Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Serious Time on the River

Lory's 24" channel cat caught on a crankbait!
My neighbor Lory and I decided to get out on the river late Sunday afternoon to experience both the crankbait bite and to sit down and anchor, enjoying bottom fishing for catfish, carp, and redhorse suckers.  Due to the recent rains, the water had come up about a foot so the current would be faster and anticipated that it would push the smallies up close to shore.  We traveled all the way above the city of Dayton and fished the north shore for a couple miles or so with crankbaits.  There was a lot of junk flowing in the water but never the less it was quite a bit clearer than I expected and we could easily stay close enough to hit the rivers edge in striking distance of at least some smallies.  Unfortunately the water coming up had shut them down and we only got 3 smallmouth, not very well considering we usually catch around 10 of them including some nicer ones.  The high water give them a lot of extra places to hide under the brush.  lory did get a real nice 24 inch channel cat that hit his crankbait with vengeance. Normally one doesn't think about catching catfish on crankbaits but I have caught them before and a 24 incher can really put up a fight for sure.  Well it was a great start to the evening however the plan was to drift and cast till about 7:30 them anchor behind and island closer to the landing and fish the bottom while enjoying a bottle of excellent Merlot that I had brought back from Carlos Creek Winery a couple of weeks ago.  We got anchored just before the sun went down as we baited our hooks and put the rods in the rod holders, a nice way to do this. Opening the wine I poured each of us a glass just as a pontoon came out of the side channel, a husband and wife opening their bottle of wine.  We held up our glasses and gave them a toast for the beautiful evening, they were quite surprised, two river rats anchored in the hole, fishing catfish and drinking fine wine, they laughed!  It was a pretty good experience as we got down to catching some serious fish.

WOW!!!  30 Inch Channel catfish
Ever since fishing halibut in Alaska, I really like using circle hooks.  It takes a little discipline to reel straight instead of setting the hook however often times the fish will simply try to swim away and set the hook by itself.  The nice thing about circle hooks is you can let the fish take the bait as long as you want and the intent is that when the hook hits the corner of their mouth it rotates and always hooks in the lip area and not deep in their throats.  This makes for good release survival and easy hook removal.  My first fish was a nice 22 inch Golden Redhorse, they are so pretty and I have caught them many times before.  The second fish I caught was a bruiser, a huge 30 inch channel catfish, I am assuming at least 15 pounds, and boy do these things fight. They can really bulldog their way around the boat, and as I said before, by moving away the fish virtually sets it's own hook.  I picked up the rod out of the rod holder and she was solidly hooked, the battle was on!  Even though I didn't have much line out this fish was not about to show itself right away.  At first I thought it was a big carp as most of the catfish I catch are relatively small in size, usually under 20 inches.  I got her up to the surface just in time for Lory to scoop it up in the net and we brought her on board.  It was the largest catfish I can ever remember catching, even bigger than the ones that we used to catch with m buddy Kevin Aiona on the river.  I had Lory snap a few memories and back in the water she went.  Never the less it was a very nice fish and one that I'll never forget. The circle hooked worked great and she swam away no worse for the wear.   I have some employees at work that would have really loved to have this fish for supper and if I can find some time maybe I'll take him out for an evening of fishing.  I think both of us would enjoy for certain. We have a lot of people from Southeast Asia working for us, many from Laos and they love to eat fish.  I showed them a picture as I have told them many times that I catch catfish in the river above Anoka, they just drooled!

Beautiful Golden Redhorse
Friday is our annual invite to BIR (Brainerd International Raceway)  by Kevin Sonsalla, a special friend and business associate.  He does a lot of work for Tony Schumacher, the NHRA drag racing star.  He usually invites us up on the Friday before the big weekend and we enjoy the hospitality passes, get fed, watch them put together the car and all sorts of interesting things. This year Lory is going with us again, it makes for a real nice day as he will meet us at Cabela's and we'll go from there.  I am sure we will run into our neighbor Tim Kuntz who just got done remodeling an old school bus into the coolest RV you've seen in a while.  Because he is a die hard Viking fan he's going to rename the School Bus the Skoal Bus.  Usually we like to sit with him on the top of the bleachers as the view is pretty good from up there.  It's quite amazing to watch those cars go from standing still to 320 MPH in less than 5 seconds, the whole earth shakes.  On the way up I'll have Kevin stop at Bill's and we have to pick up more wild rice.  I have been giving it to some of my good customers in California and are getting rave reviews.  It's about the time he will start harvesting rice again, not and easy job for sure but the fruits of his labor are quite good.  I will leave you with a picture of the Golden Redhorse that I caught Sunday night.  I think they are such a pretty fish, put up a good fight and provide a lot of good entertainment.  I can assure you we never caught them this big in the Buffalo River when I was a kid.  I can tell you that it's a pretty relaxing way to fish, that's for sure.  Also my friend Bruce heads to Lac Seul this weekend and I am anxious to hear how well his new "anchor" works.  Sometimes fishing the river behind my house feels like I am all the way in Canada, it is pretty special and you can almost have the whole river to yourself!

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