November 27, 2015

Three Strikes



I like looking at my log books and re-reading the posts that make my blood flow.  Some are positives and others are negative learning experiences. My favorite has to do with the biggest small stream brown I have ever seen in my lifetime.

My buddy Andy invited me to go fishing with him about three weeks before the season closed.  It was a three years back.  This was when my knee problems were at the worst.  I declined.  Andy went by himself.  I got an email from him after his outing.  He sent me a photo of a nice 22-23 inch brown he had landed.  He also told me about an absolute monster he had lost.  He told me the thing was so big he couldn't control it.  It broke off his line like horse hair.  This was a quote from Andy's email.

I read and re-read his email.  Andy is an excellent angler and if something broke him off it had to be enormous.  My knee just wasn't up to the task and I just filed the email away.

It was the last week of season and my buddy from Racine was camping in the area.  My knee was feeling a little better so I went out with him.  Our first place was the horse hair hole.
Before we got there I told him about the monster and he smiled and nodded.  Basically he dismissed the story as a wives tale.  As we got to the area I told him to examine his line for wear and maybe re-tie his spinner on.  I looked at his rod and reel and decided his set up was woefully inadequate.  I scoffed at his old zebco reel and fiberglass flimsy rod and we set up on the hole.

His first cast with the buggy whip was in the weeds on the left.   He finally got unhooked and cast in there again.  I had sat down directly behind him. He was kneeling. We were at the water's edge.

It all started to go in slow motion then.  He was finishing his retrieve and about to lift his panther out of the water and it hit.  He set the hook.  The flimsy yellow fiberglass buggy whip bent over and almost touched the handle. The trout slowly started to appear at the water's edge and began to appear and began to appear. It was literally at his feet.  The slow motion stopped and lure flew over our heads.  The hook set bounced off the gargantuan female's mouth. It could have been the flimsy rod or it could have been the small size 6 panther as the problem.  But it didn't matter to him.  He was devastated. He sat there for a while and tried to compose himself.  He fired back in there for 45 minutes with no takers.

She was a skinny fish.  I guess her conservatively at 30-32 inches.  She had lots of dark small spots really close together. The hole is too small to be her home.  I think she was there in transition due to the spawning itch.  This skinny ancient female had long time ago quit spawning and dried up but nature called her.

It was the last day of season and the neighborhood kids had been pestering me to take them out.  The youngest of the three neighbor boys was nine years old and his two older brothers always picked on him so I decided to make him a legend.

I picked him to try for the skinny female.  I already visualized his picture in the local papers with the monster.  His oldest brother declined to come along because I picked him to catch the monster.  We practiced in my yard.  I showed him how to set the hook.  I made him practice and had him exaggerate the set so he would get some penetration when the fish hit.  I decided there would be no angler error this time and no under-sizing of gear.  I had my northern pike rod with.  It had a backbone and I had 20 pound test line on it.  I checked the knot and placed a small split shot on to minimize the splash when throwing into the monster's lair.

We slowly went to the hole.  I had one of the brothers stay back so he didn't spook the giant female.  The first cast at the hole ended up in the weeds.  I cast in the next time for the kid.  I handed the rod to the boy. Before the kid could get himself ready and have proper hand placement on the rod the fish hit.  There was no time to set.  The line and rod were pointing straight at the water and he had the enormous female stretching the line and nearly pulling the rod out of his hand.  The battle ended quickly. The line went limp and the hook came back clean. The trout never hit again and was never seen again.  I fished for it by myself the minimum of 40 times in the next 2 years

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