Any fisherman worth his salt has a great escape story. You fish enough and eventually you will have your heart broken by an otherworldly leviathan. Over the years I have suffered my fair share of devastating losses but a few stand out.
A Brief Glimpse
Our group had been fishing Lake Huron through Brennan Harbour Lodge for almost a week Brennan Harbour Report and the fishing had been incredible. What had really surprised us was the quality of the small mouth bass fishing. All of us had caught personal best fish and this day we were looking for more. I remember it vividly. The wind had picked up so we had decided to fish a series of islands near where we had had shore lunch. Whitey and I were moving from point to point casting to the eddies being formed by the rollers crashing into the tips of islands and rock humps. I fired out a cast towards the shoreline just as a large roller crashed into the boat. I kicked the motor into gear to try to get back out of the wind and it happened. Moby came up and crushed my jerk bait as it floated on the surface and launched itself into the air. With my attention on getting us out of the tsunami I barely had time to try to pick up my rod let alone set the hook. I swear the fish cleared the water by 4 feet, winked at me and before I could drop an F bomb was gone. This bass was big by any standard (or at least that’s how I remember it and she was gone. Every time I tie on a Hothead Rapala X Rap I think of that fish.
Run Salmon Run
I have never had much luck fishing for members Salmonidae family. I have tried fishing many a river for trout and never really been rewarded for my efforts. Growing up in Markham there were plenty of steelhead and salmon runs to take advantage of and try I did. One day my friends Colin, Jared and I had headed to a local creek to see if there were any salmon or trout had ventured up from Lake Ontario. We made our way upstream casting spinners as we went. Jared decided he was going to try some roe a friend gave him and pitched his float rig into a deep hole. Colin and I had wandered away when we heard a loud yell “Guy’s, I got one, Help!” As we ran towards Jared, we couldn’t help noticing that he appeared to be running some form of 30-yard dash up and down the bank. He had somehow hooked into a large Chinook that was dead set on heading back to the Big Lake. It was thrilling and comical to watch. Think Brad Pitt in a River Runs Through It except way less graceful and good looking (no offense Jared). Like a champ Jared didn’t give up, every time it seemed like the salmon was about to take all his line Jared would take off toward the fish anxiously cranking. After what seemed like an hour, he finally had the best of the fish and it came slowly rolling towards us. Just as I was ready to wade into to try to grab the fish (idiots we are we did not have a net) the fish made one last rush for freedom, wrapped around a fallen limb and SNAP, it was gone. Colin and I dejectedly started to console Jared but he quickly flashed us a grin and said, “Now that was fun”.
One of the first posts I ever put up on Northern Jacks was about my daughter Molly Molly's Post She has become a keen fisherwoman and loves fishing at the family cottage in Muskoka. One Saturday morning Molly, my brother in law Simon and I headed out for a quick fish in the Tracker. We pulled into a bay that had been good to us in the past and decided to troll. To try to avoid a crap show of tangled lines and snagged lures I elected to just be the Captain and not wet a line. Molly chose a crayfish coloured Rapala Minnow Rap from my box and Simon put on a Storm Hot N Tot. We cruised around the shoreline in a zig zag pattern in order to cover a bunch of depths. Not long into the first pass Simon hooked into a juvenile small mouth. Spirits up that we may be onto something we turned for the other shoreline and right about the time the lines straightened Molly got a hit. As her rod bent, her excitement grew. I am not going to lie; at this stage I wasn’t sure if she had a fish or weeds. As I kicked the boat into neutral her rod pumped 3 times as the fish did some head pumps. Awesome, we have a fish! With a little coaching Molly eased the fish back to the boat. Excited to see what she had on (pike and bass are most common catches in the lake we have also caught walleye and musky) I made my way to the gunnel with the net and just as I caught the first flash of green the fish was off. I am not sure who was more distraught, Molly, Simon or me. Molly really wanted her first fish from trolling and we really wanted to see her catch a nice one. IMO this is the worst type of lost fish. Was it a bass, a pike, a walleye? We will never know. I will say one upside of this was Molly became keen to add to her arsenal of trolling lures. “Dad, can we go to the tackle store to pick some up” Yes, we can!
There are so many other stories that fall into the category of great escapes, maybe I will save them for another day or maybe you want to share yours with me (I am always open to guest bloggers). Sometimes I think the ones that got away are just as impactful as those that didn’t. And they make for great fireside stories.
PS - Limited pictures in this post but really its hard to have photos of fish you didn't catch