Posts Tagged ‘Channel Catfish’


A “Good Stick”: A term for an excellent angler; who can catch fish regardless of the circumstances…

One of my life goals is to have someone refer to me by this phrase.

I know a few good anglers. Several of them I grew up around; including my old man and his friends. I found my passion for fishing in my late twenties, and never really appreciated the knowledge they had to offer. I a lot of my fishing knowledge (and virtually all my fly fishing knowledge) comes from the school of hard knocks. But I grew up listening to their stories; and they inspired me to reel in a few of my own.

Another angler who has had a huge impact on me is a bit of a local celebrity here in Nebraska. Our Game and Parks Commission here in Nebraska has a fisheries biologist that writes a local fishing blog as part of the Commission’s public outreach mission. Daryl Bauer and his “Barbs and Backlashes” blog (http://outdoornebraska.ne.gov/blogs/category/barbs-and-backlashes/) has inspired me in numerous ways. First of all, the guy is a heck of an angler. Second, he gives out tons of Nebraska fishing tips… if you are willing to read between the lines (no pun intended). And third, his wiliness to share his passion with the world was a huge influence on my creation of this blog. He takes a much more scientific slant on his blog; and by no means can I compete with that. I focus much more on the emotional aspects of fishing. But I have read every one of his blog posts since I rediscovered fishing…

I had a chance to introduce myself to him at a kids fishing tournament two years ago. I took two seconds to thank him for sending me some trout fishing info I emailed him for. That info lead to a great February tail water fishing trip that cured some mid winter fishing blues. I am sure he doesn’t remember me. And even though I only had a chance to say my name and thank you, shaking his hand was like meeting an idol of mine…

He has inspired me to fish, to write about fishing, and even to start the process to become a certified youth fishing instructor and teach others.

The weather here in Nebraska has taken a turn toward fall weather… cold, windy, and overcast. Today, I didn’t let this stop me. I had a couple hours to kill, and I had an itch to hit the water. Seven layers of clothing later, I was standing waist deep in Bowling lake casting right into a 30 mile per hour wind.

Less then ideal, but fishing is fishing. I love it even if I spend half my time fighting wind knots and horrible casting conditions.

Despite this, I read the water and devised a strategy. A stiff 8 weight rod, heavy jig head flies to bounce the bottom, and a painfully slow retrieve. The combination lead to a solid strike on the very first cast…

Despite the cold, wind, and less then ideal conditions, I kept fishing on. Several times I stopped and looked around. Even though I was at a very popular city lake, I was the only one on the water. Not many other people are brave/crazy enough to brave these conditions. I waded through the vegetation from hot spot to hot spot at my own leisure. I slowly worked each spot I knew on the lake; knowing that today I did not have to share it.

Alone on the water. Just me and the fish.

Bowling Lake could have skunked me, and I would not have cared…

And instead, the lake rewarded me with bite after bite…

The lake even rewarded me with a rare catfish on the fly today. I even had to reel him up.

When I got home and packed all my gear away, I started a general reading routine that I go through almost daily; which includes Mr. Bauer’s blog. On Friday, he had written about how although fish are affected by the weather and cold fronts, good anglers can still get a fish to bite. Bad weather does not always mean bad fishing…

He didn’t need to tell me. But a little confirmation brought a smile to my face. Catching fish on a day that most anglers wrote off provided a healthy boost to my ego…

I fish because I enjoy fishing. I don’t need external verification to know I am a good fisherman. I am a good fisherman because I enjoy fishing… rain or shine, skunked or once-in-a-lifetime day.

I am pretty sure that Mr. Bauer does not read my blog. Heck, I am not sure if anyone does (kidding). But how cool would it be if he did? And how awesome would it be if your idol thought you were a “good stick” too…

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I have written time and time again that big fish are different… and special. They capture the heart; and tease the mind of the fishermen for years to come. They will even enter your dreams; as you think about how you can always catch one just a little bit bigger…

I was lucky enough to have someone talking pictures for me last Wednesday when I hooked into a nice catfish. She caught pictures of my fight with one of the biggest fish I have ever caught on a fly; from hook set to release. This whole process took about 15 minutes. Amazing.

I have been struggling to think of words to go along with the pictures. And I have decided there are no words that can do the pictures justice.

Follow along through the pictures… and keep an eye on my face. Only in the pictures can you see the magic that fly fishing provides…

And this same magic drives me back to the water time and time again; through the lost flies, fishless trips, bugs, sunburns, and mud. This magic is what kindles in my heart over cold winter months as I work away the long nights at the fly tying bench.

Days like below are precious. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

And now… FISH ON!

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Friday night I all but guaranteed that Big and Little E were going to dominate the Family Division of the Kids White Perch tournament…

I had gone out the night before, and prefished the site. I dialed in where the white perch were hiding… just about two to three feet off the rip rap all along the south side of the tournament area. I went to the local tackle shop and picked up the gear that last year’s winning family used; and ultimately settled on the spot where they were sitting (a perk of volunteering the year before); mostly because it was closest to the bathrooms, play set, and swimming beach for when Little E lost interest in fishing.

I broke out the spinning rods for the first time all year; because fly fishing maybe about more than just the fish, but tournaments are about the fish; and I was going to maximize our chances of winning. I even woke up at 6:00 AM Saturday morning, made coffee, and drove to the lake to claim our spot before anyone else got up. I sat there for three hours prepping gear, setting up a fly rod in case I needed to switch to what worked the night before, and make sure that no one else ended up in our spot…

At 9:00 AM when Little E and her cousin got there, and we put our lines in the water. I was reminded why they call this hobby fishing and not “catching”…

And then I met my Waterloo.

We fished for a little over two hours… and didn’t catch a single white perch. Not even when I switched to my faithful fly rod.

How disappointing… but at least this was no fault of mine. There were very few white perch that were caught. Nobody on either side of me on the bank caught any perch.

But the day was not a total failure. We did manage to catch three bluegills and a catfish. Since Little E and her cousin were back and forth between fishing and the beach, I put them in a bucket so they see the “shishes” for a little bit. After their first trip to the beach, they came back to check on daddy…

Okay, so we didn’t catch any white perch; and therefore did not do well in the tournament. But the kids did have a lot of fun looking at the fish that we did catch. They would stick their hands in the bucket and giggle as the fishies would splash them and dart around. And of course we stopped to pet them…

After this, the fisherman in my daughter got going, and she wanted to fish too…

That’s my girl!

We rounded out the day with a little channel catfish. Since I only fly fish, the number of catfish I catch is very low. I have caught catfish on a fly, but seeing one come up on a fly is a happy accident, not the norm. Virtually every time Little E goes fishing, we are fly fishing; so she has not been with me when I have been lucky enough to hook up with a catfish on a fly.

But seeing her first catfish sure made her day!

This fish was slimy, smooth, and wiggly… everything a two year old loves!

In the end, we tied for last place in the family division with a big goose egg on the board for white perch. But we did catch fish, and Little E and her cousin thoroughly enjoyed the whole day. Little E went right to sleep on the drive home.

And we did manage to snag some nice door prizes… Little E got a blue ribbon for fishing, a bag of plastic worms just like the ones she likes at the tackle shop, a buzz bait, and an awesome smoked pork sandwich. Her cousin also won a fishing pole that is on permanent loan here at our house.

Who cares if we didn’t win. The smiles on Little E’s face made it all worth it. Even if daddy met his Waterloo…

A special thanks to the Randy from the Nebraska Fish And Game Association (www.nefga.org) for organizing the event, and all of the NEFGA volunteers who showed up to support the event. Seeing this kind of support makes me glad to be associated with this group and volunteer for their activities when I can. The event was an outstanding success; and Little E and I are already looking forward to next June to do it again…

And the next 12 months to figure out what we can do better.

See you as I stand around scratching my head and thinking about next year,

E

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…the fishing is on fire!

Sorry writing; fishing comes first.

Quick note… this week I picked up my first catfish on a fly of the year! Not a big guy, but any catfish on a fly is an accomplishment. Not to mention a ton of fun. Too bad I can’t hook up with more often.

Well, sorry readers. No more for tonight. Back to the water!

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I always see people posting close up pictures of brook and brown trout to show off how beautiful they are. And they are. But they are not here in Nebraska. At least not near eastern Nebraska were I am at.

The channel catfish might not have the same fabled aura of trout; but they are beautiful in their own right. I took this picture of the second catfish I landed yesterday.

Do I want to go fishing for brook trout? Someday, yes. But in the meantime, I am perfectly happy finding beauty here in my own backyard…

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Before this summer, this never happened…

But if this keeps up, I’m going to start to think that I am just that awesome at fly fishing. I caught two channel catfish on a fly tonight. Both were caught on a black woolly bugger in 2 to 3 feet of water. Both put up a pretty good fight!

And both were released to live another day!

Not a bad day at the lake!

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Just as I start to think that I am getting really good at fishing, something like this happens.

My phone buzzes, and shows that I have a picture message. From my dad. And this is what it is…

So much for my 21 inch catfish I caught a few weeks ago. What can you even say about this except be awestruck… It looks like it belongs on the cover of a Cabela’s fishing catalog…

Thanks to my dad, I have developed a love for the outdoors, hunting, and fishing… although it did develop much later in life then he would have liked. I’ve worked really hard to become a better fishermen. I read the magazines and the books. I put in my fair share of time on the water. And I catch a few nice fish here and there…

But he goes to the lake and almost effortlessly pulls up a master angler channel catfish trophy…

However, a few minutes later I also got this…

Ha ha! That makes me feel a little better. That would be my trip to the Harlan County Reservoir.

Congrats on your master angler, dad… and you still suck.

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