My boy and I arrived at the river at 6 sharp. The sun was still down and it promised to be a nice morning. My buddy pulled up with his boat and away we went. I have spoken to you before about snagging. It is an interesting way to fish. Basically you just jerk incredibly large treble hooks through the water and hope for the best. You cannot catch a spoonbill paddlefish any other way. We did have a fish/depth finder so that gave us some idea of where to cast.
“It’s a spoonie!” came the yell, echoing across the water. We got it reeled into the boat, my jealousy subsided a little bit though as we put the tape measure to it. From the eye to the fork of the tail, this fish was only 22 inches long. That’s two inches too short. Bear in mind that a twenty two inch fish is still pretty big when compared to most freshwater fish that anglers keep. So in my mind even though we had to throw it back it was still pretty exciting. We decided to take a picture of it. I handed the fish to my ten year old son. I figured it would look bigger with him holding it, and I knew that his boredom would be almost permanently cured. Sure enough he was all smiles as he turned it loose.
Now I had proof that these monsters of the deep were indeed lurking in my river, and with renewed vigor I cast back out. Perched up high in a rotating pedestal chair, freshly rewarded with evidence of fish, my deep sea rod held in my hands a bit of song escaped my lips. “Farewell and adieu to you fair Spanish ladies…“
As we slowly worked our way closer to our starting point I finally received a thrilling tingle. It started somewhere in the deep and crept up my one hundred pound test line and vibrated down the fishing rod through my fingertips finally reverberating somewhere in the center of my brain. Without thinking I set the hook. Immediately the rod jumped in my hands three or four times.
“FISH ON!” I yelled. I began reeling at a frantic pace. The line was dragging out as fast as I was reeling and the result was comical. In my head I envisioned smoke drifting out of the reel. Thoughts of Ahab and Captain Quint raced through my mind. I adjusted the drag and leaned back against the pull on the rod. Suddenly I was nearly ejected from my seat. It was if my line had suddenly become snagged on a submerged log or rock. For a fleeting moment I believed it. There was just no give at all.
My friend laughed and said, “you’re snagged dude.”
“No, It’s a fish!” I cried.
Still chuckling, he replied “are you sure?”
I leaned back against the rod again. It bent to the near breaking point. Twenty yards off the bow of the boat a huge paddlefish surfaced.
“One hundred percent sure!” I shouted.
My friends jaw dropped and my son stood up in the boat craning his neck to get a better view. We could all tell this one was going to be big. The beast had rolled and my line was wrapped about it’s body several times. I was now dragging it against the current sideways accounting for the sudden difficulty. It was no snag. IT WAS A MONSTER. Finally we got it into the boat. I was shaking from the excitement and physical exertion. My cheeks hurt from smiling so big. I don’t believe that I have ever smiled that big. My heart was pounding in my chest. It was enthralling. We didn’t even bother with the measuring and weighing. I just hoisted it up and had the picture taken. We tied it up and I secured a knot around the pedestal chair on the bow. We slid the fish into the water and turned the boat around to see if there were more monsters lurking in the same spot.