Probably a world's record for fighting a fresh water fish on
light tackle, 13 ¾ hours, was set Sunday at Silver
Lake, 12 miles south of Warsaw.This battle of man against fish
started at 9:15 a.m. when Harry Han, 44 of Wabash, tied into a
"big one" at the north end of Silver Lake.The hassle
ended in front of hundreds of spectators at 11 o'clock Sunday
night. The fish won. It wore out two nylon fishing lines and four
pairs of fishermen in the 13 ¾ hour duel.
The fight captured the imagination of thousands of radio listeners across northern Indiana, who kept WRSW switchboards jammed through the day and into the night. Many hundreds of them drove to Silver lake and watched the struggle. Members of the Lake Conservation club, the Grant county emergency squad, the Silver Lake fire department and the Indiana conservation department, all got into the act in the effort to land the fish.
To fishermen the battle became all the more exciting when word got to shore that Han was using only three-pound line, requiring a high degree of skill to keep from breaking. He fought the fish and was accompanied by Art Devers, Silver Lake resort owner, until one o'clock in the afternoon. Han was then called home to Wabash by the illness of one of his children.
Sympathetic lake residents selected the best they had, Jim Flynn, president of their conservation club, to relieve Han. Flynn and Devers battled the fish for three hours when Flynn was relieved for a time by Earl Denny of Wabash, with skating rink operator George Musser at the oars.
34 Boats Around
Flynn returned to the scene at the seven-hour point in the battle and he and Denny continued the fight. At one point there were 34 boats surrounding them, containing nearly 100 persons. Hundreds of others lined the shore.
The captive fish took them up and down Silver Lake numerous times. When the battle had lasted eight hours, Flynn announced that the line was wearing out. Shortly thereafter it broke. But Flynn, alert, grabbed the end of the line as it passed the tip of the pole.
He played the fish by hand while another spinning rod and line was brought from shore. Flynn and Denny, in a skillful piece of fishing art, tied the new line onto the broken end of the line holding the fish and the battle continued.
Between the eighth and tenth hour of the fight Flynn and Denny literally herded the fish to the west side of the lake near the cottage of Don Bouse, county commissioner, in an effort to force it to the beach. The fish defeated this move and would not enter shallow water.
Conservation Officer Bill Davis, who had followed the fight from 12 noon, called for assistance. A number of other conservation officers, intrigued by the battle, arrived at the scene.
At dark Han came back to the lake and took over the rod for the balance of the fight. The Silver Lake fire department brought an emergency generator and flood lights to illuminate the scene and the balance of the battle was waged up and down the water front near the Bouse and Metzger cottages.
The Indiana conservation department sent a large net from Lake Wawasee. Several efforts were made to surround the fish with this net but the cagey old battler swam under it every time.
At 11 p.m. Han once again had worked the fish to within a few feet of shore when the old section of the three-pound line that had held the fish for 13 and ¾ hours broke. The battle was over.
The fish had never surfaced and no one got a look at him.
Fishermen who observed the fight and the men who had held the rod believe it was a large catfish. It had too much shake and life to be a turtle. I did not break water and fight quite like a dog fish, but in it's powerful "runs" and actions in deep water resembled the characteristics of a big cat fish.
Han is having quite a season of fishing. About three weeks ago he hooked a large bass and in placing him in the landing net upset the boat. He lost his tackle and his billfold, but when he came to the surface, he still had the bass in the landing net. He was not that fortunate Sunday.
Whatever it was that got on Han's line Sunday morning was big and made the lake area one of its best fishing stories of recent years.
Warsaw Times-Union Monday August 20, 1956 Front page