After a brutally cold winter with a near record accumulation of snow, I had to get out even if the end result would be just rolling carp.
Scouting already told me that the creeks were out of the question, frozen over except for the shallowest sections flowing over rock.
Sunday was predicted to be mostly sunny and 40 degrees, a virtual warm spell very late in the making. That never happened. Clouds appeared out of nowhere and kept the sun from warming things up. I waited till 1 PM when the thermometer finally said 32 degrees. 32 is the limit on the low side for when I’ll go out fishing. Fishing in air temps lower than that is simply barbaric.
Even then I hemmed and hawed about going. The wife said… you’ve been such an asshole lately, just go even for the walk.
A correct assumption on her part. It’s not SAD or any of those other winter time blues like affectations. I simply need to be outside, to sit, to go for walks or I start climbing the walls. I’m slightly claustrophobic and in the winter, it shows, bad.
The start of the walk down to the river had me first sliding down a hill on snow, then mud, then a long walk through soft, heavy, foot deep snow. I kept telling myself, this is fun. And in a way, it was. I was at least warm. Burning off calories at a high rate will do that to you.
In January I put up a post about how this will be the year that I make an effort to run into no one on the river. To not tell anyone where I’m fishing so no one shows up in any of those spots.
I jinxed myself.
Before I had even tied on a lure, before I had even stepped in the water, before I had even wet a line, I ran into three other fishermen. Luckily, fishermen being the creatures of habit that they are, they were all fishing the same spot. I’m sure that’s where someone told them to go and heaven forbid they stray from that by even one foot.
So I headed downstream.
Half the river was still frozen over while the other half had sheets of ice the size of cars floating down river. I had no hopes of catching anything, so the familiar tap of a smallmouth bass went unnoticed till too late. I could only feel lure against water when I lamely made an attempt at a hookset.
Still further downstream the carp rolling began. I figured I may as well have some fun with it and see how far my line would travel sideways while on the back of some carp. The bonus would be one of the walleye that also happen to hang out in this area, so you just never know.
On one cast my line was getting pulled, unusual for a rolled carp, so I pulled back. It pulled back and we had a little tug of war going. Definitely not a carp and it was behaving like a bigger walleye. After letting it run around on the bottom of the river for a bit, I raised my rod tip to bring the fish to the surface so I could at least see what I might be up against.
Well, sonovabitch. A muskie about three feet long.
That’s not unusual for this area along with the bigger walleye and the occasional northern pike, it’s just unusual for me to hook one considering the size of the lures I use. I do hook toothy critters frequently enough, I just don’t land them much. Generally, they cut the line long before I get them up next to me.
This one I had hooked in the corner of the mouth. If I kept my rod tip up and turned it right, I could keep it from cutting the line. I’ve done this numerous times and numerous times it poses the same dilemma.
I’m wading, I’m usually standing in crotch deep water and now I have this obviously pissed off thrashing fish with big teeth less than five feet from my crotch.
You tell me how you’re going to land this thing.
I backed off and dragged it towards shore. It didn’t like that much and the thrashing was pretty strong. I finally got it to within a foot of shore and was starting to bend over to figure out how to lift it when it had enough. A twist, a roll, a thrash and the little jig popped out of the corner of its mouth. I reached down to grab its tail, but it was done with this game and took off for deeper water.
Ingrate, not even a picture for all that trouble.
I went back to rolling carp and thought I felt the hard thump of a smallie. A minute later I landed a quillback carpsucker. I actually don’t mind hooking these, they put up one hell of a fight and they’re nowhere near as slimy as their carp cousins. Handling them is no big deal.
At that point, I was done. The river did what I wanted and let me become a somnambulistic casting machine for a couple of hours. No real thoughts, no real concerns, I can’t recall thinking about anything other than cast there, then there, then there.
I have no doubt that even in what appears to be random casting, there are billions of brain cells making decisions as to why I should cast there.
But I couldn’t find any other brain cells that gave a damn.