Don't you just love a great surprise fish when you're on a lake? It's always fun to be fishing for a particular fish, then receive a shock when something bigger comes along, especially when the gear you're using wasn't meant for it.
I was up at Deerfield Reservoir recently and received quite the nice surprise while I was fishing for rainbows and brook trout. With the arrival of late ice, I decided to finally try out my new St. Croix 26" Avid Glass rod that I'd purchased earlier in the season and try it out on rainbows on the west side of the lake.
Since I didn't have an extra reel, I took off my Eagle Claw inline reel from another rod and attached it with some Cold Snap Reel Wraps. Rigging it with two of Northland Tackle's new ice lures, a Mitee Mouse tungsten jig paired with an Impulse Water Flea, I fished in 5' to 9' of water looking for roaming trout. I managed to catch several rainbows and the light tip of the rod was proving quite nice at detecting the bites.
Not long after my last rainbow, I was jigging in 7' of water when a large red mark suddenly appeared at my jig on my Vexilar screen and the line began screaming off the reel. I could tell it was a lake trout just from the start of the fight.
Having never caught anything bigger than 3 pounds on an inline reel, I had to readjust the drag on the reel frequently as the fight started. Too tight and I worried that the 4# test line would break.
Too lose and I had to watch the line keep coming off the spool that only had so many yards of line on it. But I figured out the right mix a couple of minutes into it and for the next 15 minutes, the Laker and I did battle.
The fish made several runs and the Avid Glass rod bent heavily under the pressure, but it had enough backbone to handle the trout. Finally, I was able to hoist the 27" Laker from the hole and hold it up in victory!
It was definitely the highlight of my ice season due to the fight and the fact that it was the biggest fish I caught all season. After a few photos, I held the fish in the hole until it gave a quick flick of its tail and it was gone. The new rod had proved itself in a tough fight that it was not built for and I was happy that it held its own.
Last ice is upon us and many of us have had our season cut short. If you still have ice, be sure to take advantage of it safely and make sure you trust your gear you're using. You never know if you might catch a surprise while you're fishing for something else.