Lebanon sixth-grader's big catch
Written by Belleville News-Democrat   
Thursday, 07 January 2010 11:14
Evan Morris went ice fishing in Michigan during his Christmas vacation and came back with a whopper of a fish tale. Morris, an 11-year-old Boy Scout from Lebanon, caught a 7.8-pound northern pike Dec. 28 measuring 33.5 inches on Houghton Lake, Michigan's largest inland lake covering more than 22,000 acres. Locals said it's the largest pike caught on the lake by an individual not yet in his teens. Dave Parker, who works at Lyman's on the Lake, a bait and tackle shop that serves Houghton Lake, said it's the biggest he has seen in 30 years. "It's a big thing for a kid that young to catch something like that," Parker said. "Most 11-year-olds don't want to go ice fishing, anyway. That's a good-sized pike for an adult, let alone a kid. That's a very nice fish anybody would be proud to catch." Parker said there have been bigger pike pulled out of Houghton Lake by older anglers. And the fish is nowhere near the Michigan state record held by Larry Clough, who pulled a 39-pound northern pike from Dodge Lake in 1961. But for a young novice like Morris, who is in the sixth grade at Lebanon Grade School, it's a record setter. His catch will be featured in the January edition of Michigan Out-of-Doors Magazine, the official publication of Michigan United Conservation Clubs. "I was amazed," Evan Morris said. "I didn't know how big that thing was. When I pulled it up, I was yelling at my dad to come over and look at it. It was pretty cool." Morris was in Michigan visiting his grandparents with his family, as they do every Christmas. Morris' father, Matt, is a retired Air Force colonel. Matt Morris, who grew up ice fishing in Michigan, moved to the area five years ago when he was stationed at Scott Air Force Base. Matt Morris had accompanied Evan and his younger brother, Elland, on several ice-fishing excursions, but Dec. 28 was the first time he let them do everything on their own. "They've ice fished before, but it's always been with me or their grandfather," Matt Morris said. "One of us would run over and help them pull it up." Evan and Elland used a gas auger to drill a hole in the 12-inch thick ice and baited the 20-pound test line with a 6-inch sucker minnow on a treble hook. Evan Morris then triggered the tip-up, which is a line-filled spool attached to the hook that releases a blaze orange or red flag when the bait is struck. This allowed Even and Elland to watch their lines from the comfort a small shanty on the ice equipped with a wood-burning stove. About 90 minutes after baiting the hook on a 22-degree day, the red flag on Morris' line went up. Morris rushed out of the shanty to inspect the bite. "I really didn't know what I had," Morris said. "I knew it was probably a pike or a muskie, but I didn't know how big it was. I had to fight it for a couple of minutes. I was kind of afraid I was going to lose it because I fell once when I was at the hole." Morris fought the pike for 10 minutes before pulling the nearly 3-foot long fish through the hole. By that time, Evan's father -- who was watching the commotion from the porch of his dad's house on the shore -- had made his way to the hole. Matt Morris was beaming. "I was extremely proud," Matt Morris said. "I grew up in Michigan fishing and I've always caught fish like that. We only get to do this one week out of the year during the holidays, and for them to nail a big fish like this was extremely great. "It was wonderful. He's an outdoor-type kid and it was great to see him do that." The Morris' plan on having the fish mounted. "I was amazed at its size," Evan Morris said. "It was really, really cool. I didn't know I could get a record like that."
 
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