My Master Angler Quest, Final Two
$1,350 of $1,000 goal
As many of you know from posts on Facebook and from talking to me, a huge life goal of mine has been to be the first to catch every species in the Vermont Master Angler Program. Since the program launched in 2010 I have set out on this goal. So far I have been quite successful at it: out of the 33 species, I have caught 31. It is a quest that I have been on now for 7 years and I am almost at the end, and I think I can get there but I need a little help.
I work as a paraeducator in a middle school. I love my job helping kids become better learners. I am pretty good at it too. Unfortunately, I don't make a lot of money doing it, but I end up with a lot of free time. During the summer this works out well because I can guide, but during the winter it is a different story. I have from February 25 to March 7 off and I unfortunately don't get paid for any of that time off.
That time off does allow me to pursue the final two species that I need to get through the program: the lake whitefish and the pike/pickerel hybrid. I have become an avid ice fisherman and with that time I would like to complete this goal. Help with paying for gas, bait and food as well as some car repairs would really make a difference for me.
I would not normally ask for help with this but I am so close to completing this goal and I really can't think of much else right now. I would like to start considering my next steps in life but I really have to get this done. Why is this that important to me? That is simple: I want a fishing legacy in Vermont. I currently hold a state record fish and have clients with world records. Records can and will be broken. Only one person can be the first to do something and I am so close I can taste it.
I would appreciate any help that my friends are willing to offer. For anyone that does help me out I will write a personal letter on the back of one of my many Vermont Master Angler species certificates and mail it to you as a thank you. If you are a client and were going to book a trip with me this coming year, I would be happy to take your donation off the trip total as a thank you.
I really appreciate all of the thoughts, help and encouragement so many of you have had with this process over the past 7 years. This is the final hurdle and your help will let me get there!
Thank you in advance!
Here is the story:
Fishing Saturday, no luck on tip ups (same with Sunday, it was dead dead for me), so I had heard a rumor that someone had hooked into a whitefish in deeper water with decent ice. I decided to make the trek to what looked like fertile whitefish grounds to me. I got there, set up and started working in about 55 fow. I got into a couple perch on the bottom, but most of the perch I got were suspended and I would not have caught them without the Vex.
Around 2pm I get a take and this fish has weight. I am bringing it up in the water column but it is not fighting like a perch. The rod is throbbing. Every time the fish gives a good push with it's tail, you can tell. This is certainly not a perch. I throw back the flip over, get the Vex out of the hole and keep bringing it up.
Finally, it gets to the hole. It is a whitefish. A BIG whitefish. It is sideways under the hole. There is fish on either side of the hole, a tight fit for sure. I am getting my glove off to grab the fish and then... doink... its off. Might have been the angle, the hook may not have been sharp enough (or so it felt after the fact).... I don't know. But there is a huge whitefish, 25-26", sitting there just under 4" of pretty clear ice. It sat there for about 10 seconds giving me the fin, then bolted.
Yes, expletives were expressed loudly for the rest of the day, and for the rest of the weekend. I had it right there. I should have had the gaff with me and ready. It will be next time. But I know where they live now. And I have the techniques and baits ready. As soon as I get them dialed in I will be writing up an article on them folks, don't you worry! This is the second one I have been into, it is not going to be the last!