Midwest City’s Jim Simmons caught the fish of his life on Wednesday.
While on the Lower Illinois River, Simmons landed a 45-pound striper that is just 2 1/2-pounds shy of the state record, which also came from the same eastern Oklahoma stream 14 years ago.
“I was fishing on the Lower Illinois River with my brother-in-law, Paul Hale, and with Pete Doonkeen,” Simmons said in an e-mail. “We fished all day (using live shad as bait) without a bite until 8 p.m.
“That’s when I got the hit of my life. As Pete worked against the current, I reeled for about 10 minutes with the fish frequently stripping off line. He stayed deep. We didn’t get to see him until he was at the boat.
“Eventually, I could tell he was wearing out. However, about that time, he went under a sunken log. Pete moved the boat to the log.
“Paul was able to find the line on the other side of the log while I kept the tension on the fish. As Paul brought the fish to the surface, I dropped my rod and slipped the net under the fish.
“It was obviously too big to go into the net. As I lifted, Paul said that the line just broke. In a heartbeat, Pete wrapped one arm around the fish and stuck his free hand in the fish’s mouth and together we rolled him into the boat. Amazing!
“Pete has been fishing the Illinois for about 20 years and says this is the biggest fish that has ever been in his boat. The fish was weighed on three different scales and came in at 45 pounds.”
Simmons went on to say that as a general rule, the striper fishing on the Lower Illinois has been slow this year.
“We think the BP spill in the gulf has affected the number of fish coming up the Mississippi to the Arkansas to the Illinois,” Simmons said.