First Outing of the Year, First Fish, PB! - Post Awards -
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First Outing of the Year, First Fish, PB!

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Awarded by , 01-28-2018 at 02:52 PM (1050 Views)

Quote Originally Posted by NCGator-Baiter View Post
This was a few weeks ago, but I haven't had time to post.

After being cooped up for days due to the record cold in our area, I decided I'd had enough! It was Sunday, Jan 7th and the temp was 5 deg F that morning. I knew moving water would be my only chance for unfrozen water, so I bundled up like some weird Eskimo and headed to my favorite spillway.

By now it was 18 deg F and the sun was out. The lake appeared to be fully frozen over. No one was fishing. How strange...
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Sure enough, there was some open water around the spillway - which a flock of various water fowl were clearly enjoying. They were not happy to see me.
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This was more about getting back outside than catching fish - to set a baseline I can point to later when the weather isn't perfect and I'm feeling lazy. I didn't expect much action and I was right. My first catch:
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Snow on the lure and ice in the guides is something this Florida transplant is not accustomed to.
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After the novelty wore off, the cold started to set in. There had been no bites in this spot which is typically skunk proof - if only due to lots of little fish. I was becoming convinced that either the cold and/or the commotion of the ducks swimming and bathing meant there were no fish to be had.

Some froth had built up against the ice edge in the middle of the creek. By then, I had scoured seemingly every inch of the open pool with no luck. I figured the shading of the foam may provide some cover over the deepest water. Numb fingers and thick gloves made for lots of errant casts, so I pitched my tiny 1/32 jig to the spot like I was bass fishing the weeds in the summer.

As soon as the lure fell through the foam, I saw the line move sideways. It took a few beats to register, but I reeled in the slack and gently set the hook. I was expecting a baby crappy or bluegill - as is often the case here. Instead I felt a heavy yank, yank, yank! Just a stationary, lethargic, tug. Now I thought I'd hooked a cat. They seem to lazily flop side to side rather than fight when I have caught them. But when it splashed on the surface I was confused. It looked like a bass, but something was off. As it finally tried to swim near the surface I recognized it was a crappie - a huge crappie! By now my heart was beating out of my chest and all I could think about was the 4lb line I had been dragging across jagged ice all morning. Then, just like that, she gave up. I quickly grabbed her and was glad she hadn't beat herself up on the rocks. Heart still pounding, I think I gave a few fist pumps and exclaimed to the ducks waiting for me to leave.
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It was easily double the biggest crappie I've caught. Heck it felt heavier than most of my bass. The head looked more like a bass than the crappie I was used to. The mouth was anything but paper thin. Again, it was thick and tough like a LMB. This beast looked Jurassic compared to my typical crappie catch.
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Unfortunately, I had no reason to think that I'd need my scale for this trip. I hurriedly tried to snap a photo next to something for scale. I was unsure what effect the cold would have on her ability to survive out of the water. This was the best I did in my rush. Her tail slipped off the rod grip before I could get a full length pic. Measuring my Ugly Stik UL later, her mouth to the tip of the anal fin was roughly 12.5" What a beauty!
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I know plenty of you crappie masters out there have done better, but I wouldn't be surprised if I never catch one this big and stout in my lifetime. Being the first fish of the year on my first outing, this one will be easy to remember for a long time. Nevertheless, I wanted to capture the experience here and hopefully, you've enjoyed my little frozen adventure.

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  1. Kev2380's Avatar
    Nice job, you'll catch many more that size and bigger in your lifetime.
  2. Whitefish115's Avatar
    Warms the cockles of my heart to see your fish. I caught my first of the year last week- a keep red I didn’t keep caught on a fly rod on a fly I tied. Only fish we saw all day.