Friday, January 6, 2012

Biggest Fish I Never Saw

Pond off Highway 55

It was a typical autumn day here in Michigan, temperatures in the 60's and overcast with a light wind. I had been fishing one of my favorite spots on Backus lake with little success. So I decided to try a small pond by a picnic park off highway 55. Occasionally I had seen others fishing there, though not many. Actually it's not a very popular spot with only two picnic tables and no facilities of any kind. Still there is a pond with some decent vegetation surrounding most of it.

The shoreline is mostly sparse grass and hard earth. Near the picnic area is small sand beach with cattails and lily pads to the right and left sides the type of area big fish call home. I scouted along the waterline checking for minnows, a sign that there might be other larger fish. After a few minutes I finally saw a few. Encouraged I pulled a fat crawler out of the plastic container. I cut off a nice piece (I don't believe in using a whole one) placed it on my favorite jighead (1/32 oz orange and yellow) and adjusted the weighted orange styrofoam bobber to the proper height on my 8 lb test line.

There was a gentle wind blowing from my right so I cast out that way and let the wind push my rig back across in front of me. I tried 35 feet out, 25 feet out, 15 feet out, not a nibble. I suspected I knew the reason no one fished here twice.

Let me tell you right now, I'm not very patient. If I don't get a bite within 15 minutes I'm ready to move on (which was why I left Backus Lake). After a look around I could see there was no other spot offering access to the pond. Then studying the pond I noticed an opening in the lily pads to my right about 2 ft in diameter. Only thing was I had to cast around some cattails to drop it in there (if I was golfing it wouldn't be a problem since I have an incurable slice). Normally I won't cast into lily pads, it's a disaster that ends with losing my rig even if I don't hook a fish. But the season was ending and the prospect of catching something outweighed my common sense. So I hauled back and let her fly.

It was a perfect cast and when my bait landed in the opening two things happened; the surface water erupted and my bobber disappeared. I was so surprised I almost forgot to set the hook. But a split second later I heaved back on the rod and then...nothing. I gave the crank handle a few quick turns to take up slack and tried again...still nothing. My bobber remained out of sight as I started to furiously crank the reel. I tipped the rod back once more and still nothing. Disappointed I calmly reeled in the slack line assuming it must have broken.

Only it hadn't broken. There had not been even the slightest tension in the line from the moment my bobber had disappeared. The line would have to be taut to break. Quickly looking back there was my bobber floating next to a lily pad.

My only explanation is that a very large fish, probably a largemouth bass must have gone after the bobber (a common occurrence) and enclosing the whole thing in it's mouth it must have bit the line in two. It could have been a catfish or northern pike but I like to think it was a bass. After it realized the bobber wasn't edible it just spit it back out.

I set up another rig and cast to that same spot several more times. But lightning never strikes twice in the same place. The old fella had moved on probably with a bad taste in his mouth.

I'll be going back in the spring and trying again. I have a weedless frog lure I want to try out. And maybe next time I'll actually see this trophy fish. I've been toying with the idea of giving him a nickname but for now he'll just remain the "biggest fish I never saw".

Take care all and happy fishing,

Ken S

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