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The one that got away
Posted 09 February 2005 - 11:01 AM
Last spring, third day of pike season, my father in law, my brother in law, and myself made a trip with dead smelt to our favorite pike lake. I won't mention any names, but the main lake is about 100 acres and there is a canal about 40 yards wide going into a smaller lake of maybe 20 or 30 acres, and yet another outlet after that which eventually turns into a very reputable blue ribbon trout stream. Now back in the day when logging operaions were in full swing in northern Michigan this was where all the horses pulled the logs to be floated downstream to the saw mills. So, especially in the smaller lake, there are a lot of sunken logs on bottom, and a few sticking up out of the water. Occasionally, you'll hook into a really nice largemouth here too. So we get out on the water around 8 a.m. and each throw out the pikes favorite bait, dead smelt. It doesn't take long and my cocky father in law, we'll call him brian from this point forward, hooks into about a 24" pike. And after a few hours we've we've caught and released about 8 pike ranging from 16"-30". So we decide to go on over to the other side of the lake and fish for awhile. We catch a few more and then it settled down for awhile, so we rowed up on shore to stretch our legs and eat lunch. After lunch we, having full bellies now, decided it'd be best to hang out on the same side of the lake. Now for some reason I wasn't replacing my bait after each catch and by now all that was on my hook was a "glob of fish", I figured it was the scent more than anything attracting these fish so why waste them. I took a lot of greif for a while cause I wasn't getting anything while they were still hammering them. Now when we fish with dead smelt we usually cast it out, let it go to the bottom and just leave our bail open till one starts taking line out and then it's time for buisness. Well finally I had some line going out, and set the hook, this fish was no hammer handle and started heading straight for bottom, my drag was screaming after he got his lip peirced. Well I was pretty much on my tip toes, arms straight up in the air, doing everything in my power to turn this fish back torward the surface, then my line went slack and I thought I might have lost him, fortunately he was coming right back at me, unfortunately he turn to my right and was heading right around the other side of a 14" log sticking out of the water, so somehow I got my rod tip high enough to let him get around it without getting my line wrapped around the old tree. And just like that, the fish comes to the surface, I guide him right up alongside the boat, and tell my brother in law, steven, to let brian net the fish. Well he decides he's netting the monster, and proceeds to net it like something you'd see on TV and swings the net "down" at the fish, instead of from beneath and up, and the until then calm fish started to thrash, so then steven trys to pin the fish against the side of the boat with the net, I'm meanwhile yelling at Brian to just grab the fish by the tail. Well after what seemed like an eternity trying to get this fish in the boat it finally threw the hook and swam away. I can't say with 100% certainty how long it was, or how much it weighed, but, we have a 40" tape measure stretched out on that same side of the boat we failed to net the fish on and it was atleast 5-10" better than that. I am fairly confident that the fish weighe daround 25 lbs. It would have been the biggest fish of my life, and I often wish I would have got to hold it up in front of the camera and let him go back to fight another day. Well atleast I got to do the latter. And atleast my brother in law now knows how to net a fish
Posted 12 February 2005 - 02:39 PM
Posted 12 February 2005 - 03:45 PM
Other that comes to mind was a big steelhead on the Hoh River. Was side drifting just below willoughby creek when I felt a grab. Set the hook and had a mid 20's fish break water. Didn't fight it long, but just remember how hard it grabbed the worm (fishing pink worms) and how hard it fought around the boat. Just as I thought I had it played out, and was coming to the net, it did one last flip and spit the hook. Have caught fish bigger then that, but was a beautiful fresh bullet that had thick shoulders. Pure perfection to look at. Was able to watch it swim away.
Posted 12 February 2005 - 06:55 PM
Posted 12 February 2005 - 10:07 PM