I decided, with a little prodding, to head out fishing for a few hours last night. I met Tommy at the launch and followed him up to Strawberry, hoping the northwest wind would lighten up and wondering if I had enough layers of clothing. We separated at the island and I began a slow troll towards the Canadian line. I had just turned at the border when my phone started ringing. Tommy wanted me to know he had just had a hit. I began working gradually towards him and shortly after passing upriver I noticed he appeared to be drifting and his headlamp was on. Sure enough, he called and let me know he had just released a 40" fish. I maneuvered closer to the island and once again turned back at the border. Headed cross current I went over a shallow hump and lifted my rod tip up. Fish on! Quickly I turned off the motor, turned on my headlamp, and stood up to battle with a fish that was peeling some line off the reel and feeling heavy. It must not have been well hooked because partway to the boat it suddenly got off. Sure wish I saw that one. Damn.. All action so far had been in the same area so we continued working it over pretty thoroughly until the urge to look around made me move upriver. I didn't get too far before I felt a light hit followed quickly by a violent slam. This fish stayed hooked through a fairly quick fight and it was soon tugged into the light from my headlamp. It looked like a good one. I lifted it to the surface while grabbing the net. That's the point where things went sideways..lol. Since the net wasn't in the water when the fish arrived at the boat, it was able to reverse direction and get its body turned away from me. I kept the head at the surface and attempted to lead it into the net, but it remained upright in the water, thrashing and shaking its head, throwing water everywhere. After the fish did a couple turns I was finally able to attempt pushing the net under it. Unfortunately, because of the angle of the fish, the net just pushed the body away from me while allowing the head to move over the hoop. Without having the majority of the body over the net my lift only made the fish slide out away from me, tangling one of the trebles in the mesh. One attempt at trying to scoop under the body let me know that it wasn't going to happen. I had my rod in my left hand and the net in my right. I set the rod down, sort of, in the back of the boat. I hook my kill switch to my life vest while fishing and the rod was sitting on the kill switch line, teetering over the motor. No time to worry about that now. The fish was demanding immediate attention, throwing water in the air while thrashing it tail, trying to detach itself from the lure. Two hands on the net really didn't help things, so I set the net handle on top of the rod and grabbed the mesh in my left hand, lifting the fishes head out of the water. Here's where I got lucky. The fish had straightened the point on the middle hook and was hanging by one point of the rear hook sticking in the outside of the gill plate and holding it open. Without hesitating I quickly slid my hand inside the open gill plate and slid up toward the mouth, clamping down hard. Good thing because now the fish began struggling in my grip and my thumb and wrist were too close to the exposed hook points for comfort. Again I got lucky and was able to remove the one point, buried outside the mouth, with my left hand. My release tools were back behind me on the same side as the hand gripping the fish and needing them would have complicated things worse. With the fish whipping my hand back and forth I reached back with the other hand to grab the net handle. Of course, some of the net caught on the rod guides and almost tossed the rod over the back of the boat when I lifted the net up. Really close to being a clown show but I'm not laughing. I believe the word is debacle. I figured how to maneuver the hoop sideways over the caught line guide and, holding the handle almost at the hoop, turned the net sideways exposing the open bag. With the hoop barely underwater, being held in my left hand, I shoved my right hand, hanging onto the still rampaging maniac fish, deep into the bottom of the bag and dragging the fish along. Dropping my elbow onto the net handle levered the hoop into the air, popping the kill switch line, pinning the rod and reel into the bottom of the boat and securing the fish at the same time. During the time I spent unhooking the lure from the net and getting the rod back into its holder the fish just laid there giving me the evil eye. I have to admit my hands were shaking all the while..lol. Tommy motored over to be the cameraman and watch the measurement. Definitely a fish I wanted a picture of..just shy of 49". Tommy hurriedly got back to fishing but I just drifted for awhile. He was rewarded shortly after that with a second 40" fish that was badly in need of a diet. Fall plump.. No other action and we were off the water after barely 4 hours.
All of the above is just another way of saying "Tommy and I caught fish last night.". But what fun would that be.