I was enjoying the celebration of my nephew’s baptism yesterday when my phone alerted me to an incoming text message. It was from Father Paul Shovelain, and there was a photo attached.
I know this newly-ordained priest well enough to know that a text message and photo during the summer could only mean one thing — a fish story!
And, sure enough, it was. I asked him to email me more details of the story, plus the photo. I was happy to see his message in my in box this morning. Father Paul is now assigned at St. Peter in Forest Lake, and the story involves a young boy in the parish. Here’s what Father Paul had to say:
“Matthew and I were out fishing for bass on Saturday, August 23. I have gotten to know Matthew’s family quite well during my first two months at St. Peter’s and they let me keep my fishing boat at their dock.
Matthew and I went out fishing for bass and did have much action for the first hour. Matthew mentioned that he wanted to try his dad’s favorite spot, so we drove over to it and put the anchor down.
There were a couple other boats around, but they were fishing for panfish. On two of his first three casts, something was hitting Matthew’s topwater bass jig. He thought it was a northern and I was fishing on the other side of the boat, so I didn’t pay two close attention.
On his fourth cast, a massive 44-inch muskie hit it and Matthew was able to set the hook. He thought it was a northern at first and I exclaimed, “No, that’s a Muskie!”
I just wanted to get the fish in the boat, but I only had a small walleye/bass fishing net. After a few minutes, he got it close to the boat and I was able to net the fish, and it curled around in the net.
We got it in the boat and we were just thrilled! I had never handled a muskie before, so we drove over to another boat, and he jumped in with us and showed me how to handle it.
Meanwhile, Matthew was yelling, “I got my first muskie!” His dad, about 100 yards away on their dock, heard him and took the pontoon out to meet us. We got pictures, and then the fishermen that showed me how to hold it gently coaxed it back into the water.
I didn’t have a tape measure or a scale, but based on the pictures, Matthew’s dad thinks it was about 44 inches and 20-25 pounds! That was one memorable fish!”
Congratulations to Matthew. No doubt, he’s hooked for life. My first muskie was a 45-incher I caught on my very first evening of muskie fishing. Like Matthew, I, too, caught it on a topwater lure. I haven’t done much fishing for muskies since then, but Matthew’s story makes me want to try again.
I’m sure this will be a summer Matthew will never forget. As for me, I’m hopeful that one day I will be able to get out fishing with Father Paul. We’ve talked about it for years. Maybe, we can do it this fall.
Who knows? Maybe Father Paul will take me to the spot where Matthew caught his muskie.
Or, he might adapt the seal of the confessional principle to what goes on in a fishing boat and, thus, not divulge the location of the muskie strike.