OK, folks, here goes…
I was fishing this past weekend on Lake St. Clair getting ready for our last Elite Series event of the season when something happened that I’ll never forget. It started with my catching an average smallmouth bass on a drop shot. It ended with a massive predator showing me what life is really like in the water.
After I caught that first fish, I thought I’d be able to catch several others. St. Clair has a huge population of smallies and they tend to school at this time of the year. With that in mind, I immediately tossed my plastic back into the same spot.
Nothing happened. My bite went dead. That told me something was going on, something like a big musky had moved into the area. The lake is full of those things, too. When they move in the smallmouth move out. Nevertheless, I continued to cast and fish.
Sure enough, a few casts later a fish grabbed my plastic. It broke me off. I never saw it. On my next cast I had another bite. This one shook loose. Once again, I didn’t see it. I guessed it was a musky.
I called a guy over — he looked like a musky specialist and was in the area — to see if he could catch it. Despite his best efforts with a bait that looked like a Helicopter Lure only 10 times bigger, he couldn’t get a rise. (Just as a side note: These guys are serious. They paint the props on their big motors with florescent paint. They think that attracts the big ones.)
After a while, he gave up; I went back to smallmouth fishing. After a half-dozen casts I caught one that weighed about 3 pounds. But before I could get it to the boat the musky we had been hunting grabbed it and headed for deep water. I pulled. She pulled. We pulled.
Finally that darn fish jumped up, almost perfectly vertical, right in front of the boat. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. She was at least 50 inches long and she had my smallmouth most of the way down her throat. That didn’t stop her from spitting it back at me, however, and then swimming away.
When I got my smallie into the boat I realized she was in bad shape — no scales, cuts all over the place and barely moving her gills. Nevertheless, I’m a release kind of a guy so I put her back in the water. Little did I know what was about to happen.
I’m guessing she made two flips of her tail before that musky came out of nowhere and grabbed her. With no hesitation, and in a matter of a second or two, they both disappeared from view. I’m sure I stood on the deck of my boat for at least 5 minutes with my mouth hanging open.
In all my years of fishing, I’ve never had an experience like that. I’d call it a perfect example of the predator-prey relationship.