For as long as I can remember labour day weekend meant one thing and one thing only; the biggest camping trip and fishing weekend of the year. Since the time I was 4 years old my dad brought me along on his week long trip full of friends, fishing, and a chance to win the prestigious trophy for biggest bass of the weekend. Without a doubt this is where my love for fishing started and what pushed me to want to learn how to catch more & bigger fish. Over the years these trips have changed a little as technology advanced, we got more adventurous, and now with fully equipped fishing boats instead of canoes. In that time the group has remained the same and been there for a number of the more memorable catches I made as a kid. This is just another reason why this story is so special.
Labour day 2023, for the first time in the history of the 40+ year trip we are in cabins instead of tents. Not only this we are in the land of big pike! High winds on day 2 made boat control and casting a near impossible task so I, with the founding members of the trip, decided to spend the day trolling big baits for a shot at a giant. Now, I know the area well and what to expect and what was swimming in the waters around us but the two in the boat with me had no idea.
Gary started off the day not wanting to grab the rod out of the rod holder for fears of dropping it and not being used to using big baits or how the pulled (especially at 5 mph). After a few pike were caught and going over how the holders and reels work a few times the mood started to shift. Before long he was up and grabbing rods before I even heard the clicker going off! After a few hours we had managed to figure out a pattern, switch up baits to start betting bit on both lines, and boat 8 low to mid 30" pike. We also missed a few strikes but let's not dwell on that we had a few fish for the camp fish fry this afternoon so all is good. The day was cut short by having to go back to camp, clean the fish, and have it cooked up for the entire party by dinner time and we were already pretty satisfied with the day. We decided to make one more pass in an area we caught the 1st fish of the day just before heading back and Gary decided to adjust the bait to 32 ft back behind the boat.
As we came out from a thick weedline into deeper water the clicker went off.
At first we weren't sure if it was weeds or a fish as it didn't fight at all. After making sure to keep the rod bent and line tight as we had been doing it took a few seconds for the fish to show itself as it floated slowly to the surface before realizing it was hooked and took off. A few big runs, swear words, and keep it tight's later this fat girl hit the net.
Measuring in at 41.5" the length is a trophy but one that can be bested. The weight on the other hand is going to be one that is very difficult to beat; a true fish of a lifetime. We have caught fish from 42 up to 45" and only a few have beat the 20 lb mark and this is when they are visibly girthy in a way that seems to ooze over itself and your arms while holding them. As soon as this beast hit the net I knew it was one of these fish. By far the thickest fish across the back I had seen all season long. This 41.5" toped the scales at 20.34 Lbs! A true fish of a lifetime and a moment none of us will soon forget. For all the times these guys had been there for important catches in my life it was a great feeling to help return the favour by putting them on this absolute giant!
Reminder: When weighing big fish always use a craddle or bag to support the entire length of the fish during the process. Keep in the water as much as possible and don't lift any higher off the floor than necessary in case something breaks and the fish is dropped.
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