It was one of the best weather nights of the year. Light winds, temps in the 60's and the weatherman was wrong again about the forecasted rain.
Clive Brookshaw, (photo) isn't a stranger to river monsters or fishing in general. His dad brought him to Lake of the Woods for the Sturgeon Excursion in the past where he's hooked and landed a number of good size monsters. Living near Red Wing, Minnesota he's been fishing the Mississippi since he was knee high.
Not much puts a bigger smile on Clive's face then a good old porker flathead. Using live 7" suckers purchased at 4 Season Sports in Red Wing, to put 4 or 5 flats into the boat with the largest tipping the digital scale at 20 pounds. We lost about the same for one reason or other but that's why they call it fishing! To me the lost fish are what keep a person coming back, more so if it's a big fish and lost just before seeing the fish.
Saturday evening comes along and it's a father/daughter team of Samantha and Mike Schmalz. Another great weather evening and and the darkness fell on the river changing the long shadows to a palette of different shades of blackness, "Sam" has a chance at her first fish. It blew up the surface of the water back were it first felt the hook. With all the wood in the area underwater that might have been the saving factor on this 47 pound fish. Had it stayed near the bottom the river monster might have ended up tangling in the wood and this fish would have become just another fish story.
Sam and Mike are members of a FB group Minnesota Fish Species. Each year the members record how many species of fish caught (size does not matter) and the person with the most species at the end of the year wins a prestigious award. I'm not sure if this is Sam's first flathead this year, but I think it's going to earn her some "cool points" from the groups admin. Cool Points are a type of special recognition for achieving a catch that doesn't happen everyday and is in fact, "cool".
We can't forget about dad, Mike Schmalz of Brownton, MN. His flathead came in at 27 lbs. scrapping pounds. Although these guys will give a fight like nothing else in Minnesota except possibly a Lake Sturgeon, they become extremely docile once in the boat. I think they know we're just going to take their photo and send them back into the murky depths of the river.
On the border waters of the Mississippi and St. Croix Rivers the Minnesota Flathead Catfish limit is 10 fish. No size restrictions at all. The Wisconsin limit for the same waters is 25.
I've been trying to bend the ear of the Wisconsin DNR for a number of years speaking to the Wisconsin Congress and the WI DNR along with the MN DNR in hopes the DNR's would work together. No dice. The WI DNR doesn't feel a 25 flathead limit is excessive.
Although by following WI's own fish consumption advisory one days limit of relatively small flatheads would feed a family for more then 6 months! Someday I'll find out what their definition of "excessive" is.
If your interested in catching your own River Monster, now is the time to get out on one of the rivers with a live 7 inchish sucker or bullhead of the same size, your heavier then bass gear and soak your baits in the evening hours.
For more information on catching your river monster, check into my FB page or I can be found surfing the forums at In-Depth Outdoors website.