Heated battle goes to humans
|Keenan Tompkins, who traveled all the way from Colorado for a day on the Rock River, shows off the 19-pound flathead catfish he landed Tuesday night, about a half-hour before quitting time. (Matt Jones/Shaw Media)|
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I have been sitting here, trying to
think of a new, real clever-like, “it’s hot” joke. Although many of them have been real good, I think everyone is running out of ’em.
Actually, to be quite honest, they just ain’t funny no more. I mean, it’s so hot, I just saw Satan walk out of Casey’s with a bag of ice.
Snuck that one in on ya. How was it?
Another Fourth of July has come and gone, and the celebrations in local communities were awesome once again. I heard rave reviews from the fireworks display in Walnut.
In Prophetstown, the red, white and blue festival came together real nice, as well. This town was thinking there would be no celebration this year after the longtime organizers stepped down. But up stepped firemen – as they always do – and saved the day. They weren’t alone in the effort, but played a big part.
Well, by golly, we still got a little water in the good ol’ Rock. There is still some oxygen in there, and the fish are still biting. There is still enough water to float your boat and your inner tubes. If you’re really looking for a silver lining in this hot cloud, it has to be all the awesome sand bars there are available to camp out on.
All this heat had me pretty worked up, as I had a guide client coming all the way from the Rocky Mountains to fish for flatheads.
Between worrying about water levels and keeping bait alive and him adjusting to this heat, I was on gray-hair alert. I always want people to have fun and catch fish. But when they drive a thousand miles, you really ratchet up the pressure and, from the first minute, you could see it was going to be “one of those days.”
At our very first anchor, things looked great. Ten minutes in, a textbook flathead bit, and the rod was on its way to the water. My client, Keenan, laid the steel to the fish, and the battle was on. Then it happened – the fish got into the cover. Way into the cover.
The next 20 minutes were spent moving the boat and trying to get the fish to come out. It just wasn’t meant to be, as the fish eventually worked the leader tight and was able to pop free from the hook.
Some 2 hours later, with four lively baits in the water and the lost fish still burning in my mind, rod Number 2 goes down. All the way down.
Again, Keenan is quick to the rod and applies a serious hook set. Again, the fish is wrapped. And tight.
Once again – you guessed it – the fish is able to free itself and leave us pretty dejected. Now, I haven’t had this happen twice in one trip. Never. In fact, this happens usually just once or twice a season. I had no time to cry, though, so we moved on in search of a good flathead.
We were scheduled for 8 hours on this hot Tuesday, and time was quickly running out. The sun was now set and our quitting time of 11 p.m. was fast approaching. Then, the work paid off.
At 10:30, down goes the rod for a third time and, once again, Keenan does exactly what he is supposed to do. He absolutely crosses this fish’s eyes.
The battle is on, and this fish is once again hitting every piece of cover he can find as we work him towards the boat.
But this time was our time.
Now, this 19-plus-pound fish was no giant, that’s for sure. However, she was exactly what flathead fishing is about – the ups and downs and the thrill of the hunt. It’s about losing battles and winning the war. This war lasted almost a full 8 hours in devastating heat, a real slow bite, and with two fish getting the best of us. But at the end of the day, we were
Ah yes, a tip of the hat to the human spirit – always caring, never quitting and refusing
to lose under any
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