December 28, 2016

Lucky Larry

Did you have any luck?  I bet you have heard that quite a few times from fishing friends.  After you told them about how many fish you caught you clarify the response with "Luck had nothing to do with it."  "It was skill."  But was it all skill or was there some luck involved?

Do you have a fishing partner that when you go with them you expect fireworks?  They are a good luck charm.  The fish seem to jump on your hook that day.  Not just you but the ones you are fishing with too.  This is clearly the case whenever I fish with Larry or Patrick Gundlach.

It began about 20 years ago.  I met Patrick on the Panther Martin message board.  It has long ago closed but be we started talking trout there and we went fishing because of it.

Patrick questioned my use of bigger lures for trout.  He had learned from a young age that smaller lures were best for trout.  I changed his mind the first time we went out.  He caught bigger and more trout than ever before.

We went out about five times a year the first year.  Patrick brought us luck each time we went out.  Patrick tried different kinds of lures with success.  With my encouragement he started throwing bigger stick baits.

The next year opener was almost upon us and I asked Patrick to go fishing.  He told me he was going fishing with his father on the opener.  It was a yearly tradition he and Larry did.  I understood a father son opener tradition well.

 Later that day the phone rang and it was Patrick.  He had scored a monster on the opener with his dad.  He thanked me profusely for prodding him into using bigger baits.  He caught the biggest trout of his life with a size 9 robins egg blue countdown rapala.

Patrick's big brown lite the fire in me to go out.  Patrick came to Richland Center and had his dad Larry with.  We were on the water by 6am that second weekend of May long ago.  We spread out on the waterway due to three of us fishing together.  The morning was going good.  All three of us scored.  I called out to them to come take a photo of one I caught.  They both admired it and it went home with me.  It was my biggest to date.

This big male was caught on a gold panther martin size 9.  Panther martin used the photo in an advertisement for  a decade.

Later that year we went out again.  I had found a monster that I could not talk into committing.  It always swang and missed.  I was quite frustrated.  I thought I needed my two good luck charms with me.

The fish lived on a corner hole with a large snag in it.  There was an ATV trail on the other bank and a tree with a sign in it.  It said "Dragon's Tail."  I told Larry and Patrick I had dubbed the monstrous hook jawed male "The Dragon" from my many encounters with it.

  As we walked out to the hole we planned our attack for the monster.  It was Larry's turn to try for it.  He placed himself on the down stream side of the snag.  He tied on a long shanked size 8 eagle claw with a fat juicy crawler threaded on it.  We let him have the hole for 30 minutes and then met there later.  Patrick was downstream and I was upstream.

I talked to Larry as I approached.  Patrick did the same.  Larry told me he had not bites.  Patrick and I started casting as we approached the corner hole.  I had the monster roll and turn and go back into the snag.  I was excited and alerted Patrick and Larry.  The next thing happened in almost slow motion.

Larry's rod bent in half like it was possessed.  Patrick ran towards me.  I tossed him my net.  We were 10 yards from Larry watching the madness unfold.  Patrick snapped out of his trance and went to the water to help land the trout.  I got closer but not too close.  I didn't want to interfere or get in the way.  Patrick screamed at his dad to get it to the surface and not let it get under the snag or they would lose it.

Larry horsed it to the surface.  I was too far back to see the fish.  I could see the splashes the trout was producing.  They were immense and shot over Patrick's head as he balanced on the sheer bank hanging over it trying to net it.  Then it was over.  Patrick was cussing and had a defeated look in his eyes.  Larry was shocked and in disbelief.

We examined the line and hook.  The monstrous brown had straighten the long shanked hook and escaped.  The legend of the dragon grew.

 I chased it five more times that year before I tricked into hitting.  My daughter Anna was along as a toddler when I slayed the dragon. I hooked it a ways out and brought it in for netting and took one big step out to net it and soft bank gobbled up my leg and caused me to fall in the water with the netting attempt.  My daughter asked me as I flailed in the shallows with my net and rod trying to net the monster; "Dad if you are swimming I want to go too."   I told her no and to remain seated.  I took her often.  We had a routine.  She had her things to play with and stayed seated a ways back while daddy casts. I then put my attention back to the netting.  I pinned the dragon to the bottom with my net and dislodged my leg and finished the netting.

It still stands today as my biggest male brown.

Patrick went away to college and fatherhood kept me busy.  We have not fished together in what seems forever.  I am retired now.  Patrick is a stock broker.  Lucky Larry is long retired.  Where have the years gone?  I got a Christmas card from Patrick a couple weeks back.  It looks like he has a couple children to pass on his love of trout fishing to.  I bet the fire still burns in the Gundlach men for fishing.  I know it still is there for me.

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