Hunting and fishing are pursuits that bring me pleasure and have been the basis of a satisfying career. For both things, I’m very thankful. Fishing and hunting are a way of life for me.
I really don’t fish just to catch big ones and don’t hunt to have big racks on the wall. It’s partially about the experience of being outdoors, partially about the harvest. However, if you are on the water or in the bush enough, you will inevitably bump into something larger than normal.
Whether it be a giant fish or impressive animal, these rare interactions lead to personal bests, or PBs. They are milestones in the outdoor experience.
There are three I’d like to reach before meeting my ancestors on the happy hunting grounds – some more achievable than others.
60-inch bull moose:
Any bull moose harvested in Ontario is increasingly rare. For a bull to get to an age that it can have a rack five feet across, it has to have been very lucky.
In all my years hunting, I’ve only ever had my scope on one moose of this size. It was during a snowy hunt in December, way back in a winter cut. The animal was spectacular, displaying its massive rack for a very hot cow moose.
The moose presented me a decent shot. But I elected not to take it as it was several kilometres back, behind several still-wet swamps. I had walked there as no snowmobile would have made it. But what a sight that moose and its huge rack was in the bright glare of a cold, sunny day.
Maybe I will get another chance some day.
There are few freshwater PBs quite as cherished as the 50-inch muskellunge. I know, many anglers get several 50-inchers each season. I even know a few of these people.
However, my personal best is 49.75 inches. And because it is a muskie, a 50 is a 50. I can’t just round it up. I did have a 50-plus-inch fish on about 12 years ago. In fact, it was right beside the boat, finning, my lure dangling by one hook point.
Sadly, we had no net and when my partner tried to tail the fish…. it didn’t end well. I’ve had many 50-inch fish follow and have even missed strikes at boat side. But so far, not one in the boat.
This is a PB I’d like to reach, maybe even this year. It would be a pure catch and release. But I’d hope for a good picture or two.
40-pound lake trout:
This is another number that is very hard to achieve, especially in Ontario. However, it is not impossible.
A handful of lakes, including Lake Superior and Lake Nipigon, have the potential. Yet a 40-pound lake trout is truly a unicorn. Very rare indeed.
I’ve never seen a live fish of that size with my own eyes. Although I’ve had lakers that were 30-pound class in my boat. A 40-pound lake trout would be a super tanker of a fish and a mind boggling sight. Yet a few trout of this size are caught every year in waters I frequent.
Although I’d never keep a laker that big, what a beautiful thing it would be to hold one. A lake trout of that size would likely be older than me, and that’s getting up there.
There are a few other PBs I’d like to reach, like a 150-inch buck, or 30-inch brookie (the world record was 31 inches….). But no use getting ahead of myself.
I’ve already got my work cut out.