The 2017 Idaho Outdoors fishing guide is just one month away, and one of the themes of this year’s issue is monster fish. So, in the true spirit of fish stories, we want you to send us your whoppers. Embellishment is encouraged, but make sure your story is (at least mostly) true, and that it involves a BIG fish. This can either be a monster species (like sturgeon or Chinook salmon) or an exceptionally large specimen of a more common catch like bass or trout. Just like last year, the best submissions will be published in the guide.
To enter: Email your story, a photo and YouTube video link to firstname.lastname@example.org.
My whopper story begins on a sunny, wind-blown May morning. It’s funny how vividly you can remember the details of an all-time fishing trip. My dad and I were hiking around one of our favorite small lakes, scanning the water for schools of bluegill (our goal that day was to have a panfish fry).
We were working pretty hard to find fish, with the wind creating visibility issues as the waves rolled into the rocky shoreline. As we crested a ridge, my dad turned around with a puzzled look on his face.
“Are there catfish in this lake?” he asked.
No, there weren’t.
I crept up the hill and peeked around the brush to have a look. When I saw the fish, I nearly fell over.
“That’s a largemouth!” I whisper-screamed. “And she’s ENORMOUS!”
All thoughts of a bluegill fry immediately vaporized. Crouching to remain hidden behind the brush, we quickly tied on some of our favorite bass lures, making sure to triple-check our knots.
The fish was positioned in shallow water, 15 yards from shore. We began casting in her general vicinity, starting off on the periphery so she wouldn’t spook. That strategy nearly backfired when smaller fish started taking my plastic worm. I quickly horsed them away from Big Momma, hoping she’d stay put.
She did. In fact, she didn’t seem bothered by any of the hubbub. She just sat there, lock-jawed, for more than an hour, ignoring our best efforts.
Determined to outlast this fish, I kept casting. On the fateful shot, I landed my worm about two feet in front of her nose, and it drifted perfectly into the strike zone. Immediately, the fish reacted to the bait, popping her gill plates and slowly cocking her body sideways.
She was going to take! Now, I just had to avoid screwing it up.
The bass opened its cantaloupe-sized mouth and vacuum-sucked the bait.
One one-thousand … two one-thousand. HOOK SET!
The fish jumped once and took off toward some cattails, but I fought to keep her out of the reeds. There was so much vegetation around, I wanted to land her as quickly as possible. My dad was already knee-deep with the net at the ready.
“I’m bringing her to you!” I hollered. “Don’t miss!”
He didn’t, and with the lunker successfully scooped, we marveled at the 24-inch monster. Online weight calculators put her in the 8-pound range — a great fish in any water, and an absolute whopper by Idaho standards.
After some photos, I decided to release my fish-of-a-lifetime. My hands were still shaking with adrenaline as I watched her swim away.
It was a day to remember, and a fish I’ll never forget. I can’t wait to read about your whoppers!
Jordan Rodriguez has been fishing Idaho waters since he was a teen. Share your fish stories, adventures, tips and tricks at outdoors @idahostatesman.com.