I pulled into Sheridan launch Monday evening with the plan of using up the remaining fuel in my tank and possibly catching one more fish. The Pensyl/Veiders duo were already out there so I walked over to Johns truck while phoning him. He remotely unlocked the doors and I looked in the back seat and saw the lure Cullen made to memorialize the passing of my dog, Sadie. After admiring it I snapped it on and motored out. Going to the area that was holding some life last week I began trolling. Unfortunately the depths I was fishing were too shallow for Sadie so I switched lures. My first time working through the area I hooked and landed a fish. It rolled in the net, wrapping itself up and twisting the free hook into the mesh. Working with the Knipex I cut all the points off the entangled hook and released the fish deeper into the bag, still with a treble in its mouth. Water temp was 41°, air temp was 28°. With the fish now resting calmly I dried my hands and put my gloves on, rubbing them together. When some feeling was restored I again reached into the cold water, grabbed the fish and released the lure. I did a quick water measurement , 45ish, and, knowing it was my last trip, figured I’d call John and get a picture. He hurried over and clicked a few shots and we separated and he and Cullen went back to fishing. My hands were numb so I just drifted a few minutes before recording the stats and replacing the cut hook. It seemed like a half hour passed from the time of the hookup until the time I resumed fishing but finally my hands were ready to hold a tiller and a rod so off to work.. I went back to where the fish hit and dropped a waypoint, noticing the depth. 18’. A short time later and my lure was grabbed by another fish, but it managed to get off. Looked at the depth, 18’ again. Lots of bait showing up on the graph around that area so I decided to abandon my original plan of working deep to shallow. Time to skip the shallows. I really wanted to take Sadie for a walk so onto the leash she went. I had seen enough of un13 last week and wasn’t feeling like ending my season without trying a few Sadie friendly areas in un2 so waved later to John and Cullen and hit the throttle. It was just a couple minutes ride but before getting halfway there my forehead and cheeks were stinging. I finished the trip upriver holding my hand in front of my face and peeking between my fingers, eager to slow down to trolling speed again. I worked the humps between the end of Frenchman’s finger and the brown cabin for a couple passes then up to the creek before turning left crossing over to the ledge. At 17’ I turned upriver and Sadie felt teeth for the first time. The fight was over without mishap and the second fish of the night glided nicely into the net. This fish had most of the lure inside its mouth but the Baker release tool made unhooking easy. My hands were feeling good so I made the decision to get a bumpboard measurement for this one. Knowing John and Cullen would have to leave the heat and reel in their lures made me hesitate a second but I made the call. When John heard Sadie had just brought me a 47” fish and it was resting in the net, he immediately said they’d be right up. Another photo session. During this time John and Cullen said something about leaving but then asked me if I still wanted to fish. When I checked my gas I said I was good for another half hour so they thankfully decided to stay a little longer. I moved to the final area that I was going to fish a minute before they did and as they worked the area a little behind me suddenly Sadie was slammed. Turns out Cullen had predicted that I was going to get a slob and they saw the fish splashing at the surface just as I turned on my light and they got to watch me slowly but surely bring the fish to the boat. As the fish wallowed in front of me I saw it had a big head and I kept it at the surface until it finally looked like it was pointed right. I dipped the net and as I gave slack it swam nicely into the net. It looked big.. As I finished cutting the hook John and Cullen slid alongside saying “Tank”. I’m floating in the river and on a cloud at he same time, but registered them talking about it looking like a possible 50”. On the bumpboard it measured just over 49”. Beautiful big headed fish. At that moment I knew that my season was over. I wouldn’t ask for more. Sadie will now be a permanent part of my boat, getting walked between 11:00 and midnight every trip. Not sure how much was John and Cullen sending me some of their mojo or a little help from dog heaven, but it seemed like a magical night. A little final anecdote. When I brought my net, bumpboard and jacket into the basement there was frozen muskie slime on them and as it melted the odor was still there. Rinsing them in the sink only increased the smell. My easy going, understanding wife didn’t agree that it was a good thing.. I disagreed..lol.
Great night Carl! And I must say that over time you've become one of the NMA's best and most enjoyable writers!
Outstanding story! I felt like I was in the boat with you!