A Birthday Session To Remember!
Sitting in class, on my birthday morning of May 10th, I can tell you only one thing for certain, my mind was definitely not focused on algebra equations! My mind was already halfway across the state on our three hour journey to the western side of Michigan, which is where we planned to spend the next two and a half days camped out on the bank. At 2:30pm as soon as the bell rang I was out the door and on the road! We had finished packing up the truck the night before so there was nothing but open road and blue skies ahead of us (Or so we thought). We were about halfway through our journey when the skies started to darken considerably. A quick check on the smart phone confirmed our fears, we were in for some bad weather all weekend. This was not just any bad weather either, this was the mother of all cold fronts! They were predicting a 30 degree drop in temperature from the day before along with 25-30mph wind all weekend long, just our luck! Oh well, nothing we could do now, already to far to turn back, looks like were in for a rough weekend.
By the time we got to the swim it was late in the afternoon. The first thing we did was bait up the swim, then tied some rigs and got the rods out. By the time all our gear was in order nightfall was upon us and the rods had been in for about an hour. We decided that it would be a good time for dinner so we started the grill and got to cooking up some hot dogs. Just before we put the first dogs on the grill we had our first take of the session. I lifted into the fish and could tell it was small from the start. About twenty seconds into the fight I could feel my line grinding on a snag and a few seconds later I was locked up solid, darn! The snag resulted in a break off for the first fish from the venue, but by the weight of the fish I felt I was not to disappointed. About thirty minutes after I got that rod back out we had our second take of the session which resulted in an 8lb channel catfish. Ok, that made me feel better, I just had to clear out the swim as Andy Sprinkle calls it and I would be all set. After that fish, we managed to get a quick dinner in before the next rod went off. This fish was different, strong, heavy, and was taking line aggressively. By the weight I was feeling I would say at least in the mid to high 20’s, but unfortunately we will never know because shortly after he made his second strong run, the hook pulled! Darn it, this is not going as I had planed it, first three runs had resulted in a break off, a catfish and a hook pull! Oh well, nothing I could do but get the rods back out and stay positive. After the third run, the action died off for about two hours. By this time it was approaching mid-night and I was getting pretty tired.
Around 12:30a.m. One of my rods screamed off and I lifted into a very powerful fish. It was making solid runs and felt very heavy. This is also a very unique venue in that the fight is never really over until the fish is in the net. Right off the wall it is deep enough for the fish to make runs straight down which makes the fight near shore very exciting. When I saw the fish swim directly in front of me about five feet down in the water column I got very excited. It looked to be a very nice fish, especially for the first fish we had seen out of the venue thus far. When we finally got the fish into the net we were ecstatic, what a hog! We zeroed out the scale, put her on, and the needle dropped all the way to 30lb 8oz!! Wow, the first fish out of the venue and it’s a thirty, ridiculous! We decided to bag her for the night to get some better shots in the morning. Unfortunately the rest of the night was rather uneventful, with only one other run resulting in a small catfish.
We awoke to an unexpected scene the next morning. Instead of the massive cold front the weatherman had predicted for the morning, it was actually rather nice outside. I re-baited all the rods and baited up a little bit more around 6a.m. Shortly after I awoke my father also decided it was time to get up. By this time he was rather frustrated with the lack of action he had gotten so far, and decided to re-bait his rods as well. After a good cup of coffee we decided it was a good time to get some day shots of the 30 from the night before. Just as we were about to walk over and un-sack the fish, my far left rod got a screaming run. I lifted into the fish and once again he felt strong! This fish just would not quit,and he sat right below us swimming up and down the wall and stuck to the bottom. When I finally managed to bring the fish to the surface, we were amazed, it was another Hog! As we got the fish into the net and went to lift it onto shore it became apparent that this fish was definitely bigger than the one we had sacked from the night before! When we slid her into the weighing sling and put her on the Rubin, sure enough she was bigger than the other fish! She weighed in at 30lb 15oz!! Only two fish out of the venue and both are thirties, WOW this is insane.
We had no time to admire the two awesome captures, as shortly after we weighed up the 30lb 15oz another of my remaining rods went off. It felt like yet another strong fish and ended up weighing it at a little over 23lb. We quickly snapped photos of the 23 and got her back. Now onto the big girls, photos were taken of both, then they were carefully released. So now we can celebrate, two thirties and it’s not even lunch time on the first full day of our trip! By the time I managed to get all my rods back out my dad had already cooked up a nice sausage lunch, and I sat back and enjoyed what was most certainly an already worthwhile trip. Some time after lunch I dozed off, and was awoken by the sound of one of my dads rods screaming off! “Dad! Dad! Where did you go!” I said. Turns out he had also dozed off! I woke him up and he got to fighting the fish. My dads first fish of the trip was a lovely chunky common in the 19+ range!
Awesome, no one had blanked, everything was cake after this point. Several minutes later I got another screaming run on my left rod and struck into what felt like another nice fish. Yet again the fish was making strong runs, taking lots of line, and holding tight to the bottom. When the fish finally surfaced about ten yards out I thought it might go high 20’s. My dad had a different angle on the fish and said he thought it was the biggest so far. When we got the fish into the net, there was no doubt, this was the biggest thus far! The stomach and back on this fish were massive!! When we put the fish on the scale we were yet again shocked when the needle went all the way to 31lb 12oz. This was beginning to get crazy, it seemed as if every other fished we put on the bank was a thirty! We were in amazement as we watched the third thirty of the session slowly swim away into the depths.
It almost seemed reminiscent of the trip we made down to Texas for the ATC, I mean this stuff just does not happen in Michigan everyday! Most years it’s good to get one or two thirties in a year here and I had just pulled out three in one session, and it was not over yet! By this time it was getting later in the day on Saturday and the cold front had hit full swing. It was blowing 25-30mph and the temperature was dropping like a stone. I actually called Andy and asked him if he knew any other spots on the opposite side of the lake because the waves were getting to the point of being un-fishable. The conditions absolutely shut off the fishing going into the second night. Around 10pm I decided to re bait all my rods and go to sleep. By the time we got the first run of the night, the weather was to the point that we did not even want to go fight fish regardless of the size. It was just to harsh, there was no way we could keep it up. My dad got a fish in the 25+lb range and we did not even bother to get pictures because the conditions were to harsh. After my dads forth fish of the night, we could not handle it any more, we had to pull the rods for the rest of the night and prayed for better weather in the morning.
As morning arrived we were somewhat relieved to see that the weather on Sunday was at least fishable, all be it not very comfortable. We re-baited all the rods and got them back out with our confidence very low. After about three hours of nothing I finally got a run on one of the rods I had re-baited with the new Saki Ground Bait from Markuyu. It felt like a very strong fish and had all the signs of being another hog. When we finally got the fish into the net I was in complete amazement! “Holy Cow” I thought “that is the 30lb 8 oz, that I caught on the very first night!” I was convinced, as the big double stomach was unmistakable, and my forth thirty of the session! Right then my other rod ripped off and it too felt like another hog! We got it near shore, snapped a few photos of the fight and finally netted the fish. This one ended up falling just short of the magic number at 29lb 2oz, but still not a bad brace!
After releasing those two fish I was just in shock. The trip was winding down to a close and I just did not want it to end. I was having way to much fun for it to be over so soon! Within the last hour of the session I got one final run resulting in a rather anti-climactic 10lb common, which was my only carp under the 20lb mark! As we packed up I looked back on what had happened over the last two days and just could not believe it. A new venue for myself, and the first session produced four thirties, and a 29lb, what else can I say! As I was driving home, calling all of my close friends, telling them what a great time we had, there was one person in particular I really wanted to get the photos of all the nice fish to. Andy Sprinkle played a big part in this sessions success. Everything from suggesting the venue, to helping me out with how he fished it, the guy is a class act! Thanks Andy, I really appreciate it buddy! This has to be one of my proudest moments as an angler to date, the fact that it turned out to be such a great session in such tough conditions still blows my mind! As I look back at last weekend, I know the memories I made with my father on the bank enjoying my 17th Birthday weekend will last a lifetime. I don’t know when I will have a session that matches this one, but I do know one thing, when it comes I will be ready!!!