Jackson: Small fish can still provide a big thrill

Updated 5/2/2018 6:13 PM

I am certain I will catch a lot of disparagement for this column.

Many of you won't agree with my way of thinking, but after about 50 years of doing this I am at a stage in my life where I choose to take a different route than others. Like it or not, it's my opinion.


I never claimed to be an expert, but rather someone who hung out with some of the best anglers in the world. I was able to learn quite a bit of knowledge from these people. I have used that knowledge as a guidepost for myself as well as passing some of it along to others who share a similar passion for the outdoors.

So here I go.

As far as I am concerned size does not matter when fishing for muskies or any other fish -- large or small species for that matter. The same holds true for hunting for super-wide antlers on a deer or ultrawide antlers on a moose.

I've killed a few whitetail and mule deer in my time. The same is true for moose and elk as well. I stopped hunting these animals because I wanted to invest more time fishing. And I didn't like getting bloody while cleaning the game after the fatal shot.

But here's the rest of my story.

I have countless pictures that will attest to the various types of fish I've been fortunate to catch and release.

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I don't have it in my makeup to search for an allusive muskie that would stretch a measuring tape to its limits. Catching a big muskie is great because of the battle it offers on the surface and near the boat. I've had my share of muskies I caught from Lake Shelbyville that measured slightly over 45 inches.

So what? I've had quite a few taken and released from Hayward lakes.

I would rather dream about catching 18-inch smallmouth bass because of the tremendous battle that fish would provide me. I never had the need to catch a smallmouth that would make it to the record books or the skillet.

The muskie tug of wars is more than enough to cleanse my arteries of plaque because of the tremendous shock value. I've managed to catch more of those toothy critters in the 30- to 40-inch range, and every one of those fish was fun to battle.

I wasn't out to get my name in those same books when I fought a monster largemouth bass. I just had a great time outwitting that bruiser. I gladly returned the fish to the canal in south Florida.


I was able to top that feat on a lake in Mexico's drug country with some jumbo largemouth that inhaled my spinner bait 65-feet down.

If catching 55-inch muskies winds your clock, so be it. If nailing a 12-pound walleye puts you at the head of the dinnertime bragging table, enjoy the spotlight and your meal.

A late outdoor writer once chided me for attending an outdoor show in Rosemont with my group of "sycophants" that were following me around like puppy dogs.

I was extremely happy to share my time with these "buds" on and off the water. Why? Because in the long run we all learned from each other on how to catch any fish species.

• Contact Mike Jackson at angler88@comcast.net, catch his radio show 7-9 a.m. Sundays on WGCO 1590-AM (livestreamed at www.1590WCGO.com) and get more content at www.mikejacksonoutdoors.com.

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