Thursday, October 25, 2007

Confessions of a bait fisherman...

Our first set at the head of a long, deep, bank side trench was unproductive. We thought this a bad omen. Ever hopeful we dropped back into the trench and set again. I had a rod go down but it was suspicious, more like a channel cat then a flathead (our intended quarry), but the fish decided to commit. When the rod was pulled to level I set and it was fish on! It was a very good fish but came undone halfway back to the boat. We set our lines out again only to be harassed by channel cats.
We decided to make a move to the bridge. I chose two pilings with good depth, current, and some wood trapped at there face. After setting the rods out things heated up quickly. Crystal's rod was popped and she picked it up eagerly. It began to load up evenly. She was so excited that she dropped the tip before she set unloading the rod and turning it into a rubber band. There was nothing there on the hookset. We rebaited with a lively bluegill and cast again. Two minutes later Crystal's rod was popped again and the rod was being pulled own steadily. With the rod under full load Crystal let em' have it. Fish on and a solid connection! After a strong fight I dragged her first flathead over the gunwale. It went just a hair under 10 #'s on the Boga Grip. We were thrilled!
Next I had a taker but did not connect. Crystal's rod went again! With the skunk out of the boat we were fishing with confidence. This time the fish took a little more time to commit, but finally it did. Crystal was with him the whole way. By the bend in her rod and the smile on her face I could tell she was into another nice fish. It wasn't long before I had my hand in the mouth of her second flattie of the night. This one went just over 7 #'s on the Boga Grip.
Meanwhile... as Crystal hooked and began fighting her fish I picked up my rod to clear it. After a few turns of the handle I ended up snagged. I popped the rod, disengaged the reel, and set it down hoping the current would free the rig. Back to business at hand. After getting Crystals fish back in the water and on it's way I attended to my rod. I engaged the reel and began to crank in the slack. When the line tightened I felt the rod pump suspiciously like a fish. Then again, then again... and the rod began to load. I set the hook. They say that for every action there is an opposite reaction. Even so I wasn't prepared for the pull that followed. This was clearly a very large and powerful fish. After many dogged runs and headshakes I tried and failed to get my hand on his lower jaw. Several times I touched him and he pulled me back down diving for the bottom. My heart was in my throat. I was praying that the hook would hold. It did and with my fingers firmly gripping his bottom jaw my largest flathead to date came aboard! He was beautiful! So big. I didn't even bother with the 15# capacity Boga Grip. He would have easily bottomed it out. I did tape him and he went over 36"s. After admiring him a moment and taking pictures he was back in the water to be released. He revived quickly and swam off with a parting splash from his tail.
We were down too our last two baits. Crystal had another hookup but the fish tangled her in wood and came undone. I had another taker but missed the fish on the hookset.
We decided to call it a night ...and what a night it had been. Crystal caught her first flathead and I my biggest. I have worked hard this year to figure these fish out and have been beaten down many times by flooding, unwilling fish, dying bait, lot's of incompetence on my part, and just plain bad luck! This night was well earned and very satisfying.

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