Nebraskaland May 2019

NEBRASKAland Magazine is dedicated to outstanding photography and informative writing with an engaging mix of articles and photos highlighting Nebraska’s outdoor activities, parklands, wildlife, history and people.

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Page 38 of 63

May 2019 • Nebraskaland 39 An Early Retirement Eric Fowler I've had some great days fi shing in the Sandhills, and this was one of them. The northern pike were hammering my chrome and black Rat-L-Trap, and I remember looking at the lure and thinking: "I have got to get a photo of that thing with all those teeth marks on it." Pike Like Tarpon Larry Kurrus I have an assortment of old and retired lures I can't throw away, and another one that needs to be added to the still- growing collection. It is a black and blue spinnerbait with a red trailer hook. In May of 2018, fi shing partner Mike Groenewold and I took a four-day trip to the Valentine National Wildlife Refuge. Two of those days we fi shed Pelican Lake, where a renovation project would soon begin in the fall to eradicate carp. Both days we were immediately into fi sh. It seemed that about every third or fourth cast, Mike or I had a fi sh on. We caught a few bass, but the northern pike were on every grass and reed mat we approached. The plan was simple: Throw your black and blue spinnerbait as far as you could, start reeling and hang on. The pike would do the rest. Those two days were amazing. We caught more than 100 fi sh. Better than 90 percent were northerns, with some of them going airborne trying to shake the spinnerbaits. Now Pelican Lake has, in a way, been retired to a new life, one that has the capabilities to produce two-pound bluegills. My fl y rod and I are surely game for that. My black and blue spinnerbait now hangs from an old fi sh lamp on my desk with its retired brethren, its red trailer hook silver from teeth marks. It reminds me of older Pelican Lake and a time when big pike would fl y like tarpon. Fire Tiger Jake Jadlowski My favorite place in the world is Ottertail County, Minnesota. My family still goes there every year on vacation. As kids, we spent the mornings catching bluegills by the dozens. It's the place that taught me how to fi sh. As I got a little bit older, the fun of fi shing for bluegill was replaced by an obsession with northern pike. I wanted to catch a pike more than I'd ever wanted to do anything. In my mind, it was a rite of passage. I couldn't possibly consider myself a legitimate fi sherman until I caught one. One summer, my dad bought me a box of Daredevil spoons. And in the box was the Fire Tiger. I didn't know anything about it. I didn't know if it was a good lure or not. All I knew was that it was the coolest lure that I'd ever seen. As a kid, I casted that thing thousands of times. I don't even think I caught many fi sh with it. But I know I caught one. While everyone else was swimming, I grabbed my rod and I went to the dock and I started casting. I casted that Fire Tiger as far as my little body would let me toward the reeds where I hoped a northern was lurking. In reality, I didn't think I would catch one, not off the dock. But that didn't matter, I loved casting and watching my Fire Tiger shimmer through the crystal clear water. And then it happened. I didn't set the hook. I didn't have to time think. All I knew was that my Fire Tiger just got ambushed by something huge. I'll never forget the feeling. It wasn't even close to huge. It probably wasn't even big enough to eat, but I did it. I proved to myself that I could do it. My fi rst northern pike. I've kept that Fire Tiger in my tackle bag ever since. Even though I haven't used it in years, that lure will forever be immortalized in my mind. Every time I come across it, it takes me back to my favorite place in the world, a simpler time, and the journey of a little kid trying to prove to himself that he was a real fi sherman. Soon after, I grabbed my leader while landing another pike and the fi sh somehow spun, unhooked the snap and swam away with that lure in its mouth. I tied the one you see here onto my line. It was the same size and color, but it had lost a big chunk of chrome off one side in the few run-ins it previously had with fi sh. I don't know if it was that or it was simply tuned slightly diff erent, but it would not catch fi sh. Neither would the only other chrome and black lipless crankbait of another brand I had in my box. So this one is retired. I wish I could've retired the other.

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