Dave Schabell/Bill Hagedorn
Spanish River Fishing Trip
|Good luck to those of you reading this page who will be making a trip to the Blue Heron.
We wish you the success and good experiences that we have enjoyed over the years at this wonderful camp.
|Dave Schabell - Trip Twenty-One
The 2011 Blue Heron Fishing trip will forevermore be remembered as the year of trophy fish.
On our sixth day in camp, after dinner we stayed close by camp for a "kick-back" and relaxing evening of fishing, which turned out to be anything but
"quiet and relaxing." It was a night that I will remember for the rest of my life. For we plug-throwers the mouth of the creek just above camp has
always been known to hold trophy sized pike and muskies. The Vesios and Ryan Anderson each caught a 20 pound muskie there a few years back
and I boated a 36 inch pike there last spring. A few nights earlier on this trip I hooked a whopper, only to have him "spit the hook."
Bill was running a 3/8 ounce spinner bait just beneath the surface when a minor boil occured and his spinner bait disappeared. He knew it was BIG,
but we didn't get a glance of it until 5 to 10 minutes later, when I realized that the fish he had hooked outsized anything we had on-board to land him
with. The muskie was immense, with a broad head and body that seemed bigger to me than freshwater fish were meant to grow. When sufficiently
worn out my only option was to grab him/her under the gill cover and slide the fish over the side of the boat. Fortunately, the fish cooperated and we
successfully landed his 50 inch, estimated to be a 40 pound trophy. The fish had engulfed the spinner bait but was hooked harmlessly in the roof of
its mouth. All this on 8-pound test line, a 5 1/2 foot rod, and a five inch leader!!!
In all of my years of fishing I've never seen a freshwater fish this massive. It truly resembled a crocodile. Following a few photos the fish was
released back into the waters of the Spanish River to fight again another day. It had been tagged earlier in the spring by the MNR down in
On Friday afternoon, June 3rd, my 64th birthday, we were fishing with no rhyme or reason out in the bay, when I had a routine hit which I
interpreted to be a small pike, bass, or walleye. Immediately after setting the hook, I knew that this was no small fish, as he burned line off of my reel
heading for deeper water. After about a 10 minute patient battle of give and take Bill did a masterful job of netting my 46 inch Northern Pike, the
largest I've ever caught, and topping the 45 incher I caught here back in 2008.
It amazes us that two yay-hoos from Kentucky, living in the same cabin, could catch two of the biggest fish ever recorded here, in the same season.
We arrived in camp this spring on May 19th to discover that spring had just arrived. In the picture at left you will
note that the leaves on the trees were just coming out, and the river had just recovered from a massive spring
run-off, directly opposite of the late spring conditions experienced a year ago. Water termperature upon arrival was
52 degrees, and stayed in the 54-56 degree range for most of our trip. Bugs and high winds this year were minmal.
Chalk one up for the dew-worm dippers!!! Over the years Bill and I are entertained by the army of walleye/pickerel
fishermen who descend the steps in front of our cabin each day armed with their worm boxes setting out to spend
their day drifting worm-harnesses and bottom-bumpers in quest of their prey. We always know that we can troll just
before dark with Rapala Shad-raps across from camp, and in a matter of an hour or so have enough wallies for
dinner and to take home - until this year. The dew-worm dippers were kicking butt, and we were striking out. For
the first week we had two scrawny walleye to show for our efforts. It was meat and potatos in Cabin Two until the
walleye began to move out into the bay in week two, when we caught enough for two fish dinners and a limit to
bring home. While we haven't used a piece of live bait in years, perhaps a "when in Rome" philosophy would have
best served us best this trip - LOL!
The fish at the immediate left is a sturgeon.
Note that his tail extends under the first person's
leg. This was a BIG fish, caught by a pair of local
fishermen down at the mouth of the river. We were
coming back to camp when we spotted the two
fighing the fish, and pulled up close by and enjoyed
the show. Sturgeon live to be over 100 years old.
Notably absent from our fish pictures this year are me with a crappie. There is a good reason for this - we didn't catch any. I'm sure that if we had
stayed for our planed duration through June 17th that they would have shown up in Gagen Bay. We did encounter an increased population of
largemouth bass there this year. Hopefully, all of the Blue Heron fishermen will adopt a catch-and-release policy on all bass caught at the camp. We
encountered quite a few quality smallmouth (17-20 inch range) in our travels, which were photoed and returned to grow, raise their families, and fight
again another day.
It was with great regret that we packed up and headed home early, missing out on what we call the "fun part of the trip," with the walleye moving out
to the bay, and the pike blowing up on surface baits, as the water warms.
Bill has purchased a home at Norris Lake, Tennessee, and we are committed to a fly-in trip to Pine Portage next year, so we are taking a one-year
hiatus in 2012 from our annual Blue Heron sojourn.
While we will dearly miss the Mathesons and all of the good friends we have made at camp, and the wonderful fishery that exists there, we will not
miss the negative exchange rate, negotiating through the 30 boats every day that inhabit the river and channels leading out to the bay, the $75 gas
fill-ups every three days, nor the Indian Gill Nets that have again showed up in Frenchman's Bay. However, there are things in this life that you can't
place a price on, and this trip is certainly one of those things.
They say that absence makes the heart grow fonder, and I am already in deep depression that we will not be making our annual trek after 21
consecutive forays to the Blue Heron in the upcoming year. With that being said we have already booked for 2013 and God willing will make our
return then to battle trophy Northerns and Muskies, eat fresh walleye, and share in the most bountiful natural resource this side of heaven.
|Bill Hagedorn - Lucky Thirteenth Trip
|Bill With A Mere 30" Pike
|50 Inch - Est 40 Pound Muskie
|46 Inch - Est 27 Pound Northern Pike
|This trip was highlighted by an
abundance of 24-26 inch Northern Pike
Unfortunately Bill's mother-in-law passed away while we at the Blue
Heron, necessitating a premature return to Northern Kentucky.
The last thing that she said to us prior to departing for Spanish was,
"Bring home some fish." So we did.