My Forty Pound Plus Catch
Oct 28th, 2008 by OutdoorsFIRST
Modified Oct 28th, 2008 at 12:00 AM
This is the second time I have been set up on this one. The first was by Frank Walsh of Baystore Resort (the best resort on LOTW by the way), and now more recently by some of my “friends”, namely the Conklyns, Saint, and of course Mr. Worrall. You may have seen the vehicle decals that Mike Conklyn made up for me up at the Presque Isle outing. Saint very willingly volunteered his vehicle to adhere them to. Here is the story that goes with the signs. It was originally written in response to Frank’s post on his website congratulating me on my 40#er.
I know some of you have heard rumor of me boating a very large fish while I was up at LOTW for Operation Musky. Frank Walsh, the owner of Baystore Camp let the cat out of the bag on his website, so I had to type up the story to do some explaining when I returned home. The story is an interesting read so I decided to include it on my own website. The story of my “40+ pound catch” as Frank called it follows.
I was up a few days early to look for fish for the soldiers in Operation Musky. Looking for fish was not really a problem. The lake was exactly like it should be, lots of fish chasing, some eating, and some even willing to come to my boat. It was the night before the outing and I was out fishing alone. At about 6 o’ clock that night a squall came in bringing with it rain and very heavy wind. I almost came in at that time as I thought I had the fish fairly dialed in, but the weather changed again as quickly as the first time and I was fishing again in beautiful weather.
My first spot after the weather change brought out a low 40″ suicidal fish, that only a few people in the world could have avoided catching. I was one of them. The fish ate in the figure eight and I hooked up, it head shook and released itself. I half-heartedly resumed my figure eight after it got off. It was not exactly text book figure eighting, the big double ten blades were laying flat on the water skiing across the top, but like I said, the fish was suicidal, and it ate again. I also said I was one of a few that could of avoided that fish, and I did again. I was beginning to wonder if it was meant to be that night, but decided there was a spot that I wanted to fish before I went in. I headed the boat north for a mile or two to the last spot of the night, a two island compex with a rocky saddle that was catching some of the wind that was blowing just moments earlier.
I approached the island and grabbed a rig with a Top Raider and began my last spot of the evening. The sun had already gone behind trees and light was disappearing rapidly. I had just reached the shelf that runs up to the saddle and launched ole Toppy up to the shore. I hadn’t moved it but inches when the water erupted. I set the hook and instantly knew that what I had hooked was anything but ordinary. Water was flying everywhere and it was STRONG. I started working it off the shoreline and probably gained about 10-15 yards of line when it took off on one of the strongest runs I have ever witnessed. It ran right back to where it came from and started thrashing in the water again. I couldn’t get a good look at what I was dealing with, but I did get a glimpse of the girth of this monster, and I was getting more anxious by the second.
I started working it back toward the boat again, and started the typical fishing analysis. Two very strong runs, a lot of thrashing and head shaking, and I am still pinned to this thing. I may actual boat it! My thoughts immediately shifted to the fact that I am fishing alone, and netting will be very difficult and a picture…well that may be impossible. This is what was going through my mind when it takes off on another drag burning run, and again it heads right back toward where it came from. I have never had a fish run and thrash in shallow water like this thing was and was a bit perplexed as to why it wanted to fight in such shallow water. This run was a bit weaker than the last couple and I knew the fight was starting to turn my way. I started working it back to the boat, hopefully for the last time. I was now searching very hard in the water for my first glimpse of this thing when its head popped to the surface. I think I actually did a cartoon-like double take when I saw it. The head I was looking at was much different than what I had anticipated, it belonged to a beaver.
My emotions immediately shifted from the highest of highs to, Oh My Lord, what has Norm gotten himself into now. I worked the beaver a bit closer to the boat and saw that I had it hooked in a rear leg and the tail. I considered cutting the line but quickly dismissed that idea knowing that eventually the beaver would probably end up with its snout involved in the hooks, and I did not want this beaver to die. It was during this analysis that the beaver took off again toward shore on another drag ripping run, and I finally realized what all the shallow fighting and attempts for the shoreline were all about.
I began yet another attempt to bring the beaver toward the boat. I had all the necessary release tools right at my feet (minus great big leather gloves) and again began to analyze the situation. As it came nearer the boat I grabbed my knipex and started considering how to pop these hooks. I was kneeling on my deck with rod in one hand, knipex in the other, and beaver just out of reach when it turned its head toward me and let out a type of hissing sound. Now, I don’t know if this is a big beaver, but it is by far the biggest one I have ever had on my line, and I want no part of its angry hissing. To my relief it took off away from the boat again.
I stopped its run and again began to work it toward the boat hoping that with fatigue, it may allow me to unhook it. I could tell by its actions it was getting pretty tired and I am hoping maybe I can get it unhooked. About this time I could see the beaver actually get an idea. It started swimming toward the boat, and I can tell the way the head is turning and the eyes are shifting that it is considering resting inside of my Tuffy, all it needs is an avenue for entry. I realized that I want no part of an angry rodent in my boat and immediately get on the trolling motor as fast as I can away from this thing. I gave it slack line and got away as fast as I could. The beaver gave up its chase and sat floating between my boat and shore.
At this point it is the first time the beaver and I are not in a violent fight, and it once again starts swimming toward shore. It is then that I got my first good idea in this entire ordeal. I let it swim on slack line toward shore. When it was far enough away I engaged the reel and pulled straight toward me as hard as I could with the rod pointed directly at the beaver. Thankfully, when the rod bend was taken out of the equation the quick force was enough to pop the hooks out and we were finally, and hopefully pemenately separated.
Believe it or not, I actually fished out the spot. I did boat a low 40 inch MUSKY this time just minutes later on the saddle. After releasing that fish I decided it was probably best to end the evening then before God knows what happened next.
So there it is, the story of my 40#er. I am quite sure it weighed all of that. Possibly even approaching the fabled 50# mark. I never did get a picture of it, but that is probably just as well because I would of probably lost my PETA card if that picture got into the wrong hands. And thank you Frank, for putting me on the hook and making me share this with everyone.
And now thank those at Presque Isle for making me share it again.
No problem, Norm. Consider this the third time!