There's no question that fishing makes lifelong memories. Whether it's your buddy's tall tale that you never quite believed or the day when your child caught their first fish, this sport brings people together and puts a smile on millions of faces. That's the most special thing about fishing, in our opinion.
As 2017 came to a close, we asked our Facebook followers to share their favorite fishing stories of the year. With nearly 600 entries, we had our work cut out for us! The following stories were our favorites; we feel as if they perfectly encompass what fishing is all about. Some are action packed, some are funny and others will pull at your heartstrings.
We hope you enjoy!
The mist was thick in the cold, March air. The lake was pristine and calm before more than 50 two-strokes hammered down for blast off. We drew a number from the middle of the pack and both my partner and I lost our hats on the fast and wild ride.
We pulled up to the current honey hole and my partner landed a bass over 7 pounds within the first ten casts. We thought we were onto something special. We managed to get some small keepers early after the nice 7-pounder (my buddy's personal best). The mist turned to rain as the day went on. My hands grew stiff from the cold and they hadn't touched a fish in a few hours.
My partner decides to make a run to a different cove. We almost get to the back of the cove and drop the Power-Pole immediately; the "guy to beat" on that lake just shut it down in the mouth of the same cove as our Power-Pole slaps the water. The skilled competitor trolls in, but makes sure not to break the distance rule for the tournament. I respected that, but I didn't know what he was looking for at that time.
We catch some dink bass on finesse rigs. Then a bed fish catches my partner's eye. The sun is still hidden behind the clouds and mist and I believe the fish to be a large slot fish for that lake. I casually flip my go-to finesse setup as I watch my partner dig in the rod box for his shaky head rig.
At that moment I felt a subtle tick and look up to see my line moving sideways. Before I set the hook, I still believe the bass to be in the 4-pound range, but not a legal fish for that lake.
Sometimes it's good to be wrong.
When I set the hook, my REVO STX began to scream as line immediately tore of the reel. The ole girl took me all the way around the boat and put up the most amazing fight of my life. My partner grabs the net and falls on the deck while jabbing the net in the water like a blind drunk man. The big girl dove under the boat and pinned Ray Charles' net against the boat.
I could see the line fraying against the edges of the net shaft. The ole girl pulled me down to the deck, but I managed to get her pulled up and my partner redeemed himself and netted the fish—on the third try. We got her in the boat and I was shaking like I had buck fever. I guess it was bass fever!
My partner and I sounded like we had won a million dollars. We were fist bumping and yelling like lunatics. The bass weighed 10.72 pounds and we had a total of 25.25 pounds for the day. We managed to get first place and big bass that day. A 10-pound kicker always helps!
The best part was seeing ole girl swim off after the tournament, and that guy that followed us into the cove came in second. I figure he knew that fish was there and we just got lucky. Sometimes it's better to be lucky than good.
I took my son out fishing when he was five years old. After a while of catching some nice smallmouth, my son told me he needed to go "number two". So I told him to hold on while I reeled in my line. I looked over at him and he was already going "number two" in my rear livewell. We had brown trout and smallies that day. I wouldn't trade that memory for anything.
I made a trip up to the Canadian side of Lake of the Woods (Regina and Whitefish bays, to be exact) at the beginning of March with the express purpose of catching a lake trout. Midway through the second day of HARD daylight-to-dark, no-stopping-to-eat fishing, my buddy and I were joined at a spot over 80 feet of water by 2 locals who pulled up on ATVs probably 30 or 40 yards away. This, in and of itself, wasn't really interesting. We had a good time snickering about their thick accents and zany conversations like two 6th graders in the back of a classroom. These guys seemed more into drinking and chasing women than fish catching anyhow, but we were generally focused on the task at hand, heads down and eyes focused on our flashers hoping to spot another mark to go along with the bouncing ones that represented our respective offerings to the lake's finned inhabitants. After about an hour of drinking and shooting the breeze, the guys start packing up their stuff to leave.
At almost exactly the same time, I spot it. Or more accurately, I spot "them." "Them" being the four separate large red blotches streaking around the dial on my flasher toward the small yellow blip that represented the tube I was jigging about 30 feet below. My friend has noticed the sudden and drastic change in my body language, understands exactly what is going on, and is putting on his best poker face to avoid tipping off our friends who are just about to drive away any minute. Suddenly, as quickly as they arrived, the marks simply vanish. As I slumped my shoulders starting to come to terms with the idea that I may well get skunked, I see my friend perk up. These fish have pretty clearly moved away from my hole and towards his. Now I'm the one trying to act natural. This was much easier said than done with my heart is beating up in my throat despite my best efforts to swallow it back down, my palms becoming drenched with sweat, and my legs wanting to shake free from my body as if they've developed a mind of their own.
For what seemed like an eternity (and in actuality probably was a good 10 minutes) these fish play games with us. They bounce back and forth, always charging hard but peeling off at the last minute. Then just when we were convinced they were really gone, they'd show up on the screen of the other's flasher and do the same thing all over again. All the while we're trying to act nonchalant as we just know that letting the locals know we've got fish showing up would have them drilling holes next to us. Just when I was about to lose it over my repeated close calls with the fish and how it could possibly take two grown men this long to pack up their things and get moving, they drive off. As I watch them disappear behind a nearby island, I catch a glimpse of a large, solitary mark on my flasher, once again screaming straight for my tube. Having tried just about everything in my previous shots at these fish and quite honestly feeling a more than a little defeated, this time I chose to hold my rod tip completely still. Just as the streaking mark merges into the one representing my tube on the flasher display, my rod tip dips ever so slightly. It was the type of take you get from a lazy walleye when it's 20-below outside. Having read about the difficulty of penetrating a hook into a large lake trout's mouth, having worried during weeks of planning about how the lack of a barb on my hooks would assuredly cause me to lose fish, and having spent just about every waking moment over the last couple days doing everything I could to catch one of these fish, I set the hook. Hard. Really hard.
It was a complete whiff. A swing and a miss. A hitter flailing at a Randy Johnson fastball and coming up empty. Nothing but air...or water in this case. That tube moved at least 5 feet through the water column with that mighty jerk, probably further. However, no sooner had I missed and felt the first "woe is me" thoughts begin to creep into my mind, my rod doubled over. The fish just absolutely blasted it. I didn't even have the opportunity to set the hook. It was all I could do to keep the rod from being ripped out of my hands and into the hole in the ice to join the fish for good.
After at least 5 long, drag-peeling runs in every direction imaginable, complete with the trademark belched air bubbles rumbling up through the hole in the ice, I brought her nose topside. Unsure of what to do with myself after finally getting to this point, I distinctly remember jumping up and down and squealing - quite literally squealing - "Get it! Get it! Get it!" Luckily for me, my buddy had kept his wits through all of this and quickly grabbed it. Finally. I had caught one.
Some quick measurements and photos then back down the hole she went. Her 33-inch length and 18-inch girth put her between 13 and 14 pounds according to the weight calculator on the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources website. This clearly isn't a truly large lake trout by most accounts, but for this "country boy" who grew up in the hills of West Virginia and who might as well have been fishing on another planet, it was probably the most memorable catch of my life. What a rush! After all the ups and downs of all that time spent chasing these fish, I couldn't do anything but sit down and reflect. It was a good 30 minutes before I was up and fishing again.
As I reflect, I still find myself convinced that the fish, just like my buddy and me, was waiting on those guys to leave. The timing couldn't have been any more perfect!
My son is a two-time cancer survivor which left him vision impaired. He has no depth perception so he can't see huge distances well or walk well on rough ground.
But this does not stop his love of fishing. He fought cancer from 13 months until his sixth birthday. He doesn't let it slow him down. He is 16 now and though he needs some assistance at times, I wouldn't trade him as fishing partner for anyone. Whether it's a bluegill, crappie, catfish, bass or carp, each catch is like his first.
This year he caught his personal best bass of over 5 pounds. The smile never left his face for weeks. He amazes me when I think of his battles but yet how his love of fishing keeps him focused and laughing.
Let me begin the story by saying that I started out 2017 as no fisherman. My father must have "fished me out" by the time I was 12 or 13 because I simply lost interest and I knew this disappointed him dearly.
He was a fishing extraordinaire with both fly fishing and bank fishing. He'd always ask me to come fish with him when I was in my late teens and early 20s and I'd always reply, "No thanks, dad. Fishing is boring."
I was too busy partying, but he did get me to go out one last time; I'd say probably 15 or so years ago. That last time we fished together he took me to his secret spot as one last attempt to get me into fishing I think and we got skunked—not a bite. So I gave it up for good until recently, that is.
I realized my son would be 9 years old this year and he had never been fishing, let alone caught a fish in his life; my poor pops must be turning over in his grave. He passed away in 2012 at the not-too-old age of 63. My son was only 4 years old at the time, so although he remembers him, he never got the chance to really know him.
I decided I had to change this. I finally got him a pole and took him fishing. He caught his first fish while camping this past September—a nice, fat bluegill on a nightcrawler and he loved it. So I said, "Next time, let's get you a real fish, son."
Two weeks later, I took him to my dad's secret spot on my dad's birthday, which was October 6th. I told him, "Let's go catch one for Grandpa Jack on his birthday."
We casted out for maybe an hour or so before almost calling it quits. But something told me put the kastmaster on for him and send him out to the same exact point where my dad and I had last fished together and got skunked. Wouldn't you know it, about the second cast he yells, "Dad! Dad! I got something!! Ooh, it feels like a big one!"
He battled the fish for a minute—maybe a minute and a half—and ended up landing this beauty on measly 4-pound test which broke as soon as the fish got on land. He caught his first real fish—this beautiful striper on my pop's birthday at his secret spot.
It was like something out of a Disney movie. It all made sense at that moment. I finally got what my father so badly wanted to share with me because I got to share it with my son. I KNOW he was with us that day and we've been a fishing duo—or should I say trio—ever since. I'm ending 2017 and going into 2018 as a proud fisherman. Thanks, pops! #hooked