Happy Tears; A Walleye To Remember!

Have you ever shed tears over a fish? I’ll admit that I have on a few occasions. Once while kayak fishing, I hooked into a northern pike using a brand new rod. While netting the fish, my line wrapped around one of the guides and as the fish thrashed out of the net, the rod snapped under pressure, the wrapped line broke and the giant pike escaped. I was crushed. It happens, but this story is not about those kind of tears.

We all react differently to a memorable catch. My reactions range from straight up screaming, jumping, cheering, hugs, high fives, (sometimes swearing), and more. My friend Lori and I jokingly refer to these moments of intense excitement as ‘black outs’. With such an overload of emotions, it feels almost as if there’s a blank space during this point in time making it difficult to remember every detail. Of course, we never forget the fish though and we are usually able to piece it together after the dust settles, haha!

Lori is one of my favourites to fish with. She’s always up for any adventure and will do whatever it takes to get out on the water. She’s joined me aboard my boat a couple times this fall in pursuit of walleye during tough conditions and had been super hopeful for a shot at her first double digit (one 10 pounds or greater). I knew her dedication would eventually lead her to the fish of her dreams, but I really did not expect what effect it would have on me when it finally happened.

I had placed a 9-pound walleye I just landed in the livewell for a moment before snapping a photo. Before I could even get the photo, another ‘eye was on! As Lori reeled in her second fish of the day, the steady bend in the rod told us that it was a good one. She took her time and although I attempted to chat with her, she didn’t say much. Another sign that she had something good on as she was completely focused. As the line counter number dropped lower, I grabbed the net and waited at the transom with my back to Lori. As I awaited a glimpse of the fish a few emotions were running through me; stress, overwhelming excitement, and my eyes were welling up a bit. Strangely enough I hadn’t even seen the fish yet but I just had a feeling this would be memorable. I had hope it would be memorable for all the right reasons and not for me dropping her fish at the boat.

As her giant walleye approached, it showed itself and dug downward towards the spinning prop on the kicker motor. The stress came back! It wouldn’t take much for this moment to turn into heartbreak and I felt nauseous. With a fish of this size on, there’s not much you can do but keep your rod tip high, control the fish as much as possible, and pray it reaches the net.  What felt like an eternity later, the brute of a walleye surfaced and I waited for the perfect moment to slide the net undernath. PHEW!!!! The emotions returned all at once and as I turned hoisting Lori’s walleye into the boat I saw tears streaming down her face. I laughed and cheered with tears in my eyes and hugged Lori while hollering “DOUBLE DIGIT!” and a bunch of other joyful sounds. What a fish!

I’ll never ever forget this day. Congratulations, Lori, on 12 pounds and 12 ounces of pure walleye gold!

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Myself (left) and Lori (right). We hoisted our fish for a quick photo and sent them back on their way.

One more shot of her stunning walleye.

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It ate a Flicker Minnow 11 in Purple Bengal.

Thank you for reading <3

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