the HOG! Not an amazing picture, but she was an amazing fish
Yesterday I realized it had been 4 days since I had been fishing, and almost a week since I landed a nice fish… I decided to correct this travesty, and get in some fishin’ on the way to work.
Woke up this morning at 5am, Walter as always was confused why I was up so early. He followed me down to the kitchen as I made coffee. It didn’t matter to him that it was 5am, he still wanted to play fetch with his rubber beer bottle, so we did.
I gulped down some coffee (I really like drinking coffee out of coffee mugs, less so out of travel mugs) packed my gear in my backpack, and headed out. I was walking to the train today because it was supposed to rain. As I walked to sun began to illuminate the street, and I saw ominous looking clouds everywhere, not even a peek of open sky. Maybe this would be good for fishing. I was headed to the neighborhood pond though, and nothing seems to help or hurt the fishing there- it’s always great!
The pond looked very clean for once, not too much scummy-looking weeds floating on the top, and none of the poop-like brown stuff bobbing around. Great! On my way I had decided on two goals for the pre-work mini-fishing trip: 
1) Catch a nice fish (pretty much a guarantee there) and 
2) Catch it on an inline spinner (mepps-type lure).
I’ve been inspired by windycityfishing.com member Navyfisher and his goal of landing 20 bass on a jig. He doesn’t jig much, so this is his way of becoming more versatile. What a great idea!
As obsessed as I am with fishing right now, I know when it’s -10°F outside there will be no part of me that has any desire to sit on a frozen lake waiting for a 5″ bluegill to bite. That doesn’t seem like a fun time to me, unless of course there was plenty of beer or coffee and friends. So I’ve been thinking about how I’ll occupy myself during the winter. I’ll probably make it “music season”- that is my main thing, after all, but it’s hard to restrict myself to hours in front of computer screen when that’s what I do all day at work… Especially when it’s 72°F outside.
I’ve been looking into lure making to satisfy my fishing addiction throughout the hard-water times this winter. I’ve seen lots of kits for spinner making, and for some reason I’ve been infatuated with inline spinners (most people refer to them as mepps, a brand name). They are so compact, and minimalist- at the most basic level they include a blade that spins around a wire shaft connected to a hook… and that’s it! Anything else is fluff. Looking at the spinners I have in my tacklebox, I think I could make this.
The problem is I’ve never caught a single fish on an inline spinner! I’ve caught plenty of bass on safety-pin type spinners, and I will certainly try my hand at those, but there’s something alluring about the simple and straightforward inlines. I like them. They look cool.
The other problem is I have a hard time believing a lure can catch fish until I see it catching fish. So I figured today was my day to find out if a mepps can really catch a fish, and if was worth learning how to make inline spinners myself.
So I put down my backpack, assembled my rod, strung the line through the guides, and tied on a Mepps black fury #3. I’ve heard great things about this lure, and it looks pretty awesome.
The Mepps Black Fury inline spinnerbait
I casually cast it out, immediately impressed by it’s casting distance- it was easy to get it out to the middle of the pond. I began reeling in the slack, and I was stuck. Damn! I was a little worried about having 3 exposed hooks (most inline spinners seem to use treble hooks) because I didn’t want to get hung up every cast. I tried to get it free, when suddenly my line started racing across the pond. Fish on! First cast!
My heart started racing, this felt like a big fish! I started reeling in, and realized my drag was set to loose- I couldn’t get a grip on the line! My drag screamed in agony as the fish began to spool me. The fish was pulling out my line as fast as I could reel it in, and I was getting nowhere.
I bent my knees a little, the way somebody battling a 90 pound fish might do, and tried to pull the fish in by pulling up my rod. It was working! The fish came closer, and I was able to reel in more line. As I maneuvered it toward the pipe where I was standing, I saw it was a very good-sized largemouth, putting up a very good fight.
I brought it toward me, reaching for it’s lip, when it jumped one last time and unhooked itself, quickly returning to the deep with a flash of olive green.
Ok, ok, that’s fine- I basically already met my goal for the morning! This lure had immediately proven itself as fish-catching. I was surprised that the bass was able to get off from the treble hook, but perhaps it had only been hooked lightly in the lip or something.
2nd cast, 2nd hookup, 1st fish landed
I cast again to about the same spot, and paid close attention as the spinner fell through the water. I felt a tap, and once again I had a fish on! This one fought like the last one, surfacing at least 3 times, jumping out of the water, doing everything it could to escape the clutches of my new favorite lure. I pulled it in, and admired yet another great-looking fish to come out of this dirty puddle of a pond. It was about 11-12″, not sure about weight (maybe I should get a scale next time I’m at the store…) Snapped some pics, very satisfied with my new favorite lure and my Friday morning.
A few more casts, and I was really liking this mepps. I was afraid it would get hung up on branches or weeds every time, and I would end up losing a $5 lure right away. Not the case. I didn’t exactly drag it on the bottom though- I cast it out, let it sink a bit, then reeled in while I kept my rod tip pretty high in the air. I did a pretty steady retrieve- I noticed it didn’t take much movement at all to get the blade spinning. Maybe that’s why everybody love
s these lures! I’ve got to get some more of these guys… Seems like people love mepps and rooster tails, but guys around here are obsessed with Sims spinners- made locally by a windycityfishing.com member! Got to try some of those.
A few casts later, I hooked into another fish. Really, the fish hooked itself! Normally I can feel a fish hit, but these guys today were just gulping up my lure and running with it. I only noticed when my line started swimming around.
This one was a little bigger than the first one, I was on a roll. These fish love my mepps! I snapped some pics, and returned the bugger to the water. As he swam away, I wondered if he would have a go at any of the little bluegill hanging out by the pipe- right where I released him.
Fish #2, another victory for the mepps
I wanted to see how far I could cast this little guy if I really tried. There seem to be 3 underwater pipes or pumps in the middle of the pond that are always bubbling. I don’t know if this is just to create oxygen for the stocked fish, or to give the water some movement, or they are just drain pipes from the neighborhood. Either way I’ve always thought they would be likely fish hangout spots, but I’ve never been able to cast far enough to reach them. I reeled in the mepps, leaned back, and made a pretty great sideways cast, if I do say so myself. The lure went buzzing and flying through the air, landing smack dab in the middle of the bubbles. Success!
Before I could even reel a single revolution, my line started moving. Another fish! This one was pretty slow. I tugged with the rod to ensure I had a good hook set, and a nuclear explosion of splashes surfaced and I caught a glimpse of a HUGE fish! It was clear in the middle of the pond, I couldn’t quite see what it was, but it was BIG and it was attached to the end of my line. Oh yeah, it was ON.
After the initial jump, the fish tried to go deep. I reeled and pulled, trying to keep it away from the bottom where it could hang me up, trying to bring it to the surface. As it came closer I saw a flash of olive- it was a largemouth. A BIG largemouth. Definitely bigger than any I’d caught here at this pond.
Instead of the frantic runs and many jumps smaller bass used to try and get free, this big fish fought me with pure force. The sheer size of the fish made it difficult to reel in. As I pulled on my rod it almost bent in half, looking more like a horseshoe than a rod. It slowly swam around. There was nothing frantic about this fish, nothing scared. If anything, it was intimidating! It seemed to say “Sure, try and reel me in. Give me your best shot.”
So I did- I brought the fish closer to me, dispersing tons of tiny bluegill, and finally it was within reach. I didn’t dare pulling it up with my line alone; I envisioned the 6 pound line snapping at the slightest twitch from this goliath. Or maybe it was 10 pound. I was in no state of mind to do math- either way, I wanted to land this amazing fish.
I kneeled on the pipe and reached into the water, grabbing the monster by the lip. Most of the bass here will give one last violent shake when I do this, but this one conceded defeat.
at least 16″ inches, and the heaviest fish I’ve ever caught
As I pulled her (I think the big bass are usually female) out of the water, I thanked her profusely for taking such an interest in my lure, and was astonished by her weight. This might be the heaviest fish I’ve ever caught, I thought, and kicked myself for not buying that cheap fish scale I saw last time at Meijer. I took a moment to admire the great fish- she had a beautiful dark pattern, a darker green hue than the smaller bass in the pond; her eyes were very dark with a little red along the edges; I noticed a few tiny bugs crawling around her scales… I wondered if they jumped on the fish when I pulled her through the weeds, or if they were some kind of parasites. 
I guess you don’t get old without having some health issues, regardless of what species you are.
I held the fish next to my fishing rod to estimate her length, and I guessed at least 16″ probably a little more. She might not have been longer than the bass I caught last Friday at Burnham, but she was definitely heavier. Beefy even. My forearm burned trying to support the weight. I made sure to hold her as vertical as possible, so as not to break her jaw.
I snapped some pictures, determined to get some great shots of this amazing fish. It’s hard getting pictures alone, especially with such a big fish! Looking at the pictures later, I was a little disappointed, because they don’t do her justice. But hey, that’s what my fancy nouns and verbs are for.
After a few moments spent admiring my catch, I carefully placed her back in the water. She casually swam away, seemingly unfazed by her temporary capture. I thought about the mepps- it was a #3, not very large, certainly no where near the size of big safety-pin style spinners or even big tubes that I’ve used to catch big bass in the past. When I got to the pond earlier, I thought I might hook into a big bluegill or something. It blew my mind that such a huge fish would go for a lure that was so small. I could have fit my entire fist in her mouth! Granted, I have small hands… but still.
I cast for a while longer using the mepps with no takers, so I switched to a crankbait. This was another lure that I rarely use, but know many people use it extensively. After many casts without any hits (and plenty of weeds) I called it a day. I didn’t beat my 6 bass in one trip record, but I did catch my first inline spinner fish, and caught what was probably the biggest and heaviest fish I’d ever caught. 
Not too shabby for a Friday! Let’s see what I can do on Saturday and Sunday….

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