The search was on for a good trout lake and Drew and I decided to try our luck with some splake. Arriving at our destination early in the morning, the drilling and setup began. With holes drilled and the house popped up, the fishing was on and it didn’t take long to start catching some splake. Drew caught a pretty decent fish so I decided to snap a quick picture of it laying on the ice before he slipped it back down the hole.
As I was trying to snap a picture and he was trying to get it to lay still and stop flopping, a bit of drag pulled off my reel a couple of times. I hesitated, trying to get that picture as Drew’s fish finally lay still. I figured it was just another smallish splake that grabbed my jig and gave a couple of yanks. Then my drag began peeling off the reel and not stopping. I grabbed my rod and quickly realized I was into something big. Neither one of us had expected this. I was beginning to wonder what I could have at the end of my line. An otter? Muskrat? Did some other species of fish find its way into this lake?
I worked it back towards the hole, but did not gain much before it started peeling out on another marathon run. My drag was burning off the reel. Finally it slowed and I began to work it back towards the hole again. The line angle was completely off to the side right under the ice towards the deepest hole in the lake. I began fighting the fish with my rod tip down the hole to keep it from hooking on the ice edges at it swam in large circles around the house. Each time I got the fish closer to the hole it would peel off on another long hard run. It probably made 7 or 8 of these ridiculous runs before we finally got a glimpse of my swivel. We then knew it was close…and then we saw A TAIL!
It was BIG. We could not believe this thing existed in this lake. Finally the body of the fish was below us and we were both shaking and hollering. I got the head in the hole and after about 10 minutes of pumping the fish on 4lb test line, I was able to pull it up on the ice. We were both in disbelief. I immediately knew it was close to the record so I put a tape on it. Twenty-nine inches. Four inches shy of the record. We later weighed it at around 10lbs. The Minnesota state record is just over 13lbs.
This day we will remember forever.