This story comes from my buddy Rick Lawrence. Owner of Fish-N-Fool Lures. Thanks for sharing Rick.
This is a true story that happened to me about 20 years ago now. I was fishing for Bass at Liberty Lake, in Eastern Washington. It was early in the morning on Sept. 30th, the very last day of the fishing season. I was fishing out of my “Homemade” bass boat, a 2 man rubber raft that I decked with a piece of plywood and mounted a plastic fold down seat on top of it. The plywood had a hole cut in the middle for my legs and feet and was cut inside the oar locks so I could still row. It had a PVC pipe framework that the piece of plywood I cut out of the middle sat on and made a floor, so you could stand up in it if needed. It makes for a great way to fish places where you can’t launch a big boat.
Anyway, it was a very cold foggy morning and I had a blanket covering my legs to stay warm. I was hoping the sun would burn the fog off so it would get a little warmer, but by 10 O’clock it was still socked in. I was fishing the south side of the lake, in a large lily pad field that covered that entire end of the lake. I was casting a white spinner bait and picking up a small fish here and there, but it was pretty slow. While fishing this bunch of pads I heard a big splash somewhere off in the distance, but I didn’t know where from. About 10 min. later I heard it again, only this time is was just a little bit louder. I wasn’t sure what it was making the noise, but figured it was somebody on a boat throwing something in the water.
I finally hook a nice fish maybe 2 pounds and as I was fighting it I heard the water behind me crash again. I look around but saw nothing in the still heavy fog. The fish I was fighting got wrapped around a bunch of pads so I tightened my drag up to pull him out of the heavy cover. I managed to do that finally and got the fish to the boat, where I gave em a little kiss and sent them on there way. I was not sure of that was making all the commotion and I was getting a little concerned. I thought it might be a moose in the water as there were a few in the hills around this lake, and they can be pretty darn ornery if you get to close to them in the water. I being in my little rubber boat I didn’t want to get anywhere near a moose in the water. Then just as I cast my spinner bait into the pads, the water right behind the boat exploded in a huge crrrrr-splush. My head snapped around and I saw the wake of where a huge fish had jumped. I had no idea what kind of fish, I just knew it was monstrous!!! So I cast my white spinner bait over the spot the fish had jumped and started reeling it back in.
To my shock and dismay the largest Rainbow Trout I had ever seen anywhere followed my spinner bait back toward my boat. It followed till it got about 20 ft from the boat and just sank out of sight. I knew that this huge trout would not hit a bass spinner bait so I quickly tied on a large silver and blue, Blue Fox spoon. I started casting in every direction all around the boat, but never saw the fish chase the spoon. I must have made about 30 casts in every direction, and figured that the huge fish was long gone. I put my pole down and started to dig though my tackle box from something to tie back on to catch some bass. I happened to look over the side some and saw what my eyes could not believe. This monster fish was 2 feet under my boat, using me for cover.
On the left side of the boat I could see it’s tail and part of the body. On the right side and to the front of the boat I could see it’s head. Now my little 2 man rubber boat and it is about 40″ wide and about 6′ long. This fish was at least as long as my boat was wide or bigger and it’s girth was huge. Here the fish of a lifetime was treading water just 2 feet below me. Without really thinking I dropped the spoon on the side that the fishes head was on and started jigging it up and down. On the 3rd jig the water exploded!!! I had the biggest trout I had ever seen on about 5 ft of 10 lb. test line with a drag that was set to tight.
The fish came straight up out of the water about 5 feet in the air and pirouetted over my boat. I could have reached out and touched it. As it went sailing by, it snapped the line and drowned me in about 10 gal. of water. Afterward I rowed back to the shore still stunned at what had just happened. My fish of a lifetime was gone and it had left me soaking wet, freezing, and totally frustrated.
I’m not sure just how big this fish was, but I have caught some very nice steelhead in my day, some that were close to 20 lbs. and this fish would have dwarfed them. I’m very sure it would have totally smashed the state record for rainbow trout that was 23 lbs, and 6 oz. at that time. My best guess as to just how much it weighed, I would say it was over 35 pounds!!! But I will never know for sure as I fished that lake for many years after that, but I never again saw my fish of a lifetime.