I caught Grey Beard
Blog by: Jim McFarland 10/19/2020
It was a dark and stormy night… wait, that ain’t right, this isn’t a Snoopy novel, this is 11 Mile.. in South Park. It was a beautiful but insanely windy late afternoon! I had all my gear staged and ready to launch at The Mile but the chop on the water had me hesitant to launch. The weather report said the wind was supposed to start to die down around 4 PM so I sat on the bank waiting for 4. Anyone want to venture a guess about what happened at 4? You’re right, the wind did NOT die down, it happily kept on marauding the water. At 5 PM I just couldn’t take it anymore and made a questionable decision to launch into the abyss.
With the 1.5 to 3 ft waves it took a bit before I got my sea legs under me. The little bitty extra dim light bulb in my mind had a glimmer of a plan to actually get some fishing done instead of just floating on the toon. Drive the toon into the wind and about a quarter of a mile away from my launch point, stop and let the wind blow me back to my point of origin. More specifically, troll to a stopping point and then cast while drifting back. On my third trip trolling to my spot, checked my battery charge. Down to one bar, DARN! Not only that, I had just hooked up and caught the first fish. Nothing to brag about but a nice fat rainbow about 16” and she was FEISTY. Got her released and started drifting back to my spot but this time stopped well short of going all the way back and started trolling back against the wind. The water is splashing me in the chest. Lol
Sure enough, reach about the exact same spot where the first fish was caught and boom! Got one more. Don’t know about ya’ll but it is rather fun to catch fish in front of someone. Especially when they are on shore and you see them stand up and strain to see what you caught and maybe what you’re using! Anyway, release my fish, and start trolling back to my spot and get one more hit! But this time missed the hook up. Good Ole Blue/Silver hammered Krocodile was working great! Was contemplating making another run against the wind and checked my battery charge. OH CRAP OH CRAP, I’m showing no charge, grab the trolling motor, turn the handle and whew, blades are still turning. Ok, settle down, just drift back to my launching point and there should be just enough to get to shore.
The plan is working excellent, the wind is pushing me back to the launch area. Switched rods from the one I trolled with to the one with a jerk bait. Got on one of the new 9 Mile Goby JSpecs and it is a seriously ugly little lure. Of course that makes me like it. Lol The toon is drifting just right, even if it quite a bit faster than preferred. Working the jerk bait VERY aggressively and all of a sudden WHAM. A strike so hard it jolts my wrist, my elbow and my shoulder, the toon spins in the direction of the hit. OH YEAH a good fish. Then the drag starts screaming and all I can do is hang on. We’re having an epic battle and she gets close to the toon and I see her.. yes her. She’s massive!!!! She dives and takes off again, no sign of fatigue on her part. I get her back to the side of the toon again, but I don’t believe it’s because she was wearing down, just the direction she came during the battle.
She’s close enough to net but there are way too many problems. As noted, she’s massive, length wise she wasn’t even close to being able to fit into the net which is 22” long. My net has a way oversized basket I added just for such occasions. But as I’ve come to find out, when you try to net fish this big they don’t usually get in the net voluntarily. Then there was this huge wind problem and my net has a short handle. Being short and fat as I am, it’s not easy reaching the water with this net. The toon is rocking like crazy and will not lie, I was afraid of trying to net her and falling in because of being so off balance. Guess what? This is where I made my next bad decision.
With the battery empty there was genuine concern that by the time this monster was netted, I wouldn’t be able to get back to my launching point. My decision? Troll to shore now with the fish still on my line and pull her in with me. As the trolling motor starts up and heads towards shore this fish completely owns me. She takes off, drag screaming like crazy. Several times she pulled so hard she literally turned the toon even with the trolling motor pulling. Are you kidding me??? Each time, I correct course and head towards shore. Shore is getting close, within 25 to 30 yards and my excitement is crazy high, cannot wait to see just how big this fish is. That she’s over 10 lbs isn’t even a question.. how much over is the question? Then it happens, a huge gust of wind, the toon rises and SNAP goes my line. ARrgghhhh NNNOOOOOOOOO. When the waves lifted the toon the line got slack and when the toon came down, the line popped. Imagine taking a belt, folding it in half and snapping it together, that’s basically what happened here. It could also be her teeth cut the line, I got to see her several times and never once saw the lure, just line going directly into her mouth.
Oh, just to show Murphy’s law applies… my gopro battery died as we were fighting! So there is only about 10 seconds of video.
In closing, THANK YOU 11 MILE and THANK YOU GREY BEARD for a memory that will never be forgotten. Grey Beards powers are real! Trolling motor battery dies, gopro battery dies, winds at full gale and like all serial killers she kept a trophy in the form of my little jerk bait!
bron, CO 10/19/2020 6:17:48 PM
Great read Jim! Theres always next time...
malty falcon, CO 10/19/2020 7:40:02 PM
Some of my most vivid fishing memories are of hooking whoppers in "unfavorable" conditions. Dead batteries in gale force "breezes" certainly qualifies.
Thanks for sharing, Jim
Kev-o, CO 10/19/2020 8:45:35 PM
Ah yes another one that got away story lol. 11 mile seems to be the Bermuda Triangle of landing fish it would appear. Better to have hooked and fought than to never have hooked at all.
Happens to me there as well.
GoNe_FiShIn_11, CO 10/21/2020 7:38:32 AM
And the legend lives on. You lucky to walk away. I hear that beast is very dangerous. Many have tangled with her and lost. Take it has a win.
Great story Jim thanks for sharing.
Jim McFarland (anglerwannabe), CO 10/22/2020 6:17:26 AM
Thank you guys! Malty - Normally I have the vid from the gopro to help remember exactly what happened. But it dies 10 seconds into the battle. I'm sure by next year, this will be 25 lb trout in my mind. lol I don't want to guess how long I had her on the line, but managed to get her to the toon 4 times. The fights always seem to last longer in my mind than when I go back and watch the videos.
IceFishingFool, CO 10/29/2020 10:33:11 AM
Hearing to pop is when you woke up Right ?
MileHighMike, CO 11/23/2020 2:40:20 PM
Haven't had many chances to make it that way this year Jim. Thank you!! Reading this got me away from the office and out on the water(in my head) for a quick few minutes. Thank you for sharing.
HeavyC, CO 11/24/2020 2:19:23 PM
BCIII, CO 11/24/2020 5:09:01 PM
It’s been forever since I have been on this website and I have to say something prompted me to go on today. And here I find gray beard once again in discussion. I will find the original gray beard post and send it out. Thank you so much for keeping the legend alive and well