The fish nipped it, nipped it again and then again. Still it didn’t have the lure so it nipped it a fourth time and a bit harder.
Bob set the hook and the battle was on. The fish swam to our left, back to the right then right at the boat. Bob was able to stick with and out-reel the monster as it made its run to and under the boat. Holding the fish in place for a long time, Bob was eventually able to get the lunker back out in front of us. A couple of passes next to the freeboard on my Grumman 14’ shallow V and I soon had the collapsible net ready and was able to get that largemouth bass under control.
It had been an epic battle and a long one at that. We quickly got the prize fish detached from the lure, snapped two pictures and released it back into its lair among the huge lilly pads growing along the shoreline.
It hadn’t taken very long to get the first fish on the line and into the boat for snapshots. Together we had decided to try this particular body of water just for a new look, so to speak. After a long chat at the daily meeting place for The Front Bench Regulars, a cup of coffee, donut we headed out.
We had decided to take my boat because we took the other Bob’s craft on our last Oshaukuta Outdoors Adventure. We arrived at the launch area and were tickled that we had chosen my boat. We would not need all the power that Bob’s craft would offer and my boat is really easy to fish out of. Afterall, how can a person beat sitting in a comfortable folding lawn chair.
We chugged along the narrow channel and soon noticed an older fisherman than even me in a small john boat. He was casting a fly with his flyrod and I remembered seeing the same fella last week while I was fishing in the backwaters of the Wisconsin River with Brian Kowald. We eased up toward the fella and I asked, “Hey, didn’t I see you last week in the backwaters over off Highway U?”
“I’m pretty sure that was me and as a matter of fact I recognize you now,” he quipped. About that time he set the hook on the black gnat he was tossing into the lilly pads into the lip of a very nice bluegill. “I’m just trying to get a few for a nice meal on this beautiful day,” he added.
We moved along so as to get on with our fishing. I aimed us at some pads and not long thereafter Bob yelled, “Got one! Jeez this is a dandy!”
That was the fish in the opening of this essay. It was 20 inches long and easily 3 ½ pounds or more. We snapped the two pictures that accompany this story and moved along.
I was tossing heavier equipment than Bob and I was also not using the secret, stinky fish attractant sauce that several Oshaukuta Outdoors members started using. After fishing with Larry Ranzenberger last week I had made a trip to the Baraboo Surplus Store and had purchased three new bucktail type lures. I was using the most expensive one of the three. I was after larger, longer fish than bigmouth bass. I pounded the shorelines and the lilly pad weed lines but hadn’t had much luck other than being lucky enough to being able to retrieve my expensive lure when it got snagged on underwater logs and limbs.
It wasn’t long and Bob had caught another largemouth. It was a much smaller version so it quickly went back into the water without taking time for pictures. Soon thereafter Bob set the hook hard and deep on an underwater creature that bent his pole nearly to the surface of the water. The drag on his open bail Daiwa reel was whistling and screeching before Bog was able to turn the fish and really start battling it. It didn’t take long for either of us to realize that this was no ordinary fish. When it broke the water we quickly learned that it was a huge bowfin. Most anglers refer to the bowfin as a dog fish and consider the species to be a rough fish. Bob battled hard and our net was surely to small to handle this two-foot, writhing monster. Instead we decided to use the jaw spreader in my storage box. That didn’t work either as the fish’s writhing and splashing enable it to throw the spreader out and send it into the water where luckily it remained due to the two floating devices attached just for that reason. I got the fish off at the side of the boat and returned to the weedy depths it enjoys frequenting. For a really great and interesting treatise on the bowfin go this website article I found on a species that dates back to pre-dinosaur days (https://blog.nature.org/science/2015/08/24/adventures-bowfin-underdog-fish-prehistoric/). Enjoy the educational article I have included herein.
We fished on as Bob missed a few and caught a few. I dabbled a bit with a light line, hook and wax worm and caught two bluegills in succession. I think we could have gotten a meal of bluegills very quickly but I wanted a large pike. After about an hour of tossing that bucktail I was reeling it in over about nine feet of water when something struck it hard. I aggressively ripped the end of the run skyward in attempt to set the hooks into the fish’s jaw. It battled valiantly but I was able to handle its flips, tricks and forward fronts and get it close the boat, close enough for a big net to have landed the fish. It appeared to be in excess of 30 inches but our little net was no match for that monster. All the little net did was scare it more and it came out of the lake shaking its head violently. It had been a long fight but the fish had won. Heck, it was going back into the water anyway so maybe I was the winner. After all, my goal was to set some hooks into a fish like that and return it to its home. I am sure you’d agree that the pike’s wishes had nothing to do with seeing a human holding onto the handle of a pike/musky rig like I had in my hands. I think I was the real winner. I got to see it and it fell for a “fake lunch.”
Not long after I had the battle with the pike, Bob rose out of his lawn chair seat with another loud shout. “This is a big one and look at this baby fight,” he shouted. I watched him battle the green colored fish as it darted out of the lilly pads he’d tossed into. I could see that it was not a bass. It was too long for a bass. It turned out to be a shorter bowfin and again we released it boat side because it was also in a pretty foul mood after the long fight with Bob’s rig.
We eased on down the water and noticed a couple of Great Blue Herons and I noticed a stranger raptor as it leapt off its perch to get airborne and winged its way northward. I’m not sure what it was but researching it later will give me something to do.
We missed a few more and caught a couple more before we had to pack up and head back home.
It was a great outing on a great day. It was just a perfect adventure – not too long, and certainly not too short!
We promised each other to return to the lake more often and on same days where the stay will be long and be another adventure. We had the place to ourselves. It was peaceful yet full of wondrous things. We laughed. We chatted about a myriad of topics. We had a great time.
Are you wondering where today’s adventure had taken us? I have included some clues within the lines of the summary herein. Good luck with the puzzle and here is wishing you the best of what the outdoors has to offer you.
Bob wanted me to be sure to tell you that we feel for you if you were cooped up somewhere all day and not able to experience a morning like we did. Well, maybe not that sorry!
Have a great day!
Today’s two Bobs.