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Fish Tails: The One That Got Away

We learn the most from the experiences that don’t turn out quiet like we had planned…And there’s no better learning opportunity for fishing enthusiasts than when the one we’re after slips through our fingers (sometimes literally). Straight from Team DSG, here are some classic, if not entertaining, tales of the...

We learn the most from the experiences that don’t turn out quiet like we had planned…And there’s no better learning opportunity for fishing enthusiasts than when the one we’re after slips through our fingers (sometimes literally). Straight from Team DSG, here are some classic, if not entertaining, tales of the fish that got away.


“I hooked on a huge walleye and was quickly able to get it beside the edge of the boat. As the fish surfaced, my husband and I were shocked—this was the biggest walleye that we’d ever observed in our home lake. My husband was ready with the net, but the fish decided that it wasn’t done fighting and went for another run. Just as the fish went to take off, we watched the hook gently pop out and the beautiful golden walleye swam away. I will definitely be returning to this spot for a second chance.” ~Brittany Peeters

"A few years ago, my husband and I were fishing a salmon tournament. It was just the two of us, and it was a pretty slow morning. We were running all spoons and my husband decided to try a J-plug (something we didn’t run often). We got it in the water and hardly anytime passed by before the line started ripping out. I grabbed the rod out of the road holder and could feel the tug from the other end. For every foot I reeled in, it felt like he took five feet out. It was a workout! After about 20 minutes (which felt like forever) I was finally able to gain on him. I kept watching the counter and watched the number going down—100 feet, then 50', then 30'... my husband grabbed the net and the fish was at the surface. He looked big! I was almost to the leader line and with a shake of his head he got off and swam away. We just looked out the back of the boat and couldn’t believe it. I don’t think we spoke a word to each other for an hour." ~ Cari Lipple

“It was an early summer afternoon; my boyfriend and I were out chasing muskies on the big pond. This lake is well known for absolute giants and that was exactly what I was after. I started reeling my bucktail in when I felt the hardest hit of my life; I set the hook and felt nothing but dead weight. My boyfriend actually yelled at me to “reel” but there was no way. Was I snagged? All I could feel was dead weight until finally I felt the ‘bruise your ribs’ kind of headshakes. This girl did not want to come up from the depths. After a solid two minutes, she made her appearance. My boyfriend went to scoop her in the net, but she decided she wanted to do the muskie walk one last time and that’s when it happened… The net was caught on the side of the boat and the rim of the net hit the bucktail right out of her mouth. It was by far the biggest heartbreak I have ever had fishing.” ~Chelsea Lynn


“In 2018, my sister and I drove out to Casper, Wyoming to visit a childhood friend. I brought my fly rod (which I'd used a total of two times so far), a how-to-fly-fish book, and was determined to catch a trout out of the North Platte River without any help. After two days of struggling, I decided some guidance was necessary and I stopped by a fly shop. The folks there were very helpful and were able to set me up with the appropriate flies for the job. The guys at the fly shop even taught me how to more effectively run a nymph. I went back to the river with more motivation and fished for several hours when I finally hooked into a big brown trout. Unfortunately, I set the hook a bit off to the side rather than upwards, and after a couple rolls and a jump, the fish popped off. The struggle and success of that fish will stick with me for a long time.” ~Christine Rowe

“During our babymoon fishing trip on the Gunflint Trail, there was quite a bit of time where the lakers weren't biting. We were thinking about packing up, but I suddenly got a bite. It was exciting! This laker had a lot of fight and took out drag! I thought I was going to run out of line. It took several minutes to reel it in from 60 feet below. But just as it was near the top and I could see the lake trout's body doing all sorts of moves to escape, I lost it. It was a devastator. Thankfully, the bite picked up later in the evening!” ~Jenny Anderson

"I lost my first fish on my very first trip in my kayak. It also happened to be the first time I fly fished offshore. It was supposed to be a trial run on a nearby body of water I was familiar with... in case I ended up in the drink! I'll admit, I had low expectations for landing a fish, but when I hooked into one I was so excited that I panicked. I got the fish close to the kayak and got a glimpse of a decent size trout. I fumbled around trying to get my net and POOF! The fish got off! I was crushed! I know the fish wouldn't have been a personal best or anything, but it was going to be the first fish, on the fly out of the kayak... and I botched it because I was unprepared. In hindsight, it was a great learning opportunity (my net is always ready to go now) and I still consider the trip a success because 1) I hooked a fish and 2) I didn't fall in." ~ Kelsey Bell

"The fish that started my obsession for muskie fishing was one that I never even landed. I had been fishing on the creek with a friend and watched this huge fish follow in his lure but never ate. The next morning, my dad and I went down to the same spot, as I was determined to catch that fish. I brought my bass rod and the biggest Rapala I could find in my tackle box. I was only a few twitches into my first cast and the muskie hit my lure. I set the hook and watched the back half of the fish come up out of the water, seconds later my line snapped and she was gone. I had unfortunately forgot to check my drag and it was set too tight." ~ Nicole King 

“Personally, I have too many to recall! However, my most memorable is actually me knocking my husband's personal best fish off of his line! I went to net it and pushed it right off of the jig instead (accidentally of course)—a fish that easily could have been 32-inches or more in length. We always joke about me "making" his personal best "get away" so I wouldn't be outdone.” ~Nicole Stone

"Last year while ice fishing, we were hammering northerns on tip-ups all day and I had just released a small pike. While putting my shiner back down, my tip-up spool starting going out like crazy! I was alone and fought this fish for what seemed to be forever! I finally saw the head of this northern and her head was as big as the 8-inch hole! I always have my tip-ups set up for walleyes so my leader was fluorocarbons and I was being as gentle as I could while trying to tire out this fish and not snap my line! When I finally got the head out of the water and I went to grab her, she started to thrash around and snapped my leader. I grabbed her head, but my hand wasn’t big enough to hold a good grip and she slipped off into the darkness. It would have been the biggest northern of my life!" ~ Sami Jo Halbrook

"Two ice seasons ago, I had a tip-up go off while we were walleye fishing. Immediately upon setting the hook, I knew I had a big walleye on. Slow moving and big head shakes, lot of weight... my friend sat across the hole from me and was ready to help grab it. I finally got it to the top of the hole and I absolutely 100% know it was a 29-30” walleye based on its size coming up the hole and the size of its mouth. My mono leader snapped and the fish dropped when I had maybe a 1/4 of it out of the hole. Neither my friend nor I could get a hand on it and it fell back down the hole... our jacket sleeves were both soaked and the fish was gone. We both fell backwards, quiet with a sigh." ~ Sarah Kozlowski

"My now husband took me ice fishing for the very first time for our first date. We were having an awesome day catching a ton of bass when I hooked into a fighter that kept taking runs!! It was my first real drag screamer. We were sharing a fish finder, so we had three holes punched in a line and when I finally got it to the hole we realized it was a beautiful rainbow trout which you almost never catch at this particular lake. When he went to land the fish, of course it spit the hook. For the brief second it was on the ice stretched across all three holes, it was as glorious as I had ever seen a fish and definitely a new personal best—right before it turned its head, kicked off and went down the opposite hole it came out of. I was overthrown with emotions—excitement, accomplishment and sadness that it got away before a picture. I often think of “the one that got away” and what it has done for my love for this sport. This was the first of many that have gotten away over the years, but they have all only fueled my passion for fishing, whether I am catching or not!!" ~ Tawney Clum

"One horrifically windy afternoon, Joel and I were fishing for smallmouth using jerkbaits. If anyone has fished with a jerkbait, you know they can attract many fish. I hooked into a MONSTER muskie. We saw it close to the surface a few times, but then it would take out line like crazy. My arms were tired, and I didn’t know what to do. It was close to the boat but started going under the trolling motor and I tried fighting it instead of moving with it and GONE. I’ll always remember to bring my rod tip over the motor after that one." ~ Taylor Cunningham

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