Thursday, May 23, 2013

The Biggest Fish of My Life

I was given a hot tip on where the walleyes were lurking - in the shallows, and in the reeds.  I floated into a likely area, pitched out a minnow-tipped jig, and immediately reeled in a keeper walleye.  Turns out the information from Swanson's Bait was correct indeed.

On my second cast I got hung up, and on my third cast I got bit off.  I loaded up the hook and pitched into the shallows again, and immediately felt what could have been a bite, but as I pulled in the thing at the other end of the line felt like it was too big to be a fish.

I thought at first I was hung up again, but was making headway in reeling in.  Out of the shallow water appeared to be a sizable log that I was bringing up to the boat, except that the log suddenly moved its tail.

It happened to be a giant fish.

The fish gave me a good look on its first pass, and it wasn't really fighting me yet.  I noted it was a giant muskie, and also noted that my hook set was such that the monster would not be able to cut my line with its massive teeth.  I had a chance at landing this fish; I'd just need to tire her out.

About the time I got a good look at her, she got a good look at me and made her first run.  My drag screamed as she sailed out about 20 yards, and I quickly changed my reel to allow me to back reel as she made runs instead of relying on the drag.  

Back and forth we went, with me hauling her close, her getting spooked, me back reeling to try and keep the line from breaking, her easing up, and me reeling her in again.  Finally, after five or six runs, she appeared tired enough to try and net.  Since I was by myself, this was not an easy feat.  I missed badly on my first and second attempts, which led to multiple additional runs by the muskie.  However, on my third attempt I was able to get her nose buried in the bottom of the net and flip her into the boat while the back portion of her spilled over the outside of the net.

She landed with a thud on the boat floor and my jig popped out.  She thrashed about the floor, and I wanted to get a measurement on her quickly and get her back into the water.  I did not have a tape with me, so I got my size 11 feet next to her and walked off three feet plus a third - somewhere between 36" and 40".  She was far and away the biggest fish I ever caught in my life.

I snapped a quick shot of her:

I went to grab her by the back of the head to lift her and release her, but her head was too large for me to get my hand around.  Fortunately for me, she was still thrashing around, and I was on a pontoon, so I opened the front door of the boat and guided her thrashing until she thrashed herself right out the open door and into the lake.

Upon hitting the water, she was upright but stationary for a couple of seconds, but quickly came back to her full senses and swam off.

Me? I just stood there shaking.

I sent some quick texts of the photo to buddies, made a quick call, then got ready to go fishing again.  I picked up my jig, and noticed that, based on how much it had bent, I got pretty lucky that I landed the fish at all: 

I'll likely never catch another fish like that muskie ever again.  I don't fish for them, and they're renown as being "the fish of ten thousand casts."  I just happened to be in the right place at the right time.  I won the fish lotto.

It was just dumb luck, and a lot of it.  And it made for a great memory; one I clearly will never forget. 

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