I’ve written before about how this time of year I make it a point to go on one or two specific outings for chain pickerel in the cedar swamps of South Jersey. They’re a great early-spring fish, usually sitting shallow on sunny days, eager to track and attack a small plug. In my spots, I normally catch 10- to 12-inchers with the occasional bigger pickerel mixed in. But last Saturday, something funky happened.


Now, don’t get me wrong: it’s not about the size of the fish. Those little ‘picks can be a real challenge, and they wake, jump, and strike with lots of force. On this trip, however, I couldn’t buy a 10- to 12-inch pickerel. Every trailing wake looked more like that of a submarine, and for two hours my buddy Mark and I were treated to a slam-fest of slime darts in the 1- to 3-pound range. Same lures, same spots, same presentation as always, just much bigger fish than I’ve ever caught down there.

At some point we’ve all experienced (I hope) those freakish days when something clicks, you’re in the right place at the right time, and the fish gods just decide to throw you a bone. I wouldn’t ever expect a repeat of the day we had on the cedar bog. In fact, of the handful of all-out big-fish can’t-do-anything-wrong days I’ve had, I’ve never had two with the same species. How about you? What was your best freak day?