Sunday, August 24, 2008

My Biggest Fish

OK, here's the scoop on the big fish. If you notice, my name is BankerDad, not BloggerDad, so please be kind. Tuesday night, I made plans to try carp fishing from Ann & John's dock Wednesday morning. Historically, there has been about a half-hour window of time between 6:45-7:15 a.m. that we have had luck catching these behemoths in Michigan, so I asked Becca to set the alarm for 6:00 a.m. After a short night's slumber, I woke up around 6:15. The alarm had not gone off. I tossed & turned for a few minutes, debating with myself if I really wanted to get out of the nice warm bed & face the crispness of a 55-degree Michigan morning. Finally, at 7:00, I woke up again. It won't ever be confirmed for sure, but I think I actually convinced myself to get dressed & go fishing by using the "if-I-leave-now-I-won't-have-to-get-the-kids-breakfast" logic. All you hunters & fishers out there know exactly what I'm talking about! Anyway, I was already running late, so I threw on my sweat pants, a T-shirt, a sweatshirt and my swim shoes. Now, I wish I could say my swim shoes were an incredibly brilliant piece of forward thinking & preparedness, but in all honesty, I just hadn't unpacked anything else!

I finally get out to the dock at around 7:10. I had brought Aunt Ann's can opener with me to open the can of whole kernel corn that we carp fishers just love to use as bait. I started trying to open the can, but didn't think I was getting anywhere, so I switched to the "hack-at-the-dang-thing-with-a-rusty-knife-until-it's-a-piece-of-jagged-tetanus-just-waiting-to-happen" routine. This worked surprisingly well. I baited my hooks (2 poles) and waited.

And waited...

And waited...

Carp fishing tends to be a "thinker's" sport, 'cuz you sure as heck can't do anything else! I have been known to tie rope around my poles & attach it to my arms just for the simple fact that carp fishing can turn into a "sleeper's" sport. This time, however, I took the big plastic slide the kids had been using and turned it on its side. This provided me with a rest that I could prop the rods against without fear of losing one. Remember the part about it being a "thinker's" sport? I have had more times than I care to admit, that, while waiting for the next bite, I've thought "At this point, it would almost be worth losing a rod just to see a giant fish launch it into the water!"

I'm sorry...I tend to ramble when I type. After about half an hour, I hear "Hi, Daddy!" from the house. Micah had come outside & was hurriedly getting together his "Cars" fishing rod, swim shoes (he hadn't unpacked anything either!), and life jacket. No, scratch that. We have photographic evidence that he was not, in fact, wearing his life jacket that morning. Darn cameras.

He came out to the dock & I showed him where my lines were & told him he could cast his rod over in one general direction. He was so excited to be out there! By this time, I knew my best chances of catching a fish were gone. But I figured since Micah was having a good time & somehow not freezing in his short-sleeved pajamas and swim shoes, I might as well let the bait stay in the water. After about 5 minutes, he's squealing with delight as he shouts, "Daddy, I've got one!!" Sure enough, he keeps reeling in his line & brings in a nice sized rock bass. I grabbed the camera & took a couple pictures.
Just a few minutes after returning the rock bass to the water, I was trying to get a small tangle out of Micah's line when I saw one of my rods jerking. I must take a moment to let you understand that, when you're fishing for carp, there's none of the "I think I might have a bite" sort of thinking. When you're fishing for carp, if you don't KNOW you have a bite, you DON'T have a bite. They hit HARD!!! In this instance, my pole was attempting to remove the 30+ pound slide from its sideways slumber & deposit it into the lake. I grabbed the rod, set the hook, & the fish took off. I had fortunately tested my reel earlier to make sure the drag was set well, so he peeled some line off, but I was able to stop him from making it to the thick weedbed that separates the shallow areas from the deeper water. By this time, I knew I had a big fish that was probably going to do whatever he wanted for a little while. Since my other pole was still in the water, & the fish was starting to head that direction, I told Micah that I needed him to help me reel it in so it wouldn't get tangled up.

Now, you all know who Micah is, right? You've met him in person? Well, just imagine him picking up a 7-foot long Medium-Heavy action rod with a reel that's 4 times the size of his hands. Now, he starts trying to crank the reel to make the line come in!

Actually, he did a great job!

My next concern was the fact that the fish, realizing he couldn't make it to deep water, now started heading left in a giant semi-circle to shallow water, around the neighbor's boat and dock! And there wasn't a blessed thing I could do to stop him. Big carp are known for trying to wrap aroung docks, posts, and anything else available to try to free themselves from fishing line. As he began to flank their pontoon boat, I knew I was in trouble. I made a quick decision to sacrifice my warmth and comfort for the chance to land a big 'un. I slid off the dock into the 3' of water and began making my way "left" towards the other dock. Once I got around the boat, I was looking back towards the shore as the carp continued its run. I could see the last place the fish had swirled, which was about 15 feet away from me and RIGHT NEXT TO A DOCK POST!! I had no idea if it was wrapped around the post or what it would do if I tried to get any closer to it. There were so many places it could wrap the line & then break free without any problem.

Right about this time, since Micah had lost sight of me because I was on the other side of the neighbor's pontoon boat, he yelled out encouragingly, "Daddy, are you catching-g it?!?" Did I mention that Micah's really likes to enunciate his words? (he's so cute!!) I replied, "Well, I'm working on it!" After I had said that, as I'm peering back to the shoreline and the dock, trying to get a read on where the fish is from his last swirl, I notice what appears to be a 3-foot long log starting to surface off to my left. It only took a split second for my brain to realize that:
1) that was a fish, not a log
2) that was the same fish I'd been fighting for the past 10 minutes
3) My line was in his mouth & wrapped around that stupid dock post
4) I'd better do something QUICK!!!

The next few seconds would have been a sight to see. Just try to picture a 29-something young man with a SLIGHTLY receding hair line trying to sprint/wade/hop through 3 feet of water while being dragged down by a flooded sweat suit. I got to the dock just in time to thrust the last foot of my rod beyond the post as the carp made another run to deep water. Had I not done that, the drag would have not worked properly, the line would have been pushed beyond its limit & the fish would have snapped it. I quickly shoved the rest of the rod down under the dock platform & around the post with my right arm (further drenching my flooded sweat suit) and grabbed it with my left arm. After another valiant effort to get to deep water, the fish began to tire. I waded/reeled my way back around the pontoon boat & headed towards our dock. Micah was still standing there, so I made sure he backed away before I climbed the swim ladder & started unflooding my sweat suit onto the dock. I reeled in a couple more lengths of line, grabbed my net with my right hand, and landed my biggest fish ever after a fantastic fight!!

Once it was on the dock, Micah exclaimed, "Oh my goodness, Daddy, that fish is huge!" I had to agree.

Now, you'd think this fish tale was over, but you'd be wrong. I had Micah run inside & tell Mommy that I had caught a big fish & needed some pictures taken. Once she got there & snapped a few photos, I pulled out my fish scale to confirm that it was, in fact, the biggest fish I had ever caught (5 or 6 years ago, I caught a 17-pound carp while in Michigan). I pushed the power button and nothing happened!! I wiped all the condensation from scale and tried again. Still, nothing but a blank screen. All this time, I'm sitting on a dock stradling a fish that wants more than anything to flop into the water & go home. Finally, I dig my multi-tool out of my tackle box, pop the back off the scale, and realize the batteries that have been in there for 3+ years have gone bad. And they weren't just any old Double-A batteries. No, they had to be some fancy-shmancy CR2032 batteries that are used mainly for medical devices, and I had left my spare set in my other pants. I begged Becca to go next door to another fisherman's house to see if he had a scale that worked. Sadly, there was no answer at their door. Becca went back inside Ann & John's house, & I sat there stewing about what bad luck I had run into. Had I been thinking clearly, I would have put the fish on a stringer until I had a working scale. Had I been thinking clearly, I would have gotten a tape measure and at least measured the thing. Had I been thinking clearly, I would have never released the fish back into the lake 30 seconds before Becca came back outside and said Aunt Ann was going to let me use her bathroom scale!!

Sadly, I was NOT thinking clearly. I'll never know exactly how big my "biggest fish ever" is. Until the next one, that is....

1 comment:

Jody said...

Great Story!!! Seems a little far-fetched though. . . maybe a little fishy?!

Mom to four beautiful blessings including a brand new little guy. Laugh and cry with me as I navigate the joys and perils of motherhood and homeschooling.