Part Fourty-seven

Randy Fratzke

Moby Dick Northern

By Randy Fratzke

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 "this time."

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 was loose!

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

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