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"It Happened Again.... A True Fish Story!"
by Captain Darrell Mittlesteadt

WalleyeIt happened again! That’s right, my clients Jim and Jeff, for the second year in a row, were fighting the wind and weather for the chance at a trophy walleye.

During their fishing trip last year Jeff caught the largest walleye of his life, a 10 1/2 pound monster, which has taken up permanent residence on his trophy wall. The trip, Jim’s second, was not so kind to him. Good fishing? Yes! Large fish? Yes! The trophy Jim was looking for? No! Although we fished long and hard, through some extreme conditions, Jim’s trophy wall still had an empty spot. Not to worry, Jim and Jeff, determined to fill that spot booked again for the same week-end this year.

After the year long wait, here we are, the last week-end of November 1995. Jim and Jeff are bundled for the cold and wind we are about to face. After fishing all day Saturday, the trophy still eludes Jim’s wall. Now Jeff’s another story - you guessed it, Jeff filled another spot on his trophy wall. This time with a 16 1/2 pound Northern Pike caught trolling a Storm Thunderstick for walleyes.

Although they had Sunday booked, for another try, circumstances beyond their control forced them to cancel and leave for home early that morning. That’s where the rest of this story and a client of mine named John Thodos from Palatine IL. comes into the picture.

When I called, although at the last minute, on Saturday evening, John said, “You bet, I’ll be there at 9AM”. At nine John was there, bundled beyond recognition, ready to face a long, cold day of fishing for trophy walleyes. This was John’s second trip to Little Bay De Noc in two weeks. The first trip yielded several fish up to 7 1/2 pounds, but none close to the magic ten pound number John was looking for. Hopes were high for this, his second charter.

The day started out slow; ice build-up out side of the boat landing made slow going to get to the area where we wanted to fish. By 10:30, despite 20 degree air temperatures and 30 degree water temperatures, we had four Lamiglas Back Bouncer rods, equipped with Shimano Line Counter reels, Cortland Lead Core line and Storm Thundersticks on planner boards working along the edge of the ice build-up that was protruding from shore.

About 11:30 we boated our first walleye. A 26 inch, fat female, that weighed in excess of seven pounds. It was at this point that John said, “It sure would be great if it would happen again”. “If what would happen again” I asked. “If we could land the largest fish of the year when someone else couldn’t make it, like it happened with Jeff Hangman’s Tiger musky”. Five minutes later, bang, one of the planner boards stopped dead in the water. We both thought for a second that it was a snag - but just for a second. For the next fifteen minutes all John could say is, “WOW!! Darrell what a fighter”! “She’s taking out line faster than I can reel it in”! “I think she’s a big one”, and “WOW!! look at the size of her”! As soon as she slid into the net and I lifted it into the boat we knew for sure that we had a monster. “It did happened again. WOW” is all I heard as John was jumping up and down, hugging me and shaking my hand all at the same time.

It’s true it did happen again. The walleye John caught was a whopping 32 inches long and weighed 12 pounds 2 ounces, ranking it as the largest fish, that I know of, taken that fall. It is with out a doubt one of the largest. Truly a trophy!!!

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