I was out drilling a couple holes for our next spot when I heard a shout. Setting the auger down, sprinting over to Scott that was obviously fixated on his sonar. The fish was doing his best to figure out if the jig was real or fake. Scott was doing his best to fool the fish. Scott would try his best to offer the jig, take it away, and shake it with a variety of other vertical presentations.
After about 5 minutes of playing cat and mouse with the fish, we saw the line twitch and the rod went straight up while the tip showed a firmly planted hook in the fish’s jaw. He got about 5 turns of the reel on the fish, and then the fish went back to the bottom after a brief tug of war. The fish was trying very hard not to come up the ice hole, with a little coaxing it came to the hole. I had my leather glove on and was able to lip it and slide it on the ice.
After the fish was landed we noticed a tag in it. We measured it very carefully and took a quick pic then sent the fish back down to the depths. Within 5 minutes of sending out the text with the tagged fish’s info, It was tag #2270 and measured 34 1/8”. I got the text I was hoping for.
Steve texted me he caught that fish 4 years ago and it measured 34”. He caught it again 12 years before that and it was 30”. Over 16 years this Laker only grew 4 1/8”. Both times Steve caught that fish it was a couple miles away from where I caught it but it was the same month each time. Looking at the numbers that fish as probably over 40 years old.
Steve fishes a totally different part of the lake that I do and this fish started a bunch of questions for both of us. Why would that fish be in a different part of the lake this month? It could have been bait, there might have been more bait on one side of the lake then the other. How about its migratory route was just delayed a bit. It was late in the season and maybe there was a slight current warming one part of the lake and not the other. Another question we had was, if this school of fish is over here, is there a missing group of fish that this group is trying to fill.
We spoke with our local biologist (Jon Ewert) and learned a little about his netting results. He sets nets every year when the water temp is around 40 degrees. Most years he gets 1 or 2 large fish in his nets. That spring all the stars aligned and he caught over 15 large fish in his sets most in very deep water. More questions, why this year over all other years did he catch all those fish? The lake level was lower this year then in many years, the DOW did not stock Rainbow trout in March like they used to.
It always seems to come back to the simple fact, fish can be anywhere at anytime. Look for them where they should be and if they are not there go find them somewhere else. After all that’s why we fish.
Lake trout are getting more pressure from anglers every year, as our stocks are diminishing more and more people believe in selective harvest for not just Lakers but all species.