It was a beautiful spring morning in May of 1991 when I rolled my boat out of the garage and headed to Lake Hodgson for a morning of crappie fishing. I like to be on the lake by 6 AM and catch the morning run of crappie. I was to meet my buddie Jim at the lake. I've always told him to be on time or he may miss the boat. It's a short commute to Ravenna Ohio and after stopping for minnows and picking up Jim we headed for the boat ramp. I am definitely the captain of my boat and I choose where to fish. Today I chose the north shore of Lake Hodgson. We had a Southern breeze on our back. This takes the bobbers that are floating toward the weed bed near shore. I had scouted the spot for a couple of weeks and called Jim when the fishing gets hot. He was a college student at the time and didn't like to go out unless I said the fishing was good. I set the boat up to cast toward the weed bed near shore and work the minnows back toward us. We had been fishing a while with minnows sitting at depth under the bobbers and I was working a minnow toward the boat. I normally catch at at rate of two to one on my working minnow.
We were catching crappie at a hectic pace and filling the fish basket, which is in the water keeping the crappie alive until filleting. I got a bite close to the boat and the fish I just caught was bending my Ugly Stick in big arc. I told Jim to get the net. Some people call crappie paper mouths because of the thin membrane the have around their mouth. I would rather net a big crappie rather than taking a chance on pulling a hook.
After a spirited fight, the crappie headed into the net. I told Jim that it was the biggest crappie I had ever caught. I told him we needed to stop at the lodge and the bait shop and show them our catch. Russ at the lodge told me it was a Fish Ohio catch. Don at the bait shop verified the catch and had me fill out the forms. You know how you get rules and never quite finish reading all of them. Well on the last page of the licence there is a list of qualifying fish. Crappie have to be 13" to qualify. My crappie was 16" long, a fine size for crappie in the northern lakes. You receive a Fish Ohio Pin and Certificate from the State of Ohio. I mounted the certificate and put the first pin on the hat shown in my camera blog. I had caught a couple of other big crappie and two rainbow trout as shown in the small picture.
Now that I knew the rules catching a Fish Ohio Award fish became a challenge.