When you fish as often as I do, and post reports on most of those trips, it gets really hard to come up with a catchy title for the blog post. Hence the boring titles I usually use, along with the date of the fishing trip. Just for kicks, maybe I should start making up completely nonsensical titles that have nothing to do with the post, but may have some comedic value? How 'bout "Eliot Spitzer Steals Canine Droppings from my Yard"? Or, "Sasquatch - A Binge Leaf Recycler!"? "Angry Trout Falls Off an Iowa Mountain"? "Chew First, Then Swallow"? "Angler Tells His Version of the Truth"?
I hopped over to a local public pond last night for some evening fly-fishing. It was good. Caught plenty of Bluegills and Crappies on a variety of fly patterns. 3 kids (2 girls around 10 years old, 1 boy around 6 years old...totally guessing on these ages, of course) had been working their way around the pond, trying to spot small fish that they were trying to catch with their hands. They didn't manage to catch anything, but as they worked their way closer to me, they saw me catch a fish, so they ran over to see it. I probably caught at least a dozen more fish, and they took turns holding the fish and releasing them back to the water. They all thought that was pretty cool!
Later on, my friend and fellow fly-angler Dale S. stopped by the pond for some fishing. He was also catching plenty of fish. He had got a new 12' 5wt (switch?) fly rod, and generously let my give it a try for a bit. Casting it was interesting...and I managed to catch a few fish while I was at it! It was getting dark, and Dale had to leave to get some other stuff done. Before he left, he asked me if this was about the time the catfish had started hitting last week.
I worked around one corner of the pond, catching more fish here and there. It was very dark, and I was about done fishing. I put on a yellow Boa Yarn Leech, and decided to start working my way back around the pond the way I had come, towards my car. I cast out, and started looking around at the water, the ducks, the stars...when the surface of the water just EXPLODED about where my fly was as I was slowly working it back in. Holy Crap!! For some reason, my first thought in situations like this is "Maybe I accidentally snagged a muskrat?" Then its, "Maybe its a GRASS CARP!". As that initial splash subsided, I noticed movement in the water coming right for me. This was weird, because while I assumed it could be the fish I was fighting, I also felt through my rod that the fish was farther out from shore, and moving to the side. I turned on my cap light, shined it onto the movement in the water and discovered a very chubby TOAD swimming frantically towards shore from the direction of where the fish had struck my fly. Maybe the fish had been following the toad when it hit?
It was a fairly long battle...I didn't see the fish for probably 5 solid minutes. Back and forth...I followed it down the bank for probably 35 yards, scaring a few frogs into the water as I walked along. In towards shore, then surging back out to deeper water again. I finally got its head next to the bank once, saw that it was a catfish, got down on my knees to reach down to grab it...and off it ran again. Dang! Another couple of minutes passed before I was able to bring it in once again. I got on my knees again, reached low and grabbed one side of the fish. No way could I hold it with one hand, so I set my rod down and grabbed the thrashing fish with both hands behind the pectoral fins and hoisted it onto shore. LANDED!! I saw something that looked like weeds coming out of its mouth, so I reached down the line to unhook it...and the fly just fell right out of its mouth!! What the heck?? The hook must not have been in the skin, but just pressed against its jaw bone! With that much fighting, the only thing that kept the hook from coming out must have been the constant pressure I had maintained.
I measured it...27 inches!!! Nice full belly, wide head...must be a male. I snapped some pictures, carried it back to the water, revived it for a few seconds, and it was ready to swim away. I didn't even make another cast.