Volume 1, Issue 2, February 2015 - Page 8

on the line. “Catfish”, Tommy believes and he occasionally snaps the rods to free the hooks of any unwanted riders. Lance’s rod seems to be a magnet for these hitchhikers and Tommy starts to playfully give him a hard time about why he’s actually out there. As we chuckle at Tommy’s antics one of the middle rods bites hard into something big and the line starts to peel off the reel.

Like a jackrabbit, Mitchell jumps out of the cab and is hooked up to our first paddlefish. The rest of us clear the other lines as quickly as possible. I step to Mitchell’s left and roll footage onto my GoPro of this first battle. It takes a little while, but we can hear the reel click as line finally starts to return to the reel.

Mitchell’s excited tone slowly starts to change as the fish is wearing him out and his arms start to burn. As the fish nears the side of the boat Tommy swoops down and grabs the line. He waits for the fish to give him an opening and he grabs the bill, then the toothless mouth, and the fish is in the boat.

What a fish! Rusty and Tommy introduce us to the parts of the fish, like the electroreceptors on the bill, head, and gill plates that help the fish sense where its food

is. We also see the gill rakers that

allow the fish to feed on micro-scopic plankton in the water.

Mitchell takes a breather while we admire the fish. We get some great pictures of Mitchell holding the fish then Rusty slaps the scale on – 37lbs.

Oh boy, we all know another fish this size may not come over the side again, but if Mitchell keeps it his day is done. He will have to stop fishing if he decides to keep it per state regulations. It’s a tough call, but he decides to let it go. Seconds later Tommy has the fish back in the water and it swims off quickly.

It was a good call, the rest of the morning and into the early afternoon we had consistent action on some phenomenal fish.

I landed 4 fish, but decided not to

keep any. Everyone managed to stick at least one fish and we landed 10 fish overall.

The largest fish came about halfway through the trip when Lance wrestled a beautiful female into the boat that dropped the scale to 53 lbs.

The rest of us gunned for a fish that would top it and Mitchell became suspicious when Tommy “lost” one of his fish at the side of the boat. Later a video was posted by Rusty on Facebook that accurately portrayed Mitchell’s grief over losing that fish. What a bunch of characters.

Darryl’s 49 lb. female and Mitchell’s 43 lb. female joined Lance’s big fish for some great hero shots at the launch. In true full-service fashion Rusty cleaned each of the fish and provided us with some fantastic looking filets.

Lance was intrigued by the idea of having beetles clean the skulls and paddles of the fish, so they took the heads home as well. I can’t wait to see how they turn out.

I learned several key things on this trip. First and foremost, there’s luck involved in trying to hook a fish that won’t bite, but if you’re with an experienced guide it tips the odds in your favor.

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High quality electronics give Rusty an advantage in finding target species. The large arches are paddlefish.

The electrosensory spots on the bill, gill flaps and head help the paddlefish locate microscopic plankton. The fish swim with their mouths open and the gill rakers strain the water removing the plankton.

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February, 2015