Thursday, September 8, 2011

Spoon Bill

I bought a canoe one time and had fun fishing out of it, even though other fishermen looked at me funny. But I didn’t care. I could get that slender slip of a boat into places to fish that even the little 14-foot fishing boats couldn’t go. In fact, a friend and I took the canoe on a trip down the Dorcheat Bayou one summer and I couldn’t see any evidence that other boats had been down that slow brown stream.

We floated under several limbs that had big old wide-headed moccasins sunning on them, sprawled out up there thinking they were pretty. We came upon incredulous deer which stared at us with deep puzzlement. They had seen nothing to resemble us on the Dorcheat. We saw a baby beaver and a couple of armadillos as we came to the place where the bayou broadened out into the first of several little lakes.

I had been told by old fishermen who knew such things that if we wanted to catch catfish, we should try the deep water just when the bayou flows into the lake, so we baited up with smelly bait and fished deep for a long spell. Not a bump. At length, my companion said, “Let’s just do some normal bream fishing over yonder,” pointing to some willows and a little batch of stumps in the shallows. So we worked the canoe over in that direction and baited with red wigglers. As soon as the bait hit the water at the edge of the willows, chunky and feisty red-ears started tearing it up.

We fished one spot out and then moved down to the lower end of the lake, where we lodged the canoe in and got out on a little sand bar to have lunch. While we ate, we threw our bobberless and heavily weighted lines out towards the middle for catfish. I casually held my spinning rig in my lap—I was eating, not fishing. My buddy, however, was merely nibbling on some Viennas and concentrating on the feel of his line. Several times he thought he felt something on the line and gave his rod a jerk, but he came up empty. At length, he settled down to eat in earnest.
He put his rig down on the ground beside him as he reached for his second can of sausages, and at that moment, his rod and reel started travelling towards the water.

I never saw a plump fellow move as fast as he did as he retrieved his equipment at the last moment it would have been possible for him to do so. He jerked and reeled and played the fish that was making his drag squeal like crazy. When he finally brought the six-pounder in, we got our first up close and personal look at a spoon bill catfish. After carefully examining the odd looking fellow we took pictures and sent the primordial fellow back into the Dorcheat. He probably ended up down in the Bistineau.

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