We have all had memorable fishing trips including catching our biggest fish, the most fish we have ever caught, the worst conditions we have ever fished in and so on. These trips are what make the memories and the stories of those trips so vivid and worth repeating to friends and family. I will never forget one trip in particular that is the top of my list as far as flat out weird.
My son and I went fishing one evening late July last summer. We went to our favorite close fishing hole and were having a good night and enjoying the sunset, the coyotes howling and of course the fish were biting voraciously that night. We were casting over slop at one end of the lake and I was using a Bronze Eye frog. Just to my right side was a tree that had some bare branches at the top about twenty-five feet off the ground. I had just brought in a cast without a strike when an owl lit on those bare branches. I turned to my son and commented on how cool it was for this bird to come so close to us without flying immediately away. We watched it for few minutes while taking a short water break and then picked up our rods and got ready to make our next cast. I went right back where I was, just left of this tree with the owl just sitting there watching me.
It didn’t occur to me that the owl may have an interest in what we were doing so I reared back to throw the frog and let it fly. As soon as that little lure was airborne the owl jumped off the tree branch, took flight and the next thing I know, he picked my little frog up in mid-air and headed for a large patch of stick-ups to my right. It all happened so fast that my immediate reaction was to try to make that bird let go of my lure. I didn’t set the hook as if a bass had just blown up on it but I did try to jerk it out of his talons before it got hopelessly entangled in all the stick-ups.
Fortunately for me, that reel was spooled with 40 pound Power-Pro braid and I had every confidence I would be able to drag my little frog back through all that brush without harming it too much and would continue to use it. So there I was tugging away, making some progress and knowing I was getting closer to getting my lure back. When I figured I only had about fifty feet left the line all of the sudden jumped and went limp for a few seconds. I reeled as fast as I could to pick up the slack when it took off skyward and came flopping down on the ground about thirty feet from me. Unfortunately, there was my frog hooked to the back of the neck of that owl that we had been admiring just minutes ago.
I have caught some big fish in some odd ways and had to be creative to land them but this was something I had no idea how to handle. A large owl, wings spread, on the ground with my lure hooked into it and he is not at all happy. He is brandishing his talons and making some pretty interesting sounds that seem to be implying he is ready to tee off on us for ruining his night. We went round and round for a few minutes about what to do with this owl while he is rushing us, then backing off, then rushing us again. We finally decided to get a drop cloth out of my truck and try to cover the bird with it so that we can cut the line and get this over with. So I hand the rod to my son, grab a drop out of my truck, manage to get it over the owl’s head after a few attempts and prepare to cut the line.
I managed to get within about 18 inches of the bird, reached out and cut the line. After cutting it I reached down, grabbed my drop and pulled it straight up. That owl took off faster than he had when he grabbed my frog and disappeared into the night. We sat there discussing the entire episode while I retied another frog on my rod. I like to think that the owl made it just fine with no more to show for that night than a memory that keeps it from going after any lure in mid-air. For us, it is one of those stories that we will retell many times.
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