This is a guest post by author Joseph Hansen
I spent the night in anticipation of the mornings events, I was on my own and could set my own schedule. I watched the weather and did extra chores so that I could be the days prelude to the suns rise, sleep was not forthcoming because tomorrow was going to be awesome.
I pulled into the boat ramp pleased to see one other trailer already empty and dripping water from its own recent launch. I knew that my truck and trailer would be right next to him soon, a signal that two of us were ahead of the game when the next poor sucker follows up with his launch. The only ripples on the surface of the marina was the gentle pushing of the water as my hull broke through the glassy surface. My truck was parked and the doors locked when I remembered… how I could have forgotten I don’t know but she would have been really hurt if I would have trolled off without her. I unlocked and opened the back door.
“Come on Delta, lets go fishing.”
The silence consumed us as we puttered at no wake speed through the marina and out into big water. A faint glow to the east suggested that morning was but an hour away. Mist drifted between the reeds clinging to each leaf as if that alone is what held it to the earth only to fade from view as we distanced the lights of the marina.
We passed the buoys where the no wake ended and took a minute to scan the lake before me. The cabins filled with jet skiers and wake boarders were dark with on the telltale glows from beach fires left as evidence of the previous nights revelries but that was not what I searched for. I looked for the telltale red and green bow light of the other fisherman who beat me to the lake, who was it? he had a nice trailer so I am assuming he is driving one of those sporty bass boats that ride low in the water displaying only a hint of their sparkly fiberglass hulls with thousand dollar graphix. Nice boats to be sure but I prefer my deep hull aluminum with a four stoke. That will get me anywhere That I need to go.
He wasn’t in sight so I assumed he went around the bend or possibly down to the other side of the lake. Rumor had it that the crappies were hitting hard down there which was tempting but I liked walleye with the occasional northern thrown in.
“The weather man could never have predicted a morning this beautiful.” I said to Delta who sat next to me and leaned her head into my leg for a scratch. She was calm now but we both knew that as soon as I hit it and planed out she would be as far out on the bow as she could get feeling the wind and watching the the water rush by at forty miles an hour. I checked the gps on my depth guage to see where I had last been.
“You get to pick the next spot D where we going to find them?” I asked, now I don’t know if she understood me, human’s never do though we suspect that they understand much more than they are given credit for. Delta turned her head and looked to the east and slightly north. “The point? You want to hit the point, that’s good in hot weather but early morning after a cold front… are you sure? Okay then.” I finished and pushed the throttle forwards and the bow rose temporarily blocking my vision. Scant seconds later and we were on plane and flying to our destination Delta standing on the bow like the figure head upon the prow of a viking long boat.
We slowed a half mile out and gradually eased the throttle back so that I wouldn’t come into our target area hard. We crept in with barely a ripple and circled slowly to get a feel watching my gauges for depth and location. I powered up the remote for the trolling motor and hit the deploy button and watched as it mechanically, put the motor into position with nary a ripple.
We were fishing.
I chose my Fenwick today as it had a better feel and a more accurate launch than the others. I marveled once again at how smoothly my Shimano reel performed. I watched as my minnow flew the custom spinner waving in the air for thirty to forty yards before hitting with a splash. Not loud but just enough to get attention. I was using an adapted Lindy rig with a specialized oblong weedless sinker to get it down deep where the big ones are. Specifically adapted to my specs by me who is the only one I trust for such delicate work.
Strike! not two seconds in the water and already I have a hit and it was fighting like mad. It didn’t jump out of the water so I knew it wasn’t a bass and the strike was too sudden for a walleye… northern pike maybe? Too high in the water to be a carp or sheephead, not a bull head either maybe an eel pout or northern.
I reeled in with a struggle and as it approached the boat I started to think that this probably wasn’t a northern and definitely not a musky though in this lake they would be the tiger musky hybrid. Perch, it was a perch and not even a very big perch. Big enough to get the bait and tangle my line but not big enough to keep.
As a benevolent god I gently grabbed the fish and unhooked the empty hook from his lip to look him in the eye.
“Today you live because I allow it to be.” I laughed manically and set the fish back into the lake. I looked at Delta who sat there with a disappointed expression.
“No way was I going to let you chew on and roll in that on my boat. You know that stink doesn’t come out of your fur in one washing.
A fresh minnow and another cast away from perchville in hope of something bigger coming to feed upon the gathering of the bait fish. I plugged a pattern into my depth gauge that is linked to my the troller and started working the area with casts and slow retrieves.
Tap… bump; bump, tap. and I waited as they investigated my bait. I gave it a slight pull and relaxed waiting for that telltale sign that a walleye has taken the plunge.
Double tap! wait 2… 3 and set. Feel the tension, I got it.
The drag starts to click in reverse showing just how big the fish could be, I gave it a spin on the face to increase tension keeping the line tight. I turned off the troller and made my way slowly to where the net stood in it’s holder.
A tug and a yank pulled me away from the net, my rod bent drastically as the fish tried to swim under the boat and the drag started to scream, line was being pulled off the reel. I braced my foot on the gunnel and thanked god I was using braided line and had a whole spool on. I wouldn’t adjust the drag more for fear of breaking the line so I struggled and watched the line go out as I held tension. It would tire out soon I knew it, I just had to wait.
The thrashing slowed and I pulled the rod up a few feet before quickly winding up as much line as I could. It pulled back eliciting a couple more clicks from my drag. It was closer and in the red light of dawn I could see that it was a walleye, no idea how big yet but it was too big to be a sogger, not enough river here to be a sogger.
I, I couldn’t reach the net. It was towards the back of the boat and the walleye had kept me towards the front. I could see it now , less than three feet away and too heavy to lift out with the line strength alone. I could see the hook was barely in his lip. One down wards yank and it would be free and never have the opportunity to grace my wall as a fiberglass replica. Maybe I could gill it. I worried, I am not as limber as I used to be.
I stood on one knee and held my rod in my left as I slowly reached down towards the fish whose glassy eye stared back at me daring me to try it. My fingers slid behind the gill but not quite enough for a grab so I stretched further. Delta came over me to see if she could help and we both tumbled into the water with the fish.
The fish started to freak out with renewed energy thrashing back and forth pulling more line from my reel which began to tangle around my legs. I was being pulled… pulled away from the boat and down. I could hear Delta as she made her way to the swim platform that she had used multiple time but then my head was under water and all sounds became muffled. I could see the huge walleye dragging me down deeper into the depths.
I looked up and saw the hull of another boat come right next to mine and I laughed. This fish was no match for technology. My ears popped right as I deployed my life vest the canister of air filling so fast it instantly changed our direction snapping the fish around and causing it to tug in a backwards pattern. I was enamored with the visual as we rose quickly back to the surface. Angry eyes boring into me as the fish tried to tug the hook from its mouth lips tearing a little more with each jerk.
My head broke the surface and I was able to hook my elbow on the swim platform at the stern. The bass boat slowly crept into view with two men in their early twenties looking at me with concern.
“Are you alright?”
“Yeah, I think so. The dang dog knocked me in and then the fish wrapped the line around my legs but I still got him.”
“Holy crap, that’s a big one.” One exclaimed as the walleye came to the surface.
“Yeah, my biggest I think. Can you help me out and scoop him up for me?” I asked to which the men looked at each other before turning back to me.
“Nope, sorry but that’s your fish.” The man said.
“Besides, its not a bass.” The other added.
I screamed profanities at them as they drove off.