My buddies, Scott and Matt, are members of a terrific funk band in Topeka known as Echo Lake. Be sure to take the time to check out some of their music on MySpace. We set out at about 5:30 in the afternoon and found a nice little spot in a cove on the west side of the lake. The lake is a great spot for catfish and normally I would have brought some chicken liver with me. This time, however, I decided to bring some worms I had purchased a few days prior and use them up. Scott was mainly using a plastic crawdad in a Texas rig, minus the weight, and Matt was using a topwater popper.
The area had a muddy bottom and was very calm despite the hard winds surrounding the lake. I was hoping the snag a catfish in the area or perhaps a bass. I had basically ruled out catching any crappie in the area, but I knew I'd get a lot of bites from bluegills. I caught my first bluegill within a few minutes, with Scott casting his crawdad near me. I was using a spinning rod with a pretty light line. It is a red line, I believe Cajun, which I haven't changed in a few years. Regardless, it still seemed to be in pretty good shape. However, after catching a few more bluegill, I saw several large groups of bait fish swimming near the surface and occassionally jumping out in the air. Figuring this would be a nice spot to catch a larger fish, I cast directly in front of the group and almost instantly got a huge hit on my worm. I hooked whatever it was and started reeling. It was large and fought like a large bass or maybe a three pound catfish. I got it about halfway to shore (it was a fairly long cast) before the line snapped.
Distraught, I cast a few more times with a new worm near the group of bait fish, but to no avail. While doing this, Scott hooked a nice largemouth bass (pictured above) and got it to shore. Matt also hooked a nice fish but it wriggled free right at the shore. We had a lot of fish splashing in the water around us at that time, and I noticed a few nice splashes to my left. I walked out in the muddy grass and aimed my cast toward a large branch I saw sticking out of the water that probably belonged to a submersed tree or log. It was once again greeted with a strong hit, much stronger than the light nibbles I'd been getting most of the day by bluegill, and I set the hook. This time, I could tell it was a catfish, and I could feel my light line straining. Trying to correct my mistakes, I let the fish running more than I had with the prior fish before reeling. It seemed to work for a while, as I got the fish within 10 feet of the shore. It came to the surface and I saw that it was a nice catfish, probably in the 4-5 pound range. However, right after it surfaced, it gave a strong tug and once again my line was snapped.
Spewing curses into the evening air, I switched to an old Zebco 33 with stronger line and continued to fish the spot where I had snagged the catfish, but didn't get any more strong bites. I caught a few more bluegill, switched to a topwater popper for a few casts before I decided to call it a night. I put down my pole, grabbed my camera and took a few pictures of the lake before we left.
All in all, it was a fun night and it was nice to get a few good fights in, even though I didn't get them to shore. I definitely plan to bring my big catfish pole next time and some chicken liver. I generally have a better success rate catching catfish with in. I had a lot of fun catching up with Scott and Matt and hopefully we'll give it another shot pretty soon.