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Don't let that fish of a lifetime get away

  • 9/19/2022 1:49:00 PM
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From the Spring 2022 issue of Iowa Outdoors magazine
By Hank Kohler

For anglers, preparation and expectation can make all the difference.

Think back on conversations with other anglers. No doubt you’ve heard tales of woe about the biggest fish they ever hooked. “It was a monstrous behemoth, possibly a new state record!”

The stories are similar. The fish was on, they got to see it and then disaster struck. A real bummer.

They have no picture of it being released. No master angler award, no personal best of the species. Why? What went wrong?

There are as many excuses as late spring mosquitoes. The line broke, hook straightened, reel messed up, net too small, on and on the stories go.

I believe the fault in the failure rests upon the angler being unprepared to encounter such a big fish.

Sure, your chance of hooking a monster may be small, but why not be ready for it if it does happen? Better yet, what’s wrong with hoping and even expecting to catch a giant?
Iowa’s plentiful rivers, lakes and ponds are home to huge fish. Large muskies, walleyes and catfish are good examples. 

Prepare For the Big One
When venturing out to your favorite fishing hole, put some thought and effort into your equipment so that it can handle a whopper.

From the hook or lure, line and clear back to the reel, make sure everything is in order—hooks new and sharp, line not frayed or worn, knots sound and the reel drag is working and set properly. 

With the reels and quality fishing lines available now, the old “it broke me off” excuse just doesn’t hold water. Big fish can be taken on light lines with a good drag and proper technique.

Work on Your Expectations—Dedicate to Going BIG!
Once your preparation is complete, work on the expectations. In Iowa, if you pay a little extra ($14) you can fish with a bonus third line, so why not dedicate one of those to something special? On that third line, prepare the big fish a meal and ring the dinner bell!

While you may believe it’s a waste of time to have a line rigged just for a very large fish, think of all the hours you’ve spent not catching anything on your regular tackle. 
If you’re not catching fish, you might as well not be catching something huge!

Fish of a lifetime? Why not? Start by being prepared with a dedicated pole rigged and baited for a big fish and then expect it. I’m telling you, you’ve got a chance!