Weather and water permitting, I will periodically embark on a kayak workout that entails a hard paddle to an island and a leisurely float back wherein I troll with a spinner bait along the weed line.
I will usually catch a rock bass that will run to the weeds and get tangled so that I imagine a much larger fish than I really have, only to be disappointed when I finally get him close.
This summer as I was slowly trolling back toward the cabin I got a nice tug on the line and envisioned the wily rock bass heading for the depths only to be surprised as the kayak began to turn back toward the island.
The line was now spooling out and I was concerned that my 6-pound test would be over-stressed. I subsequently imitated the marlin technique of rearing back and reeling forward and the fight ensued for more than 10 minutes, during which my mind conjured up some really big denizens of the deep. After being towed halfway back to the island I finally got the prey up to the kayak and saw a very angry 31-inch northern pike, who was not happy at having hauled around my copious load for any length of time.
I first attempted to get him in the boat by scooping up perhaps one third of his length in my little trout net and promptly launched him over the kayak. Deftly switching the rod, reel and net to opposite hands I duplicated the stupid maneuver and tossed him over the boat again back to the right side.
Having seen many fishing shows, I then decided to grab the angry pike behind his gill and get him aboard. Just as I reached down to grab his gill he thrashed his head and I did a double take on his large, sharp teeth, and decided to abort this perilous plan.
I finally decided to squeeze him against the side of the kayak with the net and dumped him into the bottom of the kayak. While usually slow to recognize a dangerous situation, it became immediately apparent to me that a large, toothy, angry northern thrashing around in the bottom of a very small kayak between my legs was not a good thing.
I began beating his head with the net as I flailed to get him on a stringer clip. When eventually on the stringer I blissfully tossed him overboard and began my proud paddle home.
My granddaughter was also on the water that day and had witnessed the long battle and she raced ahead of me to notify the campsite of my conquest.
Consequently, as I neared the campsite a large crowd of women, children and barking dogs was on hand to greet me. I pulled up to the pier with a flourish and handed up the stringer to my grandson, who was on the dock. He promptly lifted the stringer and the clip opened and the angry, albeit tired, northern was once again free in the water.
Immediately my grandson jumped into the water and began the chase with my tiny net. Then three dogs started chasing the fish. along with my granddaughter, who luckily grabbed a much larger net. As I attempted to rapidly extricate myself from the kayak it capsized, and my departure was anything but graceful.
The confused pike dazedly headed for the shore, which eventually proved his undoing and he was scooped up. The befuddled and thoroughly exhausted fish was once again nabbed and many pictures with happy wet fishermen and women ensued.