The Kalin’s tube that lured the fish that lured the FISH
Many are the reasons we love to fish, but my friend and fellow fishing writer Bob Rich points to a very special one.
“Any time you head to the water, there’s a good chance of seeing something you may never see again!” he said.
Bob’s remark resonated in memory following last month’s video shoot with Matt Bichanich and Adam Eisele of Uncle Josh near Oconomowoc, Wisconsin. (See the Uncle Josh “News” posts and “Video” library for how-to info on working jig-and-pork combinations and tube jigs in deep weeds.)
It was a productive day all around. In the morning, bass fell to our presentations on deep weed flats with ¾- to 1-ounce Kalin’s Grass Stalker jigs trailed with Uncle Josh Big Daddy Pork Frogs and Uncle Josh MEAT Diamond Frogs.
Storm clouds slowly gathered and mist dampened our last hour on the water. After we had shot our second round of instructional videos, Matt and I returned to the site of our morning success – a deep flat filled with patches of cabbage, coontail, and sand grass and tapering from eight-foot depths down to 13 feet.
Adam had dialed in the afternoon pattern using Kalin’s tubes behind heavy tungsten bullet sinkers. Matt and I followed suit. We pegged the ¾- to 1-ounce slip sinkers ahead of our tubes and worked them in the same aggressive manner we had employed with the jigs that morning.
Fishing a Texas-rigged tube aggressively behind a heavy tungsten slip sinker is a sleeper technique that both Adam and Matt have mastered. It allows you to penetrate deep vegetation with minimal hang-ups. When your lure contacts vegetation, your stout tackle and braided line easily pops it free – and often triggers a reaction strike from predators in the process.
Matt quickly caught a pair of fat bass, one of which topped four pounds. I lost a fish between his pair, but converted the next hit to a boated bass.
I buried the hook on the next strike, too. It seemed a decent fish, but it grew bigger after two cranks of the reel handle.
“He’s buried me at the base of the weeds,” I muttered to Matt.
I began to apply slow pressure. Nothing budged at first. But just as I seemed to gain an inch, my rod bucked and the fish took off on an unexpectedly powerful run.
“Big fish!” I hollered. It ran again, paused, then surged again.
“That’s no bass!” said Matt, and indeed it wasn’t. We saw the long outline of a giant predator.
“Musky!” we shouted almost simultaneously.
For all my years of fishing, I had targeted musky on only three trips, and though I had caught muskellunge on each of those and taken others while bass fishing, I had never landed a large one.
But this time was different. For once, I was prepared for the king, the giant, the monster! Our flipping and pitching and reels spooled with 65-pound braid came close to mirroring musky tackle, and, lo and behold, mine was proving it could fulfill both roles.
The fish surged again, and I grinned with quiet confidence – well, not THAT quiet!
“He’s hooked,” I boasted. “He’s hooked well! I’ve got him!”
He rose high in the water column again, and, brief though it was, we caught our second glimpse.
I gained line after the next surge. But as the fish neared the boat, it stayed deep. I awaited an explosive charge beneath the boat – the signature move of the esox family.
Then I felt the “pop.” No, not the pop of a broken line…and not even the pop of a lost fish. Just a sudden loss of power and energy at the end of my line.
Up popped a fish. A hooked fish, a beaten fish…a LARGEMOUTH BASS with my Kalin’s jig still in its mouth.
For a moment, I was confused, even dumbfounded, but not for long.
I swung the fish aboard. It had been a bass of two and a quarter pounds, maybe more. It was a good fish, a respectable fish. Now it was a model for the biology lab, its organs exposed but still neatly packed in its body cavity.
This was the musky’s doing, of course. What I had mistaken for a surge to the base of the weeds had been in reality the musky’s attack on the bass.
The teeth had torn a giant flap on the left side of the bass with vertical cuts, fore and aft. On the opposite flank were teeth marks high on the back.
For a moment, I felt like Richard Dreyfus in “Jaws.” Just how big was a fish with such a large bite radius?
“Look at that. Unbelievable!” I said.
“At least we have it on video,” said Matt.
“We got it all?” I asked.
“Practically the whole thing!” said Matt.
But we hadn’t.
When it came time to download video at the office, I could find no footage.
The “Record” button had not engaged.
We had both been too engaged in the fight to think of checking.
We were left with no video or photo record of the fight or the musky or even the incisions on the bass to validate our fish tale.
But that’s how it happened!
And there’s a good chance I may never see it happen again!