Thursday, 17 September 2015

Surprise on a Cat Trip


The nights are cooling off and fall is on its way, the days of warm and comfortable fishing have almost passed. The weekend was looking warm and we knew the catfish were still biting so we decided to head out bright and early to claim a spot and see what we could catch. We made it to the shore of the Red River just as the sun was breaking the horizon. Mist covered at least half of the river and there were surface breaches all over the place. We couldn't get our lines in the water fast enough.

This first spot has a bit of a honey hole downstream within casting distance from shore, so typically whoever is on the left is going to have the best luck. My wife seemed to unknowingly claim that spot and cast out a chunk of fresh cut bait and waited for a bite. I tossed a frog out into the main channel, while Frodo used a chunk of frozen goldeye. There was a chill in the morning air and bite detection was initially a problem for my wife. Within twenty minutes she had missed a few good bites and takes so after reeling in and checking bait she wanted 10 minutes to warm up. I hadn't a nibble on the frog so I reeled up and cast her bait out, in under a minute I had a solid slam and set the hook. 
The fish at the end of the line felt good and right off the hop went on a drag peeling run before changing direction and heading towards shore. Frantically reeling in the slack line I felt the weight again and the give and take continued. Once near shore Frodo was ready with the net and in one scoop it was landed. The 7/0 Gamakatsu octopus hook came out of the side of its mouth with ease and the fish measured out at 35 inches on the nose, released with plenty of vigor after a few pictures.

The bite was nothing to write home about with a lot of tentative nibbles on our baits and very few aggressive slams or takes. After about an hour we decided that if nothing exciting happened in the next 30 minutes we would head off to another spot. I was in the middle of reminiscing a previous trip on this stretch of river when I had a tap tap on the end of my line. I slammed the hook home and the fight was on, right off the hop there were some head shakes and a small run downstream. I figured it was a 2 foot cat, so no one was in a hurry to get the net. The closer I got it to shore the more the head shakes continued and once my swivel was visible above the water the thrashing head was clearly a walleye. "Get that in the net!" None of us were expecting a walleye on cat gear and after measuring it I realized it was my personal best at 27 inches. I could only have imagined the fight on medium gear.

We agreed to 30 more minutes at this spot and my wife and I continued targeting catfish while Frodo changed over to lighter gear to see what other species might bite. He ended up pulling in a few goldeye and a freshwater drum while my wife and I missed a few tentative bites. We were averaging 2 fish an hour and decided it was still early enough to try a new spot before most others would be out fishing. After a quick drive, our next spot produced about the same with a 33 inch catfish being the biggest there. (pictured below)
After some talking over the plan for the rest of our available time we decided to prospect a few potential spots. 60 minutes soaking bait at two spots produced good numbers of bullheads and small catfish but we were looking for the bigguns. So off we went to scout some more... In fall you could stake out your favorite spot, build a fire to stay warm and wait it out for the fish to come to you. Some days that is what I like to do, others I like to "run and gun" ice fishing style and seek out "greener pastures". Either way staying warm is a priority and lucky for us by mid afternoon it was quite warm with a good wind from the south.

At our last stop of the day my wife was finally able to hook into a good kitty. We had never fished this area before and it was definitely reassuring. Each spot we tried produced a few different species and some nice early fall Red River scenery. As the cat bite dies down the walleye bite should heat up!!

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