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Story 2020 The Law of Unintended Consequences

Page history last edited by Jerome Moisand 2 years, 8 months ago

The Law of Unintended Consequences

 

When

Fall 2020

Where

A few 'secret' places
See also

CAG Forum results

CAG Forum thread

 


Introduction - Junior Tournament

 

Around 2005, I traveled each summer for a few years to Waddington to help with the Saint Lawrence Junior Tournament. My two elder sons were of age to participate and fairly eager to fish (how things changed since then!). One of them even finished in third position with a team award. This event quickly became close to my heart.

 

 

Around 2015, the junior event was masterfully coordinated by the amazing Jo Ann Roberts (my hero!) and I started to go again every year to help as a marshal. Also, as CAG treasurer, I was (and still am) the one signing the checks for the happy winners. When you are a marshal on a section with a dozen kids trying hard to catch a fish with a single rod, you really want to do everything you can to help them and it is not unusual to see a marshal wade chest deep in water to try to get a fish out of thick weeds.

 

Back in those years, a father (Stelian [Adrian] Bogdan) came to participate every year, fishing with one of his daughters. I must say I don’t remember this specific day, but Stelian told me that I once did the wading thing for Anisia and we got a precious fish out. I saw Stelian and Anisia several times over the years and we became friends. We also fished the CCC 2017 side to side, Stelian netted many fish for me as I got very lucky with the peg draw, leading me to win the total-weight category, my first CCC award after my section win back in… 2003, my very first Carp Anglers Group (CAG) event!

 

 

Big-4 results up to 2019

 

Over the past few years, I started to do long road trips, visiting and fishing multiple locations and states, leaving home for more than a month at a time. A certain big river in the Northeast really caught my attention and in 2017, the stars aligned and I caught 6 thirties (up to 38lb) in 5 days, securing a win at the CAG Big-4 Fall that year. I was quite happy with my big-4 total of 134lb, a new record for me. Those fish were rather peculiar, a small mouth and a very thick body.

 

 

To put the rest of this story in perspective, let’s go back in time for a minute, back in 2009. During the spring Big-4 event, Mario Kok hit an incredible home run in Mexico, with a total of exactly 150lb (40-13, 37-8, 36-6, 35-5). We were all in awe and I remember thinking something like “there is no freaking way I will ever pull off something like that”… To my utter amazement, during the following decade, it turned out that multiple CAG members did succeed to improve on Mario’s score:

  • Pawel Salamon, Dean Brookes and Kody Clayton cracked the 150lb barrier!
  •  Jacob Ayotte broke the 160lb barrier!!
  • Daniel Slaby broke the 170lb barrier!!!

 

 

Let’s fast-forward to 2019 now. Remember Stelian? It turned out that he likes to fish another section of the river from which I got all my 30s in 2017. I had actually spent a few days during a previous road trip exploring this precise area (before figuring out that he fishes around there!) and had expertly assessed that this was NOT inspiring (let’s charitably say that my mind was a little clouded by my 2017 winning spot).

 

When Stelian invited me to visit him in the fall 2018, I said ‘yes’ because you don’t say ‘no’ to a friend, but I wasn’t too convinced… After a mosquito-laden miserable day fishing -and blanking- in the mud, my hopes weren’t exactly lifted. Stelian invited me again to come in the fall 2019, I said ‘yes’ again, not expecting much from a muddy and apparently featureless spot. I was so completely wrong. In just one day, I landed four 30s (up to 38lb) and vaulted early on in first place for the 2019 Fall big-4. Flabbergasting is the right word when something like that happens to you, I guess. After several weeks of traveling around, I secured a win against the mighty Claytons (Sean and Kody) by just a few ounces, with a last-minute 36 pounder from another big river. My big-4 total? A stellar 141lb. This reminded me of my astonishment with Mario’s score, but my assessment remained the same, absolutely no freaking way I could ever do better than Mario…

 

 

2020: a very special year

 

As of the time of writing, we are at the end of a very dreary year in many respects, 2020. My spring road trip (where I had planned to fish 5 new states) got canceled. My summer plan (Costa-Rica, baby!) got canceled. I got bored to death for most of the year, pretty much stuck at home, spending many hours trying to get those freaking airlines to reimburse various trips we had planned for me, my wife and my children (yup, I got all our $$ back). I tried to revisit some local spots close to home, got a bit surprised at how things changed in a decade, but overall I didn’t catch much besides a glorious koi one night at 2am. This fish was lovely though and I commissioned a young artist to do a hand-drawn portrait for me (she did a terrific job!).

 

To say that I was VERY eagerly waiting for a month-long road trip in the fall would be the understatement of the year.

 

 

Since I couldn’t fly anywhere, I had decided to revisit some of the Northeast places which impressed me the most in past years, plus a couple of new places. I rented full apartments with Airbnb to play it safe with COVID and spent my days outdoors (or driving in my car). I was very happy to spend a week fishing a big tidal river with the young and promising Ryan Munn. I had one interesting day where I caught a lot of fish, one of them broke my line on a rock and was kind enough to bite again a bit later to return BOTH rigs (see below). That was a first!

 

In the following days, Ryan hit gold with multiple 30s, moving straight in first place for the fall Big-4 2020. Twice, I got a bit lazy, didn’t get out of bed early enough, then got an excited phone call from Ryan asking me to move my butt to come and take a picture of a 30+ he had landed. The last day, we decided to fish another spot, we caught only one fish, another 30+ I netted for Ryan. I started to crack jokes about “the tortoise and the hare”, but I was rolling my eyes a bit as this talented youngster was just totally crushing me…

 

  

I kept going with my trip, exploring various areas, not catching much, including at my 2017 wonder spot. The last step of my trip was deliberately scheduled at the end of October, hoping for bigger fish. I was going to join Stelian again and this time, I was totally ready to believe that we would catch big fish, back to where I did so well the year before.

 

Day 1, I landed three 30s, up to 37-8lb. Day 2, I landed four 30s, bringing me to a Big-4 of 140-8lb and allowing me to revive the “tortoise and the hare” jokes with Ryan (who had a very respectable 132lb score by then). Stelian landed his new PB (another hefty 37-8lb fish) as heavy rain started to pour. Most of those thick fish had an incredibly small mouth, probably due to a diet of tiny mussels. I was getting hopes of catching my first 40+ common (strangely enough, my only 40+ so far has been a big mirror, while I caught multiple 38 pounders and a 39 pounder; I just couldn’t crack the 40lb barrier with commons).

  

 

Day 3 started very poorly. Steady rain overnight made a mess, it was quite tricky to avoid a hard fall on a steep and slippery muddy shore. Fortunately, Stelian planned well and brought a big canopy under which we stayed sheltered for long hours as nothing was moving. He also brought a wooden crate, so that we could land fish without getting ankle deep in the mud. In the past couple of days, it was quality more than quantity as we fished very long hours and bites were quite spaced out. Still, day 3 just seemed to elongate to a miserable wet blank. I finally got a run mid afternoon. I could feel it was a nice fish, which was confirmed when I was about to net it. Which is exactly when my second rod started to scream. I hastily netted what seemed to be yet another 30 pounder and grabbed my second rod.

 

I was a little annoyed at this second run, I wanted to weigh the first fish and see if it would improve my big-4 by a few ounces and help me beat my former record (141lb if you recall). So I did something I almost never do, I horsed the second fish, it got a bit stuck in some weeds while moving towards me, I got it out forcefully and quickly brought it close to shore. By then, to avoid a snag, I was 20 yards from shore, somewhat elevated, Stelian had his net ready, I couldn’t really see the second fish and quite frankly, I didn’t care that much.

 

Stelian started to get real excited saying “it’s bigger than your first fish, way bigger”. I was tired, a tad skeptical and just asked him to net the fish. He did and started to scream at me "look, look, it’s a giant". Still incredulous, I came closer, looked in the net and… er, it does seem a bit bigger than I thought... I grabbed the mesh of the net and anybody having caught big ones knows the feeling, the weight of the fish pulling on the mesh, which slices your fingers in turn, THIS feeling really tells you that you have something special. My fingers complained like they never did before. I got the fish out of the water, on the mat close to the first fish, which suddenly looked much smaller in comparison. Stelian was jumping around excitedly, I was trying to stay calm and go through the moves, zero the scale, get the fish in the weigh bag (barely fitting in there!), grab the scale, lift the whole thing and… the arrow moved a tad past 50 pounds. No, wait, there was no freaking way. I did it again, we even took a picture of the scale and yes, indeed, it was 50-4lb, the first 50 pounder I ever laid my eyes upon...

 

 

To say that I was stunned is not even close, I could barely think. We took some pictures (in the rain and the mud with a steep shore, this wasn’t a recipe for a photography award) and fortunately Stelian thought to ask me to kiss the fish, which I did, on the landing mat. This picture (see above) turned out to be the one showcasing this gigantic fish the best. The picture below was also very cool and made the cover of the North American Carp Angler. I released the beast, quickly weighed the other one (30lb and change, hence an 80lb brace!), released it and… had to sit down for a minute, all energy totally drained out of me.

 

 

 

This giant fish reminded me of the nice photo montage my wife assembled for Kody Clayton, which I gave him at the 2019 Junior tournament and my surprise when I figured out he caught a 50+ (bigger than mine, hmpf!) and yet never caught a 40+. And I realized that I also did what should be known as “a Kody special”. I caught a bunch of 30 pounders, then skipped the 40+ step (for commons) and moved straight in the 50 pounder rarefied club.

 

Once I regained some energy after landing the big one, Stelian and I started to make a few phone calls to share the news. Stelian called Anisia and said excitedly “Jerome got a fifty!”. The slightly rebellious teenager dryly replied “so what, it’s just a fish”. And I burst out laughing, releasing all the bottled up emotions of the day…

 

And here we are, the loop is closed, illustrating the law of unintended consequences. I went to the junior tournament with my kids some 15 years ago; a few years later I helped a young girl named Anisia, wading in the water to go get a carp stuck in the weeds. Stelian was grateful, we became friends. We fished the CCC together, I got lucky, then he had the incredible generosity of inviting me to a truly unique fishing spot and sticking with me in rain and mud. And I landed the fish of a lifetime, an incredible 50 pounder. Which brought my Big-4 score a little over 160lb, a whole 10 pounds over Mario’s incredible result from 2009. This 2020 year wasn’t all that bad, in truth…

 

Post-scriptum: prescient words?

 

I documented my 2019 Fall Big-4 in this short article. Including the not-so-prescient words "Note that not only I scored more than 140 pounds for the Big-4, but I went over 200 pounds for the unofficial Big-6 count... This winning score is going to be extremely hard for me to beat". Little did I know that one year later, I would totally crush those results (Big-4 over 160lb; Big-6 over 230lb)...

 

 

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