Sunday, September 23, 2012

September Ohio River Trips

Since the last Ohio River post I have fished the river over half a dozen times in several new spots. I took dad to the river a couple weeks ago, and before he got on the water he said that he would like to get a new personal best catfish. He didn't care what kind, he just wanted to catch a fish bigger than 16 pounds. He knew that we had caught several fish exceeding 30 pounds so his hopes were set high. At first I drove over to a nearby power plant discharge and picked up some shad and skipjack. While throwing a sabiki rig Dad hooked a 3 pound channel cat on an ultra light, needless to say it was quite a battle.

We then drove around the river and looked for a few new spots. We found a rather large log jam sitting in 5 or 6 feet at the head of the log pile, and over 20 feet at the core of the hole. We set up and dad quickly had a few bites. He landed a few quick channel cats on cut skipjack, and then found a hot bite near the bank. Within 10 minutes his rod loaded 3 or 4 separate times, but the circle hook failed to find flesh. He was persistent and eventually got the hook to find a fish, and after a quick battle and a good leap we knew he hadn't hooked a catfish. After a few hard runs he brought in a nearly 9 pound Longnose Gar.
8 pound 12oz Gar
After he landed the gar, I told him that we should probably move unless we wanted to run through our bait before midnight. Gar are an extremely hard fish to catch, their mouths are full of teeth and extremely hard which makes it very difficult for a hook to find a spot to penetrate. When we fish for gar we typically use floats and let the gar run with the bait for over a minute before we set the hook on them, with hopes of them getting the bait down their throat and closer to softer tissue. We then drove across the river and set up on a shallow point near Brush Creek. About an hour after anchoring dad hooked a nice fish on a cut skipjack head. The fish started swimming right toward the boat and it surfaced rather quickly. I dipped the net in the water to land the fish (which looked to be a rather large channel catfish) and as soon as it touched the water the fish figured out that it was hooked, and it made a very quick run and threw the hook.

We then moved into the mouth of the creek and Dad got his chance at a personal best catfish. The rod went down and started slipping drag in the rod holder, at that point I told him that he had a good fish on. The fish took about 2 minutes to surface, which is typical of a flathead, but this time around it happened to be a very motivated blue cat. After missing the blue cat with the net a time or two we finally got the fish into the boat. The fish went 20 pounds 3 ounces,  which was his new personal best. 
20 Pound 3oz Blue Catfish
After that trip we had a few decent outings with lots of 3 to 6 pound channels, several decent drum, a few small flathead, and lots of hybrid striped bass. Last night however, was another notable trip. I launched the boat at about noon and drove in 20-30 mile per hour winds, 2 to 3 foot rolling waves. So I hugged the bank and shifted all the weight to the back of the boat as to lift the nose of the boat over the waves. I pulled up to the barges at the power plant, and to my surprise there was a boat fishing in the calm water behind the barges. I tried to go around the barges in order to fish the downstream side of the tied off barge containers. After 15 seconds of battling extreme wind and waves in the middle of the river, I decided to turn around. I watched the boat leave and went to investigate, riding the bank behind the barge containers from the upstream side. I then found a new route to the power plant discharge, which happened to take me over several logs less than 6 inches deep....which required me to pull up the motors and push myself over them. I quickly anchored and started casting a sabiki rig for skipjack. I noticed that the wind had all of the shad balled up on the backside of the barges, and all along the bank. I quickly caught a few small skipjack and tossed one out alive on my smaller sized catfish rod. (Abu Garcia Kalex 60 paired with a 7' MH Shakesphere Catfish Series Ugly Stik) Before I could make another cast with the sabiki rig, the catfish series ugly stick loaded. I quickly reeled in a 2lb 1oz Hybrid Striped Bass. This happened pretty much all day, I would catch a skipjack and a hybrid would eat it instantly. I ended up catching 15 hybrid striped bass, with 2 fish over 3 pounds, 4 fish over 2 pounds, and 6 fish over 1 pound. Below is a picture of the largest hybrid of the day at 3lbs and 8 ounces. 
3 pound 8 ounce, 18.5" Hybrid Striped Bass
I also ended up catching a few channel catfish this very same way, the largest of which went 6lbs 3oz. Later that night I took the few skipjack I had remaining, a few small hybrid stripers, and tossed them out upstream of a logjam. At about 11:30pm it started getting really cold and I was wet from tossing the throw net, so we decided to start packing up. I quickly started putting my tackle box together and Amanda reeled her rods in. As I turned to reel in my rods, I noticed that my furthest rod had loaded and I hadn't noticed in all of the commotion. I started reeling and Amanda asked if I needed the net, I told her I could lip it. However when it got to the boat I changed my mind, the fish apparently didn't like the boat. After a few hard tugs the fish came up, and to my surprise I had landed a flathead on a cut skipjack head. The fish went 14 pounds and 3 ounces.
14 pound 3 ounce Flathead Catfish
As with all of our fish, other than bait, the fish was released to fight again.

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