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BREAKING NEWS

The Battle Against the Moon Phase Pike: Episode 4

In the marvelous fishing year of 2012, I detailed on these very pages my personal quest to hook and land a rather notorious fish known as the “Moon Phase Pike.”

For those of you who are not familiar with this increasingly infamous fish, I’ll remind you that I first encountered the Moon Phase Pike when a huge splash of water interrupted me while, admittedly, I was nearly dozing off in my fishing boat in June of 2012 on Lake Darling. The day was as perfect as it gets, and I had closed my eyes for just a moment to soak it all in. That’s when the loud thrashing of the Moon Phase Pike rudely put an end to my dreamy state and nearly caused me to tumble overboard.

I took the boisterous show as a personal challenge from a cantankerous fish, immediately casting a lure to the still-visible boil on the water mere yards behind my small craft. No sooner had my lure reached the water, with the line still following in a perfect arc above, when the testy pike blasted it. Unfortunately, the beast came straight up out of the water and rather rudely tossed my lure into the air.

I didn’t hook that fish, but I did get a very good look at him. Big. Very big. More serpent than fish.

I moved my boat in the direction in which I thought the fish had moved and made another enticing cast. Nothing happened until my lure was nearly at boatside. That’s when the big pike rose from the deep, passed under my lure and my boat. The shadowy outline more closely resembled a submarine than a fish.

A few days later I tried once again to fool the Moon Phase Pike, so named because his antics coincided with the rise of the full moon. Once again I got a couple of looks at him, including one at boatside where that darn fish appeared to be grinning at me in total disrespect. It was time to get very serious!

Calling upon all my wisdom as an astute angler, which some might interpret as lunacy, I devised the most clever of plans to fool that stupid fish once and for all. Knowing where he lived, I checked the moon phase tables and determined my best opportunity to hook the Moon Phase Pike would be during the rise of the full moon on Sept. 29, 2012. I fished hard for him that day, to no avail. Nothing.

Don’t fear, dear reader, I vowed then and there to never relent in my quest to get even with Mr. Moon Phase. Deranged as you may think I am, I have no doubt that fish survived this past winter and is eager to continue our very personal duel on the water. That’s why I was on Lake Darling in pursuit of him last weekend. Full moon, you see, was at 6:33 a.m. last Sunday. Moonrise the Saturday prior was at 9:01 p.m. The stars, or rather the moon, was lined up perfectly.

To those skeptics, I must say that the full moon last Sunday was nothing short of a remarkable phenomenon known as a “super moon.” It is what astronomers everywhere categorized as a major celestial event – a perigee full moon. More specifically, that’s when a full moon lines up with the earth and the sun, with the moon being its closest to the earth for the entire year.

What does this mean to astute fishermen? It means they had no choice but to be on the water during perhaps the most influential celestial moment in angling history. Don’t ask why. It is too difficult to explain. Aside from that, some fishing secrets should never be shared. It is best to simply trust all fishermen regarding this matter. We know why. We really do.

At the very time I calculated the wily fish I was pursuing would likely show his scales, this determined fisherman was not precisely where he wanted to be. While I had hoped to be in the lair of the Moon Phase Pike during those critical moments when that huge fish would be more influenced by the factors of nature and the mysterious workings of the universe rather than by my ominous presence, “mano-o-fisho,” I overslept.

Sunrise was 5:45 a.m., moonset 6:11 a.m. and full moon 6:33 a.m. Those events gathered so closely together is what all fishermen dream of, myself included. In fact, I was dreaming until I awoke at 5:47 a.m. I stared at the clock for a few seconds before it struck me that I was miles from the lake and that I could never make to the water in time to execute my ingenious plan for which I had so carefully prepared the night previous.

I had pre-rigged three fishing rods, each with a different lure to fool that showy pike. I did a mental checklist of what must be done when I stepped into my fishing boat. I would place a measuring board and measuring tape where I could reach either with ease, necessary to document the official size of my gigantic quarry. Other preparations included extending the handle of my landing net and placing it carefully in the boat; and removing the lens cap from my camera, a the final bit of preparation necessary before catching Mr. Moon Phase. I was almost beginning to feel sorry for that fish – almost.

As I dozed off I assured myself that I would be hoisting that fish in victory the following morning, bringing a glorious end to a grudge match that began more than a year earlier. I calculated the lake level would likely drop 12 to 18 inches when I pulled that fish into the boat. Ahhh, sweet dreams!

I did make it to the lake later that morning, after a series of rain storms passed through the area and I destroyed a large breakfast. Had the weather been right, had I awoken on time, that pike would have been mine. I wonder if he knows how fortunate he is?

My catch for the day, long after the coveted time frame surrounding sunrise, moonset and full moon, amounted to just one small pike. However, I had a second pike that bit a lure in half at boatside and another that snapped 30-pound test line with ease.

The Moon Phase Pike? Perhaps, but not likely unless he had moved a considerable distance from where I believed him to be.

The truth is, I was mistakenly using a fishing rod which I had set aside more than an hour earlier after discovering a small fray in the line. It was operator error and a fish took advantage of it. If it was the Moon Phase Pike, it was very cowardly of him not to show himself during the day of the supermoon.

July 22. That’s the day of the next full moon. 1:17 p.m. Yes, dear reader, in just a few short weeks I hope to be sharing photographs of the legendary Moon Phase Pike on these very pages. There’s no chance I’ll sleep too long. I hope that fish doesn’t either. What could possibly go wrong?