Making the Tough Choice

Submitted by Dwayne Barkman
The Biggest Fish Story – In memory of Jerry Jackson

Summer 2005 fishing trip on Steistol Lake

It was one of those windy days on Steistol Lake where floating a canoe past the beaver lodge seemed like a very good idea. My son-in-law was at the bow of the canoe working his brand new Temple Fork fly rod. Our lines were intersecting perfectly with the beaver lodge. As we turned away to draw our lines through deeper water, a huge fish hit my purple leech. This fighter surfaced right away and headed for the reeds. At the same instant my son-in-law detected a tremor on his line. He set the hook hard. The problem was he had hooked a log in front of the beaver house.

By now the wind was pushing the canoe past the lodge and my son-in-law’s rod was bending in a dangerous arc. His backing was disappearing way too fast. My fish was fighting hard and coming back towards the canoe. A decision had to be made: keep my fish (which I thought to be a near personal best) and snap off my son-in-law’s recent birthday gift, or let my fish go and quickly row backwards in an effort to save the fly rod. My instant thought was: a fish this size would hopefully take a new leech again. But we would still need the rod to catch that big one later in the day. While holding my rod between my legs and wildly paddling backwards, my heart sank as the fish broke off along with my purple leech.

We saved the brand new rod though, and within an hour we each had several fish we estimated were likely as big as or bigger than, the one that got away. We were all winners and enjoyed a tasty BBQ trout dinner later that evening.
Submitted by Dwayne Barkman, December 12, 2005

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