trying to intimidate and scare people.

I wondered how much our government had paid them to come here, to study somewhere, to worship in some mosque like the ones major Hassan frequented before he killed 14 soldiers down in Texas. I wanted to see what was in those bags, and I at least made them stop grinning. But if I had throttled the both of them and opened those bags, I would have been thrown in jail for doing it. And believe me, there are no lawyers who would defend me on government money as they do the jihadists and Muslims around us who commit crimes.

I can't figure out how the American women who are concerned that conservative politicians are declaring war on them, are not up in arms about us letting into our country hordes of people who require women to cover their faces, and who live under a Sharia law which says that men can kill their daughters legally.

But I know nothing of politics. I know something about forests, and I know that if those foreign terrorists get the hang of it, they can destroy much of our wildest country, and thousands of homes in heavily populated western states, costing our government billions of dollars. They don't need bombs, only a cigarette lighter. I am not sure it isn't already happening. Don't build your million dollar homes in the serene beauty of the California forests, even if they are well insured. What some of those people building mosques in our big cities have planned for us may be more than insurance companies, and our tax dollars, can handle.

Thankfully, the Ozarks has never had conditions dry enough for crown fires, which travel through the upper branches of trees, like they do out west. But we came close to having those kinds of conditions last year, for the first time I can remember.