by: Jeff Jones 7/20/2013
Any angler who has spent an inordinate amount of their time fishing will have some stories to tell. I once caught a small rainbow on a full-size spinner bait; another time, I flipped a jig into a bush and got a subtle bite that, though I never saw it, must have been a really big catfish; and my most unexpected was a Master Angler and personal record walleye in the middle of a club bass tournament.
Over the last few decades, most of my angling time is during bass club, Federation or regional bass tournaments, so most of my unexpected catches have happened during those events. While fishing waters that contain bass and trout it is not unreasonable to expect to get bit by whichever is the species you are not targeting at the time, but, since I fished that particular lake for fifteen years and it only happened once, it seems strange to catch a trout on a spinner bait.
The ‘catfish’ is only named by deductive reasoning, as a blue cat or flathead are the only species on that lake that could get that big, or, now that I think about it, maybe a giant snapping turtle! I was in a brush filled cove on a windy day and flipped a large black & blue jig into a bush. The wind pushed the boat right up against the bush at about the time the jig hit the bottom and I felt a decent tap on the line and set the hook.
Now, I had a heavy duty flippin’ stick spooled with fresh 20-pound monofilament line, so when I sent that broom handle skyward with the butt end tucked securely under my forearm and strait up and above the bite, I expected to move a bass quickly out of the heavy cover. Instead, it didn’t budge. The rod bent double and the reel drag slipped small amounts of line out in short, jerky spurts as I felt a massive head shaking about ten feet below. That fish did not move. At all. A few head shakes and a rush of adrenaline that left my hands shaking for a few minutes and it was over. My line came back without the jig with the terminal few inches of the mono nicked all around, like being racked back and forth across the lips of a catfish.
The big walleye was also a big surprise. Not only was it not what I was fishing for, but ended up being not what I thought it was when I hooked it. Casting a jerk bait to a sandy bank with about three feet of water under it, I quickly saw the line run off to the side after one jerk. I set the hook and the fight was on! After a few seconds I was sure it was not a smallmouth bass, as expected, because it was much too large for that body of water where no one had seen a smallmouth over three pounds in years. The fish also did not fight like most bass, it did not come to the surface to jump but instead made straight runs in surges, and it had shoulders like Arnold. I didn’t have it so much as it had me, at least for a few minutes.
This was the only time I have ever had to “walk” a fish around the boat. I was using a $15 Lucky Craft Pointer on ten pound line so I didn’t want to lose the lure. There was no visible cover to worry about, so I played the fish carefully, letting it run when it wanted to and recovering line when it let me.
My fishing partner standing at the ready with a net, he and I giddily speculated that I had inadvertently snagged a big carp in the back on the initial cast into shallow water and as the fish finally got close to the boat I thought we were right. The fish had a darker coloring with mottled splotches we could see, but when the net was under the walleye and raised out of the water it turned on its side and we got a clear look at it, especially the eye, and knew what it was immediately. “Look at that walleye!” we both shouted at the same time.
This was some time ago and cell phone photos were not what they are now, so my only picture is fuzzy and not too clear. We measured and weighed it on the boat at 32.5 inches long and 13.5 pounds, showed it off to a few people, and released it to make more behemoths.
These are a few examples of unexpected catches I remember fondly. How about you? Got any strange or unforeseen angling stories? You can post the story here if you want, or on the forum page, and even a picture if you have one. Or, send the story and a picture to me at email@example.com so I can feature your story in a future blog.
Blog content © Jeff Jones
Jeff Jones (Bassnfly), CA 7/21/2013 8:27:17 AM
From R1F1EMAN: Just read your Catch of the Week blog. All my pictures of fantastic catches went up in smoke in a house fire. But most recently, like you, thought I had hooked into a carp, and when it came to net, found it was a 14.6# Walleye, at Cherry Creek 4/27/13 Bit of a story to that too ! -)
IceFishingFool, CO 7/21/2013 7:45:09 PM
Not a bad Walleye for Pueblo either Jeff. I think Walleye there in California is few and far between, but there are plenty of other challenges CA has to offer, both fresh and salt fishing..
JKaboom, CO 7/22/2013 10:24:36 AM
Great BLOG :) I don't have anything that interesting but I have been surprised by snapping turtles a couple of times.
panfishin, CO 7/22/2013 10:44:17 AM
i have caught a couple of trout on bigger bass lures...21" brown out of a Harriman before it got drained on a spinnerbait and this spring i caught a 14" bow on a Travado. But probably my biggest surprise when fishing came this year while fishing at a small pond for largemouth bass and nailed a 4lb smallie! as far as i knew they hadn't ever been stocked in the lake and i had never caught one there before. Sent an email with a couple of pics to the biologist who oversees that lake and he said that he was experimenting with some retired brood fish since the lake has a lot of deeper rocky areas that would be perfect for smallies. put about 15 in to see if they would spawn. couple weeks later a ran into another huge smallie at the same lake!
Rsrecurvehunter, CO 7/22/2013 2:55:30 PM
Mine is a small fish story from this past sunday. I was fishing at Parvin for those big brooder trout equipped with a 3/8 oz cutthroat color kastmaster. I was only about 5 casts into the day when I had a hit. Few head shakes and nothing but a little weight on the line. Reel in and I had a whopping 8 inch sucker that had taken the treble. Dont ask me how since his mouth wad the size of the split ring on the kasty.
Dangly, CO 7/23/2013 5:26:38 AM
My inlaws moved to a a TINY small town in north central NE in 1999, in 2001 I took my float tube up to fish a pond about twenty minutes out of town. I had heard that the lake held good numbers of crappies, and so I went out about an hour before dark one night to catch some for a fish fry the next day.
I got in the tube with my microlite set up with 4lb mone and a very samll chartreuse jig. I paddled into a small creek arm that was about 30' across, on the first cast I was letting the grub fall and something completely slammed my jig, so hard that I had to flip open my bail in order to not snap the line. So there I am, bail open, desperatley trying to adjust the drag ( not easy with line coming off very quickly) while trying to follow the unseen fish so I would not get spooled.
I finally got the bail closed with the drag set and proceeded to get dragged around the lake for the next twenty minutes- I know that it was at least that long because by this time the sun had gone down- unfamiliar lake, middle of nowhere, Dark, being towed by a huge fish-exciting to say the least.
Eventually I got the fish close enough to the tube to see occasional flashes of silver sides in my headlamp. The fish was so big I did not think I could safely pull it up on my tube without getting a puncture, so I kicked back to shoe, towing it. when I got to shore I pulled it up, and having not caught one before but having seen picture i guessed ( correctly) that I had caught a wiper. Unfortunatly, with the light tackle the fish could not be revived, so I loaded it in the trunk and drove into town, the only scale in town was at the little grocery store and only went up to 10lb, the fish pegged it.
It was 32" inches long and had a 26.5" girth. fed six people the next day.
I will never forget it.
golferjeff, TX 7/23/2013 8:49:26 AM
I was fishing the Lower Mountain fork in Oklahoma for stocked Rainbows - most 13-16". Fly fishing with a hopper dropper rig on 3.4lb 5x tippet. I got a good drift over a visible pod of trout and my hopper went zinging across the river. Normally our rainbows jump, twist, and shake. This fish just buried itself in a mudbank about 40 feet away. My rod was bent in half and the fish was not moving. Eventually I gained some line and the fish drifted downstream to clear water. It looked a lot like a LMB, but it wasn't, the fins were different. It had coloration like a sucker or even a smallie, but it wasn't that either. 6 months later, still no one has positively ID'd this fish. It was 23", over 5lbs, with opaque fins and blue barnacle type knobs on its head. Large scales and a black broken lateral line completed the picture. I had no idea what it was and still don't. If you are curious, I am going to put a picture of it up on the Texas portion of this site. Ugly, nasty, and definitely a big surprise.
Anteroman, CO 7/23/2013 10:19:34 PM
I had a charter boat fishing out of Sailfish Marina in South Florida in the late 80's and early 90"s.
We had a typical charter and pushed offshore to the first weedline, which this day was about 7 miles offshore. I had a woman with her three children onboard and none had ever caught anything bigger than a 20# Kingfish.
The morning was going well and we had about a dozen Mahi, (Dolphin) in the box, dinner was secure. A fellow dock mate decided he wanted to push ahead of on the weed line so I had the mate pick up the baits and we pushed a bit further offshore. We normally would be fishing 20# tackle but IO had put the 4 twenty's in for annual service the night before so we were using our 30# outfits spooled with 50# line, this is pretty standard for charter boats.
Baits back in the water at about 12 miles offshore, slick calm conditions and bright overhead sun. We were fishing a 10" shot of 80# mono as a leader and about 4' of #7 wire with a 7/0 hook rigged in a Bally-Hoo, a very typical dolphin set-up.
I was in the tower watching the mate set the left long rigger and then the left short. The left shot got back about 50' from the boat when I looked down in the purple Gulfstream water to see a huge blue marlin coming in on the bait, LIT UP like a Christmas tree. I shouted down to the cock[pit and the mate set our lady angler, (Ronna Romney, yes Mitt's sister in law) in the fighting chair and handed her the rod in free spool. The mate explained how to move the drag handle up and the fish was on.
The next 10 minutes were wild with the fish coming completely out of the water more than 15 times. By 20 minutes into the fight the fish was tired but with the light tackle all we could do was back down slowly and try to get the fish close. A 7/0 hook. #7 wire and an 80# leader are really no match for a fish this size. When we finally got the big girl alongside the boat, she just layed on her side and we spent 45 minutes trying without success to revive her. Ronna decided she wanted to have the fish mounted so with the children's help and a very able mate we slid it into the "Tuna Door".
The fish, on a certified scale, weighed 475# and was the largest Marlin on the Florida coast that year. It also qualified the angler as best catch on a 50# line for a woman angler in Florida's history.
A very normal day turned into one I, my mate and the Romney family will remember forever. The dolpin were very good that evening on the grille!!
Bill "Anteroman" Hadley
Coyute, CO 7/25/2013 7:25:02 AM
I once caught a really large woman on a 12 pack of Pabsts and a pizza.
CO_Native, CO 7/25/2013 2:26:38 PM
Coyute- I hoped you released her to get bigger and caught again another day!
Dangly, CO 7/25/2013 8:49:22 PM
those bigguns can thrash when you lip em, eh, Coy?
Coyute, CO 7/26/2013 5:46:40 AM
jerussell1980, CO 7/26/2013 4:30:24 PM
I haven't caught one that big yet but I just sent a story of my biggest one caught. Let me know what you think.