Every angler has them. Your grandpa. Your aunt. Your neighbor. The crusty old guy you meet at the bait shop. But let’s face it — fishing wouldn’t be nearly as fun without them.
I’m talking, of course, about fish stories. The whopper. The near-death experience. The one that got away. With every passing year, the drama and the fish in our stories seem to grow. But it sure is fun to relive, retell and hear other anglers’ epic tales — even if we know half of them are porky pies.
In March, the Idaho Statesman will publish its annual fishing guide. This year, we want your stories to be part of the fun. Send your biggest, best and craziest fish tales to firstname.lastname@example.org, and we’ll select some of the best to publish.
Please make all submissions 400 words or less, suitable for family audiences and at least mostly true. Your story can take place in Idaho, or it can chronicle adventures away from home. I’ll kick things off with a true story of my own from Lake Mead in Nevada.
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After high school graduation, a group of my buddies went to Mead and rented some houseboats for a week. We also had a ski boat, so most of the group was preoccupied with wakeboarding and tubing. But for me and my buddy Ty, it was the perfect opportunity to set up camp off the back of the house boat and fish away the days.
We were using the recommended tackle, according to the guys at the marina — small chunks of frozen anchovy fished near the sandy bottom. We had a blast catching channel catfish and striped bass, but most of the fish were in the 12- to 14-inch range, and we were itching for a real monster.
A couple afternoons in, as we sat sipping Canada Dry in the 105-degree heat, I got a firm tug on the end of my line. I set the hook, and my pole doubled over. This was it! We finally had the big one.
My pole thrashed about with surprising violence, followed by long pauses when the fish just sat still on the bottom, seemingly stuck under a rock or log. I couldn’t move it at all. I played it safe, not wanting to risk snapping my 10-pound test. Slowly but surely, I began to gain ground on the beast. It felt like I was pulling the drain plug off the bottom of the lake.
As I muscled the monster toward the surface, Ty stood at the ready with the net. Finally, I pulled the creature from the teal-green depths and it spun round and round like a big, flat dinner plate. What in the world was this thing? Surely there were no flounders in Lake Mead?
Into the net and onto the deck came my prized catch, and its identity finally was revealed. It wasn’t a fish at all, but a turtle. A very large, very angry softshell turtle. It had dived down more than 20 feet deep to snatch that anchovy and was none too pleased to be rewarded with a hook in the lip. We tried several methods of removing the hook, but thought better of it when the turtle seemed intent on removing my finger in return. So we cut the line (hard-to-remove hooks will rust out eventually).
We showed off the turtle to the rest of the crew and even gave him a nickname. He stayed in the bathtub long enough for everyone to get a look at him, and then over the side of the houseboat he went, off to steal more anchovies and, just maybe, give another angler a wild story to tell.
I can’t wait to read your most memorable fish stories. Happy writing, and tight lines!