Big Head Ned

I dedicate this week’s column to all the gullible fish out there. I’m talking about the ones that let me catch them — over and over, day after day. They’re clueless, and they’re my friends. I will forever reserve a place in my heart for them.

As a farm pond fisherman, I can tell you there’s more than one of them out there. Each one is special but there’s always one that’s more special than the others. It’s the one you never forget. For me, that fish lives in Florida. His name is Big Head Ned.

He lives in my family’s retirement community. There’s a kidney-shaped pond on the grounds that seems to suit him just fine. He made his home way back in it, on the far end, where the ornamental grass grows. He’s a legend around here, at least in my mind.

I’ve caught him six times this winter. He never seems to get any smarter. My lure runs past his house and he grabs it. I don’t mean he nips it, or that he tries to nudge it off, or that he’s about scaring it away. No. That lure is serious business with Ned. Killing it is what he’s about.

He grabs it with a vengeance. It’s his. He wants it dead — right now.  I respect him for that, although I have to wonder why he never figures things out. (Actually, there are some humans that never figure things out, either. I wonder the same thing about them.)

Pliers are a necessity with Ned. That’s the only way to get the hooks out without hurting him. They seem to work OK. Every time I catch him he looks better than the time before. His struggles at the end of my line don’t seem to bother him much.

This morning (Tuesday) I did something I don’t think I’ve ever done before. I bought two dozen minnows and released them near Ned’s house. I wanted to reward him for all the good times we had together, although I suppose most of the fun was mine.

It was the least I could do. I love that fish.

After today, though, Ned will be on his own until next winter. It’s time to make some signs and spend some time with my Ohio friends. And, as much as I like Florida, I have to admit it’s good to be home. I have a lot of friends here that I haven’t seen in months.

I don’t want to close until I say congrats to Van Soles on his win in the first Open of the year on Toho. It was cold and nasty. The lakes didn’t show anyone what they’re capable of producing. Regardless, Soles put his head down and caught more fish than anyone else. That makes him the winner.

That’s the thing about this business. Somebody always catches them. It doesn’t make any difference if the fishing’s easy or if it’s tough. Toho showed us last week how good modern anglers are, and what they’re capable of when there’s a Classic berth on the line.

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