How my ungrateful kid cost me a World’s Record fish!

So I took my boy William fishing today. Since I am a pickerel slayer, I drilled 5 holes, and set the traps, then told Will to go ahead and choose where he wanted to set his traps. He’s just a beginner, so I figured I would let him fish my traps. You know, so he wouldn’t get bored and all.  020 - Copy

It wasn’t long before one of my traps got a flag. Naturally. I could tell William was heartbroken that his choices didn’t get the first flag, so I let him haul in the fish. It was A MONSTER pickerel! Like I knew it would be!

The next flag was on one of my traps as well. I told Will to go ahead and take that one too, but his arms were sore from the MASSIVE fish I let him catch the first time, and he begged me to take it.

This pickerel wasn’t as big as the last one. But it was pretty impressive! I would say it went a good 1/8 inch longer than the bait and was almost as big around! It was a wall hanger to be sure, but being a good sport, I threw it back. I was really hoping Will would catch it in another hole. You know, because his holes weren’t producing, and I could tell the kid was losing faith!

AGAIN we get another flag, and again it was mine. This fish was bigger than the last one I caught, and maybe even as massive as the first one of the day, but as I said, I am a good sport, and I threw it back.168

A few minutes later I got another flag and lost this fish at the hole. Most likely because it was so big, the entire shiner I was using for bait, had fit in its massive mouth, and the hook was simply hanging off one of the record setting pickerel’s velociraptor-like teeth.

I was feeling pretty bad for Will. Poor kid was watching me have all the fun.

That is when things started to go wrong. William got a flag on one of his traps. He must have known I was tired, because he told me to sit down, and he would tend the flag.

Actually, he INSISTED that I sit down, and gave me a friendly nudge as he ran towards his trap. He suspected it was probably just a perch. I agreed with his logical assumption, as I rubbed my bruised rump.

William was so distracted, he must not have realized that my chair was a good 20 feet away when he tried to help me to it, and I had landed hard on the ice.

By the time I got up and got to the hole, it was clear that Will was having a hard time, and was NOT the skilled ice angler his old man was. This little perch was getting the best of him. If he didn’t land it soon, he would lose it for sure!

I will NEVER forget what happened next. Apparently, a pickerel seeing Will’s little perch struggling decided to come in for an easy meal, and pretty much jumped on the hook!

The perch must have gotten bumped off the hook when the big pickerel made its fatal error because the pickerel and the bait were all that was on the hook. That’s really the only explanation that makes any sense. But I KNEW he was going to lose that perch! I just knew it!

Next thing you know, Will gets ANOTHER flag, before we even get the bait replaced after the freak accident that landed him the biggest fish of the day so far. (That would change VERY SOON!)

Since I was down on my knees trying to get the hook rebaited on the trap Will and I had shared, William beat me to it! This kid does NOT seem to be as good a sport as his dad! Talking about how he can fish his own traps, and I can fish mine.

But karma was getting him! Yup, it certainly was! Because all he had this time was a floating log. I could tell it was heavy, but there is no way it was a fish because it certainly wasn’t putting up much of a fight! One thing I was certain of, is the kid had hooked a log…

001You can imagine my surprise when Will pulled a 24-inch pickerel out of the hole and left it flopping on the ice. I told him to take it off the hook. He looked at me like I was crazy, and asked me if I realized that a fish that big could easily sever one of his fingers. I HAVE to toughen this kid up!


Beginner’s luck! My son’s first time on the ice this season.

So anyway. William only caught 4 fish today, to my SIX, and only TWO of mine were small yellow perch! Oh sure, his smallest fish could easily have eaten my biggest one…But that is just beginner’s luck!

I almost forgot to mention that as we were packing things in, I asked William to tend to the flag on one of my traps, because William was in a hurry to get home and take something for his aching arms.

Well, I can see him trying to pull in what was most definitely the same record breaking fish I had lost a few hours before, there was NO WAY I was going to let him steal my glory! I pushed him down into the slushy snow and planted a foot on his back to stop him from squirming. He was yelling that it was his fish because I told him to tend the trap. HA! NO WAY SON!

I am telling you! This was EASILY the biggest fish ever taken through the ice! The line sounded like a guitar string as I pulled, and pulled. I was pretty sure I could feel the ice beginning to sag.

That’s when Will got scared and knocked me over in his panic to run to shore before the 24-inch ice broke. The line went slack for just a fraction of a split second. That was all it took. The big fish spit the hook and was gone…

Next time I go fishing, that kid is staying home!

Doug Alley

About Doug Alley

I grew up in Bath, Maine in an upper lower class family with 3 step sisters, a step brother, and a little sister. After high school I spent 3 years serving in the USAF at Elmendorf AFB in Anchorage AK. I've competed in, and won, demolition derbies. I've competed in, and never won, stock car races. I am the 47-year-old father of an 11-year-old boy who is pretty sure he is smarter than I ever was. We live on a little less than an acre of land in a 1973 mobile home in Stetson with my wife Jen, some cats, a few chickens, and rabbits, and a couple of goats. I hunt, fish, camp out, dabble in photography, gardening, and I cook in variable degrees of near success.