You may remember Brendan for a huge gar he caught a few years back on Lake Perry.
When we got to the spot, there were several other anglers — a father and his two sons — fishing with live bait on the bank where I had caught my saugeye. This caused us to move a bit downstream into shallower water, where we were casting from a high cliff above the lake.
The treble hooks on the crankbait stuck the big catfish in both the mouth and the head, which helped keep the heavy fish stay as I fought to get him up the cliff. As I went to put the catfish on a stringer, Handy cast out in the same spot and soon had a monster on the end of his line.
“Oh my gosh,” I could hear him exclaim. “This thing is huge.”
He got the fish to the bank and I asked him what it was.
“A big carp,” he said. “It must weigh about 15 pounds.”
Yeah, sure it does, I thought to myself. There’s no way he caught something that big. But as I walked over to the cliff, my jaw dropped.
Unlike carp, drum are actually fairly tasty white-meat fish, but they are difficult to clean and as a result are treated as a junk fish by many anglers. They are very hard fighters and can grow up to 50 pounds. Shad are a big part of their diet during the fall, and they are mostly nocturnal hunters.
Handy carefully scaled down the rocky cliff to get the big fish and then somehow managed to get back to the top where we could safely unhook it and get pictures and video. I initially laughed off the guess that the drum was 15 pounds, but now I’m starting to think that may have been a bit too conservative of an estimate. It could easily have been 20 pounds. Unfortunately, I didn’t bring any scales with me to get an accurate measurement, but we released the fish back into the lake so we could come back a different day and catch him.
We think Handy may have nearly caught him again later on, because his Zebco Rhino rod and reel combo nearly bent in double on the initial hit on his crankbait, but his foot slipped one the wet rocked when he went to set the hook and the fish got off. I was pleasantly surprised how well the BX Brat crankbait held up during the fight with the mighty drum. The VMC No. 6 Black Nickle treble hooks weren’t even a little bit bent after that epic battle with the giant fish.
The BX Brat has a balsa wood core encased in a co-polymer shell, which accounts for the toughness of the body despite its great buoyancy. The Brat comes in two options — the 3-foot running depth and 6-foot running depth, both of which weigh just three-eights of an ounce.
Professional angler Mike Iaconelli also sang its praises in a recent news release from the company.
“A lot of straight balsa baits, you know, they’ll get a little beat up,” Iaconelli said. “But not the Brat. It’s the perfect lure for fishing around heavy cover. It’s got all the characteristics of balsa, but with plastic on the outside to protect the bait.”
We can now speak from experience that it is, indeed, a tough little crankbait, and the pro anglers aren’t just playing it up to get a paycheck. As a side note, another Rapala crankbait worth checking out for deeper waters is the Rapala DT series. The DT flat-billed crankbait comes in multiple depth options, ranging from a 4-foot running depth to 16 feet. The DT-4 and DT-6 are the same length but a bit bulkier than the Brat.
It isn’t completely unheard of, however. Andy Fanter, of Marion, says that he catches more than 100 catfish each year trolling crankbaits and Mister Twister Sassy Shad.
“Biggest this year was 13 pounds for channels,” Fanter said. “Flatheads this year gave ranged from 2 pounds up to 65 pounds — all trolling.”
He also offered a solution to my fishing rod woes, as I’ve had a few break this year.
“We have been using Berkley Cherrywood rods the last three years,” he said. “We troll over 500 hours a year, and this year have caught over 7,000 fish. Rods are around $25 and take a beating.”
Thanks for the great advice, Andy, I’ll be sure to check them out!