It's been a good winter for Randy Powell. First, the Lake George resident won the Post 4821 Men's Auxiliary 2009 Ice Fishing Bonanza Raffle at Nemecs Sport Shop in Warrensburg Feb. 2. Then, he used the items he won to catch his largest fish ever - a nearly 40-pound northern pike.
Powell landed the trophy while fishing through the ice Feb. 16 on Long Lake. The lunker took a medium shiner in 18 feet of water.
"At first, there was no fight at all," Powell said. "Then, as my depth marker came out of the water, the pike started to run. It ran three times before I got a look at it."
Powell still had no idea how large the fish really was, and he very nearly missed the opportunity of ever knowing. That's because the pike's razor teeth sliced through Powell's metal-braided leader just as he eased the fish's gargantuan head into the hole.
Complicating matters was squeezing the pike's 21-inch girth through the 8-inch hole bored by Powell's auger.
"Luckily, Keith Burnett got a finger under one of the fish's gills and held it until I could help yarn it onto the ice," Powell said.
The group was astonished at the size of the fish, Powell said, and high-fives were exchanged around the group.
Powell said he had no experience fishing pike until that day.
"I was invited out with a great group of people - Will Burnett and his family from Long Lake and a good friend of mine Abe Gadway from Indian Lake," he said.
"They said I'm not allowed to come back," he said with a laugh.
Powell also credited George and Nancy Nemec with helping make the experience a reality for him. The Nemecs donated more than $800 in ice fishing equipment - including a power auger, tip-ups, portable shelter, jig rod and gloves - to be raffled as a benefit for the VFW Auxiliary.