After my 100th cast off the dock I started to wonder “Why do I love this so much”? I mean I had been fishing off the dock off and on for 2 days in wet, crappy weather and had not caught anything bigger than a rock bass. But here I was, back at it again in a warm drizzle firing casts and feeling quite content. Then it hit me, I was content to keep waiting and wishing for the unexpected. Now unexpected may be a bit misleading, I think what I am really wishing for is that “one time”. You see filed away in my fishing processor (much stronger than my birthday or anniversary processor) are all the times that I was surprised by the events of the day. That one time when a sure skunk turned out to be a day, I still talk about many years later or that week when one mistake turned a good trip into a trip of a lifetime. Let me breakdown a few examples for you.
The Monster off The Dock
It was a typical family weekend at the cottage. We spent 80% of our waking moments on the dock, swimming, jumping, floating and of course fishing. My daughter and her friend had been having a field day catching sunfish, rock bass and juveniles smallies with a worm and a bobber. Yours truly had caught quite a few juvenile bass as well and even a bonus pike - primarily on a wacky rigged senko. One evening just after dinner I went down to the dock to cast, enjoy a beer, and watch the sunset. Looking into my tackle box I spotted a new lure (Storm 360 search bait) and I thought – Gord Pyzer and Doug Stange always talk about swim baits for walleye, what the heck lets give it a whirl. I made one cast and reeled it straight back – Zip. Tried another cast, let is sink to the bottom and jigged it back -Nada. Tried another cast, let it sink to the bottom and as soon as I engaged the reel to jig – boom, FISH ON! As I engaged in battle it was apparent the fish had some shoulders. Between the fading light and the fish staying down I had no clue what I was into, my assumption was another half decent pike. Just as I got it close to the dock it rolled near the surface, and I realized it was a beautiful walleye. Panic set in, I asked (yelled) at my daughter to grab the net that was leaning against the cottage. She handled like a pro and soon enough a beautiful 25-inch walleye had been photographed and released. To this day it still blows me away. In over 15 years fishing at the cottage, I have caught maybe 7 walleye, mainly small ones and on a virgin lure, a bonus yes, unexpected – absolutely! Lesson learned – Gord Pyzer and Doug Stange are smart!
I have talked about falling in love with musky fishing at my brother’s cottage in Haliburton Glory Days at the Cottage. And it was more than me, so many of our crowd fishing for musky the first time on that lake. Being small and quiet it was a great spot to try your luck and ideally avoid 9800 of the 10,000 casts required for musky. One weekend, when our cousin and her husband came for a visit, he wanted to head out and give it a whirl. As Brett strung up his rod the banter started. “Sweet rod, did you cut it yourself” “Wow, it’s been a while since I have seen steel line” and “Nice lure, did your grandpa buy it new or used” You see, compared to some of the regulars Brett’s gear was antiquated. As we headed out to try our luck, we tried to convince him to try one of our fancy bucktails or body baits. Brett was not convinced and declared “This lure had caught me a lot of pike, I’ll try her out” Well, what can I say – the tale of the tape that day – Brett 3 muskies raised, two landed. Fancy Lure Guys’ – the big skunk. It was incredible – whatever mojo that old, weird spoon had it worked. Brett caught one nice ski trolling and one casting. Unexpected, absolutely. Lesson learned, confidence in your lure is everything.
Something out of Nothing
Mid-week our first fly in trip to Pickle Lake with White River Air was everything we hoped for Pickle Lake Report We had caught scads of walleye and pike on a variety of tactics. While we had absolutely 0 complaints, we had yet to connect with any walleye over 22 inches. This was expected, when researching our destination, we knew we wanted a smaller lake that was known for numbers of fish But not huge ones. We figured as first timers that would allow us to learn the lake and gain confidence early. So far everything was going according to plan. This day was far from a perfect walleye day. High sun, no clouds and very little wind. Mark was driving the boat and as he watched the graph, he pulled us close to a spot we had yet to fish and declared “Interesting drop off here”, we should try jigging. I must admit I was skeptical – partially because I had more confidence in trolling bottom bouncers and partially because I thought there was no real structure to hold fish. We pulled to the edge of the drop, plopped our jigs over and slowly, very slowly drifted down the drop. First pass, no fish and I was already hinting (okay, outright saying) “Maybe we should try harnesses over there” My captain said – lets give it one more pass, I think this spot will have fish. Second pass, we slowly, very slowly drifted down the drop. Starting the lifting motion to jig I felt dead weight, as I set the hook ginormous head shakes worked there way up the line and I declared “Fish on” It took me a while to move the fish and I said to Mark on numerous occasions that it must be a pike. Mark reminded me of our battle cry Fight it Like a Walleye and I took my time, keeping pressure, checking my drag. When the fish finally showed itself, we simultaneously screamed “Holy Sh#%, walleye”. As we put the fish onto the tape it maxed out at 27.5 inches. To this day it is still my personal best fish from a spot I never would have chosen, using a tactic I had no faith in. Lesson learned – listen to Whitey!
Relying on my personal fishing processor and understanding that the next big fish is only a cast (and some luck) away is a big reason I can spend hours plunking away without a bite. For me knowing that a personal best or giant fish is just a cast or a lucky lure away is all that is required