ICE OUT BIG FISH
The light south winds rolled gently across the small hole that had opened by the boat ramp. The breaking ice sounded like you had just poured a cup of milk over a bowl of Rice Crispies, pop, crackle, pop. It would not be long before there would be enough water open to start fishing. It was February 21st, and the warm rays of the sun were a welcome relief to the cold dark days of winter. I sat in my truck at the boat ramp looking over the half-frozen lake dreaming of the day I could launch my Tracker Targa and start whooping on the muskies that had not seen a bait for months.
Last year, our average fish was in the upper 30-inch class. That means we should be looking at numbers of fish in the low to middle 40-inch class. The stage was to be set for another pre-spawn season. While most people have not even thought about getting their boats ready, mine was fueled, charged, and stocked with rods and baits.
It was February, the hottest month on the calendar for hot muskie action if we have open water. Over the last couple of years, my clients have put at least one muskie in the boat every trip we have taken. In fact, we flat out whipped them most trips with 3 to 6 fish days common. With 17 fish measuring 40 inches or better, I lost a fish in the upper 40’s the second day of the 2021 season right at the boat. Man, was she a beauty? She came up out of the shallow pad stems and swiped at the bait. With the back hook just getting a little piece of her upper lip, I did not horse her, letting her go where she wanted. I don’t even think she knew she was hooked. I stalked her with the trolling motor. The closer I got; I could tell she was a giant. I grabbed the net trying not to spook her. I slowly eased it into the water. I put a little bit more pressure on her trying to get her head turned toward the half-submerged net. She was moving in the right direction. She was on the shaded side of the boat, so she had not gotten her panties in a bunch quite yet. Just another foot. Suddenly, she exploded into a frenzy as the boat had drifted into the sunlight. I quickly went to free spool on my Johnny Morris reel, trying not to put any pressure on the lightly hooked horse. She bolted away from the boat so fast she had taken my already numb thumb to a feeling like it was stuck on a hot coal. Once, twice she rolled on the surface. I tried to keep her down, shoving the rod 2 feet under the surface trying not to let her jump. Again, she came to the top rolling like the huge gator she was. This went on for at least a couple of minutes. My teeth grinding every time she lunged. Finally, she was calmed down and heading back toward the boat. Her immense head was, again, turned toward the net. I lowered the net into the water. Come on you big ##^@#. Get in there. She must have heard my unkind slurs of the English language because I had not gotten out the last word when she turned and flew out of the area like a bullet shot out of a gun. Line limp, I watched her slowly sink into the dark water of the pad stems giving me a slow wave goodbye with her tail as she went. I dropped the rod into the bottom of the boat. I struggled to light up a cigar, hands still shaking. I finally got it to take spark. A couple puffs settled me down. “Man, was that intense,” I thought to myself as the boat gently swayed with the wave action. It was quiet. No other boats on this end of the lake. The only sound was that of a lone speckled belly goose flying overhead. It’s calls sounding like nature itself laughing at what had just happened. “That’s cool,” I thought to myself as I picked up the rod. No bent hooks. No kinks in the leader, just a whole bunch of teeth marks on the once shiny new bait. I turned the boat and headed back to the spot I had hooked her. This was not over yet, NOT JUST YET!!!
Wow, I just got the shakes thinking about that one. She was a PIG!!! I guess she may have put on about another 2 or 3 pounds, maybe more by now. If you want a chance at her, you better call me now because as sure as I am breathing, my boat will again be in that spot as soon as the ice is out. Heck, it may already be out depending on when you are reading this story. Well, take a look at the pics of the ones that did not get away. That should get your mojo working!
I guide for these great fish ice out through May. Days are limited, so if you want to go, you had better get on my books because I flat out guarantee you the only feeling that can match these cannot be talked about in case there are children reading and that’s the flat-out truth brother. The boat books fast with limited trips available so send me an e-mail or call with your information. I will begin calling clients when I see the ice leaving the lakes.
If you want to fish with me, I will be on the lake 7 days a week guiding or looking for another memory. You can contact me at 309- 267-8309 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. YOU BETTER NOT MISS THE BOAT BECAUSE THE BITE WAITS FOR NO MAN!!!
SEE ‘YA ON THE WATER!