Woman’s Pet Bass Hooked on Handouts : Outdoors: She splashes the water of Cobbossee Lake in Maine to summon two fish for their daily breakfast of worms.
Polly Uhlenberg doesn’t worry about feeding a cat or a dog, or about filling bird feeders.
She heads down to the boat ramp behind her cottage on Cobbossee Lake each morning, splashes the water and calls out names, and two bass surface for a breakfast of worms.
They’ve been eating out of her hand all summer.
Charlie, a foot-long bass, and his 18-inch companion Big Bass, generally split about $25 worth of bait shop worms a week.
Uhlenberg says they can have more if they “do cute things.” They let her pet them and play with them in the water.
Her husband, retired Sacramento, Calif., television broadcaster Harry Uhlenberg, usually sleeps through the encounter.
“She says ‘You should’ve seen what they did today,’ ” he said in a recent edition of the Kennebec (Me.) Journal. “I say, ‘Sure, later.’ ”
Charlie was the first to take advantage of regular breakfast offerings, beginning in May. Big Bass showed up after a storm disrupted the lake outside Augusta in central Maine.
The fish are fussy eaters.
“We tried that bass food, that dry stuff, and they wouldn’t touch it,” said Harry Uhlenberg, who videotaped one morning session. “It’s worms only, like filet mignon or nothing.”
Polly Uhlenberg, a former counselor at a group home for youths, says her relationship with the fish has forced her to alter her pursuit of another hobby.
“I like to fish, too,” she says. “But I go to another lake. I caught one back here in the spring, but threw him right back. I was afraid he might recognize me.”
A state wildlife expert said that bass will indeed take food from an outstretched hand.
“I guess I don’t find that so far-fetched,” says David Boucher, a fisheries biologist at Maine’s Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.
“We routinely are able to get bass to eat right out of our hands,” he says. “Just the action of stirring up the bottom seems to attract them.
“Just like any critter, if they can get an easy meal they’ll go for it.”