With the forecast calling for several days of cold nasty weather, I decided I had best find my way outdoors. It's been a long, long time since I last caught a bass, so my first order of business would be to check on a little smallmouth spot I know. Thankfully I brought catfish gear and bait just in case. The river was a raging torrent of swirling brown foam. Well, that was a waste of a half hour I could have spent chasing kitties, but at least I tried. I drove back into the valley making it down to the highway bridge with a few hours to go before work. I must say that I'm very grateful for my new rubber boots. All the rain and snow from last week had left the place a mess. I tromped over to the spot where I'd left off on last week and hucked out a nightcrawler. It didn't take long before old Mr. Muddy Buddy came by for a visit. I caught a couple of the little guys before they stole my worm. I had gotten the skunk out of the way, so I felt it was time to get serious now. I slid a wad of carp meat onto the line and lobbed it back into the water. After a short time something was tapping at my line, and I brought in a larger bullhead.
I tossed him back and soon felt another fish tugging on my line. It felt quite a bit bigger. I worked away at it for a minute before realizing it was a bullhead, about the same size as the last one, that was tangled up in someone's line. I felt pretty bad for the little guy, but eventually the line pulled out of it's mouth. Hopefully he was able to get out of the line and escape to freedom. About this time the people across from me were getting on my nerves. Between their obnoxious ringtone and constant casting up near me, I had had enough. I moved down further and set up shop. I hurled the carp chunk as far as I could and then began working various lures with my other rods. Not much was going on until I noticed my cat rod was jumping about wildly. This was new, no tentative tapping here. I immediately knew this wasn't a little bullhead. Eventually I hauled in this lovely specimen.
This would have been a perfect size to eat, but it was his lucky day as I had to go to work soon after. I got to thinking that I had caught this fish out by the main channel current seam and that I should probably focus on that area. I moved down to the next opening in the reeds as it gave me better access to the channel. I re-rigged with a much heavier sinker, sprayed some reel butter on my reel, and let it fly. That stuff really does the trick, I probably cast out half a spool's worth of line. I worked some shallow brush with my ultralight rig, hoping for crappie but finding none, when I saw my other rod going nuts. This fish felt even better than the last one. After a few minutes I beached another nice channel cat.
He was a bit confused when I released him, he kept trying to come back ashore. How precious, I guess he missed me. Eventually he found his way back to the murk as I put on a fresh piece of bait. Things were kind of slow for a bit, but at least I was getting some much needed casting practice after the long winter. Eventually the rod came to life again and another battle ensued. I was soon holding a rather pregnant kitty.
I quickly set her free to go make kittens. Quite some time passed and nothing happened. I decided to move back to the spot where I had caught the first channel catfish. It didn't take long before my rod tip was twitching. It looked more like a bullhead bite, but when I brought the line tight it was quite apparent that this wasn't the case. There was some serious weight to this fish. I loosened the drag a smidgen and she began peeling line off the reel. I gained the line back and the great beast stripped it back off. After about five minutes I beached the behemoth. I leaned down and lipped it like I had the other fish. That was a mistake. She immediately bit down hard on my thumb twice, blood quickly welling to the surface. Those cats have some serious jaw strength. I snapped some pics before popping the hook out and then let her go.
Some guys that had been fishing a few hundred yards north of me saw me holding the fish as they walked by and asked what I was using. They thanked me and then moved down to the first spot where I had caught the bullhead. They were kind enough to ask if that was okay, even though it was at least a hundred feet away from me. I wish everybody was that courteous. For the next while I got several hard hits on my bait, but no solid hookups. Since nothing was hitting my lures I thought it might be a good idea to put a circle hook and crawler on my walleye rod and see what might happen. I fished it much closer to shore than the other line, just to see what was there. Within a few minutes something took off with the worm and I enjoyed a nice little fight before bringing in this nice big pile of bait.
Catching fish on IM8 graphite is fun, you can feel every little swish of the fish's tail. Too bad the only thing I've caught on my nice new walleye rod is a couple of carp. Oh well, soon enough that should change. I set to work on butchering the mongrel, and about half way through some movement caught my eye. Fish on! I brought in another nice channel cat of about 18". I was almost out of time. I finished up my work and buried him at sea. On the way back to the car I passed the kind fishermen and they asked me for some advice as they still hadn't caught anything. I was flattered, this was the first time I felt I'd done any good on catfish and here I was spreading my new found knowledge already. They thanked me and then I rushed off to the car, that wasn't in my schedule. I think Ryan and I are going to come back here as soon as it warms up again. He really wants to catch a nice catfish, and I still need a ten pounder. At least today I was halfway there.
Final Tally: 8 Bullhead, 5 Channel Cats, 1 Carp
Year Tally: 180 Fish