We all know anglers that seek the largest fish they can catch, but have you ever met those who try to catch the smallest fish they can, on a hook and line? Here in Japan, I have done so, and been lucky enough to indulge this particular variety of fishing.
Not unreasonably, most sport anglers want to catch trophy fish; the bigger the better (indeed, we all know anglers whose catches continue to grow in size long after the event, growing bigger with each recounting of the story of the fishing trip). However, this is Japan, where miniaturization pervades all aspects of life, in gardening, art, computers, electronics; we all have seen the clichéd ‘capsule’ hotels and bonsai pine trees you can pick up with two fingers. This also applies to sport fishing, in one of the oldest angling traditions in this country: tanago fishing.
This summer, my son and I traveled from our home in Alpine, Utah to fish some of the wildest rivers and lakes in Alaska. We spent our time hiking remote mountain trails in search of monster fish. During our treks, we found some absolutely beautiful places to fish, but none of them yielded any big ones. We caught some pretty little rainbows and dolly vardens, but we still hadn’t found any trophies.
On the last day of our trip, we decided to spend the morning on the Kenai River. Although it had been raining throughout our trip, the sun was shining brightly as we made our way to the dock. It was an absolutely beautiful morning and we had a great feeling about things as we headed out. We rigged up with Kwikfish, which are excellent when backtrolled on big rivers like the Kenai. We had only been fishing for about five minutes when this monster king salmon hit! He nearly ripped the rod from my hands with his fierce strike. I set the hook and the battle was on. After about ten minutes, I got him close to the boat. He made two or three short runs before we finally got him in the boat. At 51 pounds, he’s the biggest salmon of my life!
As most fishermen know, opening week of your favorite species is a very special one. As a Musky fisherman in southern Ontario, my wait begins as most people are starting their Christmas shopping. The six month wait from mid-November to the first Saturday in June seems to take forever. That’s why I book opening week off work, every year since 2004, coincidentally my first year as a boat owner. That way, after six long months of planning strategies, sharpening hooks & reading articles about Muskies, I can choose the perfect days to fish, & rest on the stormy days.
On the Thursday of opening week, my brother and I were fishing an area that consists of a giant weed flat, a couple of football fields in size. We’d caught & released three Muskies, Mike had two and I had just one dinker to show from six hours of casting big baits. My back was starting to ache, so I switched up to a small 1/2 oz spinner bait, one normally used to catch Bass. Under usual circumstances, this is a good idea, but at this time of year, Bass are in full-spawn mode and will attack anything that comes near their nest.
As we were drifting across the 5-foot deep flat, we came up on a hump that we could clearly see Bass spawning on, so I waited until I could see the weed edge and I tossed out the spinnerbait. I burned it across the weed-tops until it reached the edge, let it drop for a second and re-engaged the reel to bring it up the hump. Just as the blades stopped fluttering and it was almost out of the water, the Muskie came sauntering out of the weeds like it owned the place. I had enough time to realize what was happening and alert my brother with a quick “HEY!”.
The fish grabbed the spinnerbait and immediately started thrashing, basically setting the hook itself! The fight was a short one, as I was able to keep it from jumping by keeping my rod-tip low, and an excellent net-job by my brother.
The fish was a chunky one measuring in at a respectable 44″. Right after the release shot was taken, Mike switched the camera to video & filmed her swimming away strong, to fight another day.
– Musky Bill
Bill, thank you very much for you entry into our 2010 Contributor Contest and boy what a beautiful musky! You have taken THIRD PLACE in our contest and will receive 3 custom lures from Rockstar Lures (which I believe you’re already very familiar with) as well as a copy of Fins & Skins magazine!
I took a trip to Islamorada, Florida with family and friends for a fishing extravaganza in June 2010. We fished day and night for Tarpon, Swordfish, Dorado, Permit, and more. In all, we caught 15 different species of fish on the trip. On our third day out, I hooked up with this Permit which re-calibrated my idea of what fighting a fish is. The epic battle took 35 minutes. I instantly knew this fish deserved to be mounted. So that is what I did. Now, I can remember that trip and that epic adventure every time I look at my wall!
Date: June 17, 2010
Size: 45” (50 lbs)
Location: Caught on the Atlas Wreck, Islamorada, Florida Keys
My trophy was caught on a 9’ Star rod w/ Fin Nor Offshore Spinning Reel with 30 lb Spectra and a 60 lb fluorocarbon leader tipped with a 7/0 Gamagatsu Octopus Circle Hook.