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The Covid 19 has certainly interfered with all our lives, and thank God it hasn’t been as bad as first projected, but for many of our fellow Americans it was terrible even fatal and we offer prayers for all those who have been touched by the virus. While it means very little when compared to the big picture, normally by this time I would have already made a trip or two to the Mississippi in pursuit of catfish. However, because of the virus thing, I haven’t went out yet. Not that I couldn’t go on the river by myself, it’s just more fun with two or three and not to mention a lot safer with others with you. Anyone can fall overboard at any time. I also know that we tell ourselves that we could pull ourselves back into the boat, but it will not be easy even if you still can. Hopefully by next weekend, I will be back out on the river with a friend or two, but I couldn’t wait a week or two to go catfishing.
So this past week, I took a day off from turkey hunting and slept in, or at least that was my plans although I still woke up at 3:30 a.m. and went downstairs and watched them kill turkeys on TV. When the sun burned the dew off the grass, I mowed the yard just to cover my tail, so it didn’t look as though I did nothing all day. When this was completed, I loaded the dog up and she and I headed to Fox River. Prior to doing this, however, I rigged a couple rods up for fishing Fox River. I took off the stink bait worms and placed a smaller weight above the swivel. I do not tie everything on to one line. I begin with the main line going through the weight and then tie it to a swivel. On the other end of the swivel, I tie on a leader, sometimes I use a lighter weight leader, so it will break if I get snagged on a log or limb and I will not lose everything. This is the same rig that I use for catfishing the Mississippi River, with the one exception being that most stink bait worms are already on a leaders. If I have the same weight line for the leader as I do the main line, then my hook will be a flexible wire hook that will straighten out before the line breaks. The main purpose of the leader is so the fish will take the bait and not feel the resistance of the weight immediately, as the line freely slides through the sinker. I had 14 pound test line on, so I could drag the fish up the steep bank as the water was at least five feet below when I stood on the bank. For bait, I had a couple dozen nightcrawlers.
Fishing the Fox River is always a homecoming for me and the fishing can be terrible, but I always have a great time. I was fishing a location where I have camped, who knows how many times. We always started these campouts talking about the big one we would get, as we stayed up all night fishing. There would be a campfire to keep the dew from settling on us to heavy, as well as providing enough light we could tell when we got a bite and to provide enough light to give a little backbone to those of us who might have been afraid of the dark. This was also the location where my Uncle Harold and Aunt Helen Coppler used to park their camper on weekends and put limb lines out for catfish. Uncle Harold would run those lines in what I believe was a Sears and Roebuck aluminum boat. Sometimes my cousin Nadine and Lester Barrows would camp with them. They camped under a huge cottonwood tree and it always seemed cool there. I do recall on our cousin campout, the only truly monster we ever saw were some very large mosquitoes! The thing that went through my mind as I unloaded my gear and prepared to fish, was how fast that time had passed from that ten year old boy to the old man who carefully waddled his way down to the bank.
I had two fishing outfits rigged and ready to go. I cast the first one out and was baiting up the second one, when I had a bite on the first rod. This would be the norm as I fished for perhaps an hour and a half before going to the farm and doing some other chores. Fishing, especially catfishing, is a strange thing. If they are not biting, it will not make any difference how many poles you have. If they are biting like crazy, you’ll be too busy to keep more than one rod operational. That was the problem I had on this afternoon, I was missing fish all the time. If I picked up one rod, then they would bite on the other one. That was the reason, when I got a snag on one of the poles and broke the leader, I didn’t return a hook back on and from that point on I begin catching fish.
I had mentioned earlier that I was using nightcrawlers for bait and if there is a good thing about using nightcrawlers is that if it swims you can catch it with a worm. The bad news about using nightcrawlers is that if swims you can catch it on worms. Now I have caught a lot of varieties of fish using a stink bait worm, including carp and even one walleye that I picked up fishing above a wing dam but everything goes for nightcrawlers. I told my brother I would call him when I got done fishing, so I did. His first question was, “Did you knock ‘em?” My response was, “Do you want the good news or the bad news?” He said he would prefer the good news, to which I responded, “Well, the good news was I caught 14 fish on the afternoon.” He said, “That’s great, what’s the bad news?” I again responded, “Of the 14 fish, only two were catfish and 12 were perch, but that’s what you get when you fish with worms.” We both laughed and he added, “But you had a good time didn’t you? That’s all that matters.” He was right. The fish kept me busy and got me in the mood for fishing the Mississippi River and when the fish weren’t biting there were a lot of memories to reflect on, and sometimes that is enough. Well, at least it was on this day.