Thursday, June 21, 2018

A Channel Catfish Attempt

The start of the contest meant the annual rite of the channel catfish trip. The previous summer, I had landed my personal best of ~12 lbs. As this spot has always produced for me, I thought of it as sure-fire for my contest channel.

Thus, on a fine afternoon my friend Alex and I headed to the locale armed with cutbait and bottom and float rigs.

A northern watersnake holding his prize catch of the day greeted us.

A yellow bullhead meets an unfortunate fate

While the action was hot, we initially had trouble connecting with takes. While tossing out bigger cutbait on sliding sinker rigs, I also placed a smaller suspended bait under a float right next to shore by some overhanging brush.

Lo and behold, that rig was the first to go off. There's no adrenaline rush like seeing a float trotting off and shooting underwater, whether that be fishing for bluegills in a creek or casting livebaits for pike.

I tightened up, and realized quickly that I was connected to a very solid brown bullhead—my biggest ever, actually. It didn't take long for me to get it in, but I did baby it a little since the fish was hooked by a tiny flap of skin. Absurdly enough, this bullhead completely cleared the water twice, almost tailwalking—a behavior I had never observed nor heard of any catfish species doing.

I do believe that this brown bullhead is my personal best for this species, which is always a good achievement. Furthermore, it added to my tally for the June contest.

Later on, while we were still lacking any sign of channel catfish, I was messing around with freelining chunks of bait by a ledge when I inadvertently tangled my line with an angry watersnake (there was no shortage of snakes in the area that day). After a struggle in getting the creature free, I realized that a fish of decent caliber was on the other end of the line. I passed the rod to Alex, so he could have a go at it.

In the meantime, another bottom rig went off with a hard hit, but upon reeling it in I knew it was  a small bass. Landing the bass quickly, I then netted the channel catfish which Alex had at this point brought to shore.

A double header! Quite ironic, after going so long without any sign of life.

While Alex had caught a channel catfish, I had yet to do so and I still needed one for the contest. As a last resort, I send out some smaller rigs with half a nightcrawler on each instead of half a bluegill, and quickly picked up my smallest channel ever, a cute and oddly blue-colored specimen. A species is a species!

With that we decided to call it an outing—a personal best and two more contest entries were  more than enough, although we never did encounter a behemoth catfish.

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