The expected surprises of good fish stories
BY DALE BOWMAN For Sun-Times Media October 19, 2013 12:42AM
Court Lipsett landed this big Chinook on the Dowagiac in Michigan when his friend cut and retied Lipsett’s fly line to help him get the king out of a logjam. | For Sun-Times Media
Updated: November 21, 2013 6:51AM
Jeff Hopkins miscast a dock and ended up catching the biggest bass in the four-year history of the Rayjus Outdoors-Oak Lawn High School Bass Tournament on Oct. 12.
The best fishing stories always come with loose ends, unexplainable lines and general goofiness. It’s part of what makes fishing fun and memorable.
The last week or so had more than its fair share of fish stories.
Last Sunday, Court Lipsett landed a massive hook-jaw Chinook on a fly rod when his friend Chris Low jumped on a logjam on the Dowagiac River to cut and retie the line so Lipsett could work the fish out.
First the high schoolers.
The Oak Lawn tournament is held at the convergence of the Kankakee and Des Plaines rivers, with boats going out of Des Plaines Conservation Area near Wilmington. The tournament is fast becoming to high school bass fishing in the fall what the Proviso West Holiday Tournament is to high school hoops at Christmas.
Hopkins, in his red beanie, and partner Christian Sana, in his Blackhawks Stanley Cup hat, already had one keeper in the boat when things went magical or supernatural. Hopkins cast a dock, badly enough that his stickbait ended up going through the cracks of the dock, but a bass swiped at it and missed.
The boat driver, Hinsdale Central teacher Dave Strykowski, said, ‘‘With encouragement from Christian Sana, Jeff Hopkins went back in and started dipping his lure in the water between the cracks in the wood dock.’’
The bass hit again but missed again. On the third try, Hopkins hooked the largemouth bass. Strykowski moved in with the trolling motor. The fish swam to the other side of the dock. Ultimately, they were able to turn the fish and bring it to the net.
They ended up with four keepers, weighing them in at 7.52 pounds, to win the 48-boat event with more than 170 anglers. Hopkins’ big bass weighed in at 3.14 pounds. Luke Jasper and Jake Lepczynski of Lemont finished second.
With that, we leave the inland waters, then cross Lake Michigan and go up the Dowagiac in Michigan with Lipsett of Oak Forest and Low, who were fishing with guide Dustan Harley of Ripple Guide Service. I caught my best steelhead while fishing with Harley and Robert Tomes in that general area years ago.
Typically, Lipsett fishes for steelhead when with Harley, but conditions dictated they focus on kings. Low caught and landed his first two kings on a fly rod. Lipsett caught a couple smaller kings and one steelhead.
But the main event came when Lipsett was working an egg pattern on his 10-foot, 7-weight rod and hooked something special.
‘‘It was a pretty amazing battle. The fish ran upstream and under a massive logjam,’’ Lipsett emailed. ‘‘I ended up feeding out all my fly line to my buddy, who had climbed up on the logjam. He then cut the backing from the fly line. I got upstream of the jam, and he retied the line, and we finally were able to land that pig.’’
Now that’s how you roust a pig. It measured 40.5 inches long and weighed 28.5 pounds.
‘‘Certainly one of my best fishing stories!’’ Lipsett concluded.
Retied and retold lines are the stuff of fishing stories.