Everyone I know is out fishing the Walleye run in the Maumee and Sandusky Rivers. Early in the day I had started to get the cell phone calls of all the folks saying "best day of fishing all year, got my limit". It's just a bit too far to drive with my back, and the idea of fishing in strong current - even if I made it there - would be out of the question. With everyone fishing, I just had to get out. I decided I would go to the Vermilion River, around 20 minutes away... to target Steelhead.
Equipped with my new 10'6" steelie rod that hadn't yet seen water, and an arsonal of lures, I was feeling good about the prospects of bringing a nice fish to the net. Let alone, it was a weekday, so I'd likely not have too many folks stomping through the water. Sadly, all my optimism vanished when I got the river. It had been a couple days since we had rain - but to my dismay, the river was up and muddy. I have only fished this river a few times and it was clear I don't know much about it - or it's flow - and how long it takes it to clear up.
The muddy Vermilion River today
I almost left, but decided I had gone through the trouble to pack gear and get there... so I might as well try. I threw just about everything I had that reflected light - trying to find anything that a fish might be able to see. My back was sore and after a hour plus of throwing lures I was done. I had brought along a small container that had maybe a half dozen nightcrawlers left in it... and decided I would just throw a weight and the crawler out in the current and bottom fish for awhile. I started texting my wife complaining how I hadn't caught anything this year of any significance and how I should have just driven to Toledo, if nothing else to talk to anglers with their catches - and be at the run.
It had been about 45 minutes and I saw my rod tip twitch a few times. I got the rod in my hand and I felt what I can only describe as a nibble and thought a small fish was messing with me. I had a small bend in the rod and decided to go for it and set the hook. It felt like I had just set a hook into a log. I thought for sure it was a snag because the bite was so light... but I could tell the "log" was moving. I figured it was just the shape of the "log" in the current that made it feel like it was swaying a little in the current. Then I suddenly realized the line was going against the current! It got better that right as I was making this realization there were a couple violent headshakes. Game on, I knew this was a nice fish!!! I wasn't sure what I had, but was pretty sure it was a carp. I had to play the fish for some time as it was in decent current and it's weight not to mention the fact I was using 6# line for the steelies.
The muddy water didn't give me much opportunity to see the fish... once or twice I saw it on top of the water very close to me, and I saw the scale pattern and that was about it. I took a gamble and played the fish into an area of the bank that was flooded, hoping the fish might help me by swimming into it or if my light line broke, an extra second or two to swipe the net. It went pretty close to plan as the fish did swim into the area with some coaxing... but I got very lucky to get the net in front of it as it went ballistic once it got in the shallow water trying to get back out in the channel.
Once in the net, I could see the odd shaped head and knew I had just caught the largest sucker of my life - outside of Buffalos. My red colored hook was on the inside of it's mouth and it was just one of those awesome experiences that is hard to describe in words. I tried to be calm as I set up the camera... and thoughts of this site and everyone here were racing through my head. I laid the fish on a tape - at 30 and 1/4 inches long! Then I did a serious of self timer photos. I was able to hold the fish in the current with that nice water going through the gils with no effort... it wasn't long and the fish strongly swam out of my hand and into the muddy depths.
As excited as I was, once the fish was released - I started to think a bit clearer... Why didn't I shoot a photo of it on the tape?! Why didn't I do a good shot of the mouth and fins and all the things I know you guys have taught me - to get a good ID on a fish?! It get's worse... Ohio isn't too specific on it's records... there is carp, buffalo sucker, and sucker other than buffalo. I get home and discover the Ohio record for sucker other then buffalo... is 27 1/2 inches, 9.25#'s... might I have caught a state record??? ugh!!!
Anyways, that's my story... what a day!