When I was growing up I went fishing and hunting a lot with many different people. Jason Love was one of my good friends who I spent a lot of time with out on the water and in the woods and this past weekend we made a ?throwback? fishing trip out on the Wateree. We looked forward to catching up and hanging out and thought that maybe we?d catch some fish as well.
This trip with Jason was different from the ones of the past because we weren?t borrowing Mr. JE?s boat, the paddles had been traded in for motors (one of the front and one on the back), the rods, reels, and tackle seemed more abundant than it was back in the day! It soon became obvious that Jason?s knowledge and fishing intuition had gotten better as well. Oh and we both were just a few pounds heavier, but nevertheless just as good looking even though our hair is now racing toward our necks! We were going to have a good day whether a fish bit or not. I wasn?t prepared for what would happen shortly after we got anchored.
We headed out to Lake Wateree and got there before daylight. Of course we started the morning off right with a Bojangles biscuit and we were set to go. We got the boat in the water and then went and caught some ?Gizzard shad? with a throw net. Mixed in with the shad was the occasional crappie, one of which was pretty nice size. We got a good number of these small fish in the boat, put them in a zip lock bag, and used them as bait for the rest of the day.
After we caught the bait we headed out to deeper water. Jason really had a good feel for the lake and the depth finder helped us navigate the lake and see the topography of the bottom of the lake. It also showed us where some fish were too! There was a storm front moving into the area and the wind was blowing really badly. We put an anchor off the front side of the boat and one off the back end and got stabilized. Jason cut some bait up and one by one he cast 6 rods out and placed them in rod holders along the edges of the boat. I was sitting in the back and Jason was in the front. We had anchored in about 18 feet of water along a slope leading into the river channel. Off the front side of the boat was deeper water?about 25 feet deep? and off the back it was about 13 feet deep. We had hoped to fish in both shallow and deep water and find some fish moving in one of the two areas.
We finally got situated and were sitting in the chairs just waiting. I started asking Jason questions about random things and I imagined we would be sitting there for a while so I was ready to talk about life and solve all the world?s problems. I imagine you may have solved a few while out on the water as well. I didn?t even get to start on a conversation good when the rod to my right almost doubled over under the boat. The ?Ugly Stick? took a very quick dive down as something on the other end had smashed it and was pulling very hard. Jason immediately jumped up and said ?Big fish Clint, big fish.? I grabbed the rod out of the holder and started reeling. No I didn?t set the hook because that?s not how we do it catfishing. I got him on?then I set the hook and I started pulling. The fish made several ?power surges? towards the bottom. Jason was over my shoulder coaching me through it the whole way ?Keep the line tight? keep tension on him? you got him?! I sat down so that I could dig the pole into my hip and use it for leverage. The fish made another surge downward and my wrist felt the pressure. I had to ?choke up? on the rod just like you ?choke up? on a bat in little league. I had to get better leverage on whatever was pulling so hard on the line. We had a battle for what seemed like forever, but it was probably only a couple of minutes. I was hoping to land that rascal because I?ve caught fish before, but nothing this big.
Eventually the fish got tired and I brought him to the top?he was huge! Jason had the net and was trying to net him and missed on the first pass. Initially I wasn?t sure if the net was big enough, but it was and Jason scooped the fish up on the second pass and got him in the boat! I just smiled and let a big sigh of relief. I had just boated the biggest fish of my life and we hadn?t even been out there anchored more than 15 minutes. So we broke out the cameras and video and took some pics and then weighed the fish. He wouldn?t hold still at first to get an accurate weight, but after he settled down he was 30.6 lbs and was hard to hold. After we weighed him we threw him back! Yes, we threw it back? (Don?t tell Big Richard or he?ll be mad at me). We weren?t keeping any fish and wanted to ?let him go so he can grow? even bigger. Maybe one of you will catch him later on. It was a really neat experience and one I won?t forget.
We fished on throughout the rest of the day moving to different locations and we caught several more fish, but none compared to the size of that first one. It was a good day out on the water and one I won?t be forgetting!
Below is a video I put together of the trip