The Accidental Flathead

I almost quit fishing. Well, not quite, but we all have those thoughts that cross our minds after a few weeks of having a skunk in the boat. The latter portion of June lived up to its hot Walleye bite reputation (which is pretty surprising considering the roller-coaster Spring we had), and I was on the fish. But, as fishing promises, I was abruptly humbled after Clinton turned into the Dead Sea.

After taking my dad out not too long ago, the fishing completely turned off. I couldn’t even find a white bass, which is always a good indicator that the wind changed, pressure changed, I ran out of luck, etc. I wasn’t sure what I was doing wrong, but I decided that it was a good time to explore a few different spots I hadn’t fished in a while since the Walleye started hitting on the flats.

I took my girlfriend to work and got the boat in the water by noon. I decided to blast over to the south end of the dam and simply work my way down to the intakes, casting cranks in to shore and seeing what was hanging out by the dam. It wasn’t long before something slammed my Scatter Rap and went airborne right off the bat. To my surprise, there was a little smallmouth bass on the other end. It was my second smallie of the season, this one at a whopping 8 inches, and breaking my standing record of 7 inches. I’m not much of a bass guy, but when a smallie comes along, they’re all fun no matter the size.

I’d made it about halfway down the dam with nothing to show but the smallmouth. I made my next cast about 2 feet from the rocks and made about 2 cranks before something hit. Hard. And I’m talking rod-slumping hard. For a brief few seconds I thought I had snagged on something, but after feeling a brief head shake, I knew I was tied into a fish. For the first 10 minutes of the fight I was dragging dead weight, with the occasional movement.

Once the fish got into 10 feet of water, it started dragging ME against the wind. I followed the fish about 15 feet from where I was, and I noticed there was a boat behind me trolling. They came up on me and asked if I had a catfish on. Not a second later, the fish surfaced for the first time and gave a swift tail kick back down to the bottom. HUGE catfish. The boat behind me asked if I needed help, and even though I had my net ready, I definitely obliged their offering. Especially considering I was on thin ice with 6 lb. test line. I managed to get the fish to the surface, and it drifted right into their net; the hook popping out right away. They put the net with the fish in my boat, gave them my phone, and were nice enough to snap a few pictures for me.

We estimated the fish to be between 15-20 lbs., and just shy of 34 inches. The guys had asked me if I was keeping it, which I was not, and I offered it to them. I guess I assumed it would be a Flathead, but they called it a Mud Cat. Not really a catfish guy, but that was still a fight that I will talk about for a long time.

~ Brian


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