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Author Topic: Yup... That's a BIG Fish (Champlain Report 6/10/18)  (Read 567 times)

Perchbait

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Yup... That's a BIG Fish (Champlain Report 6/10/18)
« on: Jun 14, 2018, 04:47 PM »
          It seemed like any other day of fishing on Lake Champlain. Forecasted winds of 5 to 10 knots were more like 15 to 20, the warm Sunday sun had filled the Apple Island access to its gills, and I was eager to get on the water and catch some fish. While our maiden voyage in our “new-to-us” 1983 Sea Nymph Striper center console had brought us to this exact same launch only a month before in chase of salmon, today was different. We had spent the previous day cruising around the northern reaches of the inland sea in search of panfish and smallmouths and I had come down with a bad case of the bass bug. After a quick buzz to our spot, we broke out the planer boards, crankbaits, and long rods, fired up the 7.5 Honda and got to work combing the shallows for smallies. It’s nice to have a 19 foot boat with deep sides when your dealing with Champlain waves and the prevailing New England winds, but there is no way to cast from it without anchoring up. Those tall sheets of aluminum that make up the boats hull love to catch even the slightest breeze and what may be a nice .5 mph drift down a rocky shoreline can easily turn into 2 mph of complete boat control chaos. While a kicker may not be well suited for precise positionings of your boat alongside a blow down or on top of a pin point reef, if there’s one thing they are good at, it’s trolling!

     With four lines in the water, we were officially fishing. The many rocky bluffs lining the shores offered a picturesque scene to gaze at as we slowly putted by beneath them. 20 minutes in and not a single bite warranted my Dad’s decision to make a lure change on his inside line. I stepped up to the helm with a short lived sense of confidence as, shortly after I started driving, we were upon a very shallow rock reef. 15 feet. 12 feet. 10 feet. Start turning away from shore! 7 feet. 4 feet! I looked back just in time to see one of my lines get pulled from it’s release and drag strat ticking off the reel at a steady pace. I was snagged on bottom. I grabbed the rod, gave it some quick yanks and then lots of slack. Luckily, this was enough to dislodge my floating crank and send it on it’s peaceful ascent to the surface. With the tip of the rod held high I reeled in like crazy to keep the bait off of bottom. With 40 feet of line still out on the rod in my hand, I tended to my other line which had also pile drived into a rock and was now stuck.

          Right after pulling that lure free, the light action trolling rod in my hand began to double over, but this time with a fish, a good sized smallmouth. Just what I needed during a time of complete pandemonium. She jumped once behind the boat before making her last attempt to get away from her captors. My Dad took a split second to net the 18 inch smallie before getting back to trying to fix the mess he had over on the port side. By this point, my Dad had tried to juggle driving us out of trouble and freeing one of his lines as well. An attempt at straightening a treble hook had only resulted in a massive backlash! I had to act fast and bring in my planer board before his line or reel broke. As soon as my board was in the boat he threw the kicker into reverse to relieve the immense tension on his line, which had stopped the boat dead in its tracks.
 
      Without losing a single lure or damaging any props, we were back to trolling in a little more comfortable depth range. A pass across the mouth of a small, wind-sheltered cove and the lake coughed up two more feisty little smallmouths, no longer than 12 inches a piece. Maneuvering the boat through a couple of oddly placed moorings, the fish seemed not to be cooperating with us. ZZzzzzzz. One of the free spooling level winds on my Dad’s side of the boat started paying out line at a good clip as something at the other end pulled the release down the planer board line toward the board itself. With one swift motion, he had removed the rod from it’s home in the port rocket launcher rod holder and given it a good yank to remove the line from the grasp of the two foam pads constituting the primitive release. Turning the handle rapidly to eliminate the newly formed slack, he was met by dead weight on the end of his line and set the hook. That caught the fish’s attention because, seconds later, the 17 pound monofilament was dumping off the spool. I had taken the wheel, again, just as we were heading up onto a reef and was forced to make a turn. “WOW!!,” my fishing buddy exclaimed as a pike went airborne about 60 yards behind the boat. I looked back just in time to see it’s tail slap against the persistent chop. The battle consisted of what felt like a half hour of a constant back and forth of gaining line and having it all taken back out with a few powerful sweeps of the fish’s broad caudal fin.  At times, she would just turn sideways and put the brakes on, leaving my Dad with no option, but to just let the drag tick out at the same speed the boat was going. By the two minute mark, we knew that we had a serious fish on our hands and moments later, her massive head broke the surface. The back treble of the lure was pinned in the roof of her mouth, but not hanging on by much. Now it was my time to shine.

            With our rubberized net fully extended and my heart beating wildly, I was ready to lunge in after this behemoth of a northern, but my Dad reminded me not to go too soon and to wait until he had brought the fish boatside. She was now drifting side to side just 3 feet from our stern. “Are you ready?” he asked me. “Ready as I’ll ever be,” I mumbled to myself as my Dad lowered his rod, keeping the line tight, and pulled it upwards, pulling the fish’s toothy face out of the water and bringing it into range. Or... so I thought. I plunged the basket beneath the fish and began lifting up. As soon as her head touched the net, she began flailing wildly. I heard a SNAP and my Dad yelling “It broke my line…” in slow motion. Somehow, I had managed to keep the front half of the now completely docile fish in the net while the tail end remained in the water! One flip or flop at this point and things could go either really well or REALLY BAD! I went into net man focus mode and sank the net ever so slightly and twisted it at the same time, causing the rear end of the fish to slide over the metal hoop and into the basket. With one last attempt to escape, the beast went berserk in our severely undersized net. “Look out, she’s coming in,” I yelled as I muckled onto the rim of the net with both hands and swung my Dad’s personal best Northern Pike over the gunwale and into the boat. We were both in awe, to say the least, of the 41.5 inch monster that lay before us!



          With no time to lose, my Dad posed for some quick photos with his trophy and then placed her gently back into her watery home and began the reviving process.  After ten rib-crushing minutes of dangling over the side of the boat among the now 1.5 foot waves, the beautiful pike had finally decided it was time to say goodbye. She sat on the surface, gaining her bearings before sinking below the whitecaps. Three reassuring passes around her last known location and we were confident that she was going to survive to see another day.

            After getting settled down a little bit, we recounted what had just gone down. I couldn’t help but to think that it was an absolute miracle that I landed that fish and neither of us could get over her sheer size. We also realized that the line had not broken, but instead, the plastic lure itself had snapped clean in half, most likely as a result of the front treble getting caught in the net and the pike thrashing about and twisting wildly. We were able to finish the day strong with 7 or 8 other northerns ranging anywhere from 18 to 32 inches. Checking our lines every 20 minutes or so was a must with scattered schools of pesky perch all around. The cruise back to the boat launch and the ride back home was filled with the residual smiles that come with catching a “Fish of a lifetime.” Congrats Dad and I’m glad I was able to partake in this highlight of your fishing career. Hopefully we will be able to read this story years from now and reminisce about that day.



perch bait on IS, if you couldn't figure that out on your own. ;)

fishnmachine

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Re: Yup... That's a BIG Fish (Champlain Report 6/10/18)
« Reply #1 on: Jun 14, 2018, 05:23 PM »
Great story. Great fish. Congrats to your dad! Thanks for sharing.   ;D
     One more with the one we're after and we'll have two.
The brook trout is the prom queen of the trout world, and a promiscuous prom queen at that!

taxid

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Re: Yup... That's a BIG Fish (Champlain Report 6/10/18)
« Reply #2 on: Jun 14, 2018, 10:07 PM »
Yes thanks for sharing!
“The trouble with quotes on the Internet is you never know if they are genuine.” —Abraham Lincoln

zwiggles

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Re: Yup... That's a BIG Fish (Champlain Report 6/10/18)
« Reply #3 on: Jun 14, 2018, 10:37 PM »
Sounds like a great trip!

crayfish2

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Re: Yup... That's a BIG Fish (Champlain Report 6/10/18)
« Reply #4 on: Jun 15, 2018, 01:19 PM »
Thanks for the great net job, PB!  I was afraid she might be a goner when that lure broke.  I thought the hook had pulled out and didn't realize until I went to set that lucky lure back up that it was missing the back hook and a chunk of lure. 

If she had gotten away, there is no way I have guessed that she was over 41" long, though.  I knew I'd probably never seen a pike that big before, but I would have underestimated her for sure.  Got an email from Shawn Good ... although it's impossible to say with any certainty, he estimates that less that 1% of the pike population in Champlain is over 40".  He netted 663 pike in 2010 and 2011 and none were over 40.

This was a rare, special fish that I hope will live much longer to keep spreading those genes!

lowaccord66

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Re: Yup... That's a BIG Fish (Champlain Report 6/10/18)
« Reply #5 on: Jun 15, 2018, 02:10 PM »
Thats a small percentage.  We usually see 1 or 2 in that size catagory fishing for them specifically in the fall.   Got one on missquoi this year was a hair off.  Always wondered if the big ones get shot....

fishnmachine

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Re: Yup... That's a BIG Fish (Champlain Report 6/10/18)
« Reply #6 on: Jun 15, 2018, 04:23 PM »
.......  Always wondered if the big ones get shot....
That very well could be.   ;D
     One more with the one we're after and we'll have two.
The brook trout is the prom queen of the trout world, and a promiscuous prom queen at that!

bootstrap

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Re: Yup... That's a BIG Fish (Champlain Report 6/10/18)
« Reply #7 on: Jun 15, 2018, 09:19 PM »
super pike. 40+ is a hard mark to break. I dont think i ever have, lost a few though.

lowaccord66

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Re: Yup... That's a BIG Fish (Champlain Report 6/10/18)
« Reply #8 on: Jun 16, 2018, 06:03 PM »
That very well could be.   ;D

It figures.  They are the easiest to find in the spring when there is high water. 

mudchuck

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Re: Yup... That's a BIG Fish (Champlain Report 6/10/18)
« Reply #9 on: Jun 18, 2018, 06:33 AM »
WOW, Nice Northern CF2!

crayfish2

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Re: Yup... That's a BIG Fish (Champlain Report 6/10/18)
« Reply #10 on: Jun 19, 2018, 12:34 PM »
No way all of the 40+ are getting shot.  I've shot quite a few pike back in the day and the biggest I've shot or seen shot were around the 35-36" mark.  The most active breeders I believe are in the 32-36 range from what I've seen in the flooded woods in the spring.  Actually have seen lots of much smaller pike, too, which I assume are the "bucks".  The 40's are just rare specimens.

lowaccord66

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Re: Yup... That's a BIG Fish (Champlain Report 6/10/18)
« Reply #11 on: Jun 19, 2018, 02:12 PM »
No way all of the 40+ are getting shot.  I've shot quite a few pike back in the day and the biggest I've shot or seen shot were around the 35-36" mark.  The most active breeders I believe are in the 32-36 range from what I've seen in the flooded woods in the spring.  Actually have seen lots of much smaller pike, too, which I assume are the "bucks".  The 40's are just rare specimens.

Just to be clear not suggesting that all are shot.  However if 35-36"ers are getting blasted then they certainly can't grow that extra 4-5 inches! 

In any event that was a beauty and I hope you get another one!

TroutCrazy

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Re: Yup... That's a BIG Fish (Champlain Report 6/10/18)
« Reply #12 on: Jun 19, 2018, 03:32 PM »
ZZZZZZZZZZZ!!!
What a monster!  Nice catch!

 



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