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I’ve been spending a lot of time fishing Devils Lake lately.  About ten days ago I went out with a friend on a Thursday night.  The wind was strong out of the East and the fishing was poor.  As the saying goes..”wiind from the East, fish bite the least”.  Between the two of us we caught three small fish in a three hour time span.  That trip bothered me a little.  I’ve been fishing all my life, fished for most species at one time or another, in rivers, lakes and oceans.  Now I’m 41 and feel as though I should have a good grip on what I’m doing.  But, this summer has been rough.  I thought about it and realized that I haven’t been fishing like I used to.  I used to get up on weekends at 5 am.  I hadn’t gotten up that early to fish in a long time.  So, this weekend I decided to go back to my old ways.  Saturday morning I caught three small Northerns and two nice Smallmouth Bass from 6:30 am to about 8:30am.  Sunday morning I got up early again.  Not a soul was on the water.  The sun was just below the horizon and the water was as smooth as glass.  I went to my usual spot.  Within my first six casts I caught and landed a beautiful 18″ Largemouth Bass.  Another fisherman trolled in soon after out of nowhere.  I made a few more casts and hooked something BIG.  At first I thought it was a pike.  I saw him flash beneath the surface and couldn’t believe my eyes.  He fought like a Pike but made a charge to the surface and slapped his tail, making a spectacle out of himself on a dead calm morning.  I reeled him in a little closer and spotted the snout.  It was a Garr….bigger than any I’ve ever seen.  I looked for my net.  As I reeled him close to the boat I noticed he wouldn’t fit in my net, but I wasn’t about to reach down for him with his aligator teeth and three treble hooks flailing around.  I scooped him up the best I could and got him in the boat.  There’s no way this fish would have ever been landed had I not been using a 25 lb Maxima leader.  The 25 lb leader was wrapped around his snout.  Only one treble hook was in his lower jaw.  The hook popped out easy.  But, his jaws were clamped down tight around the Maxima.  I had to use my hemostats to pry his mouth open.  I laid him on my gunwale bench and took this picture with my camera phone before I released him.  He measured 36″.  I inspected my leader and it was nicked up pretty badly.  I gave it a few tugs and it seemed ok.  After all the excitement I looked up and noticed three more fisherman anchored nearby.  I decided to move to a second spot.  After three casts from the next spot I hooked another big fish.  I figured it was a pike by the way it was fighting.  It was.  Northerns usually come easily to the boat but then make a second run when they see you.  I let him run.  I used to lose Pike when I was younger because I tried to land them too quickly.  I landed him easily and put him in my live well, along with the Bass.  I knew my family wouldn’t believe my day if I didn’t have proof.  After I put the 25″ Pike in the livewell I looked up to see yet another fishing boat crowding in.  I decided I didnt need to fish any longer.  I hooked three of the biggest fish I’ve ever caught in less than one hour.  After showing the fish to the family I released them both.  I spent the rest of the day trying to stay cool.  Later in the evening my niece wanted me to take her out fishing.  I took her out but decided I would just relax.  I didnt want to ruin a perfectly good day of fishing with a bad night.  She fished and I sat and watched the stars for about 10 minutes.  Well, that was all I could take.  The water was calm and begging for a Jitterbug.  I made a few casts…then suddenly, during a cast I heard a “plink”.  I knew exactly what it was.  My rod felt light.  I heard the Jitterbug splash somewhere in the darkness about 50′ away.  I knew why it happened.  The Gar.  I should have cut off the abraded line but didnt.  Another lesson learned at the expense of a Jitterbug.  I put the rod down and went back to star gazing.