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Nov. 23, 2017
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Catching the big one

By Pamela A. Keene 
 
Twelve-year-old Ethan Daniel snagged a big one, a really big one – a 28-pounder ­– on a recent fishing trip with his dad Brady, their friend David Floyd and Lake Lanier fishing guide Doug Youngblood. But that was only part of the story. Sometimes it’s best to catch and release.
 
“I’d been fishing on the lake before, but always from a dock, never in a boat with a fishing guide,” Ethan said. “I certainly wasn’t expecting to catch such a big fish.” 
 
Here’s how the trip came about: Floyd asked Brady and Ethan to go on a guided trip with Youngblood in September just for fun. Ethan, who was diagnosed with cancer last March, was on a break from chemotherapy treatments at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, so it was to be a special dad-and-son day on the lake. 
 
“We were enjoying a great day and had caught around 12 to 15 average-sized stripers when toward the end of the trip Ethan hooked a monster,” Floyd said. “A battled ensued, with Ethan working the fish for 10 to 15 minutes, all by himself.” 
 
When Ethan landed the striper, Youngblood was just as surprised as the other two adults on the boat. “We weighed it on the boat and it was 28 pounds,” Youngblood said. “On my trips we usually catch a couple this size each year, but this was the first one for 2017. And I do around 250 charters each year. This one will certainly be memorable.”
 
At first, Youngblood and the other adults suggested that they keep the fish to be mounted. “Even though Doug doesn’t usually advocate mounting fish, this one was a goliath, a once-in-a-lifetime fish,” Floyd said. “We expected Ethan to beg his dad to keep it, but he didn’t say a word. Then Brady suggested that we let him go. Ethan quickly agreed.”
 
They released the fish. “At first, he just floated belly up, probably because he was so tired from the battle,” Floyd said. “Doug said that was normal, so we all cheered the fish on for several minutes, until he finally swam off like a shot. “You could hear us cheering all across the lake. Ethan was much more excited about the fish surviving than actually catching such a big fish.” 
 
“That fish was really tugging on the line,” Ethan said. “I know he must have been tired, because it took him a little while to swim away. It was really big and I never imagined catching a fish that big. It was really a lot of fun.”

Posted Online 10/30/17
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