A night on the lake with "The Man"

Discussion in 'LOCAL MICHIGAN TALK' started by dreamcatcher, May 26, 2006.

  1. dreamcatcher

    dreamcatcher New Member

    Everybody likes a good fish story right? I know I love to be on the water in the middle of the night listening to the old timers talk about all the fish that got away, but every blue moon you run across somebody that has actually caught some of the fish in their stories. I call these men of yore the "local legends" that make the mystery of big catting what it is today. The story I'm about to tell you is about such a person.

    My local legend makes his home on Belleville Lake in the summer months.

    Belleville Lake is located in the city of Belleville right off of Interstate 94. Personally, I have been fishing there for the last two years for catfish, and I have been blessed to catch my fair share of eating size cats. During the times that I have graced the shoreline I have always been entertained by people telling me stories of the "man" that fishes for the big cats. Now being a cat conneisseur myself, I find myself gripped by these tall tales of catfish breaking off line, pulling rigs in the water, and so forth. I willingly go on the ride, because it's entertaining, albeit in my mind a little over exaggerated. Every time the stories are told they all funnel back to this "guy" that I've never met. It had gotten to the point to where I just sort of wrote it off in my mind, because the odds of me running into this person was as good as sharing a campfire with a Yeti.

    Well, last night I was sitting here watching another rigged NBA basketball game thinking about what it would be like to sit on the lake. The storm front had moved through the area about an hour earlier, and the outside temperature was pleasant with a light breeze. I was figuring that a fresh supply of oxygen might be just the thing for some prime catting. At this juncture it was about 10:30 p.m., so I started thinking if I'm going to do any worthwhile fishing I better head out right now. As you night catmen know it's never too late to do some catfishing.

    I arrived at the lake some 15 minutes later, and was a little surprised to see someone there. As I pulled up, I was thinking. "Somebody must of been thinking the same thing." The entire bank was lit up from a Coleman lantern that was strung up on a tree, but I didn't see a fisherman in sight. However, what I did see stopped me dead in my tracks. Off to my left were two rigs that were, for lack of a better term, HEAVY DUTY. These were 12 foot spinning rods that were high sticked in PVC piping on each side of a small pier. Also, there was what appeared to be an Army red chemlight attached to each pole about 12 inches from each tip. There were two sets of bells on each rod, one at the tip, and one about a third of the way down. The thought that flashed through my mind at that very instant was that somebody was serious about their fishing, and they weren't fishing for bluegills. LOL. My second thought was, am I prepared for what could happen tonight?:0a13:

    Seeing that gear made me feel like a kid again fishing with my Zebco 202...and that's saying something, because I thought I fished heavy.

    I opened up my chair about thirty or so feet to the right of the rigs, and settled down to enjoy the night sky, but I couldn't help looking at those rods. LOL. Then I thought, "how big are the fish in here?" At that time I heard one of the bells jingle, (not mine; I don't use bells) and suddenly I see this guy come out of seemingly nowhere rushing up to this monster rig. That's when I put it all together that this was the "man."

    For me the sight was surreal, because the guy was no bigger than five foot tall if you gave him an inch of generosity. To see him run up and grab this pole that was nearly three times his size was a Kodak moment that I will forever kick myself for not getting. I had this feeling that I might have to go over and help him get control of this thing, but he managed quite well. He brought in a little eater size channel, rebaited his hook, and put the rig back in the PVC pipe.

    As he stood there in the glow of the Coleman lantern, I couldn't help feeling like a little kid again, so I decided to make my presence known. Here was a guy that was foor foot and some change, in his mid seventies, and he had an aura about him that smelled of the old school catmen from yesteryear. This guy would of been at home on any major river system in the United States, and it felt to me like he had fished them all. After we exchanged the normal pleasantries of "hello", "nice night isn't it" I asked him a question that was more reaction than anything else. "Sir, are you the one...the one that catches all the big cats?" He replied, "Yes sir, that'd be me. Hyde's my name...John Hyde, glad to meet you."

    What transpired next is nothing less than surreal. I asked him what is the largest catfish that he's ever caught out of the lake? Without hesitation he replied, "Fifty pounds." "Fifty pounds?!?!" I asked. "Yeah, I caught one that was 41 back in 1971, and caught a 25 pounder last year." "Wait a minute, you said that you caught a fifty pounder out of this lake?" "Sure. Man they got seventy pound catfish in this lake. They got some in here that you can't do anything with." At that moment it felt like I had found an oasis in the middle of some desert plain. Then before I could even form the thought that he was pulling my chain he said, "If you don't believe me, I got a paper in the car I can show you." He goes to his car and pulls out this old, folded up Belleville Observer, and sure enough there is an article with a picture of him, and a write up about a 50 pound catfish that he caught in 2003. There wasn't a picture of the fish, but he didn't write the article, so someone had to make the verification I thought. I then asked him did he know that he had broken the state record two times over, once in '71 and with this fish in 2003 He said, " I registered the fish, but the state record is 62 pounds." For the first time, I felt empathy for him because he told me that he went to great lengths to get recognized for the fish, but all of you know the record is 40 pounds, so his efforts were wasted. He isn't the type of guy that would probably contact the DNR, or fill out a Master Angler form. I really wish he could have gotten recognized for those achievements.

    I was up for grabs for the rest of the night. I asked him the right questions, and he was more than willing to share his stories of his catfishing exploits. He was telling me about the catfish that he couldn't "turn" even with those Sal Palombo specials of his(you know the one Sal). He also informed me that there were sturgeon in the lake too! His favorite bait? Shrimp. He uses 35 and 40 pound test mono on spinning reels. I sat out there with him for three hours, but I had an early wake-up today so I had to leave, but what a momentous occasion for me. A great guy. I wished him well, and told him that I hoped to see him again tonight, rain or shine. Needless to say, I am excited about fishing Belleville Lake again, and hopefully sometime soon I can catch my own trophy cat, but that's why they call it fishing. The only thing I know today is my fishing experiences are that much richer after meeting "the man."

    Thanks for listening,
  2. tatersalad

    tatersalad New Member

    Clover, SC
    Vic, thanks for sharing that with me. It reinforces my belief that, fishing or hunting, harvesting (even catch and release) is secondary to being outside, communing, and loving nature. Sharing that with another is one of God's great gifts.

  3. hear_kitty

    hear_kitty New Member

    Vassar Mi
    Just go's to show ya time spent fishing is well spent! as someone else said and i think it was mr larson theres a lot to be said for fishing close to home!
  4. sal_jr

    sal_jr New Member

    Ithaca, MI
    Vic, you know there are a ton of those types out there... fellas who have worn holes in their wallets in the shape of their fishing license. Guys who know a wealth of stuff, but have been browbeaten by the locals and the naysayers that theyre more comfortable alone and doing their own thing.

    I know one fellow who is 89 and still fishes just about every day... he only misses it when the ice is too thin or breaking up.

    It is like hitting the jackpot, coming across men like that. I sure hope you meet him again.

    Maybe you ought to show up with an extra cup of coffee next time and let him have it. Something tells me just by your description that this man could answer 3 nights worth of questions and still mesmerize you with the days that his eyes have seen. I love it when I meet them types.

    Makes me relaize what Im gonna want to be in 50 years or so, God willing.

    Great story.

  5. Sparky Larson

    Sparky Larson New Member

    Marlette Michigan
    Vic, that is one of the Best Fish Stories I've heard. Thanks for sharing it. I guess there is still a chance for you to catch that big cat. Maybe, Just maybe it will come out of Belleville Lake.
    Good Luck!!!!!!!!!!!!
  6. elphaba7

    elphaba7 New Member

    Mo'town, WV
    Great story, Vic. Seems like the planets were in the right alignment for you.:smile2:
  7. borntocatfish

    borntocatfish New Member

    NW ohio
    awesome story i'm glad that someone else thinks nba is rigged aswell.
    I live off the mighty maumee river in ohio I hear tell that the big ones are in there but havn't found one (YET) here lots of stories of guys catching the big one ,but only seen one picture of one out of the river.
  8. dreamcatcher

    dreamcatcher New Member

    I had to come back and tell you folks about this guy. I almost had a feeling that I was talking to Yoda of the catfish world. LOL.

    You are right Sal, there are a bunch of guys like that, but I don't run into them often. When I was down south I ran into them more often. Meeting this guy was like a reinforcement for me on why I love fishing, but especially night time catfishing. There is something about fishing at night on a shoreline that's tough to beat.

    Yeah there is something to be said for being close to home Don, but I still want to go to Houghton Lake. ROTFLOL. If Belleville has some old catfish in it, with the medium pressure it gets just imagine what Houghton could produce. However, I will be gracing the bank of Belleville regularly at night all the way up to the time we meet each other again.

    Sparky, I just got this feeling...I haven't done it yet, but I am going to print me a Master's Angler form and take it with me on every trip from now on. LOL. I got my gills, and shrimp for tonight and I'm heading out after dinner and a movie with my wife. MY goal is to stay until dawn, which I have never done during my four year stay in Michigan...

    Glad you folks liked the story. Have a great weekend.

  9. Sparky Larson

    Sparky Larson New Member

    Marlette Michigan
    I'm heading down to the Detroit River Saturday morning to go out on my brother-in-laws boat for the day. I'm not real excited cause he hasn't mentioned fishing pole yet. If i get a chance I might stop up to vanderbuilt park to see Don and his family. He said he would be up there this week-end.
    Good Luck fishing tonight Vic, I hope you catch a personal best catfish.
    Have a safe week-end.
  10. RiverKing

    RiverKing Active Member

    Yellow Spr
    now that is a good story
  11. Cat King

    Cat King New Member

  12. Doyle

    Doyle New Member

    Vic, great fishing story, I really enjoyed it, thanks.
  13. jspiel

    jspiel New Member

    comstock park michigan
    vic- great story. I only have one question.
    you did invite him to join our little band of crazy cat men didnt you?
  14. shania

    shania New Member

    San Leandro, Ca
    Hey Vic,

    I like reading about "Great Stories" like that one, because it reminds me of fishing with my "Fishing Hero" - "My Grandfather"! (May he R.I.P.)
    That was a "Great Post"! :big_smile_2:

    Take it easy,
    Bert:cool2: & Shaina:0010:
  15. dreamcatcher

    dreamcatcher New Member

    Jon, I did tell him about the BOC and some of the places we fish. He informed me that he didn't have a computer, and even if he had one I don't see him getting on it much. He's what I would call a "rogue" fisherman. He probably has just enough resources to support the simple pleasures. I don't see him doing a lot of traveling, even within the state. However, if I see him again I will continue to work it in now that the ice is broken.

    By the way, I went fishing (and last night was fishing, because I didn't even get a bite LOL) last night about midnight and stayed to 5 this morning. Didn't get a bite the entire time. Anybody doing any good on live bluegills or cut bluegills?
  16. ohiocattracker

    ohiocattracker New Member

    Cincinnati Ohio
    Great story Vic thanks for sharing
  17. AllenM

    AllenM Guest

    Man, that story was somethin' else! Thanks a ton for taking the time to write that! I can see it took a while, but it was well worth it! You aught to think about writing a short book of fishing stories and seeing if you can find a publisher, or look into publishing yourself, maybe even as an E-book. You're a pretty good writer!

    I can definately see myself that way years down the road after the kids are grown, but I sure pray to God that there's gonna be a little old lady named Becca out there alongside me, and a few grandkids out there with my boys from time to time.
  18. jdstraka

    jdstraka Well-Known Member Supporting Member

    Council Bluffs, Iowa
    Thank you Victor for sharing that story with us.I just love visiting with the Senior citizens I can't get enough of it. Theres so much knowledge there wheather it be fishing, hunting or just there life experiences.The story was very well written, and as I read between the lines you Sir are no Slouch either, (Very well spoken) From someone who realy cares(YOU) It would be my pleasure to meet you some day.And as always when someone sparks my intrest I check out there personal profile as I did yours and I would like to personally thank you for your service to our Country.Bigcatman0816.
  19. dreamcatcher

    dreamcatcher New Member

    Thanks again, I was more than happy to share. I ran into Mr. Hyde again last night. I think I must be on a roll, because I have never been happy going fishing three nights in a row and getting skunked. I'm going again tonight to see if the fourth is a charm. LOL. Nobody really caught anything between the four of us, although one guy's pole got pulled in the water. ROTFLOL. A truly magical moment in the world of catfishing to see a fish lay claim to an entire rig, because the owner didn't respect his quarry.

    By the way, the Loch Ness monster syndrome is in full effect at Belleville Lake. Supposedly, (drumroll)...there are flatheads in Belleville Lake. Mr. Hyde told me that he actually saw a swarm of the hatchlings some years ago, and that he has caught flatheads himself out of the lake. I asked him to describe the fish, and he said that it looked like a big bullhead, and they averaged twenty pounds. He also said that it had a large head, and a short body. I will be taking my camera on every fishing trip to Belleville from now on in hopes of capturing this amazing sight. LOL.

    To up my average of wiping the skunk off tonight I think I'm going to smaller circle hooks and nightcrawlers. Who knows, maybe I'll get lucky and catch a walleye or a carp...

    I now know how to put chicken livers on an Gamakatsu 8/0...ROTFLOL...not that I will make a habit of using chicken livers, but it's nice to know how to do it without slinging it off...gave Mr. Hyde a pack of Gama circles, BUT I didn't tell him about circle hooks:embarrassed_2: Didn't think about it until after I got home...I figured I would hook him up(pun intended)since his hooks were breaking on him...

    Well enough musings, time to get reenergized...

    Later, gators
  20. curdog

    curdog New Member

    Sheridan, Arkansas
    Vic that was a great storie! Its one that puts you to thinking back to speical moments like that.