I've lived in a great many states around this country, visited almost all of them, and lived overseas - every place I've been people have had the same saying: "If you don't like the weather, just wait a minute, it will change." That's a truism everywhere and it is no different here.
A couple of weeks ago it started getting cold and then it actually got cold a couple of nights and days. This cooled down the river and that put a damper on the fish bite. Of course that happens every year, it just seemed a bit earlier this year for some reason, perhaps because I dreaded the arrival. I was ready to put up the bass flys and start stocking up on pan fish flys and change gears to the stocker trout that should be coming out in a few weeks. I was also looking forward to fishing for crappie from a pontoon boat platform rigged up with a big radiant heater while wearing a hooded parka and big thick gloves...I was, in other words, getting my mind ready.
And then of course, the weather changed. We had several warmer days and then two in in a row over 90 degrees (yes, in November!) with strong sun shine and a south wind. This warmed up the river and the fish were showing signs of activity. So yesterday I went fishing with a good friend, down river a few miles. We decided that the water was warmer but not exactly warm so instead of wade fishing, as we generally do, we fished for catfish without getting wet. My friend fished from the boat and I fished from a boulder we tied up to.
The bite was slow, but occasional. When the fish were biting, they were biting often and then they just stopped biting again. The red hot moments seemed to last about 5 minutes, with hours in between. There was a full moon all night which I suspect meant the fish had hunted and fed all night and were now sleeping in. It was overcast until mid-afternoon when the cloud cover vanished and the sun came out. We had a north wind, a bit chilly, pretty constant, and running about ten mph.
We almost had the river to ourselves but a pack of wild hogs came down to drink, about ten of them, about a quarter mile down river on our side in a bend. A while later an odd looking deer like critter came out of the woods, waded around in ankle deep water for about a quarter of an hour and then disappeared back into the woods again. I say odd because it looked more like an elk than a deer, in fact it looked almost like an elk with a moose shaped head. It did not walk like a deer walks and it was a lot darker than the deer around here. Larger than our deer by a good bit it was smaller than an average Elk by a good bit too - and nowhere near the size of a moose. It was about as far off as the hogs had been and it was difficult to make out details. I'd guess it was an escapee from one of the exotic game ranches.
I caught one catfish, 4 pounds. It put up a good battle on my 5 wt fly rod. I caught several bluegills with two really nice ones that were each 10 inches long. One weighed .52 pounds and the other weighed .62 pounds. Bigger than average around here by a bit. My friend caught one that was just a hair shy of 11 inches and it weighed .85 pounds. It had the classic hubcap shaped body, almost perfectly circular. He caught his on a ball of catfish stink bait of all things. He also caught a 9 pound catfish. I have catfish fillets in the refrigerator, enough to feed me and my wife two or three meals. Beautiful meat from these clear water fish. The bluegills were released.
The water is still very clear, the photos don't do it justice but you can get an idea. The fall colors are in display now, they aren't what you see up in the north but they are still pretty.
It was a great fishing day, I'm hoping for several more before the season really ends.