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Adirondack Sportswoman: Big Lakers

By Melanie Houck

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

This is a big moment for my husband and me.  As I eagerly head towards the dock, I feel a little pang.  For the first time since our daughter Hannah was born exactly four weeks ago, I am away from her for more than an hour; I miss her, but I’m so excited for our coming adventure.  Good friends wait for us by their boat.  We are about to head out onto the crystal clear waters of Lake George, and the weather is perfect.  There are lots of clouds but the sun peeks out occasionally, and the temperature is pleasant.  I know my little one is in good hands, and I already anticipate the time when she’s big enough to go boating and fishing with us.

We all clamber onto their boat. Already, I can’t thank our friends enough.  We are about to fish for Lake Trout in August; something I’ve wanted to do for years.  I’ve enjoyed fishing for trout through the ice and a little bit in the spring when they are in the shallows, but at this time of year, they head to the deep waters, which in Lake George is way, way down there.  Lake George is as deep as 195 feet, but today, we are focusing on just the first 100.  Still, that’s pretty deep!

Off we go, heading out towards the deep.  The mountain backdrop looks so familiar, though usually I am walking on the water and rounded out by many warm layers in the middle of February.  Today, in my tank top and shorts, I close my eyes and soak up that refreshing breeze off the water.   It’s much more pleasant, not to mention easier getting to our fishing spots by boat rather than waddling at a slow pace in my many winter layers!

Before I know it, we are at the first ‘honey hole’ spot.  Our buddy Shane is a master at Lake Trout fishing, anytime of the year.  I am envious of his many fishing stories and all the pictures of nice-sized Lake Trout. It’s been two years since I’ve been able to catch a nice Laker on Lake George.  We haven’t had as much time to fish as we’d like, plus it seemed my luck had run out.  Today I am excited, but trying not to get my hopes up, but that’s like telling the sun not to rise; I can’t help that exciting tingle in my belly, and the anticipation of picturing the first glimpse of a hooked fish emerging from the depths.   I keep telling myself that it’s enough that we are enjoying time with good friends.  But hey, who am I kidding, a fish would be awesome!

Shane shows me his methods of success.  He doesn’t use just any old line; he uses heavy wire line with a heavy leader.  He uses a larger rod, the kind used for deep sea fishing.  The wire line is good for getting down to the bottom and jigging for the Trout.

Shane gets his line to the bottom relatively quickly, with a simple gold lure on the end.  “We’ll catch fish today,” he says.  His confidence gets me even more excited.  He’s had pretty good success already this summer, usually catching fish on every outing.

Shane hands me the line.  “Just hold it and loop it partway around your finger.”  I start pulling the line up and down rapidly, making sure to feel the lure hit the bottom before I bring it up off again.  I feel like I’m trying to start a lawn mower.  This isn’t how a person would usually picture fishing, but it’s pretty simple and even relaxing.  And just like that, I am officially jigging in 106 of water for Lake Trout.  After being used to having to work hard to get one or two all day from below the ice, I hope fervently that we have enough time to catch even one.

Melanie with her catch

“When one is on, you’ll know.” Shane settles down and watches his depth sounder, making sure we are drifting at a good depth.  “This is good grounds. We should have one on.”  I can tell he’s as excited as I am.  And my excitement only builds.

Just fifteen minutes and with no fish, we pull up to move on to another secret spot.  We are over about 100 feet of water once again, and down goes the line.  I settle in to my seat and start jockeying the line, constantly up and down.  I ask Shane if he’s seen any bears near their house lately.

“Oh!  Something’s there!” I shout as I jump up.  One second there’s no pressure, the next there’s a very heavy weight and I can feel something moving on the line far below.  I get flustered, “What do I do, what do I do?!”

“Hold on, wait a minute,” Shane is so calm and patient as the volume of my voice steadily rises.  He helps me grab on to the pole and start reeling.

Our friend Kim helps me hold on to the big rod.  “Oh my goodness, this is heavy!” I give it all I’ve got, which seems rather pathetic as at times I couldn’t reel at all.  I can’t believe how hard it is to reel this thing in!

“That’s a good fish,” Shane says, leaning over the side of the boat, already with the net in hand.

“Wow, is this thing heavy,” I shout.  One hundred feet seems more like 300 now.  Where is this thing?  Am I going to lose it?!

“There it is!” Shane gets the net ready and several people are snapping away with their cameras.

“Oh my gosh, that trout is huge,” I holler as Shane brings it in.  Congratulations go all around as Shane pulls out the biggest Lake Trout I have ever caught, by far.  Kim and I high-five, as it took some great teamwork to bring this lunker up!  I can’t stop laughing as I take the fish from him, just now realizing my arms are sore and shaking from the exertion.  Now I have to hold up this heavy fish.  But I am far from complaining.

Roger takes a million pictures and I can’t take my eyes of this beautiful fish.  He’s not super long at 27 inches, but he’s quite fat at nine pounds, and very healthy looking.  I can’t believe that just like that, I caught one!  I am now completely hooked on a new method of fishing.

Surprisingly, we don’t catch any more Trout.  Roger catches a nice smallmouth in 70 feet of water.  We all catch some nice rays and great visiting time on the water.  It ends all too soon, but I am anxious for my daughter to see her first lake trout, which is about as big as she is!  I don’t imagine she’ll care all that much yet, but she will.  Oh my yes, she will.

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