Friday, August 5, 2011

Leech Lake "Fish of a life time."

Fishing tales are full of surprises and disappointments. They are all part of fishing, and for many, what makes it fun. This story is about a young man who started a morning somewhat reluctant to fish, but ended up with the fish of a lifetime.

Kevin signed up for a fishing trip with Leisure Outdoor Adventures. He would be taking his two boys out on the water for a late summer bonding experience before it was time to head back to school. Tyler and Tristan are two typical teenage boys. Somewhat hesitant about waking up before noon on summer vacation. Little did they know that this time, it would be worth their effort.

After a brief discussion of what the "bite" has been like on Leech, we decided to spend the day trying to catch a few walleyes for a fish fry back at the 502 restaurant. The first spot of the morning produced only 1 small keeper, but plenty perch to practice the art of live bait rigging for the day. Off to spot #2!

It wasn't long after marking a school of Walleyes on the Lowrance that we had our first bite. Tyler was the lucky angler. To the side of the boat came a nice fat 16" walleye that let go just out of reach of the landing net. A little disappointment and a great opportunity for us to learn. "Keep the lines tight at all times boys. These fish won't have a chance if the lines are tight." Big hook sets and excess rod movements may have their place in deep sea fishing, but for walleyes and live bait rigging, tight lines will do. "Rod tip up and reel, that's all we need to do."

The lack of action on spot number 2 was taking a toll on Tristan (15 yrs old). While lying down on the front of the boat with a towel over his eyes to block the sun, Tristan was about to be awakened by the sound of a monster fish flying out of the water like a Whale only feet from the boat. The loud splash and commotion had our attention. "What was that?" I asked. Only seconds later the huge fish surfaced again, tail walking across the water now 30 ft from Tristan's side of the boat for all to see. I had seen this one time earlier in my guiding career on Gull lake when one of my guests had hooked a big pike. "I think that fish has someones minnow!" I screamed in excitement. "Does anyone have a bite?" Tristan, now well awake watching the show, exclaimed that yes, he had a little tap and had let the line go. "I think that is your fish," I said. "Everyone else better reel up. I think Tristan has a huge pike on".

I have found that we can catch most of our pike that bite without a leader if the angler can manage to not horse them, and forget about setting the hook. "Tristan," I said, "If you want to catch this fish, you're going to have to be calm, and pay attention to every thing I say. The key to catch this fish is going to be for you to let the rod and reel do its' job. All I need you to do is keep your rod tip up and reel. When the fish pulls hard, just let her go. When she slows reel again, but never let it get any slack in the line. Keep the line tight and rod tip up." Kevin asked if there was anything he could do to help, and I said I don't think so. Just give us the room we need to work this fish. It might take a while.

With his rod tip up, Tristan began to reel as fast as he could to pick up all of the slack line up that the monster fish had taken. "I think he's gone" he said. "Just keep reeling Tristan, rod tip up." The rod began to bend and the fish was there. ZIIIIIIIIIIIING ! "This is a big fish Tristan," I said. "You are going to catch em, no worries, just remember rod tip up!" After about a minute, we had a glimpse of our big fish. It was a Musky, the fish of a 1,000 casts. ZIIIIIIIIIIIING! Back to the bottom she went and the task was about to start all over. Tristan was a little nervous but very good about following directions and this fish was cooperating. Again Tristan got her to the side of the boat, but she was a little green. "I don't think she is quite ready yet," I said. ZIIIIIIIIIING back to the bottom again. "This experience is what we all dream about Tristan, you are doing fine. You are going to catch this fish". The look on his face was a little doubtful. With a little coaching and a fantastic job of listening Tristan brought her to boat side just long enough for me to put her in the net. "YES!!!!" I said, while giving Tristan a big HIGH FIVE! You might have just caught your biggest fish of your life, said Kevin.

After a few pictures with partner Jeff "Breezer" Andersen, we released her back to the water. Best estimates were that this fish was somewhere in the mid 40's. Not the biggest Musky but an absolute giant for the average angler and one that this 15 yr old will never forget, as well as his guide for the day!

"Tight lines everyone!"


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