Since we don't seem to spend enough time together, my daughter and I have made our Fathers Day fishing trip an annual event. This year my wife made it along too.
It's always a hoot with these two in the boat as I never know what to expect. Case in point, a piece of drift wood came floating by the boat. Deb my wife didn't get a good look at it but thought it was a snake which made her scream and jump. Then like a chain reaction, Niki my daughter followed suit. All the while I'm scratching my head wondering what all the commotion is about.
Our first fathers day flathead came at 8 pm. Niki landed her first fish of the year at 14 pounds. With all the hooting and hollering coming from our boat, you would have thought it was much larger. We weighed the little guy, snapped a couple photos then gave her a quick kiss good bye. I was a bit surprised we hooked into a fish that early in the night. I baited the hook with another live 8 inch bullhead and placed it next to the big log jam with the hopes of finding a little larger fish.
With time to kill until the next bite, Niki pulled out her cell phone and started reading off little known facts from some "app" that she had installed. I must admit I never knew that Americans eat 14+ acres of pizza each day or that the humming bird is the only bird that can fly backwards. (Yawn)
Next fish up was pretty uneventful. It was a short but fat 6 pounder that Deb brought in. I call these "practice fish". It helps to go though the motions of picking up the rod, making sure the fish is there, cranking the handle a turn to lock the reel then try to break the rod setting the hook. The second person grabs the net and spot light when it's dark. This doesn't sound like much but when the adrenalin is pumping errors can happen fast leading to a missed fish.
Then there was the last fish of the night. The 9 inch live bullhead was placed next to the large snag of drift wood. Wood that the river piles up and is loved by big flathead catfish. The problem with fishing a spot like this is when a fish is hooked, it immediatly wants to head for cover and the further it gets into the cover the less of a chance we'll see the fish in the boat. It's a "tug o war" so to speak.
There was a loud "THUCK" from the rod signaling the bait was taken. My daughter set the hook like she meant it and hollered "WHOA!" The catfish must not have heard her as the rod bent into an arch and the 80 pound Team Catfish line started burning out of the drag. Niki didn't make much if any head way on pulling this guy out of the wood. In fact just after she started saying "Dad I can't do this!" I could tell the monster of the deep was tangle in the underwater snarls of the log jam. I thought that was going to be the end of bringing this fish in.
Niki gave me the rod to see if I could beg her to come back out to play. I would open the bail and she would take line. When I reeled in the extra line, I could only get so far and felt the stop of the wood. Again and again I let the line out and reeled it back in hoping she would swim out. After the six or seventh time, I though she came out. What are the chances I thought! Now it was my wifes turn to bring her home.
If you haven't experienced a large fish in current of the moving Mississippi River, it's pretty hard to explain. About the best I can say is you're arms will hurt, you'll have a black and blue spot where the butt of the rod is pressed against your tummy and you'll be grunting a lot! All three of us have marks this morning! Deb pumped and reeled, pumped and reeled...then the fish thought she was having it too easy and pulled line out of the cinched down Garcia 7000. It's not easy holding on to a rod when the fish wants to go, but Deb did a great job of working her to the boat.
When she finally surfaced next to the boat the screams of "It's HUGE" and "is that coming in here?" were heard across the Mississippi River Valley! With a quick net job the fish was in the boat which called for a round of "knuckles".
Our Family Fish weighed in at 45.9 pounds on the digital scale. A few quick photos to remember Fathers Day 2011 and back in the water she went. It was 12:30 and with three fish boated and two ladies with sore arms. It was time for the ride back home on a beautiful June night.
This Fathers Day couldn't have worked out any better. It was a Family Fathers Day Flathead!