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Outdoor adventures: Old memories? Make room for a big ol' new one

Legends of the Fall

Shaw Media columnist Matt "CatMatt" Jones landed this monster flathead this past week on the Rock River. Email him at with your guess as to how much it weighs and, if you're the closest, you'll win a free tour on the river for two.
Shaw Media columnist Matt "CatMatt" Jones landed this monster flathead this past week on the Rock River. Email him at with your guess as to how much it weighs and, if you're the closest, you'll win a free tour on the river for two.

The last few autumns for me have been absolutely spectacular, outdoors-wise. When I say me, I mean not only for things I have accomplished, but also the people around me.

I am sure you remember the “Down goes the King” article from last winter. Watching my good friend, Jesse, harvest that magnificent animal will always rank right up there as one of the best moments out of doors I have ever had.

Jesse got that mount back from Dusty at 9 Mile Taxidermy a bit ago, and man, it was like being back in the woods that morning.

I could hear the geese on the river, and I could see the steam shooting from the small buck’s nostrils as he chased the doe around the base of my tree. Then the vibration of my cell phone in my pack with a text that read, “Shot a good one.” That’s like saying a river is just damp. A good one? Whatever. Try a deer of a lifetime.

Following my baby girl into the woods on her first outings for both deer and squirrels has been fantastic, as well. There is nothing like watching your young ’uns follow in your footsteps. At least the good steps, anyway.

I can remember her reaction to her first encounter with a doe and an absolute stud of a buck. I also remember the disappointment of missing her first shot at that elusive squirrel, who I think she will be after until the day she dies.

Last year on the mighty Mississippi was incredible for me and my buddy, TJ. We only managed to get there together but 1 day. But what a day we had. A couple of limits of crappie, several monster gills, and a pile of ring perch. Man, the mouth was watering before I even trailered the boat.

Good times. No. Great times.

Well, the latest chapter of fall’s fantastic happenings occurred earlier this week. While fishing the Rock River, surprise, surprise. I was patrolling known wintering holes for big fall flatheads. Well, as luck would have it, I found what I was looking for in a big, big way.

After anchoring on a good submerged log in some 16 feet of water – twice, because I didn’t get it right the first time – I was rewarded with a quick bite. I snatched the rod up from the Driftmaster rod holder and prepared for battle.

After feeling nothing for several minutes, I bounced the bait and set the rod back down. I mean, no sooner had I turned my head to check the rods on the other side of the rig that the familiar sound of a rod getting slapped caught my

I turned at breakneck speed to see my Pole Kat custom rod doubled over like a New Year’s Eve drunk. Backing the drag off and pulling the rod from the holder, the battle was on. This thing was just stupid strong. But in the cool water, I was able to stay in control for most of the battle, anyway. 

Now, pulling this absolute monarch from the water was an amazing feeling. Of course, after staring at her, taking a few pictures and measurements, the greatest part was the release. This fish was just an absolute giant, and in very, very good shape. I hope I see her again someday, and she is even bigger and healthier.

Now, I know you all want to know how big she was, right? So, here’s the deal. Send your guesses to, and the closest guess will receive a trip for two on the Rock with me. Either winter channel cat fishing or flathead fishing next season, your choice.

Anywho, have a great week and, as always ...

Go Catfish!

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