Posts Tagged ‘Catfish’

So yesterday at work, my boss sent me an email and told me to check out the front page of weather.com… I guess she saw something that reminded her of me…

I know I am pretty crazy when it comes to fishing. But I am not this crazy (or so I tell myself).

Later on in the day though, I did see a Facebook post from Mama E that did at least confirm that my fishing addiction is a genetic disease…

My parents took their boat out on Harlen County Reservoir looking for some Walleyes. They didn’t find any, but mom did land her first fish of the year; as you can see above.

But look closer at the picture than that…

Notice her winter gloves, heavy coat, and the whitecaps on the water? Yeah, looks like a miserable day to be out on the water. I wish I could have been there too…

Don’t a lot of things about me make sense now?

Congratulations on your first fish of the year mom! BUT… I landed my first fish way back on March 17th… and on a fly… So nanny nanny boo boo!

Just saying…

(We are not a competitive family at all are we?)

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You never know what will be at the end of your line when you go fishing… that is one of the best parts of the experience. Last night, I caught something that you are not suppose to be able to catch on a fly… at least not very easily…

Last night, while taking a break from blogging, I tied on a new bass fly that I found on the internet, blew up the float tube, and set out on the Bowling Lake. The weather was nice and it had been a while since I landed a bass, and I wanted to break my losing streak. After a few minutes, I cast into a “bassy” looking spot and let the fly sink…

The first thing I felt was a small tap on the line, so I instinctively jerked the rod tip a few inches to attempt to set the hook. If the line goes limp after the jerk, you missed. If it goes tight and stays tight, you have a snag. If it goes tight and starts to vibrate, you have a fish.

My line went tight and started to pull away from me…

As I felt my fly line pull through my hand I knew I had a nice fish. When that line started to accelerate out of my hand faster and faster, I nearly fell out of my float tube.

Something special was at the end of my line…

My throat got a lump in it… my heart was beating uncontrollably and pounding against my chest… my hands and fingers started trembling… I sat straight up in my float tube and was instantly aware of anything that would cause me to lose this fish.

All at once, everything I have ever heard or read about fighting a big fish on a fly rod came back to me at the same time… keep the rod tip up… let the fish have line if he wants it… paddle the float tube out to open water to keep the fish from snagging you up… maintain pressure so he can’t throw the hook… but don’t put so much pressure on the line that it breaks… remember, you tied on 2x tippet and it breaks at about 6 pounds; which is only one big yank from you or the fish away… and the knots will break far before 6 pounds of pressure…

While feeding the fish line with my index finger on my rod hand, I slipped the slack line under my pinky finger. I started frantically reeling my slack line off the water with my free hand. Under my breath, I politely asked the fly line not to knot up like it does so many times when I pick up slack line; giving the fish something to break off on.

As the line went tight on the reel, I realize I have never needed to put a fish “on the reel” before. This was new ground for me… And for the first time I heard the drag on my fly rod try to stop a running fish…

CLICK-CLICK-CLICK-CLICK-CLICK-CLICK-CLICK-CLICK-CLICK

Thoughts continued to race through my mind…

Adjust the drag, it’s not giving out enough line and it is going to break… Slack line, start reeling in… Crap, he’s running again; let him have the line… Oh shit! I turned the drag down too far; He’s taking too much line… He turned, start reeling in again…

For an instant, I looked at my fly rod doubled over in a way I had never seen before, and got caught up in the moment… should I get my camera and take a picture of this… Then the fish brought my mind back as he went on another run and my fly reel’s drag screamed out again…

CLICK-CLICK-CLICK-CLICK-CLICK-CLICK-CLICK-CLICK-CLICK

Pulling, reeling, giving line… pulling, reeling, giving line…

As my leader emerges from the water, I knew that I was getting close. Finally after about six minutes of fighting I could see him come to the surface about 15 feet from my boat. A great big catfish! Holy cow, why did he take a fly?

And just like any good catfish, as soon as he saw the light, down he went again on another run.

Over open water he swam circles trying to get away from me. I paddled the belly boat after him; continually trying to keep him from making a break to the shore, the rocks, the weeds… anywhere he could hide.

Ten minutes in, he came to the surface for about the third time. He was exhausted and his struggles against the line were lessening as he lost the ability to maintain the fight. I pulled him as close to the boat as possible, reached out as far as I could with my landing net, and scooped him out of the water.

As I sat there in my belly boat staring at the fish on my lap, I realized I have been trembling with excitement the entire time… and I was still trembling…

I grabbed the camera and tried to take pictures… if there are no pictures, it doesn’t count according to my wife. And this one needs to count after all that…

As I tried to take pictures, I realized that I couldn’t get the whole fish in the frame and get a good picture. I looked around and found a young couple bank fishing. I paddled over to them as quickly as possible and thankfully they agreed to take a picture for me…

After the picture, I had all I needed. Some people would have wanted to take him home… but he had given me enough so I would remember him for the rest of my life. 15 minutes of one of the best fishing experiences I ever had… right up there with catching a 22 inch rainbow trout on an ice fishing rod…

I didn’t need to take his life too.

I carefully put him back into the water and started reviving him. After a minute or so he regained his strength, gave his tail a waggle, and returned to the depths from which he came…

Thank you to “Natalie” and “Joe”, if I ever see you again, for taking the pictures… I really did mean it when I said you have no idea how much I appreciate this.

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So, apparently after you volunteer for one fishing tournament, your name must go on a list that goes out to anyone else looking for volunteers…

This weekend I volunteered to help with the Cornhusker State Games shore fishing tournament at Holmes Lake. If you can’t tell from the picture, I got to walk around and measure fish. Their were medals for the largest catfish, bluegill, and largemouth bass.

At one point, I got down on my knee to measure a fish and sat on my muddy shoe to balance myself. When I stood up, I tired to wipe the mud off my rear end with my hand… which only smeared it. I walked around with a muddy hand print on my butt for most the day.

I jokingly told my co-worker who talked me into helping that I wasn’t there because I was nice… I was there so I could see how everyone else was catching fish, what they were biting on, and where they were biting at. A little undercover reconnaissance… Worms and corn seemed to work the best. Both under a bobber and off the bottom with a split shot or two. I have some ideas for some flies now…

The fish bite was a little slow, but I did get to see a couple nice largemouths; and a 9-10 year old kid caught a nice 24 inch catfish at the very last second to win the catfish division. And he put it back in the lake after a picture. I love seeing big fish go back in the water…

I spent time with the family of the kid who caught the catfish; telling them what I knew about the lake, teaching them a little bit about bluegills, showing them my homemade flies, and helping them to remove hooks from the bluegills they caught.

One of the bluegills that they caught took a hook pretty deep; but I managed to dig it out with my hemostats. Most people just toss these fish back into the water carelessly, but I walked this little guy to the water and gently set him in. He must have been a little bit disorientated because as soon as he hit the water, he swam the wrong way and beached himself on the shore. I waded through the shin deep mud, picked it up, took it back out to the water, and spent a couple minutes reviving the little guy. Eventually he took off under his own power and headed for deep water…

I waded out of the mud and hopelessly tried to clean some of the mud off my shoes and legs. I surrendered to the mud after a few seconds and accepted the fact that it would dry to my skin until I could get home to shower. It didn’t think anything of the whole experience; it’s just want I would consider an expectation of fishing. The mother of the family looked at me said “All of that to save a little bluegill? You really enjoy fishing.”

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So my parents live close to the Harlan County Reservoir… which you would think is perfect for someone as obsessed with fishing as I am, right? Wrong…

This lake hates me… it chews me up and spits me out… makes me it’s doormat.

In short, I can’t figure this lake out. It is my Moby Dick…

In the last three years, I have caught exactly two fish on the fly out of this lake. And technically, by fly fishing standards, neither counted… One was foul hooked, and the other was caught by trolling a fly behind a boat (which is definitely not fly fishing).

Earlier this year, my float tube popped as I was trying to launch it on Harlan.

This lake simply does not want me to catch fish on the fly anywhere near it.

This trip was no exception. Due to other family events on this trip home, I was only able to spend one day on Harlan. I woke up early and launched the float tube at sun up on the swimming beach. A sleepy morning the day after the 4th of July. It did make for some good pictures… and it was fun to see the cars on the dam slow to almost a stop as they tried to figure out what kind of idiot would take a tiny “rubber dingy” on the lake. That was the extent of the fun fly fishing this trip.

Spending two and a half hours floating up and down the dam face and through Gremlin Cove, with exactly one strike and no hook ups is not the definition of fun. By my own fly fishing standards, the trip was a push… no flies lost versus no fish caught. That is my problem fly fishing this lake. I can’t even have a bad trip… every trip is painfully boring and neutral.

The solution: Give up, get on the family boat, and pick up a spinning rod…

The nice thing about Harlan is that even when it chews me up and spits me out, I have the world’s greatest fishing guide to get me on some fish… my dad.

Sure, it’s not fly fishing… but getting to spend the whole day fishing with dad is the only thing I can think of that beats fly fishing. Plus, my dad had just got a ridiculously over sized fishing pole as a gift. The only thing that could have made this pole any better was if we would have tied a pirate flag to the end of it. Between my brother-in-law, dad, and myself we managed to dry off a few catfish my drifting some shrimp off the bottom of the lake. Watching my dad and brother and law try to land a fish on “godzilla-pole” was hilarious.

The thing was so massive, he had the hold the pole clear behind him to even get the fish close to the boat…

I even managed to land a pretty decent one myself…

The only problem with sitting on the boat all day with dad… the cooler on the floor of the boat… for those of you who know him, ask him about my “language skills” and my trip down the hill at the fishing cleaning station. That is all I am going to say here…

This is probably the part of Harlan that drives me the most nuts… If I’m on the boat with Dad, the fish practically jump on the boat. By myself, it is a constant game of getting skunked.

Maybe I should just get on the boat each time of go down there… then again, I don’t know how many trips down the hill at the fishing cleaning station I can take…

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