Last night turned out to be some excellent walleye fishing at the Shoals! I left my home in Escanaba, Michigan at around 5:00 pm, and headed for the Ford River boat launch that marks the border between Little Bay de Noc and the Northern Green Bay. When I got there, I found that the parking lot was packed full of fancy Ranger 621s, Lund Pro Vs, and other pro walleye boats. That was due to the MWC/NTC "Super Bowl of Walleye Fishing" Tourney that will take place here next weekend. There were even trucks parallel parked along the roads because there was no room in the lot. Well, in my case, I got lucky and found a spot in the lot that somebody had just left, and it wasn't even that far out in the boonies (A sign of good luck to come?)!.I motored out of the river, and shot 11 miles into the middle of the Green Bay to a place called Minneapolis Shoal. For the first time ever, I was not the only boat there. There were also a couple of tourney boats working the area over. However, since the area is many miles wide, there was no crowdedness. In fact, the other couple of boats were nothing more than specks on the horizon.I started trolling crawler harnesses behind boards in the shallowest spot (18 feet) that is directly adjacent to the main basin of the Green Bay, and it didn't take long to connect either. The first board went back, and I reeled in a 21 inch walleye, which is actually far smaller than average for that area. Not too long later, another board went back, but that fish got off as the board was nearing the back of the boat.Once the sun started getting low in the sky, I changed over to crank baits. The fish liked that change too! Not too much time went by, and I pulled in a nice 24 incher on a Berkley Flicker Shad.I turned around, to make another pass, and not too long into that pass the board closest to the boat tapped once, and went back. Only, this one didn't just go back. It kept going! 60 feet of line had been ripped off my reel before I could even get it out of the holder! Once I got it out of the holder the line just kept going! I finally tightened my drag in an attempt to stop the fish. It was dangerous, but it worked. Once the fish finally calmed down, the sheer weight was unbelievable. At this point, I thought to myself "This is one of two things. It is either the hawg of all hawgs, or a smaller fish that is foul hooked and twirling behind the boat."
I slowed the boat down so I could at least make some progress. Slowly, but surely, I cranked and pumped away. As the fish finally neared the back of the boat, I shined my headlamp back there, and I saw a pair of eyes glowing in the darkness, and spinning 3-foot-wide circles as they were dragged behind the boat. I thought to myself, "Ahh, it's just a little one that is foul hooked." However, soon afterwards the fish came to the surface and made a splash that sent water flying 15 feet in the air. At that point, I wasn't so sure that it was a little one. I kept cranking, and when I finally hit him with my headlamp I found out what I actually had. It was a big one! He had the back hook in his mouth, and the front hook had caught him back by the gill, and that was why he was twirling.
I carefully pulled the hawg alongside the boat in one hand, and went for him with the net in the other hand. And it's a good thing it all happened when it did because just as the net got under the fish, the lure flew out of his mouth. He wasn't even in the net yet. It was one of those times when, as the fish turned to leave, he swam into the net! As I strained to lift the hawg into the boat, I thought to myself, "If he isn't 30, he's darn close!" I then put him on the stick, and he measured at precisely 30 1/8 inches!
I wanted to release the massive fish, so I quickly put him in the livewell so I could reel in my other lines and get the camera ready for pictures. However, when I went to grab one of my other lines I found out, "Holy crap! There's a fish on here!" I then cranked in a fish that was about average size for that area, a nice 25 incher. In all the excitement of the big fish, I never even saw that I had another fish on. That was the first time that I nearly drowned a 25 inch walleye behind the boat without even realizing he was there!
Once I got everything straightened out, and got my camera set up on a tripod, I took the big fish back out of the well, took a few pictures of myself with the fish, and released him back into the Green Bay as good as new. After the fish was gone, I looked up and noticed a solid north wind starting to kick up. With that in mind, I decided to head for home before it got too rough. And, after a not so leisurely, slamming and rattling all the way, 11 mile ride back to the river, another great day on the walleye-rich waters of the Green Bay and Little Bay de Noc came to an end.