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Sweet relief from Old Man Winter

Published: Saturday, March 22, 2014 12:07 a.m. CST
Matt "Cat Matt" Jones shows off the 7-pound channel cat he caught Thursday, during his first outing of the year on the Rock River.

You cannot believe the feeling I had this week as I tore down the Rock River for the first time in 2014. Four long months of bitter cold, dreary, nasty weather – gone. Amazing how all that nasty weather just kinda clings to you.

So rippin’ down the river Thursday was like a cold drink on a burning hot day.

Monday night on my way into Prophetstown, I was witness to quite the display of mother nature’s awesome power … although I am not giving her a ton of credit right now, because I am still ticked about this past winter.

However, as I crossed the Route 78 bridge into Prophetstown, I noticed ice moving down the river. This wasn’t just any ice; this was all the ice. My luck was really, really good that day, because witnessing this much ice moving – or ice out, as we call it – is just incredible.

My son and I were amazed as gigantic blocks and sheets of ice raised and lowered and broke and just ran over anything in the way. Some of these blocks of ice were 30 inches thick, and must have weighed several tons. Some giant pieces of ice were wrapped around trees ... yeah, not branches, trees.

But I ain’t gonna lie; all I really saw as the ice flew by was my butt in my boat catching catfish ... yee, yee, yee.

So, as I said before, with the ice gone, Thursday was fishing time. It didn’t take long to remember why I love this river so much. I mean, the eagles and ducks and geese … and the scenery.

Then, there’s the fish – and I am not going to lie. The first fish I caught: not even a catfish. A lousy sheepshead; man, I was expecting more, but it happens.

However, the catfish gods smiled upon me and my old buddy Bruce Simpson, as we landed a pretty good number of real nice channel cats on this absolutely beautiful March day.

The bite wasn’t exactly smokin’ hot, but with enough nosing around – and just the right mixture of patience and stubbornness – we made out good. The fishing will only get better from here, that’s for sure.

This week also came with some rough news, as a friend and fellow diehard catfisherman was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. This is a very rapid-growing form of cancer, and he is currently in St. Louis preparing for the fight of his life.

Calvin – or Catfish Calvin, as we know him – is but 28 years old, with a wife of 3 years, Annie, and an absolutely beautiful little girl named Ella. If you have time and do pray, please include them … as I will.

Until next week … Go Calvin! 

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