As most of you know from past articles, I've been stalking
a monster Northern Pike that lives in my home waters for over
a year. This is no ordinary, 5 to 6 pound, bone laden snake.
This is a huge, duck eating, line ripping, rod bender that has
an attitude like Moby Dick. Last year I managed to get it on
line three times, and three times it got away. Leaving me
standing in the river trying to figure out what I did wrong
Well folks, I gotta tell ya, I've been watching the wakes
from it's dorsal fin now for about 2 weeks. It's starting into
it's old patterns of late afternnoon feedings across the river,
then crossing at dusk to feed in the shallows. I've built steel
leaders over the winter, like those used in salt water fishing.
Last fall I tied some large Clouser Minnows on #2 hooks in
shades of sunfish and small crappies. The ducklings will be
hatching in another month or so and I'm looking for a pattern
to match them also! Last Sunday, Easter, was the closest yet
to bringing it in....
It was late afternoon, we had all gorged ourselves with the
traditional holiday meal of glazed ham, sweet potatoes, veggies,
cherry cheese cake, strawberry pie, the works.... Some of the
relatives headed down the road, some headed for the couches
and the remote, and some were setting up for the obligatory
series of card games. My wife came over to me and said I'd
done enough for the day and suggested I grab my rod and walk
down to the river and do a little fishing.... I was a little suspect
at the offer, but managed not to shout for glee out loud! I
quickly grabbed my 4/5 wt that's set up for bass and crappie
and my vest and headed for the river... alone, away from the
crowd and noise.
I'd been fishing for about an hour, had caught a couple of
small mouths a blue gill and one puny crappie when the neighbor
walked down to talk. He mentioned that he'd just got off duty
(he's a cop in one of the local small towns) and was looking
forward to his own family's holiday meal in a little while and just
wanted to see how I was doing. I had just cast out about 3 feet
from the dock and was slowly mending the line back as he
walked down the ramp to the dock, talking. I wasn't really
paying much attention to the fly or the line... just talking with
the neighbor. All of a sudden his eyes were huge, looking
down stream at where my fly was and pointing, I won't even
repeat what he shouted as he screamed about the fish... (it
wasn't repeatable here!) I turned to look at about the same
time I felt line ripping off the reel. I turned to him and asked
"what was it?". The only thing he said was, "the big guy,
Randy, the big guy!". The first thing that went through my
mind was, "Sure, and I'm rigged for crappies and bass, with
a 4 wt rod! No way!"
The neighbor stayed right there the whole time as I fought
with that fish again. Upstream, downstream, heading for
the shallows, heading for the drop off. He'd take line, and
I'd let him run, then I'd mend like hell trying to tire him out.
After about 15 minutes of this I had him about 5 feet from
the dock. Jason, the neighbor, is shouting, "Bring him in!
Bring him in! He's huge!"
All of a sudden it dawned on me... no net!
I hadn't planned on nailing a northern, especially
this one and there was no way I was going to reach down
bare handed and lift it out of the water! Those teeth were
long and sharp! I turned to Jason and told him to head for
the garage and grab my net and he just stood there, looking
at this huge fish! Finally I yelled at him, "Go get my net,
darn it (or something like that...)" He turned and headed
for the ramp, stumbled, caught himself on the railing. The
dock was rocking so hard I nearly fell in. I grabbed hold
of the railing with one hand, still holding the rod in the other.
All of a sudden the rod went limp and I heard a whipping
sound. I looked over, the hook was busted and the fish
I came real close to jumping in after it! I also came real
close to loosing a neighbor and a cop for stumbling around
on the dock! Then I realized that I was the only one I could
blame for not being prepared and having a net down there....
Jason sat down on the dock, more in shock and disbelief
than anything I think. He just kept repeating, "I saw it!
I saw it! Gawd... is that fish big! I've never seen one in
here that big!" By then some of the people from the house
had started coming down to see what all the commotion
was about. I just tied on another fly and started fishing again
and let Jason do the telling... After all, it'd just be another
fisherman's story if I told it! ~ Randy Fratzke