Friday, August 23, 2013

The One I've Been Waiting For

For the second post in a row, I'm going to steer away from herp related stuff to talk about fishing. It's well known among fishermen that lunar activity can cause surges in feeding activity of fish and sometimes it even brings out bigger fish. With the nearing full moon, I've gotten out and fished quite a bit this week and have managed to catch good numbers of both largemouth and smallmouth bass. But on Wednesday night, Ryan Luke and I decided to go out under the full moon to do some bass fishing. Ryan managed to catch a nice pike before I arrived just after 9 o'clock. We spent our first hour and a half of the night throwing a wide array of lures in hopes of landing a monster between the two of us. We threw topwater lures, crankbaits, and jerkbaits with no luck. Finally as the moon got higher in the night sky, we both decided to start throwing large, single bladed black spinnerbaits. Fishing spinnerbaits with lots of vibration at night can be deadly for bass. I managed to catch a nice little rock bass and this smallie, which was particularly fun in the current.

I had another smallie on the line a short time later but lost it. At about 11:30 PM, I decided to move under a bridge in fairly deep water to try my luck. I pitched my spinnerbait up against the concrete support and let my spinnerbait sink a bit before slow rolling it across the bottom. Within a turn and a half of my reel, there was weight on the opposite end of the line. Upon setting the hook, line immediately began to fly off my reel. I've caught a few 3-4 pound bass this summer, but this was something different. I looked over to Ryan and said, "This is something big." The fish never jumped, but just continued to make runs and pull some drag. Given the clear water and cobblestone substrate, I figured that I had hooked into a big smallie, boy was I wrong. Eventually I was able to get the fish close enough to shore for Ryan to shine his light on it and when we saw what it was, I think we both may have crapped our pants.

Trophy Largemouth caught under the full moon on 8/22/13

I've been dreaming about catching a bass like this since I was a kid. This monster measured in at 21" long and weighed right around 6 pounds. Bass like this in Michigan do not come around very often due to our northern latitude and short growing season. So for this part of the country, this is truly a trophy largemouth. We spent a few minutes taking some photos with this fish before letting her go. I've had several people ask me, why would you let such a trophy go? For me it's simple, I only keep fish if I'm going to eat them. Largemouth bass around the keeper size of 14" tend to taste okay, but the larger they get the more muddy they taste. A fish of this size would not taste very good given the warm water temperature. Bass take many years in this part of the country to reach a size like this and simply killing one to put it on a wall seems like such a waste to me. Replica mounts look just as good and last longer, and the best part is that the trophy fish gets to live. This big girl may end up on my wall in the near future, but we'll see.

I took one final parting shot before letting this monster go back to its haunts. I still can't describe the excitement of getting to land this thign and this may truly be a once in a lifetime kind of fish. I recently upgraded to a 6'6" medium heavy Ugly Stik which is a bit stouter than the shorter 5'10" medium action Ugly Stik I've been fishing for many years and it handled this fish really well. I had armed the rod with a Pflueger President 6900 series spinning reel and 15 pound Spiderwire Stealth braid. This teflon coated braid has a 6 lb. test monofilament diameter and handled extremely well. I couldn't have been more pleased with how this new outfit handled this big fish. All in all it was an awesome experience. A memory I will keep with me for the rest of my life.

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