Friday, August 18, 2006

Everything I Love: Catfishing

I became fanatical about catfishing on a September evening, casually flipping a jitterbug off the jetty in the flickering twilight on Chats Lake. A fish hit my topwater lure with such force that I thought I'd hooked a trophy bass. My delusion grew to a muskie during a fight that tested every ounce of my $25 Canadian Tire rod and eight-pound monofilament. When I finally pulled the fish from the darkness, my lunker turned out to be a two-pound channel cat. From that night on, I became obsessed with a fish that is both easy to catch and, pound-for-pound, the best fighter in fresh water. I ignored the sophistocation of trout and the technical complexity of bass in favour of the the worm-and-cane pole simplicity of catfishing. I can't count the times I watched Doug Stange and Toad Smith chum the water with chicken blood in Catfish Secrets or the afternoons wasted, on my employer's dime, scanning pictures of Catfish Ed's Clear Lake monsters and studying three-way rigging.

My best catfishing was over two days I spent with my dad on the Ottawa during Arnprior's annual catfest. On the second afternoon, we took the cedarstrip outboard to the narrows at Blackhead Island where we anchored in the shadow of the railway tressel. The bite was off, but, under a royal blue sky, an afternoon could not have been more perfect - our little boat twisting in the eddies against the taut anchor line. Attempting a Hail Mary, I took a page from Doug and Toad's book and dug deep in my tackle box for the foulest-smelling brew I could find. Like ringing the dinner bell, the stink bait brought them swimming and every cast hooked a three- to five-pound grey-beard. As though onto billfish, at times I had to jam the rod butt into my hip to drag the muscular fish against the current. Three years later, I return often to the photo Dad took that afternoon of my excited grin and a midnight-coloured channel cat cradled at my side.


Road Hammer said...

I think for the purposes of embellishment, you should add that your dad passed away the following winter.

In the name of creative licence, of course.

David said...

Because, along with you and the Webber, my dad is one of the few regular readers, I figure it wouldn't have the literary effect you suggest.

Road Hammer said...

I was near tears as it was. Even though I know it would have been pure fiction, I think I would have openly wept at such a poignant tale.

David said...

Too many adjectives probably. That's the feedback I got from the CFO.